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Standout Memoirs

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  1. 1 reviews 0 5 3 3 out of 5 stars 3/5 (1)
    8.1 hrs • 3/3/2014 • Unabridged

    The renowned biographer’s unforgettable portrait of a family in ruins—his own Meet the Baileys: Burck, a prosperous lawyer once voted the American Legion’s “Citizen of the Year” in his tiny hometown of Vinita, Oklahoma; his wife Marlies, who longs to recapture her festive life in Greenwich Village as a fetching young German immigrant, fresh off the boat; their addled son Scott, who repeatedly crashes the family Porsche; and Blake, the younger son, trying to find a way through the storm. “You’re gonna be just like me,” a drunken Scott taunts him. “You’re gonna be worse.” Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Blake Bailey has been hailed as “addictively readable” (New York Times) and praised for his ability to capture lives “compellingly and in harrowing detail” (Time). The Splendid Things We Planned is his darkly funny account of growing up in the shadow of an erratic and increasingly dangerous brother, an exhilarating and sometimes harrowing story that culminates in one unforgettable Christmas.

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    The Splendid Things We Planned by Blake Bailey

    The Splendid Things We Planned

    8.1 hrs • 3/3/14 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 3 3 out of 5 stars 3/5 (1)
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  2. 0 reviews 0 5 4.3 4 out of 5 stars 4.3/5
    9.9 hrs • 10/8/2013 • Unabridged

    When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday October 9, 2012, she almost paid the ultimate price. When she was shot in the head at point blank range while riding the bus home from school, few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in Northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest ever nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, and of Malala’s parents’ fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons. It will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world.

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    I Am Malala

    By Malala Yousafzai, with Christina Lamb
    9.9 hrs • 10/8/13 • Unabridged
    0 reviews 0 5 4.3 4 out of 5 stars 4.3/5
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  3. 8.2 hrs • 5/16/2013 • Unabridged

    “One day I will tell you the story of my life,” promises Emma Brockes’s mother, “and you will be amazed.” Despite her mother’s tales of a rustic childhood in South Africa and bohemian years in London, Brockes grew up knowing that some crucial pieces of the past were left unspoken. A mystery to her friends and family, Brockes’ mother, Paula, was glamorous, no-nonsense, and totally out of place in their quaint English village. What compelled her to emigrate to England was never explained, nor what empowered her tremendous strengths and strange fears. Looking to unearth the truth after Paula’s death, Brockes begins a dangerous journey into the land, and life, her mother fled years before. She Left Me the Gun: My Mother’s Life Before Me is a tale of true transformation, the story of a young woman who reinvented herself so completely that her previous life seemed to simply vanish, and of a daughter who transcends her mother’s fears and reclaims an abandoned past. Brockes soon learns Paula’s father was a drunk megalomaniac who terrorized Paula and her seven half-siblings for years. He is ultimately taken to court and vindicated of all charges, but not before Paula shoots him five times, and fails to kill him. She books passage to London, never to return. She Left Me the Gun carries Brockes to South Africa to meet her seven aunts and uncles, to weigh their stories against her mother’s silences, and to understand one of the world’s most beautiful yet bloody countries. Brockes learns of the violent pathologies and racial propaganda in which her grandfather was inculcated, sees the mine shafts and train yards where he worked as an itinerant mechanic, and finds buried in government archives the startling court records that prove he was secretly imprisoned for murder years before he first married. An extraordinary work of psychological suspense and forensic memoir, She Left Me the Gun chronicles Brockes’ efforts to walk the knife edge between understanding her mother’s unspeakable traumas and embracing the happiness she chose for herself and her daughter.

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    She Left Me the Gun

    8.2 hrs • 5/16/13 • Unabridged
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  4. 0 reviews 0 5 4.7 4 out of 5 stars 4.7/5
    7.8 hrs • 11/13/2012 • Unabridged

    One day, Susannah Cahalan woke up in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. Her medical records—from a month-long hospital stay of which she had no memory—showed psychosis, violence, and dangerous instability. Yet only weeks earlier she had been a healthy, ambitious twenty-four-year-old, six months into her first serious relationship and a sparkling career as a cub reporter. Susannah’s astonishing memoir chronicles the swift path of her illness and the lucky, last-minute intervention led by one of the few doctors capable of saving her life. As weeks ticked by, and Susannah moved inexplicably from violence to catatonia, $1 million worth of blood tests and brain scans revealed nothing. The exhausted doctors were ready to commit her to the psychiatric ward, in effect condemning her to a lifetime of institutions, or death, until Dr. Souhel Najjar—nicknamed Dr. House—joined her team. He asked Susannah to draw one simple sketch, which became key to diagnosing her with a newly discovered autoimmune disease in which her body was attacking her brain, an illness now thought to be the cause of “demonic possessions” throughout history. With sharp reporting drawn from hospital records, scientific research, and interviews with doctors and family, Brain on Fire is a crackling mystery and an unflinching, gripping personal story that marks the debut of an extraordinary writer.

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    Brain on Fire

    7.8 hrs • 11/13/12 • Unabridged
    0 reviews 0 5 4.7 4 out of 5 stars 4.7/5
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  5. 27.0 hrs • 9/18/2012 • Unabridged

    On February 14, 1989, Valentine’s Day, Salman Rushdie was telephoned by a BBC journalist and told he had been “sentenced to death” by the Ayatollah Khomeini. For the first time he heard the word fatwa. His crime? To have written a novel called The Satanic Verses, which was accused of being “against Islam, the Prophet, and the Quran.” So begins the extraordinary story of how a writer was forced underground, moving from house to house, with the constant presence of an armed police protection team. He was asked to choose an alias that the police could call him by. He thought of writers he loved and combinations of their names; then it came to him: Conrad and Chekhov—Joseph Anton. How do a writer and his family live with the threat of murder for more than nine years? How does he go on working? How does he fall in and out of love? How does despair shape his thoughts and actions, how and why does he stumble, how does he learn to fight back? In this remarkable memoir Rushdie tells that story for the first time; the story of one of the crucial battles, in our time, for freedom of speech. He talks about the sometimes grim, sometimes comic realities of living with armed policemen, and of the close bonds he formed with his protectors; of his struggle for support and understanding from governments, intelligence chiefs, publishers, journalists, and fellow writers; and of how he regained his freedom. It is a book of exceptional frankness and honesty, compelling, provocative, moving, and of vital importance. Because what happened to Salman Rushdie was the first act of a drama that is still unfolding somewhere in the world every day.

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    Joseph Anton

    27.0 hrs • 9/18/12 • Unabridged
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  6. 0 reviews 0 5 4 4 out of 5 stars 4/5
    2.2 hrs • 9/4/2012 • Unabridged

    On June 8, 2010, while on a book tour for his bestselling memoir, Hitch-22, Christopher Hitchens was stricken in his New York hotel room with excruciating pain in his chest and thorax. As he would later write in the first of a series of award-winning columns for Vanity Fair, he suddenly found himself being deported “from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady.” Over the next eighteen months, until his death in Houston on December 15, 2011, he wrote constantly and brilliantly on politics and culture, astonishing readers with his capacity for superior work even in extremis. Throughout the course of his ordeal battling esophageal cancer, Hitchens adamantly and bravely refused the solace of religion, preferring to confront death with both eyes open. In this riveting account of his affliction, Hitchens poignantly describes the torments of illness, discusses its taboos, and explores how disease transforms experience and changes our relationship to the world around us. By turns personal and philosophical, Hitchens embraces the full panoply of human emotions as cancer invades his body and compels him to grapple with the enigma of death. Mortality is the exemplary story of one man’s refusal to cower in the face of the unknown, as well as a searching look at the human predicament. Crisp and vivid, veined throughout with penetrating intelligence, Hitchens’ testament is a courageous and lucid work of literature, an affirmation of the dignity and worth of man.

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    Mortality

    Foreword by Graydon Carter
    Afterword by Carol Blue
    Read by Simon Prebble
    2.2 hrs • 9/4/12 • Unabridged
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  7. 6.5 hrs • 8/21/2012 • Unabridged

    Facing his sixty-third winter, internationally acclaimed novelist Paul Auster sits down to write a history of his body and its sensations—both pleasurable and painful.Thirty years after the publication of The Invention of Solitude, in which he wrote so movingly about fatherhood, Auster gives us a second unconventional memoir in which he writes about his mother's life and death. Winter Journal is a highly personal meditation on the body, time, and memory, by one of our most intellectually elegant writers.

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    Winter Journal

    6.5 hrs • 8/21/12 • Unabridged
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  8. 1 reviews 0 5 4.6 4 out of 5 stars 4.6/5 (1)
    13.0 hrs • 3/20/2012 • Unabridged

    A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again. At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone. Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

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    Wild

    13.0 hrs • 3/20/12 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 4.6 4 out of 5 stars 4.6/5 (1)
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  9. 1 reviews 0 5 4.5 4 out of 5 stars 4.5/5 (1)
    14.6 hrs • 2/28/2011 • Unabridged

    Andre Dubus III, author of the National Book Award–nominated House of Sand and Fog and The Garden of Last Days, reflects on his violent past and a lifestyle that threatened to destroy him—until he was saved by writing. After their parents divorced in the 1970s, Andre Dubus III and his three siblings grew up with their exhausted working mother in a depressed Massachusetts mill town saturated with drugs and crime. To protect himself and those he loved from street violence, Andre learned to use his fists so well that he was even scared of himself. He was on a fast track to getting killed—or killing someone else—or to beatings-for-pay as a boxer. Nearby, his father, an eminent author, taught on a college campus and took the kids out on Sundays. The clash of worlds couldn’t have been more stark—or more difficult for a son to communicate to a father. Only by becoming a writer himself could Andre begin to bridge the abyss and save himself. His memoir is a riveting, visceral, profound meditation on physical violence and the failures and triumphs of love.

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    Townie by Andre Dubus III

    Townie

    14.6 hrs • 2/28/11 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 4.5 4 out of 5 stars 4.5/5 (1)
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  10. 1 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5 (1)
    13.5 hrs • 2/17/2000 • Unabridged

    The literary sensation of the year, a book that redefines both family and narrative for the twenty-first century. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is the moving memoir of a college senior who, in the space of five weeks, loses both of his parents to cancer and inherits his eight-year-old brother. Here is an exhilarating debut that manages to be simultaneously hilarious and wildly inventive as well as a deeply heartfelt story of the love that holds a family together. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is an instant classic that will be read in paperback for decades to come. The Vintage edition includes a new appendix by the author.

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    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

    13.5 hrs • 2/17/00 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5 (1)
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