About Others: My Struggle Reading Autobiographies

My reading lately hasn’t been focused on my usual genres and that’s mostly because of Christmas.  It may seem like forever ago but Christmas is when I get bought a lot of books that I’ve been desperate to read for a while but rarely get sent as review books.  It’s also a genre I seem to struggle with: autobiographies.

I love, love, LOVE documentaries and I love hearing about interesting people who I admire so you’d think I’d read loads of biographies and autobiographies in a year.  However there is some sort of block in may brain whenever I start reading one.  I can count on one hand the number of them I’ve ever read!  It’s crazy.

This Christmas I’ve had three biographies to read and I knew, unless I really gave them a proper go, they’d languish on my TBR pile forever.

In an effort to fight back against my laziness and lack of lustre for these tomes, I’ve done two long overdue reads one after the other.  First up was a Christmas gift; Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher.  My brother bought me both this book and Carrie’s new book, the Princess Diarist.  It was such a shame that she passed away just the day after I opened these gifts as they made the read all the more striking and thought-provoking.  Wishful Drinking was a hilarious and brutally honest read that looks back at Carrie’s childhood and her life as an addict.  Her voice springs off the page and it’s a superb example of how to write an autobiography: great anecdotes, touching all the important moments without getting bogged down in the dull side of life if it doesn’t matter to the reader.

The other read was an epic bible of a book: Life by Keith Richards.

I’ve been getting into the Stones more and more in the past few years and the OH lent me his copy of Life declaring it a most excellent read.  No pressure then.  Life is over five hundred pages but, when you’ve lived a life like Keith Richards has, it’s amazing he got it down to just five hundred.  Dripping with dark humour, behind-the-scenes gossip and that tongue-in-cheek tone that Keith is known for.  I loved this book but must admit to skimming over some bits when Keith went into the techie side of music that just went over my head a bit.  Brilliantly quotable and worth the long time it took to read it!

My next adventure in auto/biographies will be Jim Henson by Brian Jay Jones which I’ve heard it is fab but I’ve always been a bit stop/start about actually reading it.

What great autobiographies or biographies have you read lately?

One Comment

  1. Lesley Martin

    I just read Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming. Alan grew up not far from me and is much the same age which gave it an added poignancy to read of his childhood. The book is beautifully written and structured. As Alan is finding out about his maternal grandfather for the programme Who Do You Think You Are, he is also hit by a revelation about the past from his estranged and abusive father, causing him to reflect on his childhood. It is definitely not your standard celeb bio, it is very nuanced, and insightful, and I will be seeking out more of his writing.

    I also just read The Princess Diarist and added Wishful Drinking to my TBR list.

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