• Julie and Julia

    Julie Powell

    I was fairly excited about this book when I first heard about it. I never read the blog that started it all, but I went through a month or two of entries on a slow day at work. It seemed pretty entertaining. I have a certain affinity for Julia Child since we shared the same birthday; I like the idea of projects like making all the recipes in one cookbook; plus the book has a cute cover.

    Unfortunately my expectations floundered early on, as Julie Powell delves in further than just Julia Child and her groundbreaking cookbook; more often it’s a memoir of a frustrated, going-on-30 secretary at a government agency in New York City, including sidetracks...more

  • Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

    Nick Flynn

    A bristling memoir about Flynn growing up in Scituate, MA, his mother struggling to keep it all together and his father acting as a heavy, yet absent, presence. Like both his parents, Flynn learns to cope with substances and he stays in Boston, where he knows his father is or tends to return, even though he desires no relationship or contact with him. He begins working at a homeless shelter almost randomly. Eventually his father is evicted and arrives at the shelter against his son’s wishes. He struggles to come to terms with his father, with his dreams of being a writer, of his Great American Novel, as he begins to be recognized for his poetry.

    It’s possible this story...more

  • Everyday Matters

    Danny Gregory

    Having fell into the habit of stopping by Danny Gregory’s site over the past year after first hearing about this book, it seemed time to check out the book. Part sketchbook and part memoir, the book explores the aftermath of his wife’s subway accident that left her paralyzed and him struggling to reevaluate inside a new existence, partially by teaching himself how to draw. Sometimes there isn’t much cohesion between the memoir bits about dealing with his bouts of existential angst and the sketchbook bits of various scenes around New York City — sometimes it feels like there should be more of a narrative as well, but the art is beautiful....more

  • In the Shadow of No Towers

    Art Spiegelman

    I love Spiegelman’s Maus books, so I was interested in his response to 9/11. The book is very tall and printed on board. The pages were originally published as installments in several periodicals, but it was pretty disappointing to read it all at once. It is repetitive and lacks an overall narrative arc. Near the end it goes off on a more involved tangent of recalling old comic characters (which was present from the beginning). But I think it’s to be expected, as Spiegelman was making these pages in the midst of everything, and it was so impossible to see the bigger picture most times. And a lot of people burnt out and sought distractions in all sorts of...more

  • Bill Peet: an Autobiography

    Bill Peet

    One of my favorite books as a kid was Jennifer and Josephine, and though I never read any other of Peet’s many children’s books, I considered him a favorite writer. I spotted this book at the library — an illustrated autobiography! His insight into the early years of the Disney animated features and Walt Disney’s personality are some of the best parts of the book. It is also inspiring how long he strived towards writing books for children until finally, slowly, figuring it out. He obviously was a pretty down-to-earth guy with an ironic sense of humor and sentimentality, so it’s no wonder his books are still relevant today....more

  • One Writer’s Beginnings

    Eudora Welty

    For some reason I had the expectation that this book was more specifically about writing, but instead it is a loosely sketched memoir of how honing in on her senses led her to be a writer with a lot of family history. It was far more interesting as a memoir than as any kind of guidance for fiction writing.more

  • Persepolis 2

    Marjane Satrapi

    The highly anticipated follower to Persepolis!; I am very lucky that Steve had requested it from the library early and then let me read it first when he got it. This book starts with Marjane arriving in Vienna, the first one having ended with her leaving Iran, and her transition into a life in a Western country, away from her family is rough. Eventually she decides to return to Iran, which turns out to be equally, if not more, difficult after her time away.

    This book is less about Iran’s history, one thing I especially appreciated about the first book, but for the obvious reason that she is disconnected from her family and her country for half of the...more

  • Blankets

    Craig Thompson

    i thought i would be with this book — which clocks in at nearly 600 pages — for at least a few days. but then it turned out i could have breezed through it in one long sitting. it’s hard to put down and the art often takes advantage of the full page, so it reads pretty quick.

    the coming-of-age story is well-constructed; even amid the jumps back and forth between childhood and adolescence it keeps a steady forward pace. the art is incredible, graceful and lush without becoming florid.

    Craig Thompson has been receiving some grand reviews....more

  • Persepolis

    Marjane Satrapi

    amazing memoir of growing up in iran during the islamic revolution — i was unfamiliar with iran’s history and this gives a good overview from the perspective of being a girl from a resistant family, growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s. the drawings are stark black and white, there is a lot of humor amid the painful parts. i really loved this.more

  • Kafka was the Rage

    Anatole Broyard

    this claims to be a “Greenwich Village memoir,” but it didn’t give me much of a sense of greenwich village directly after WWII, perhaps because this book was never finished. the stories and perspectives are interesting, but it feels more like a series of sketches than a cohesive work.more