More Picking Favorites: 2007 Memoir Edition

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Of all the memoir I read last year, here are my three favorites:

Dreams From My Father: I know this was available prior to 2007, but I read it last spring and was much impressed with Barack Obama’s willingness to tackle complex subjects in a deep and meaningful way. Everyone talks about his drug use in college, but what stood out for me were the heartfelt discussions about coming to terms with his mixed race background and his complex feelings for his father, an African living in Kenya.

I’m encouraged that Obama used memoir as a vehicle for opening a frank discussion of race in America. I’m delighted he felt comfortable enough with his modest drug use to discuss it openly (in stark contrast to Bill Clinton’s quasi-admission of not inhaling his drugs).  

Foreskin’s Lament: If I had to pick, this was probably my favorite memoir from 2007. Partly a discussion of fatherhood, partly a coming-of-age memoir, Shalom Auslander describes with great humor his attempts to break free from of the bonds of his Orthodox Jewish upbringing somewhere in upstate New York.

AlternaDad: Neal Pollack’s memoir about becoming a father convinced me that I should try to market some of my own essays about parenting. What I have noticed is that the best memoir always seems to inspires me to write my own. 

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6 thoughts on “More Picking Favorites: 2007 Memoir Edition

  1. Our town library is officially decertified by the state, severely limiting the availability of borrowing books. I’ve read none of these. Wonder if I should buy them. I seldom buy books, but now . . .

  2. Tim Elhajj says:

    That’s very sad about your library. Where I grew up, we had no public library, so now I always vote for public libraries. Life is so much richer with a large selection of books.

    All of these books touch on my big themes–fatherhood and coming-of-age–so it’s almost a given I’d like them. You should consider shopping at used book shops and catching up on old books first. I bet you could find a good deal on Obama’s book, which has been out for a few years now.

  3. sarah morgan says:

    Hey, Buddy. Nice post.

    I haven’t read any of these either, but I’d be particularly interested in the Barrack Obama memoir. I see you are reading two of my favorite books I read last year. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is fabulous. You’ll never look at corn the same way again! And Dave Egger’s writing is superb. I love his long languid sentences. He’s the King of Commas. Both great reads. Enjoy. I’ve been off the blog for a bit–classroom is keeping me hopping over at UCLA and then there’s always the lawsuit to keep me occupied.

  4. Tim Elhajj says:

    I love Pollan’s (Omnivore’s Dilemma) idea that corn has domesticated people. What a great idea for a science fiction/horror novel, assuming Stephen King hasn’t already done it.

    Modern Mind is also pretty cool, if a little thick. It attempts to cover all the intellectual ideas from the 20th Century. Chapter 1 is jam packed with ideas, from Freud’s unconscious mind to whomever it was that came up with quantum physics. I love these broad sweeping romps through history to give me a sense for how much there actually is I don’t know.

    I am still undecided on Heartbreaking/Staggering. It starts off slow, but I’m going to stick with it for another few chapters, because I’ve heard so many good things about it.

  5. sarah morgan says:

    Have you read Pollan’s, “The Botany of Desire?” I loved that one. He goes into more detail about plants convincing us to grow them.The chapter on marijuana is great. Very interesting read.

    Stick with the Egger’s book, if only for the writing, which I think is great. It grew on me as I went along.

  6. Tim Elhajj says:

    Not only do I have Botany of Desire on my shelf but I see the new one, In Defense of Food, just came in for me at the library. I was going to punt on Botany, but the marijuana section does look interesting and now your recommendation makes it irresistible.

    Looks like I am on Pollan overdrive the next few weeks!

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