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Chapter 33 - Educated


I have read quite a few really good memoirs and biographies this year. I love learning about other people, and memoirs and biographies provide that. Sometimes the stories are funny, sometimes sad, sometimes horrible, but reading about other people's lives helps me to understand things about the world and what is happening in my own sphere. If well written, the memoir or autobiography is like talking to a good friend with interesting stories. Biographies are more like looking into the neighbor's window and seeing what is going on.


There for a while I was on a kick of musician biographies/memoirs and have read about Janis Joplin, Elton John, and Carly Simon to name a few. While I have read a few of those in 2021, my go-to's this year have been included regular people with interesting stories.


Here are some I've recently read:


Low Country by J. Nicole Jones - This was, for me, an eye opening look at Myrtle Beach of the past. Nicole Jones has crafted a memoir with all the good, bad, and ugly of her family as they became a force in the growth of this area.


Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly - I loved this book for many reasons. First and foremost it was about incredibly strong, smart women. It featured amazing black women who figured out so much to support defense during World War II and then as part of the space program. Also Hidden Figures was a great story of how these women have finally had their voices heard. There is also a Young Readers' edition.


Paul McCartney: The Life by Philip Norman - This terrific biography by Phillip Norman had an auspicious beginning. Norman had written a biography of the John Lennon (John Lennon: The Life) in which he stated that he thought John Lennon was the Beatles. Needless to say this did not endear him to Paul and when he went to write about Paul, he went with hat in hand. Paul agreed and the book is terrific. (Sadly this is not available from our new book website.)


Elton John: Fifty Years On by Stephen Spignesi and Michael Lewis - So I have been on an Elton John kick as we had tickets to see him in 2020 in Columbia, SC. As you know that didn't happen and it appears that he will be touring again in 2022. This book looks at the impact Elton John and Bernie Taupin had on popular music of that generation and discusses every song on all 30 albums. I'll be prepped for the concert!


Educated by Tara Westover - If you haven't read this terrific book by Tara Westover you are missing a great memoir. Growing up in Mormon survivalist family in Idaho, Tara was 18 before she saw the inside of a classroom. She then went on to get her undergraduate degree and ultimately her doctorate from Cambridge University.


and a novel -


Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid - This book reads like a Rolling Stone interview and while Daisy Jones and her band The Six are fictional you might be reminded a little of Fleetwood Mac. The story is engaging with characters you root for and a very satisfying ending. I have become a big Taylor Jenkins Reid fan!


Any suggestions for memoirs or biographies you've read? Please share!