I have a confession to make. Sometimes late at night, when I’m jonesin’ to satisfy my craving to read, I look past my favorite Chick Lit novels (sorry girls!) and want something more. Sometimes I have a burning desire to sink my teeth into a nice, juicy memoir. I can’t help it. I love being a fly on the wall of someone else’s (insert description such as “screwed up”) life.
Two years ago, my fiancé bought me a book. As I ripped the paper off the neatly wrapped package, I listened as he told the story of finding it at Barnes & Noble and being sure that the cover and the description on the back were something I’d really like. I held my breath as I tore off the last of the paper, wondering if he really knew what I’d want to read. (After all, it could’ve been a deal breaker if he didn’t.) I wondered if it could really be possible that out of all the books at my favorite bookstore, he’d know which one I’d want. But as it turns out, Straight up and Dirty by Stephanie Klein did become one of my favorite books of all time. I’ve read it at least six times and I’ve given it as a gift more times than I can count. Stephanie Klein’s writing is witty and biting and I’m telling you, it will be one of the best books you’ll ever read. The way she tells her story of withering away in her bad marriage (and ultimately finding her way out of it) will make you laugh and cry. And to me, that’s the best kind of book there is.
But that’s not where it ends! She wrote another book based on her life, Moose: A Memoir of fat camp. Again, it’s funny and thought provoking and even if you never went to a camp like that or were never even overweight, you’ll still relate to and remember the feelings of insecurity and uncertainty as you made that change from a girl to a *gulp* teenager. I swear, as I was reading Moose, I had vivid memories of my own awkward teenage years and literally got the chills when I thought about using Infusium moose on my hair. Why, oh why, did I ever think it was a good idea to make my hair so stiff it didn’t move? Did I really think that was the golden ticket to getting Josh Jones to notice me?
Jeannette Walls’, The Glass Castle is another of my favorite memoirs. I could never imagine growing up the way she did. She lived in absolute poverty and her parents were, well, less than stellar role models. (Just an example--she was cooking hot dogs on an open flame at the age of three). Even though she went through the hardship that she did, the way Walls writes her story is not only truthful but also incredibly respectful toward her family. And I think it’s amazing that she rose out of that level of poverty to become such a success herself. And, BTW, over the weekend, I purchased, Half Broke Horses, a book she wrote about her grandmother’s experiences. And so far, I’m in love with that, too.
Chick Lit books will always be my favorite. But sometimes, I do need to have a fling with darker and edgier stories. But don’t worry, my beloved Chick Lit, just because I stray doesn’t mean I’ll stay away. For you are, and always will be, my first love.
What are some of your favorite memoirs?
Lisa Steinke, along with her best friend Liz Fenton, co-authored the chick lit novel I’ll Have Who She’s Having and co-created the popular Chick Lit blog, http://www.chicklitisnotdead.com.