Kindle Book Spotlight: Writer Memoirs

Writer and author memoirs are a favorite genre of many, as they can often provide readers a peek behind the curtain at what went into their favorite written works. Note that the first of these is priced at $1.99 today only as a Kindle Deal of the Day, the price will go back up tomorrow.

The Sum of Our Days (4/5 stars)

In this heartfelt memoir, Isabel Allende reconstructs the painful reality of her own life in the wake of tragic loss—the death of her daughter, Paula. Recalling the past thirteen years from the daily letters the author and her mother, who lives in Chile, wrote to each other, Allende bares her soul in a book that is as exuberant and full of life as its creator. She recounts the stories of the wildly eccentric, strong-minded, and eclectic tribe she gathers around her that becomes a new kind of family.

Throughout, Allende shares her thoughts on love, marriage, motherhood, spirituality and religion, infidelity, addiction, and memory. Here, too, are the amazing stories behind Allende’s books, the superstitions that guide her writing process, and her adventurous travels. Ultimately, The Sum of Our Days offers a unique tour of this gifted writer’s inner world and of the relationships that have become essential to her life and her work.

Narrated with warmth, humor, exceptional candor, and wisdom, The Sum of Our Days is a portrait of a contemporary family, bound together by the love, fierce loyalty, and stubborn determination of a beloved, indomitable matriarch.

 

Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $9.99)

It seems no mother of a newborn has ever been more hilarious, more honest, or more touching than Ann Lamott is in OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS. A single parent whose baby’s father is out of the picture, Lamott struggles not only to support her little family by her wits and her writing, but to stay sober at the same time. Faith in God helps; so does her loyal band of helpers, from her childless best friend Pammy to her mother and “Aunt Dudu” to the folks at the La Leche League hotline. And between colic, wheat-free diets, and the triumph of solid food, Lamott learns that blessings and losses come together, and that as our capacity for joy increases, so does our capacity for grief.

“An enormous triumph . . . Charming . . . Powerful . . . A gracious book, with dozens of lovingly drawn characters and a deep, infectious religiosity throughout. It is also funny.” — San Francisco Chronicle

“Smart, funny and comforting . . . Lamott has a conversational style that perfectly conveys her friendly, self-deprecating humor.” — Los Angeles Times Book Review

 

The Glass Castle (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $8.93)

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitement addict.” Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.

Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town — and the family — Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.

What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to MSNBC.com, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.

 

The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou (5/5 stars, currently priced at $15.99)

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

This Modern Library edition contains I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Gather Together in My Name, Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas, The Heart of a Woman, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes, and A Song Flung Up to Heaven.

When I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published to widespread acclaim in 1969, Maya Angelou garnered the attention of an international audience with the triumphs and tragedies of her childhood in the American South. This soul-baring memoir launched a six-book epic spanning the sweep of the author’s incredible life. Now, for the first time, all six celebrated and bestselling autobiographies are available in this handsome one-volume edition.

Dedicated fans and newcomers alike can follow the continually absorbing chronicle of Angelou’s life: her formative childhood in Stamps, Arkansas; the birth of her son, Guy, at the end of World War II; her adventures traveling abroad with the famed cast of Porgy and Bess; her experience living in a black expatriate “colony” in Ghana; her intense involvement with the civil rights movement, including her association with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X; and, finally, the beginning of her writing career.

The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou traces the best and worst of the American experience in an achingly personal way. Angelou has chronicled her remarkable journey and inspired people of every generation and nationality to embrace life with commitment and passion.

 

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