Thursday, March 3, 2016

What Makes You Read a Memoir?

Amid all this talk I've done about possibly making my story a memoir, I coincidentally saw this article on Book Riot this morning.


How do I answer that? It depends on my mood when I am looking for books to read.  If the book (regardless of genre) seems interesting to me I'll choose to read it then or at some point (I don't always pick it when I see it).   This being the case, I may not have given much thought to the fact a book I've read is a memoir in most cases.    

In the case of Prozac Nation, as you can see from previous posts, it was to see how I identified with the author's story being on the medication myself.  And as you can see from other posts, it made me begin to tell my own story
Prozac Nation

And in one instance, it was a memoir written from a local business owner in my home town. As a life-long resident of my town and frequent patron of the bar she owns, I just had to have a copy of this book to read.  If you have have not read it, I highly recommend doing so. Even if you don't know about Hollister, California, you can learn a lot about it from this book. 

Miracles and Grace in an Unlikely Place

In the Book Riot article, the author says:
My boss, however, mentioned to me the other day that no one would really want to read a memoir by a “non-famous person.” This stumped me, because was someone like Mary Karr “famous” before her memoirs? How are we defining fame? Snooki? Patti Smith? Oprah? I think he meant to really ask why does someone choose to read memoir? Which got me thinking – when I go to the bookstore and browse the memoirs, I don’t search for well-known stars. I’ll go up and down the shelves, scanning the titles for anything that catches my eye, pull off any book with a colorful cover that grabs my attention; that sort of thing.

This is basically what I said above. How famous was Elizabeth Wurtzel before writing Prozac Nation?  And the author of Miracles and Grace in an Unlikely Place  was likely not known by anyone outside of Hollister until her book was published.  If you think it takes writing a memoir for your first book, then you should do it.  Memoirs aren't just the domain of famous people. 


Stephanie Faris said...

Does Julie and Julia count as a memoir? Honestly, besides that one, I've only ever read celebrity biographies...which may or may not count as memoirs. I'm in a group with a bunch of ghostwriters who team up with people to write books like this. They charge a FORTUNE...$100 an hour or more. So they must be big sellers.

Jamie Ghione said...

Yes, Goodreads lists "Julie and Julia" as memoir and it's on their list of food memoirs. Celebrity biographies are not memoirs if they are not written by the celebrities themselves.