Narrative non-fiction is my favorite genre as a whole, especially during the holidays when you have the time to cuddle up in your favorite chair and delve into another’s life.
In light of the approaching holidays, I offer you ten memoirs I’ve recently read and thoroughly enjoyed. I recommend them to you for those cold nights of bleakness of winter to come when you can sit by a roaring fire, wine glass in hand and let yourself go.
A few of the following titles are duplicates from the Paris Reading list. This double reference is easily explained: I read what I love. And I love France and most everything French. I love history and literature and philosophy and food and cultural analysis (and especially discussing any of these over a glass of wine). So naturally I tend to favor authors who write about these topics.
Ten Memoirs Definitely Worth a Peek!
1. The World of Yesterday, Stefan Zweig – Zweig is one of my favorite all time writers. His historical biographies on Marie Antoinette, Marie Stuart and Romain Rolland are delicious. Be sure to read Anthea Bell’s translation!
2. A Homemade Life, Molly Wizenburg
3. French Woman for all Seasons, Mireille Guiliano – The sophomore book of the French Women Don’t Get Fat series is even more engaging and fraught with even more French cuisine wisdom than its best-selling sister-book.
4. Myself when Young, Daphne du Maurier
5. Reminiscences of Lady Randolph Churchill, Lady Churchill as Mrs. George Cornwallis-West (written after her second marriage) – I found this book at the Marché du Livres here in Paris. I’m not sure if it is still in print, but you can find it online or at used bookstores. My edition was published by Edward Arnold Press in 1908. If you can get your hands on a copy, Lady Churchill’s perspective on late 18th century British culture is quite captivating.
6. About Alice, Calvin Trillin – A truly moving account of the love between a husband and his wife, and a touching tribute to the wife of a grieving man.
7. A Dirty Life, Kristen Kimball – Although I find the author’s style a little sharp and dispassionate at times, what she created with her husband is a marvel. I’m a big fan of their whole food philosophy.
8. A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
10. The Tragedy of Tolstoy, Countess Alexandra Tolstoy – Again this book was a find in a back corner of a used bookstore. I’m not sure if it is still in print (mine is Yale University Press, 1933). It is, however, a fascinating memoir by Tolstoy’s daughter which recounts an alternative story of her father’s philosophy, writing, family life, and eventual decline.