A Narrative of My Captivity Among the Sioux Indians by Fanny Kelly

A Narrative of My Captivity among the Sioux Indians by Fanny Kelly (1871)
Originally published in 1871, this is a great firsthand account of life on the frontier in the latter 19th century. Fanny Kelly describes a wagon train, an attack by the Sioux, her life among her captors, and by extension, their lives, and the story of what happened when she got back. This book has plenty of drama and action. Plus it is a historical snapshot of an America now long forgotten.

Preview the book, read reviews from other readers, and explore other "captivity" narratives.

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriott

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot (1972)
Perfect stories from the life of a young veterinary doctor. The best book about people and animals that I have read in the last five years.  Herriot continues his story of life as an English country vet in All Things Bright and Beautiful and All Things Wise and Wonderful. These real life stories were made into an excellent BBC series.

James Herriot was the pen name for James Alfred Wight. Visit the James Herriot website to learn more about this veterinary/author. You may also read an excerpt from the book and find reviews at Amazon.com.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson (2006)
Humorous, laugh-out-loud story of Bill Bryson's childhood growing up in the 1950s. If you want to read a true version of how life was growing up in the 1950s in Iowa, this is it. If you want to recall how life was in the 1950s, this is it.

Check out the reviews at Amazon.com, preview the book before visiting the library, and watch a video of Bryson discussing his book.

The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson

The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson (2009)
Amy Dickinson, the successor to Ann Landers and writer of the syndicated "Dear Amy" advice column in the Chicago Tribune, has written this warm and funny memoir of her life after her husband leaves her and her young baby for a young Russian woman he's met. Amy's story is about picking herself up after this devastating blow and returning to her small hometown in upper New York. Nurtured by the "Queens," the Freeville women in her family, she does survive and becomes the insightful, wise woman we read in the advice column. This book is a quick, humorous read and Amy's story makes us proud that we, too, can make it and flourish in the face of most anything.

Check out the book's website and read reviews of the book at Amazon.com.

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes (1996)
A memoir about an American college professor and her lover who purchase a deserted villa in Cortona, Italy, and attempt to restore it to its former glory; thus, enabling them to enjoy “la dolie vita.” Along the way they learn to deal with the idiosyncrasies of the local workmen and the slower paced Italian way of life. Much different than the movie, I liked the book more. An added bonus is the recipes she includes.

Read reviews and a summary of the book at BookBrowse.com. You can alos explore the book discussion guide.

Are you there, Vodka? by Chelsea Handler

Are you there, Vodka? It’s me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler (2008)
Comedian and talk show host Chelsea Handler tells funny stories about her life. Topics include getting pulled over one week after her 21st birthday, taking a trip to Costa Rica with her father, and her love for vodka. A quick, enjoyable read.


Check out the author's fansite and read an excerpt from the book.

Audition by Barbara Walters

Audition by Barbara Walters (2008)
Barbara Walters "tells all" in this biography/memoir and doesn't come across as being exemplary in her personal life with her parents, sibling, daughter and husbands. But oh, what a life she has lead! Her retelling of her travels and the multitude of interviews she has done is mesmerizing. This woman has lived a full life and has taken us on her journey through the pages of this book. It was a great read.

On ABC's website, read an article about the book and view her photo album, which details various stages of her life. Read the New York Times review or listen to the NPR interview.

The Liars' Club by Mary Karr

The Liars' Club by Mary Karr (1995)
This is a coming of age memoir about a young girl growing up in what most would consider to be a dysfunctional family. The family itself, however, cares about each other in their own offbeat way. Proof of the power of love, the book is humorous and touching at the same time.

Visit Reading Group Guides for more about the book, discussion questions, and an interview with the author.

The 8:55 to Baghdad by Andrew Eames

The 8:55 to Baghdad: From London to Iraq on the Trail of Agatha Christie by Andrew Eames (2005)
Author Eames is in Aleppo, Syria, when he hears a reference to Agatha Christie coming regularly to Aleppo to "have her hair done." Knowing nothing of Christie's first visit to the Middle East and her many subsequent trips with her second husband, an archeologist, Eames reads up on Christie and the history of the paths of the Orient Express and Taurus Express that took her on her original trip. The book is full of the trials on traveling by train in the twenty-first century, the many interesting people along the way and the often fascinating history and culture of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. It will make you want to come right back to the library and check out the books (or see the DVDs) of Murder on the Orient Express and Murder in Mesopotamia.

Teacher Man by Frank McCourt

Teacher Man by Frank McCourt (2005)
A “must read” for every teacher and for anyone wanting a rich, well written story of classroom life in the trenches in the New York school system. My favorite Frank McCourt book.

Check out the author's appearance on CBS' The Early Show, or listen to an interview or read an excerpt on NPR.

Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg

Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg (2001)
Author Bragg tells the story of his maternal grandfather, a man he never met, who kept a family going during the depths of the Depression in the deep South.

Check out the New York Times book review. You can also reserve Bragg's latest book -- The Prince of Frogtown -- which will be released in May.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (1998)
An unlikely duo attempts to tackle the over 2000 mile hike that is the Appalachian Trail. Laugh out loud as they trudge through the wilderness toward a very distant goal.

According to a January 2008 articleRobert Redford plans to produce and star in a movie adaptation.

700 Sundays by Billy Crystal

700 Sundays by Billy Crystal (2005)
In great storyteller fashion, Billy Crystal gives us an entertaining story of his quirky life with his family and reveals his sometimes complex relationship with his Dad. Dad worked two jobs and died early but Crystal is glad he got those “700 Sundays” with him.

Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox

Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox (2002)
This book shows a Michael J. Fox you don’t know. Fox was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth but took his charismatic personality to Hollywood and almost destroyed himself in the process. Even after early onset Parkinson’s disease, he still considers himself a "lucky man." Read it and see why.

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed by Alan Alda

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: and Other Things I’ve Learned by Alan Alda (2005)
Entertaining, revealing, but not about his career on MASH. This is a poignant story of an eccentric life with his Dad, a vaudeville performer, and his Mom who struggles with mental issues. Alda’s story is funny, conversational, and a great read. And, yes, they really did stuff his dog!

Also check out Alda’s 2007 biography: Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself.