Night by Elie Wiesel

fpoNight. Finished 12-21-15, rating 5/5, Holocaust memoir, 120 pages, pub. 1958

Unabridged audio read by George Guidall. 4 hours.

Night is a work by Elie Wiesel about his experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald in 1944–1945, at the height of the Holocaust and toward the end of the Second World War. In just over 100 pages of sparse and fragmented narrative, Wiesel writes about the death of God and his own increasing disgust with humanity, reflected in the inversion of the father–child relationship as his father declines to a helpless state and Wiesel becomes his resentful teenage caregiver.

Penetrating and powerful, as personal as The Diary Of Anne Frank, Night awakens the shocking memory of evil at its absolute and carries with it the unforgettable message that this horror must never be allowed to happen again.    from Goodreads

Wow. This book is such an emotional experience that I really didn’t want it to end. At just over 100 pages there is no excuse not to pick it up and spend a few hours in the presence of a great author in the throes of the Holocaust.  Wiesel was a young teen when all the Jewish families in his neighborhood were torn apart and taken to concentration camps. 

This book made me cry, smile. love my life a little more, and worry that I am not doing enough to stand up to the people who would be okay with something like this happening again.  As has been pointed out since, it is those of us that remain on the sidelines and say nothing that are just as dangerous as those that perpetuate evil.

Elie won the Nobel Peace Prize and his powerful acceptance speech in 1986 is included in the new additions. 

I think this should be required reading for everyone.  There is a trilogy of sorts, with next, Dawn, being a fictional novella.  I’m not sure how that works but I’m willing to find out.

This was my 7th selection for the Classics Club.

Displacement:A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley

fpoDisplacement. Finished 10-10-15, rating 4.75/5, graphic memoir, 161 pages, pub. 2015

In her graphic memoirs, New York Times-best selling cartoonist Lucy Knisley paints a warts-and-all portrait of contemporary, twentysomething womanhood, like writer Lena Dunham (Girls). In the next installment of her graphic travelogue series, Displacement, Knisley volunteers to watch over her ailing grandparents on a cruise. (The book s watercolors evoke the ocean that surrounds them.) In a book that is part graphic memoir, part travelogue, and part family history, Knisley not only tries to connect with her grandparents, but to reconcile their younger and older selves. She is aided in her quest by her grandfather s WWII memoir, which is excerpted. Readers will identify with Knisley s frustration, her fears, her compassion, and her attempts to come to terms with mortality, as she copes with the stress of travel complicated by her grandparents frailty.  from Goodreads

I wasn’t sure I wanted to read another Knisley book since I wasn’t a fan of her highly lauded French Milk, but when I started to see some of the reviews I decided to give her another shot.  I’m so glad I did because this was a great graphic memoir of Knisley, 27, volunteering to go with her grandparents, 91 & 93, on a Caribbean cruise.  What could have been all fluff and jokes turned out to be a very real and mature look at aging and what we do for the people we love when they reach this point in their lives.

The grands, married 67 years, signed up for a cruise through their community home and their children were worried because they needed so much help.  Knisley decided to volunteer herself as their aide and in return received a lot of admiration and a free cruise.  She took along her Grandfather’s war memoir and we were able to experience, along with Knisley, her grandfather as a young soldier at the same time as we were seeing him as an elderly man who can’t control much of what goes on.  Knisley signs on without realizing how difficult and exhausting it would be to take care and keep track of them but she does her best and she does it with love.  I’m a sucker for grandparents and seeing her love for her grandparents shine through the pages gave me new insight into the author. 

Growing old is no joke and much of the book was sad and sometimes difficult to read, but Knisley’s great illustrations and light touch with the storytelling made this one hard to put down.  I pretty much loved everything about it.  Even with the heavy reality of aging it managed to convey the love of family and this made it a very satisfying read.

Love Life by Rob Lowe

Love LifeLove Life. Finished July 2, 2014, rating 4/5, memoir, pub.2014

Unabridged audio read by the author

When Rob Lowe’s first book was published in 2011, he received the kind of rapturous reviews that writers dream of and rocketed to the top of the bestseller list. Now, in Love Life, he expands his scope, using stories and observations from his life in a poignant and humorous series of true tales about men and women, art and commerce, fathers and sons, addiction and recovery, and sex and love.

from Goodreads

I loved Rob Lowe’s first memoir about his start in the movie industry (Stories I Only Tell My Friends).  It even ended up on my favorite list at the end of the year.  Here’s what I said about Lowe’s narration at the time, “the audio is definitely the way to go with this one.  Lowe’s charm and intelligence come through loud and clear and I looked forward to getting in the car and visiting with him every day because that’s what it felt like.  He was very conversational and it was just a fun and easy listen.”  This is again true with this second memoir.

This one is a little less focused than the first, with stories ranging from acting to fatherhood to marriage, but no less engaging.  He still does lots of name-dropping, but the stories are told with respect and they aren’t always easy to hear. I’m thinking of the one when he went to rehab and his experience with other well-known celebrities; it broke my heart.  His stories about his boys growing up and leaving home, as well as his love for his wife, might have left a tear or two in my eyes.  But, for the most part I was smiling and chuckling.

If you want inside info on the movie industry or enjoy hearing fun stories about famous people then I recommend this one with both thumbs up.  And if you like those things I say listen to the first one too 🙂

I checked the audio out from the library.

Celebrity Memoir Quiz

I am not a huge reader of memoirs, but this year I’ve read a few that I’ve really liked, including the one I’m currently listening to.  See if you can identify the celebrities that penned these memoirs.  They are all women.  Each correct answer worth 6.25 points.  You have until Thursday night to submit your answers. I hide your answers until then.

Here are the rules… 1. Open to everyone.  Play once or every week, that’s okay.  I’m happy to have you here today.

2. No cheating.  No googling, other internet searches or looking at other commenter answers.  Yes, we’re going by the honor system

3. Your first answers will be the only ones accepted.

Last week’s quiz here.  Current leaderboard here.


1. Audition: A Memoir Barbara Walters

2. Wishful Drinking  Carrie Fisher

3. Prairie Tale: A Memoir  Melissa Gilbert

4. How to…Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale  Jenna Jameson

5. Put on Your Crown: Life-Changing Moments on the Path to Queendom  Queen Latifah

6. Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain  Portia de Rossi

7. Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression  Brooke Shields

8. A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages  Kristin Chenoweth

9. Losing It and Gaining it Back One Pound at a Time  Valerie Bertanelli

10. Stori Telling  Tori Spelling

11. Everything About Me is Fake…and I’m Perfect  Janice Dickinson

12. Cancer Schmancer  Fran Drescher

13. Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles  Kathleen Turner

14. A Lotus Grows in the Mud  Goldie Hawn

15. Growing Up Laughing: My Story and the Story of Funny  Marlo Thomas

16. Between a Heart and a Rock Place  Pat Benetar


The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls

Cover ImageFinished 8-1-10, rating 5/5, memoir, pub. 2005

Mom always said people worried too much about their children.  Suffering when you’re young is good for you, she said.  It immunized your body and your soul, and that was why she ignored us kids when we cried.  Fussing over children who cry only encourages them, she told us.  That’s positive reinforcement for negative behavior.

page 28

I usually start with a recap of the book, but today I’m starting with the fact that I loved this memoir.  I don’t read a lot of memoirs, a few a year at most, but this one has me thinking that I’ve just been reading the wrong ones.  I was completely captivated by the life of Jeannette and her family.  I knew I wanted Jason to read it, but I think I may have ruined it for him because I couldn’t stop from sharing the horrifying, sad, and sometimes inspirational stories in the book.

For those that aren’t familiar Jeannette writes about her childhood traveling from state to state with her parents and three siblings.  She starts by telling her first memory, when she was boiling hotdogs and caught herself on fire – at the age of three.  She spends six weeks in the hospital before her father breaks her out.  So begins the adventure that is her life.  Her charismatic father convinces the kids that the FBI are on their tail so they have to stay on the run.  In reality he is a drunk who cannot hold onto a job or money.  The mother seems harmless enough at first, but only got worse with every story told.  And by the end I was beyond mad at her complete lack of caring.  The children grow up in extreme poverty.

It is the even-handed way that Walls tells her story that makes this book so wonderful.  She is not bitter or pointing fingers.  During her childhood years she and her siblings accepted their life and their parents and it was only later after  a move to West Virginia when things became unbearable that she became frustrated.  I am in such awe of her ability to come out of her situation intact and successful.  I don’t really want to spoil too many details because I think once you start reading it you won’t be able to put it down and at 288 pages it won’t take you long to finish.  Cannot recommend it highly enough.


This is from my personal library and was chosen by Marce, JoJo, Jenners, Molly, Sheral, Debby, Rebecca, Alita, Soft Drink, Melissa, and Angie.  Here’s what they had to say…

“Excellent memoir that is so unbelievable it wouldn’t work if it was fiction.”  Angie

“A fantastic memoir about a tough childhood, but the author refrains from being all ‘woe is me'”  Soft Drink

“I read this last year and LOVED it. I can’t wait for Walls’ 2nd book.”  Rebecca

“Excellent & unforgettable”  Sheral

“The memoir I have read in the fastest sitting. Sucks you right in.”  Molly

“One of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. You won’t easily forget it.”  Jenners

Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes

Cover ImageFinished 7-25-10, rating 3.5/5, travel memoir, pub. 1996

A guest  earlier in the summer was on one of those marathon seven countries in three weeks trips.  It’s tempting to mock that impulse but to me it’s extremely interesting when one chooses to power through that many miles.  First of all, it’s very American.  Just drive, please.  And far and quickly. 

Cortona, Noble City

In this Italian memoir Frances Mayes details her journey to Italy and buying and restoring a house there along with her significant other, Ed.  Both are professors in San Francisco, but travel to their new Italian home every chance they get to work on the restoration process.  It is more work than either were prepared for and they spent much of their time navigating the new idiosyncracies of their adopted country.

I love Italy.  I would love to buy a home in Italy.  And one day maybe I’ll convince Jason that it’s a necessity.  I liked the comparisons between our cultures and the descriptions of life in the village.  And I loved that she made her own olive oil.  There were also many yummy Italian recipes included.  Her sense of wanderlust was very appealing.

This is my first travel memoir and I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure it’s a genre that I will seek out.  The writing was full of details which was both good and bad.  I did not enjoy the minute detailing of every step of restoring their home or every meal they ate.  It moved a little too slowly for me.  This book took me months to finish because it was too easy to put down.  If this hadn’t been chosen for me by you there is a good chance I wouldn’t have finished it.

I love the movie and there were really only a few things that were similar to this book.  The movie did a wonderful job of showing the natural beauty of Italy as did this book.  If you love Italy and travel memoirs this is the book for you.  If you just loved the movie I think you could skip it.

This is from my personal library and was chosen for me by Jo Ann, GMR, Piroska, and Mystica.  Here’s what they had to say…

“Escape to Italy and enjoy!”  Jo Ann

“The movie was great and I’ve heard the book is even better.”  GMR