Word by Word

Creating myself one word at a time.


downloadIt seems like there are more and more memoirs being published every day. Everyone from politicians to movie stars to scientists to moguls are writing them. I don’t remember there ever being so many, but it could also be that age-old problem of I just wasn’t paying attention. There is something ironic about my not being able to remember so many memoirs being published and the topic I’m about to explore.

Two years ago I wasn’t much of an audio book person. I liked my books in my hands, not my ears. However, I developed friendships with those who are avid listeners. My adventure into audio began with a simple desire to get through my TBR faster. Driving for a work trip? No problem. I can still get that book read. Weeding the garden and need something to keep me motivated? Plug in those ear buds and get to weeding. Really, I was amazed at the number of tasks that allowed me to keep working on that TBR.

What I found, though, was a vibrant audio book community and reasons I never expected to listen to audio books. One of the discoveries I made was that some books are actually better in the audio format. Twenty-five year-old me would be appalled, but it is true. And one of those genres, for me, is memoir.

Memory is a funny thing. Mine is a murky thing, as well. I don’t remember in the crisp detail that others seem to remember their past. I have hazy memories of my childhood. Obviously, the ones from my late teens and twenties are clearer than those from elementary and junior high days. My memory is built on pictures from those days and the stories the adults from those times tell.

I say all of this because I find those who have crisp memory fascinating. The Sheldon Coopers of the world amaze me with their recall of what a person was wearing, who ate what and who was in the room when an event took place. I can’t remember what I wore two days ago. What did I eat for breakfast? Was I in the room when that happened? What’s my name? Just kidding!

The memoir genre has become a new fascination for me because of this very thing. I’m sure those who write them would prefer I be interested in what they did and how they did it. And I am, but I’m more interested in hearing them sketch out the scene. Recall the detail. Outline the personalities of those around them.

I’ve recently listened to Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick and Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. They were good. Noah’s dealt with heavier topics and felt more substantial, but Kendrick’s was fun and entertaining. They are both younger than I. Some reviews have shared that they prefer to read memoirs from those who have lived longer and have more experience to share.

I’m of the opinion that it’s good they put their memories down on paper now. They’ve sketched them all out where they will remember. They’ve shared them in an act of community. As one who has a hazy memory, the act of community is an important part of having memory live-on. So, I’ve learned to join the memoir community. I’m still very picky about which I choose to read. I have a list going, though, of the ones recommended by people I trust.

Listening or reading as they sketch the outline of a memory and begin to shade it in with nuance. It’s encouraged me to be more diligent about my own daily records and being sure to add a little more detail. You never know when you might need to write your own memoir!

Do you have a favorite memoir you’d recommend I read? Or maybe one that’s a great listen? I’m all ears!

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3 thoughts on “Memoir and the Art of Memory

  1. Karen says:

    I have yet to delve into the world of audio books, but this posting may just get me to do so! Thank you for the insight and push towards that…who can resist being able to read or be read to while doing chores!!

    1. Good luck! Glad I could provide some encouragement! I started with my library. A lot have that option to download them and you can try without too much investment.

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