Thursday, February 19, 2015


What is the difference between an autobiography and a memoir? An autobiography, an author’s own life story, generally covers lots of chronological ground and relates events and emotions in a more factual manner. A memoir focuses more on the personal and is not limited by time.  Both autobiographies and memoirs can be found at the Monrovia Library, but let’s take a look at some of the newest memoirs on the shelves. 

New York Times columnist Charles Blow has written a heartbreaking memoir of his youth and how his being molested by an older cousin helped shape the man he became. Fire Shut Up in My Bones is about a black kid growing up in the South, where a legacy of poverty and racism was ever present, and where a bright kid took the opportunity to go to college and succeed, but is besieged by the secret of his past. Unable to escape, Blow uses this memoir to tell his story and find his redemption.

In Rosewater: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival Persian journalist Maziar Behari writes about being imprisoned in Iran in 2009. Inhumanely treated, he finds strength in remembering how his father was once jailed by the Shah of Iran and his sister by the Ayatollah. Through his memories the recent history of Iran is revealed. The title comes from the only thing he knew about a brutal captor—how he smelled like Rosewater.

The size of a record album, Peter, Paul and Mary: Fifty Years in Music and Life is not a classic prose memoir. Instead it is a memoir told through images and tidbits of words. This collection of photos is accompanied by personal letters and the public and private speeches and words of the musical threesome. Written by Peter Yarrow, the Peter of the group, this is the story of a musically amazing trio and the impact of their folk music on social issues.

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