I love reading and I especially love memoirs. I love reading about people’s experiences growing up, or in far off lands, or in their garden, or otherwise living their lives. Here are some of my absolute favorites:
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver: This chronicle of novelist Barbara Kingsolver’s family spending a year committed to eating only locally produced foods, and raising their own made me think more about where my food comes from and to see the value in supporting local farmers and businesses. Kingsolver admits that they were not rigid about their commitment, and that it was a journey. Her insights about their experiences are thought provoking, but not at all in an accusatory way. She just tells it how it was for her family. Her husband and daughter get in on the act, too, writing scientific snippets and sharing recipes and their own experiences eating local. This book made me want to break out my gardening gloves and go plant some tomatoes. The audio book is exceptional, the author reads and her Southern voice is soothing and calm. Listening, I felt like we were sitting at the same table, having a friendly chat.
Love in the Driest Season, by Neely Tucker: Foreign correspondent Neely Tucker and his wife are working in Zimbabwe, when they meet a tiny, abandoned, malnourished infant girl, and try to do the impossible, adopt her. The story chronicles their experience as foreigners, trying to adopt in Zimbabwe, a country that does not allow their children to be adopted out of country. I first heard about this book via NPR, during an interview with Mr. Tucker. At the time, I was researching adoption, and was eager to get my hands on any first-hand accounts of adopting abroad. The audiobook for this is quite good, too.
The Language of Baklava, by Diana Abu-Jaber: I picked this up from the library when I was part of a book club related to food and foodie memoirs. The author is of American and Jordanian descent and her memoir focuses on her experiences growing up in Upstate New York and Jordan, with lush descriptions of the foods from her childhood (recipes included!) She is tender and astute in describing her family and especially her father, a gregarious Jordanian, making a new life in America with aplomb. After I finished this book, I tried my hand at making baklava, hummus, baba ganoush, and several other dishes that I’d previously been too intimidated to try, opening my mind and enhancing my appreciation for good food from far-flung places.
What do you like to read? Have you found any memoirs you’d recommend?