Over the past month, the L&A Libraries have been running a series of memoir writing workshops at our Amherstview and Napanee Branches. These workshops, which were filled to capacity, have since been completed, but the participants will have the opportunity to “tell their story” in May by presenting their finished products. Everyone is welcome to attend these presentations at the Amherstview Branch (May 9th, 7pm) or the Napanee Branch (May 7th, 7pm). The success of this workshop series has dictated that we look into running similar programs in the future, but while you wait to write your memoirs you may want to read some memoirs for inspiration.

The following books are the last few memoirs I have read – not all of them were my favorites, but they each provide the unique slice of life one looks for in a memoir.

Homes: A Refugee Story by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and Winnie Yeung, is a short yet compelling memoir that is suddenly getting a ton of buzz. It was runner up on this year’s Canada Reads and was named Overdrive’s the #BigLibraryRead in April. It is the true story of Abu Bakr’s childhood on the move. In 2010, his family left their home in Iraq in hopes of a safer life. They moved to Homs, Syria, where they lived comfortably until the civil war broke out and once again turned their world into turmoil. Ultimately, the al Rabeeah family found safety seeking asylum in Canada, eventually settling in Edmonton. If you ever find yourself with an hour on your hands, read this book! We ought to know what life is like for people on the other side of world, rather than turn a blind eye because we can’t personally identify with them. 

Era of Ignition by Amber Tamblyn is a collection of biographical essays that touch on a number of topics but generally concern themselves with intersectional feminism, the rise of the #metoo/Time’s Up movement, and the author’s experience in this context. She talks about campaigning with Hillary Clinton, her relationship with her husband comedian David Cross (who has been wrapped up in his own #metoo controversy), and everyday inequalities. It’s a bit of an airing of grievances and the rhetoric is off-putting at times, in my opinion, but at least the author is super candid and offers some self-criticism to round out her perspective.

Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs is a memoir about the author’s complicated relationship with her father, the late tech mogul Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs would definitely not win father of the year. His behavior, at times, was downright bizarre and his bond with his “illegitimate” daughter waxed and waned until he eventually passed away of cancer. This memoir is well-written and graceful. It’s a family exposé but not a shocking one. It merely chronicles a complicated father-daughter relationship, as well as the author’s upbringing as a privileged but extremely lonely girl during the California tech boom. 

Speaking of complicated father-daughter relationships, this next sort-of memoir definitely falls into the shocking category. The Apology by Eve Ensler is written in the voice of the author’s late father, a man who subjected her to years of abuse. Basically, she has written herself an apology from his perspective in an attempt to free herself from the trauma of their relationship. She never received an apology from him in real life, so this is it. Although extremely original and well-written, this isn’t a book for the faint of heart.

All of these titles can be reserved from your branch of the County of Lennox & Addington Libraries or online here

This article was originally published in The Napanee Beaver.