Earlier today I was on the hunt for some black jeans at my local very large supermarket, that will remain unnamed. I have mentioned before that I often find supermarket shopping quite stressful and so I headed off to the book section which always calms me, though it makes my wallet tremble in slight fear. As usual the temptation was too great and I ended up leaving the aisle with none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton’s new memoir Hard Choices. I used the very flimsy excuses of ‘ooh I am going to Washington in a few weeks, it is like research’ and ‘she was brilliant on Woman’s Hour’. I know, I know I am weak – for having to buy a book not for listening to Woman’s Hour it is wonderful listening.
Anyway, I digress. After I had bought it I was explaining to The Beard that I had bought it because it would give me a really unusual, yet direct, insight into the state of the world at the moment and its conflicts, plus American politics and give me some insight into someone who will, hopefully, become the next President of America. He responded with ‘you don’t need to justify buying a famous person’s memoir to me…’
And I think in some way he was right, I was really over justifying it because reading autobiographies and memoirs is one of those things that gets judged really harshly. If I am being 100% honest sometimes with certain autobiographies I have read them and yet not blogged about them or even popped them on my GoodReads book lists for fear of the judgement. I am not talking Jennifer Saunders or Dawn French, I think I have featured both of those. I am talking more along the lines of Stephanie Beacham or Kathleen Turner. No, even I wouldn’t read one of Cheryl Cole (or whatever she is calling herself now) or Jordan’s autobiographies. Ooh, see I did it myself then judging those autobiographies.
Yet some memoirs, like Barack Obama who has sold millions of copies of his, can be really insightful into the world. Then again I read Rupert Everett’s for all the gossip, the second one is written brilliantly though. Oh and I have read all the Spice Girls ones so far, I am still waiting for two of them and because of being part of the Spice generation I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from getting them for the nostalgia and the truth behind fall outs and all the rest of it. I am getting thrills at the thought. I also have Anjelica Huston’s first memoir ready and waiting on the TBR shelves and will now read it and write about it unashamedly, I love Jelly HuHu so.
So why do we judge autobiographies and memoirs so much, especially as we all love authors memoirs don’t we? (Come on we all do, I bet you have looked in horror as someone is reading some memoir supposedly written by the latest favourite pop star, reality TV star, DJ or comedian haven’t you?) Which ones have you read, be it secretly or not? Who do you wish would do a tell all memoir? Name an author and a celebrity or two I dare you!
I am currently ‘oop north’ in Manchester and have been joined at my aunties by the lovely Granny Savidge Reads (though she does prefer to be known as simply Gran) and last night she was asking me my advice on possible choices for one, of the three that she is a member of, book groups and their choices of reads next year.
They already have a list of possible options and the idea is that each member of the group chooses twelve of the titles from the list giving them points in order of preference (twelve being the maximum and working down) and the ones that get the most votes are the twelve they head for in 2011.
Naturally I thought that all of you would make a wonderful panel who could recommend a title of twelve from the list, rather than just me. So here without further ado, and in order of authors first name, is the list of the possible reads, I have crossed some out as Gran had already read them and didn’t fancy them again or just didn’t fancy end of – though I am sure she could be persuaded by you all…
- The Children’s Book – A.S. Byatt
- The Yacoubian Building – Alaa al Aswanny
- La’s Orchestra Saves The World – Alexander McCall Smith
- The Long Song – Andrea Levy
- The White Tiger – Aravind Adiga
- The Card – Arnold Bennett
- Dreams From My Father – Barack Obama
- Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens
- Last Train From Liguria – Christine Dwyer Hickey
- Short Stories – D.H. Lawrence
- Death Sentence – David Lodge
- Counting My Chickens – Deborah Devonshire
- These Foolish Things – Deborah Moggach
- The Good Soldier – Ford Maddox Ford
- Girl in a Blue Dress – Gaynor Arnold
- Adam Bede – George Elliott
- Three Cups of Tea – Greg Mortenson
- Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami
- Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel
- Family Romance – John Lancaster
- Paradise Postponed – John Mortimer
- The Plague of Doves – Louise Erdrich
- An Education – Lynn Barber
- The Red Queen – Margaret Drabble
- The Memory Box – Margaret Forster
- The Glassblower of Murano – Marina Fiorato
- Florence Nightingale – Mark Bostridge
- The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
- The Hamilton Case – Michelle De Krester
- Memento Mori – Muriel Spark
- The Wasted Vigil – Nadine Aslam
- Great Fortunes – Olivia Manning
- Border Crossing – Pat Barker
- Peripheral Vision – Patricia Ferguson
- The Law of Dreams – Peter Belling
- Trespass – Rose Tremain
- Sacred Hearts – Sarah Dunant
- The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters
- Engleby – Sebastian Faulks
- Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
- The Beacon – Susan Hill
- Restless – William Boyd
- A Whispered Name – William Brodrick
- The Believers – Zoe Heller
That’s quite a list isn’t it? I am sure you can understand why I thought opening this up to all of you would be much more helpful as I haven’t heard of half of the authors. Which is also an apology if therefore I have spelt some titles and authors wrongly, I am going by the spreadsheet Gran brought with her. I did recommend ‘The Little Stranger’ oddly as though I didn’t initially love it, it grew on me over time, I would have loved to have read it and been able to discuss the ending and what it all seemed to mean.
So which twelve would you pick and why? I know Gran will be popping by and checking, as will I as I have some of these on Mount TBR which I have been itching to get around too. Let us know, if you could suggest twelve in orderof preference and why that would be amazing…