Monday, January 28, 2008

Myrthe's List

I'm late posting my list here, but the list has been up on my blog for a while already. These are the books I plan to read for this challenge:

* Black Dog of Fate by Peter Balakian. A memoir of an Armenian-American who learns about his heritage and about the genocide that happened to his ancestors at the beginning of the 20th century. Technically, this is a reread for me, as I read it this past summer. But it is so incredibly rich in content and so well written that I really want to read it again. I didn't get around to write a review the first time, so I'll discuss it for the first time for the challenge.

* Iran Awakening by Shirin Ebadi. She is a human rights lawyer from Iran and in 2003 won the Nobel Peace Price for her work.

* Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore (to double for the Russian Reading Challenge), a biography of Joseph Stalin's younger years.

* The Mitford Sisters by Mary S. Lovell (to double for the Chunkster Challenge)

* Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi.

I have one other book on my TBR-pile that I am not sure yet really is a memoir. I want to read it next year anyway, and if it fits, I will include it in my challenge list. The book is called Ararat by Dutch journalist and writer Frank Westerman (the book is in my native language Dutch). The book recounts the author's search for what meaning the religion he grew up with has for him and what place it has in his life now.

Shortly before I found out about this challenge, I read the memoirs of Queen Noor of Jordan. I posted a review of that here. Also, over the summer I read an anthology with excerpts from memoirs and autobiographies of women. My review (with lots of links for inspiration) is here. The collection was wonderful and very inspirational. I added lots of the authors to my wishlist!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cross Creek by Marjorie Rawlings

Cross Creek
By Marjorie Rawlings
Completed January 25, 2008

Cross Creek is the memoir of Marjorie Rawlings, Pulitzer-prize winning author of The Yearling, when she lived on her farm in central Florida. Originally published in 1942, Rawlings settled in Florida after she divorced her husband in 1933. Cross Creek documents Rawlings’ joys and challenges of handling the wild Florida nature, weather and citizens. Written in an easy, humorous style, Rawlings transports her readers to the place of hammocks and hurricanes, rattlesnake crossings and mewing cows, and orange blossoms and sand.

Each chapter of her memoir reads like a short story, covering a certain topic. There are chapters devoted to all four seasons. Other individual chapters discuss snakes, bugs, her neighbors and her house. Rawlings is in her element when she writes about nature, and as a fellow Floridian, I can “see’ what Rawlings wrote about in her memoir. Readers of The Yearling would not be a stranger to Rawlings’ natural writing style – and would feel at home reading Cross Creek.

Many readers, however, may be uncomfortable with Rawlings’s depiction of her African-American workers. The writer employed blacks to work in her home and groves, and she often had a difficult time managing her staff. Her opinions of their intellect and abilities are archaic, and in our 21st century wisdom, readers may cringe at her descriptions. With that said, Rawlings is a product of her time. She is not filled with hatred – but rather ignorance – an important fact to remember while reading Cross Creek.

I highly recommend Cross Creek to readers of Marjorie Rawlings’s books, to those who want to learn about Florida history and to readers who enjoy books about nature. ( )


For those of you interested in seeing Marjorie Rawlings’s Florida homestead, I would highly recommend these sites. I hope to visit this place in 2008; it’s only a few hours north of my home, and I have heard that it’s an interesting site to see.

Florida State Parks

Friends of Marjorie Rawlings's Farm

Wikipedia article


Thursday, January 24, 2008


700 SUNDAYS by Billy Crystal was read for the Jewish Literature Challenge and the In Their Shoes Challenge.

From the book jacket:

One of America's most beloved entertainers takes us home. Billy Crystal opens the front door to a time in his life when he shared joy, love, music, and laughter with an eccentric family headed by the hardworking father who left them all too soon.

To support his family, Billy's father, Jack, worked two jobs and long hours and could only spare Sundays to spend with his loved ones. But these precious days would be in short supply - Jack's life was suddenly ended by a heart attack when Billy was just fifteen. 700 SUNDAYS refers to the sadly precise amount of time shared by a devoted father and his adoring son.

From the story of the Crystal family's proud connection to the New York jazz scene of the 40s and 50s ... to the hilarious living room performances that would sow the seeds of Billy's unparalleled career ... to the times of tragedy, heartbreak, and his mother's unending courage, 700 SUNDAYS celebrates the memories, the love, and all the other wonderful gifts parents can give a child.

Based on his Tony Award-winning play, 700 SUNDAYS is not the story of Billy Crystal's great career. It is a tribute to a family and the people who helped make him a man. Personal, poignant, and funny, it will have you laughing out loud and sometimes crying - with the realization that Billy's family is also yours.

I can't add anything to that. This book did make me laugh out loud - more than a couple times - and brought tears at others. The only thing that could have improved this book would have been to hear Billy read it himself.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Angela's Ashes

We wear short pants till we're thirteen or fourteen and our long stockings always have holes to be darned. If she has no wool for the darning and the stockings are dark we can blacken our ankles with shoe polish for the respectability that's in it. It's a terrible thing to walk the world with skin showing through the holes of our stockings. When we wear them week after week the holes grow so big we have to pull the stocking forward under the toes so that the hole in the back is hidden in the shoe. On rainy days the stockings are soggy and we have to hang them before the fire at night and hope they'll dry by morning. Then they're hard with dirt cake and we're afraid to pull them on our feet for fear they'll fall on the floor in bits before our eyes. (pp. 271-272)

Frank McCourt recounts the years of his childhood in his memorable book Angela's Ashes. At the age of four, McCourt's parents move their family from New York back to their homeland of Ireland. His father Malachy can not hold a job and drinks away the little money that is given to him. His mother Angela does her best to keep the family together, finding food, clothes and shelter by whatever respectable means are necessary. The family lives in squalor conditions and often goes without food or coal due to the lack of income. The descriptions are heart wrenching but McCourt has a sharp wit that had me laughing at several of his recollections. However, he is often hard on himself especially in his lack of ability to do much for his situation.

I talk to St. Francis and tell him about Margaret, Oliver, Eugene, my father singing Roddy McCorley and bringing home no money, my father sending no money from England, Theresa and the green sofa, my terrible sins on Carrigogunnell, why couldn't they hang Hermann Goering for what he did to the little children with shoes scattered around concentration camps, the Christian Brother who closed the door in my face, the time they wouldn't let me be an altar boy, my small brother Michael walking up the lane with the broken shoe clacking, my bad eyes, the tears in Mam's eyes when I slapped her.

Father Gregory says, Would you like to sit and be silent, perhaps pray a few minutes?

His brown robe is rough against my cheek and there's the smell of soap. He looks at St. Francis and the tabernacle and nods and I suppose he's talking to God. Then he tells me kneel, gives me absolution, tells me say three Hail Marys, three Our Fathers, three Glory Bes. He tells me God forgives me and I must forgive myself, that God loves me and I must love myself for only when you love God in yourself can you love all God's creatures. (p.343)

McCourt tries different courses of action to improve the conditions of his life, sometimes with success and sometimes with failure. But eventually he achieves his goal of earning enough money to both help his family and to return to America at the age of nineteen to start a new life.

When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. (p.11)

Angela's Ashes is a great memoir of a miserable childhood that will have its reader thinking, appreciating, understanding, and laughing. I very much enjoyed this book.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Tuesdays With Morrie

From Random House:

Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it.

For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago.

Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded, and the world seemed colder. Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you, receive wisdom for your busy life today the way you once did when you were younger?

Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man's life. Knowing he was dying, Morrie visited with Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final "class": lessons in how to live.

Tuesdays with Morrie is a magical chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie's lasting gift with the world.

I just finished reading this and I must say it did not disappoint. It is the second book I've recently about someone struck by ALS. As the story begins, we read of Mitch, a college student, who has a unique relationship with one of his professors. This professor, Morrie, has a special interest in teaching his students all things concerning life. They form a special bond and throughout Mitch's college days, the two spend much time together. After graduation, Mitch looses touch with Morrie and throws himself into his work. Sixteen years later, he learns that Morrie is dying and feels deep regret from not keeping in touch with his mentor. After Mitch makes contact with his old "coach", the two resume their relationship where they left off so many years before. Morrie has a story to tell and wants Mitch to tell it. Thus begins their regular Tuesday sessions, which will continue until Morrie's death.

I really enjoyed this book. ALS is a disease that slowly takes away ones ability to perform the simplest tasks and ultimately attacks the lungs so that breathing becomes impossible. The way Morrie chose to live with the disease was by living each day to the fullest. He surrounded himself with friends, family, students, and colleagues. He taught life lessons on how to deal with the disease. He kept such a positive attitude throughout his illness. He remained so gentle, so loving. He taught these lessons until his last breath.

Morrie's story made me think of my own grandmother. She doesn't have this disease, or any other, but I see her time slowly slipping away. The most simple tasks are impossible for her to perform. She has total dependence on others for almost all of her needs. As I read Morrie's story, I thought of her. I thought of how I could be her Mitch. I can sit with her and I can tell her stories. One of the best things we can do for our aging or dying loved ones is to be there, surrounding them with our love and care.

Morrie's spiritual state was not mentioned very much in the book. Only once did he reference "talking with God" about his situation. The bottom line, thumbs up to Mitch Albom for penning Morrie's story. I think it will be an encouragement to many who are afflicted with such illnesses in showing them to "love each other or perish."

# 2

Here are my thoughts on My Life as a Furry Red Monster by Kevin Clash.


LUCKY by Alice Sebold was read for the In Their Shoes Challenge.

From the back of the book:

In a memoir hailed for its searing candor and wit, Alice Sebold reveals how her life was utterly transformed when, as an eighteen-year-old college freshman, she was brutally raped and beaten in a park near campus. What propels this chronicle of her recovery is Sebold's indomitable spirit - as she struggles for understanding ("After telling the hard facts to anyone, from lover to friend, I have changed in their eyes"); as her dazed family and friends sometimes bungle their efforts to provide comfort and support; and as, ultimately, she triumphs, managing through grit and coincidence to help secure her attacker's arrest and conviction. In a narrative by turns disturbing, thrilling, and inspiring, Alice Sebold illuminates the experience of trauma victims even as she imparts wisdom profoundly hard-won: "You save yourself or you remain unsaved."

I wasn't thrilled with this book.

Her attack was terrible. Her treatment by so-called friends was less than friendly and supportive. The trial was a horrible experience for her. But for some reason I just couldn't work up a lot of sympathy for her. There was something - something I can't put my finger on - that made me not quite care. Maybe it was her lifestyle in the years following the attack. Drinking, drugs, casual sex. Perhaps that was her coping mechanism. Maybe I'm just too old and far removed from that era and mindset to understand.

I'm glad that she was able to move on with her life after this attack. I hope that writing this book was a way for her to put this all behind her.


NEVER HAVE YOUR DOG STUFFED and Other Things I've Learned by Alan Alda was read for 3 challenges: In Their Shoes, What's in a Name (animal), and Celebrate the Author (birthday January 28).

From the book jacket:

He's one of America's most recognizable and acclaimed actors - a star on Broadway, an Oscar nominee for The Aviator, and, for eleven years, the inimitable Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H - during which time he became the only person ever to win Emmys for acting, writing, and directing. Now Alan Alda has written a memoir as elegant, funny, and affecting as his greatest performances.

"My mother didn't try to stab my father until I was six," begins Alda's irresistible story. The son of a popular actor and a loving but mentally ill mother, he spent his early childhood backstage in the erotic and comic world of burlesque and went on, after early struggles, to achieve extraordinary success in his profession.

Yet NEVER HAVE YOUR DOG STUFFED is not a memoir of show business ups and downs. It is a moving and funny story of a boy growing into a man who then realizes he has only just begun to grow. It is the story of turning points in Alda's life, events that would make him what he is - if only he could survive them.

From the moment as a boy when his dead dog is returned from the taxidermist's shop with a hideous expression on its face, and Alda learns that death can't be undone, to his decades-long effort to find compassion for the mother he lived with but never knew, to his acceptance of his father, both personally and professionally, Alda learns the hard way that change, uncertainty, and transformation are what life is made of, and that true happiness is found in embracing them.

NEVER HAVE YOUR DOG STUFFED, filled with wonder, good humor, and honesty, is the crowning achievement of an actor, author, and director. But surprisingly, it is the story of a life more filled with turbulence and laughter than any Alda has ever played on the stage or screen.

Well, that just about sums up the book. Not much left for me to say.

Alan Alda is a complex man. I had thought of him just as Hawkeye, funny and irreverent. But this book showed him to be much more. I had expected more information about M*A*S*H, and was a little disappointed that the show was not covered in more detail. I never knew about his interest in science, or that he had hosted a PBS show - Scientific American Frontiers - for eleven years. I never knew about his mother and her illness. This book was more serious than I had thought it would be. Overall, it was interesting to learn more about Alan Alda the man, but I think I wanted to know more about Alan Alda the actor.


IT'S NOT ABOUT THE BIKE: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins was the first book read for the In Their Shoes Reading Challenge.

From the Rocky Mountain News:

Lance Armstrong does things in a big way. Other people write books about the long road back from cancer, or the physical and emotional trauma of infertility, or the experience of growing up without a father, or the determination it takes to win the most important bicycle race in the world. Armstrong lays claim to all of it, and the result is a pretty terrific book ... Armstrong's book is both inspiring and entertaining. He doesn't whine, doesn't sugarcoat the tough parts and doesn't forget to thank the good people who helped him most along the way.

That assessment just about says it all. He went through some rough times. By the time his testicular cancer was diagnosed at age 25, it had already spread to his lungs and brain. He was given less than a 40% chance of surviving. The book tells about his treatments and the effects of the chemotherapy on his body, and the toll it took on his emotional state.

Being a cancer survivor became the most important thing to him. More than being a championship cycler. Instead of giving up, as he had thought of doing, he went back to training and overcame many obstacles in his path. He won the 1999 Tour de France, then came back in 2000 and won again. The book ends at that point, but since then he has gone on to win the Tour a record 7 consecutive times. He has formed the Lance Armstrong Foundation which provides education and tools to help others survive cancer. Though now retired from racing, he is still an activist for cancer patients throughout the world.

Emma Goldman

I recently read this graphic biography of anarchist and activist Emma Goldman. Although she doesn't get a lot of attention in history textbooks, she was definitely a major figure in the late 19th and early 20th century. My review is here at the Graphic Novels Challenge blog.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Persepolis: The story of a childhood

Persepolis: The story of a childhood by Marjane Satrapi

Published in 2000

156 pages

Marjane Satrapi's memoir on growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution is a a great read. My review is here.


here i start

here are the two books i start my challenge with

story of my life -hellen keller

it's not about the bike: my journey back to life -lance armstrong

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Death & the Maidens

What do you get when you mix one of the great freethinkers of his age with a conniving and histrionic 2nd wife, five children (each with different fathers near the turn of the 19th century), penury, plus a heavy does of literary genius? The correct answer is a fine mess, and a young woman who paid with her life for being stuck in the middle of it. For a few more details, visit Death & the Maidens at my blog.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sorry, forgot my name

The post below is mine, I forgot to add my name

Ladyslott aka Linda

My Blog

My Challenge List

I have chosen to read 4 books, with 4 alternates. I'd really like to read all eight, but with two other challenges I don't know if that would be pushing my luck.


Marie Antoinette; The Journey by Antonia Fraser (bio)
Blackbird, A Childhood Lost and Found by Jennifer Lauck (memoir)
A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel (memoir)
Brief Intervals of Horrible Sanity; One Season in A Progressive School by Elizabeth Gold (memoir)


Lincoln; A Life of Purpose and Power by Richard Cardawine (bio)
Kitchen Confidential, Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain (memoir)
The Hungry Ocean; A Swordboat Captain's Journey by Linda Greenlaw (memoir)
Wonderful Tonight; George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Me by Pattie Boyd (memoir)

I will keep my list, with progress, on my blog. Reviews will be posted both here and there.

Good luck meeting your goal!

BoldBlueAdventure's reading list

Here's my list for now.

Eat, Pray Love Elizabeth Gilbert
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey (okay yes I know he's been discredited, but I'm curious what the fuss is about)
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
Candy girl: a year in the life of an unlikely stripper by Diablo Cody.
The year of magical thinking by Joan Didion
Paula by Isabel Allende
Ten Thousand Sorrows by Elizabeth Kim

I've also got it posted here

Monday, January 14, 2008

Laura's Review: Dreams from My Father

Dreams from my Father
Barack Obama
442 pages

In the summer of 2004, we had just returned to the U.S. after 4 years in England. Those years had been a time of change and turmoil in my home country. We were eager to reconnect with, and understand, the political landscape and the people who would shape the future. At the Democratic National Convention in August, a "young" (my age) politician named Barack Obama gave an inspired keynote address that left me both awestruck and hopeful. When I came across Obama's book at a library book sale recently, I thought it was time to learn more about the man behind the powerful rhetoric. First published in 1992, Dreams from my Father describes Obama's childhood, his early career as a community organizer, and his first visit to Kenya, his father's homeland.

In one respect, this book is about a search for identity, with Obama exploring his "uneasy status: a Westerner not entirely at home in the West, an African on his way to a land full of strangers." (p. 301) As part of this search, Obama gains an increasing awareness of race issues in American society:
  • A friend of his grandfather's, as Obama was preparing to leave his home in Hawaii for college: "They'll give you a corner office and invite you to fancy dinners, and tell you you're a credit to your race. Until you want to actually start running things, and then they'll yank your chain and let you know that you may be a well-trained, well-paid nigger, but you're a nigger just the same." (p. 97).
  • Describing a campaign by the Nation of Islam to sell branded products: "The the POWER campaign sputtered said something about the difficulty that faced any black business -- the barriers to entry, the lack of finance, the leg up that your competitors possessed after having kept you out of the game for over three hundred years." (p. 201)
  • On those in Chicago who had marched for civil rights and yet, " some point had realized that power was unyielding and principles unstable, and that even after laws were passed and lynchings ceased, the closest thing to freedom would still involve escape, emotional if not physical, away from ourselves, away from what we knew, flight into the outer reaches of the white man's empire -- or closer into its bosom." (p. 277)
And then, we gain insight into Obama's ideals and his motivation for studying law after his visit to Kenya:
    "The study of law can be disappointing at times, a matter of applying narrow rules and arcane procedure to an uncooperative reality ... But that's not all the law is. The law is also a memory; the law also records a long-running conversation, a nation arguing with its conscience. ... I hear the voices of Japanese families interned behind barbed wire; young Russian Jews cutting patterns in the Lower East Side sweatshops .... I hear the voices of people in Altgeld Gardens, and the voices of those who stand outside this country's borders ... all of them asking the very same questions that have come to shape my life ... What is our community, and how might that community be reconciled with our freedom? How far do our obligations reach? How do we transform mere power into justice, mere sentiment into love? The answers I find in law books don't always satisfy me ... And yet, in the conversation itself, in the joining of voices, I find myself modestly encouraged, believing that so long as the questions are still being asked, what binds us together might somehow, ultimately, prevail." (p. 437-438).

    Obama keeps the "plot" moving along. Although many of the characters are not fully developed. I had to keep reminding myself this is a memoir, not a novel. And since this book was written long before Obama's run for the U.S. Presidency, it has a certain authenticity. I found it an extremely well-written and interesting portrait of an emerging political leader. It also offers insight into issues of race in America, and African American culture, and is a worthwhile read for this reason alone. ( )

    My original review can be found here

    Newbie's List

    Here is the first book on my list of memoirs, bios, and autobios. I'm so happy to be a part of this reading challenge. Really need this encourage to get these books that I've been meaning to read...well, read!

    This first book was recommended to me ages ago, nearly 20 years ago by the very aged owner of a small, wonderful bookstore in Wellesley, MA, called The Bookworm. Elsie was one of those proverbial "old maids" of her time, I suppose, probably born in the early 1900's, and born with a twisted spine that must have kept her out of the marriage market. I don't know. She walked with a cane, but her spirit and personality were strong, and her face was beautiful and radiant with intelligence.

    Elsie's family set her up in a darling little house just around the corner from her very own small bookstore...which remained a beloved staple for those of us who lived and raised families in Wellesley for more than half a century. My former husband had worked for Elsie doing odd errands when he was a little boy, and he was in his late 40's when our children started browsing her shop as 5th and 6th graders!

    Soon after Elsie sold her dear Bookworm, she died...I'm sure she was in her early 90's. She was a beautiful woman, with a love and reverence for books. She knew how to choose the very best ones, and the Bookworm was always stocked with treasures! Elsie chose this book as one of the best memoirs. I've been holding on to it, I guess. And, now it's time to read it.

    Other books on my list:
    2) The Autobiography of A Face - Lucy Greely
    3) Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
    4) Truth and Beauty - Ann Patchettt
    5) Blackbird - Jennifer Lanck
    6) Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris
    7) The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls
    8) Running with Scissors - Augusten Burroughs

    Thanks for including me! I also have a book blog: Deb

    Saturday, January 12, 2008

    #1 completed!

    I finished my first challenge book: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson. You can read my review here at my new book blog, Page After Page.

    On to the next one on the list!

    Wednesday, January 9, 2008

    Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck

    I'm finished with Travels With Charley, the first book I read for this challenge. I posted a review at my blog, Naked Without Books!

    Sunday, January 6, 2008

    Brainiac, reviewed by raidergirl3

    I read Brainiac by Ken Jennings, pretty good too, for trivia fans. Review's at my blog.

    Saturday, January 5, 2008

    Number One!

    I read my first memoir, The Spy Wore Red by Aline. It was pretty disappointing, because I don't think it's real at all. To find out why, here's my somewhat snarky review. Edited to add: the link works now, I promise. Sorry about that!

    # 1

    Here are my thoughts on A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer.

    Thursday, January 3, 2008

    The first Book Review for 2008.

    Ok, I have read and finished my first Memoir (actually it was an unauthorized biography) about Rene Angelil, husband of Celine Dion. It's called Rene Angelil: The Making of Celine Dion, and the link take you back to my blog.

    Tuesday, January 1, 2008

    Joy's Challenge Choices

    Here's my list of possibilities:

    The Birthday Party: A Memoir of Survival (Alpert)

    The Nazi Officer's Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust (Beer)

    Notes from Nethers: Growing Up in a Sixties Commune (Eugster)

    The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures (Fadiman)

    If I Am Missing or Dead: A Sister's Story of Love, Murder, and Liberation (Latus)

    Stuart: A Life Backwards (Masters)

    Fish: A Memoir of a Boy in a Man's Prison (Parsell)

    A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive (Pelzer)

    My Life as a Furry Red Monster: What Being Elmo Has Taught Me About Life, Love and Laughing Out Loud (Clash)

    Can't wait to start!

    Eva's List (and a few recommendations)

    First off, I just reviewed three books that fall into the memoir category, so if anyone is looking for ideas, here are Sketches From a Life, Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures, and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. They're all more essay collections than chapter-books, if you know what I mean, and I'd highly, highly recommend the Sketches From a Life by George Kennan.

    Now for my list (cross-posted on my blog)! It's actually a pool, since I'm not sure how many I'll get to.
    Black Elk Speaks by Black Elk with the aid of John Neihardt (a Native American memoir)
    The Spy Wore Red by Aline Romanos (an international memoir of WWII intrigue by a duchess)
    Jane Austen: Her Life and Letters by William and Arthur Austen-Leigh (biography)
    Simone de Beauvoir by Deirdre Bair (biography)
    Che Guevara by Jon Lee Anderson (biography)
    Joan of Arc by Prenoud and Clin (a French biography)
    Wild Swans by Jung Chang (a combination of biography/autobiography set in China)
    Unbowed by Wangari Maathai (a memoir by the famous Kenyan activist)
    Confessions of an Economic Hitman John Perkins (a memoir of an American who worked for the World Bank/IMF)