Autobiographies and memoirs- jumping head first into a new literary genre…

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As an individual who prides herself on a deep love for reading, there has been one genre which I have blatantly been walking passed in the bookstore for 23 years of my life. That section happens to be Autobiographies, Biographies and Memoirs. “In my younger and more vulnerable years” I had a penchant for dream journals and reflective writing just like Nick Carraway, but I have never been compelled to pick up someone else’s piece of writing. I like my books dystopian, science fiction and with a side of conflicted romance. Maybe I have disliked the genre because it will always linguistically remind me of completing a bibliography in my days of university referencing. Or maybe it is more simple than that because I just haven’t found the right memoir yet. Regardless of my ignorance to all things ‘biography related’ in the past, I feel that it is the right time to stop being so rigid with my book choices and try new flavours in my reading regime…

‘Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”’ written by Lena Dunham was my selection for the first Autobiography I would read for fun. The book fell into the category of a memoir with a dash of comedic flair and it had been lying dormant on my shelf for a few months on loan from a dear friend of mine. Every time I looked at it, I found myself avoiding it because I would commence internally singing “Not that kind” by Anastasia… Once that nostalgic song is stuck in your head dear reader there is absolutely no means of escape! (I’m sorry if it’s now in yours!)

‘Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”’ is set up as a collection of personal essays exploring the life and experiences of the wickedly talented Lena Dunham. The book’s different categories explore the inner workings of the female mind and body which is intriguing to follow as a reader. Her writing style won many book brownie points for me because I could put the book up and down without feeling like I was losing track of the story, so kudos to Ms Dunham. Drawing on her personal experiences and epic failures, Dunham paints a portrait of the life of a twenty something year old girl, struggling to make ends meet and discover one’s true identity.

I finished the book just before Christmas and I am delighted to write that it was one of my favourite reads for 2015. I ended up reading it in between busy shifts in my retail job and before I went to sleep at night. The book had me hooked and I just had to keep reading because I had to see for myself the kind of girl Lena was writing about; and if I so happened to be one myself…

Dunham’s essays are sewn together with her clever humour and is the only person who can get away with telling way to much information and make it bearable. Before reading this book I knew absolutely nothing about Lena and since finishing the book I have just finished season two of Dunham’s acclaimed HBO series ‘Girls.’ I feel that by reading the novel first that I have a deeper understanding of Lena’s message that she wishes for the show to convey.

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This was a great first choice from the autobiography/memoir genre… 

Now much more affiliated with everything Lena, I have to come to see the mixed opinions surrounding Dunham’s image in the public eye. I understand that she originates from a privileged family and does not once acknowledge this in her memoir. Even in her pursuits as a film writer it is not recognised the ease of her journey into the Hollywood spotlight. Her purpose is that she’s just trying to be one of the girls. But what kind of girl that is I am still trying to figure out. I can completely see why that can be negatively received, but it did not impact my enjoyment of this novel. I absolutely loved her quirkiness as a writer and her honesty about struggling with mental health issues in a chaotic modern society.

☕☕☕☕

I thoroughly enjoyed Lena’s book so much that my first read of 2016 was Tina Fey’s Autobiography ‘Bossypants,’ selected as my second memoir to try.  I am a huge fan of Fey’s NBC hit show 30 Rock and it was awesome to read about her firsthand experience on Saturday Night Live.

I chose two strong and hilarious women of comedy, but the memoirs felt like they were polar opposite…  

Tina’s book presents snapshots of her life sprinkling humour throughout each of her carefully crafted pages. Tina’s high school experience and her marriage were the most interesting to read about as it provided depth to her character and cemented her humour for me. I love that she can make fun of herself and also the stereotypes of powerful women in comedy. At times I felt the book lacked structure and support, but overall her writing style is very easy to follow as a reader.

Fey has a unique perspective of the world and I believe this book will be enhanced if you have watched her television series. She always goes for the shock factor which is highly entertaining. I recently found out that the audiobook version of ‘Bossypants’ is read by none other than Tina herself! I wished that my reading experience had of been in this way as some of her jokes or examples would have been better received if they were spoken as at times the book was like a stand up piece of humour. Regardless, it was a quick and enjoyable read and perfect to kick start me into the new year of reading.

☕☕☕

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Arnold’s even jumping on the autobiography bandwagon… 

The lure of biographies has become insatiable to me now. I have come to the dark side Anakin Skywalker style and am never going back. Both ‘Not that Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”’ and ‘Bossypants’ ignited a sense of feminine purpose in me. In their own way the books reminded me to never feel pressured by my gender to conform to particular roles, or to ever feel inferior because of who I am. Being a feminist doesn’t mean that I have to force my pinions down people’s throats, but it can be worn everyday like a badge of honour with how I respect and consider other’s opinions, situations and ideas. This was important for me to recognise and I feel a sense of empowerment after reading these two texts. I can’t recommend trying new stories every now and again dear reader. If you haven’t tried a particular genre, like classics or young adult I encourage you to try. You can only learn something new and exciting about yourself if you do.

 

Even though I have missed out on them for too long, I have lined up some autobiographies for my ‘to be read list of 2016’ which are as followed:

☕Drew Barrymore’s ‘Wildflower.’ This autobiography details Drew’s life from her perspective so I’m very excited to hear her point of view.

☕Amy Poehler’s ‘Yes Please’: This will complement my reading of ‘Bossypants’ as Tina mentions Amy countless times throughout the novel- and all of them are glorious.)

☕’Last Night at the Viper Room: River Phoenix and the Hollywood her left behind’ written by Gavin Edwards. I have always been fascinated by River’s life and this biography will be extremely interesting to read.

I’m curious to hear if there’s any autobiographies, biographies or memoirs that have changed your way of thinking recently?

Happy reading,

Miss Book Dependent xo

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