In his latest memoir, Augusten Burroughs, once again, delivers a story filled with laughter, heartache, and yes...magic. In this story of moving from the big city to the country, he reveals that he is a witch. Yes, a witch! Yes, I was a bit thrown over this revelation, but through his candid telling of his own life, I grew to appreciate him even more.
As always, he includes a fantastic cast of characters you really can connect to. If you are a fan of his work, you will not be disappointed. In Toil & Trouble (2019), he reveals much more of himself to his fans than just being a witch.
Hilarie Burton Morgan's book The Rural Diaries (2020) is like catching up with an old friend over coffee.
I have been a fan since she played Peyton Sawyer on One Tree Hill. I didn't follow her personal life much until a year ago when I started following the cast on Instagram. Hilarie seemed well-grounded and normal. I wondered if it was an act for Instagram or if this was actually her.
After reading her book, I'm pleased to say, it's all her. She's so normal. It's refreshing. Her words are real and authentic. She uses bad four-letter words occasionally. Her stories are heartwarming and relatable. She shares tips for gardening, recipes, and home improvement. And speaking of home improvement, she loves Home Depot—a girl after my own heart. She talks about being a friend, a mother, a wife, and a woman.
She is married to actor, Jeffery Dean Morgan, who I had a mad crush on when he played Denny Duquette on Grey's Anatomy. And, she co-owns a candy store in a small New York town with actor, Paul Rudd. How did this all happen? I don't want to spoil it for you. Read the book. It's just another one of the heartwarming stories that she tells. Trust me; you'll enjoy it.
I'm so glad I listened to Hilarie narrate the book. I think hearing her words, spoken by her, made her stories more enjoyable. Like I said, catching up with an old friend over coffee.
If you're a fan of Hilarie, read (I mean, listen to) the book. Even if you're not a fan, it's a truly enjoyable memoir that in a nutshell, is about a girl, her life, and a farm. Check out The Rural Diaries: Love, Livestock, and Big Life Lessons Down on Mischief Farm today. Visit Overdrive to listen to the audiobook or read the ebook.
Chrissy Metz writes in a relatable way. This Is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today (2018) is an inspiring and heartwarming read. Through her story, you learn that you can change and achieve what you desire in life, simply by being your best self.
I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the woman behind the character Kate on This Is Us. It was heartbreaking to read of her abuse and uplifting how she treated those who bullied her.
Chrissy Metz writes in a way that makes you feel like you're sitting and talking with a good friend. She does a wonderful job of inspiring others to be themselves.
I really enjoyed reading the book Me by Elton John (2019). It was incredibly interesting learning about his entire life, from his humble beginnings to his extravagant rock star life. There are many twists and turns along his life's journey. He describes in detail the many places and people he encountered along the way.
Elton writes about how and why certain songs were written and the meaning behind many of them. He recalls the many famous friends he had from rock stars to royalty, to average people that he met along the way. The stories he lived are unbelievable and are a joy to learn about. I found this to be very inspirational in finding love and a purpose in life.
Tara Westover’s Educated is the fascinating true story of a young woman raised in a survivalist family in the southern mountains of Idaho. Throughout her childhood, Tara’s father uses end-of-days fear, isolation, and the threat of eternal damnation to maintain control over his family. Every decision the family makes is informed by their father’s religious doctrine, so formal education is out of the question. Tara’s interest in the outside world combined with a desire to escape a life of working in the family’s scrapyard leads her to challenge her father’s ideas and, eventually, the lifestyle her family leads.
This compelling book is at times both heartbreaking and horrifying, but Westover’s matter-of-fact style of storytelling makes the reader feel right at home in this extreme, unfamiliar world.
Despite the fact that Don and his wife Mindy are just barely scraping by in New York City, they decide to buy a ruined house in a small village on Belle-Ile. Repairing it enough to make it inhabitable takes 8 years and multiple trips to the island. There are ancient village rules for building a sane and moral house that take some serious negotiating. Wallace relays the bonds they form with the village neighbors, his struggle with the French language and their love of surfing with a humorous touch that make The French House an enjoyable read.
Check out A Girl Named Zippy and these discussion questions.
Roger Ebert is one of the most well-known movie critics in the world, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967 and also famous for the television show Siskel & Ebert at the Movies. Ebert has written many books that review movies and even a biography of director Martin Scorsese. But his memoir of growing up in southern Illinois is his most impressive work yet.
Plagued for years by cancer that eventually disfigured his face and left him unable to eat, drink or speak, Ebert’s story is not depressing but rather a celebration of what a wonderful life he has had. He was able to overcome alcoholism and marry the woman of his dreams who is still his devoted partner. The book also has fun tales to tell of his close encounters with movie stars such as John Wayne and Robert Mitchum. To learn more about Ebert check out his blog.
Read Ebert’s reviews of movies currently playing at a theater near you:
Tim Gunn made the phrase “Make It Work!” famous on the hit reality TV series Project Runway where he mentors the contestants and costars with model Heidi Klum. In this etiquette book/biography, Tim shares his 18 golden rules for a happy and successful life. The rules include “be a good guest or stay home” and “when you need help, get it.” Surprisingly, when it comes to appropriate clothing, he reminds us that “physical comfort is overrated,” but that he really doesn’t notice too much what other people wear, and will rarely comment on an outfit unless he is asked.
Just one of the interesting tidbits in the book is that Tim was an unpaid consultant on Project Runway for the first two seasons. Other juicy revelations include info on J. Edgar Hoover since Gunn’s father was an FBI special agent and also J. Edgar’s ghostwriter.
Visit Gunn's facebook page for more information on the fashion guru.
A small book to get a quick insight into Africa. Bryson writes with his usual humor about traveling through Africa and what his preconception of Africa was before his trip.
Bill Bryson's story about Africa contains wonderful pictures and explanations of the continent. The profits of the book go to CARE to benefit African people.
Check out the official Bill Bryson website and read reviews on Amazon.com.
This is Julie Andrews' memoir about her life growing up in England during WWII and her childhood singing career. It was very interesting to read about Julie growing up in England and how strong she was in dealing with her life as a child, as an amateur and as a beginning professional. The book explains Julie's life on-and-off stage and how it only takes a few kind people to nurture talent in spite of situations that are not ideal.
If you like Julie Andrews, you'll be interested in this book. The book ends as Julie is hired to be Mary Poppins by Walt Disney in this wonderful animation and actor movie. I hope Julie writes the next book about her middle years because it would be interesting to know how she managed to have a diverse career and a family life using all of her artistic and domestic talents.
Visit the Julie Andrews website and read the USA Today review.
John Grogan, the author of Marley and Me, writes another winner. This is a funny, sentimental good read about John Grogan, the not-so-good Catholic boy, who grows up navigating life with his ultra-conservative Catholic parents. His deep love for his parents shows through in every page as his values clash with theirs, and he becomes a man.
Catholic or not, this memoir will make you think about your life and your relationship with your parents. John Grogan is a wonderful storyteller and writes another beautiful memoir, minus Marley.
Visit the author's website and read reviews at Amazon.com.