Amusing Memoirs

  1. Babes in Boyland
    by Gina Barreca

    “A Personal History of Co-education in the Ivy League” is a funny look at college life at a time when hostility to women was rife. Typical paragraph: If I’d managed to get married [before college], I could have saved myself a lot of trouble.  I would not have worried about being the only person at Dartmouth whose name ended in a vowel. . . . I could have skipped torturing myself for having lousy skin in a world composed of

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  2. Travel Memoirs
    by Bill Bryson

    Any of his travel memoirs (e.g., Neither Here Nor There, The Lost Continent, Notes from a Small Island, Notes from a Sunburned Country, A Walk in the Woods) Opening paragraph: (from Notes from a Sunburned Country):  Flying into Australia, I realized with a sigh that I had forgotten again who their prime minister is.  I am forever doing this with the Australian prime minister—committing the name to memory, forgetting it (usually more or less instantly), then feeling terribly guilty.  My thinking

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  3. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
    by Alexandra Fuller

    A charming memoir about her memorable mother and the ending of the Colonial era in Africa. Opening paragraph:  Our Mum—or Nicola Fuller of Central Africa, as she has on occasion preferred to introduce herself—has wanted to be a writer in the family as long as either of us can remember, not only because she loves books and has always therefore wanted to appear in them (the way she likes large, expensive hats, and likes to appear in them) but also

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  4. Eat, Pray, Love
    by Elizabeth Gilbert

    A heartfelt memoir about a young woman’s year-long search for meaning: pleasure in Italy, spirituality in India, and romance in Bali.    Opening paragraph:  I wish Giovanni would kiss me. Quotes from critics:  “A wonderful book, brilliant and personal, rich in spiritual insight.” (author Anne Lamott); “Gilbert’s exuberance and her self-deprecating humor enliven the proceedings” (The New Yorker); “An engaging, intelligent, and highly entertaining memoir (Time); “Gilbert’s writing is chatty and deep, confident and self-deprecating . . . engaging and

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  5. Me Talk Pretty Some Day
    by David Sedaris

    A collection of humorous autobiographical essays, including “Giant Dreams, Midget Abilities,” “A Shiner Like a Diamond,” and “I’ll Eat What He’s Wearing.”  Typical quotes: Here was a person for whom the word pen had two syllables. My fingernails had grown a good three inches by the time he struck his final note. [The dog] developed the sort of breath that could remove paint. My jacket . . . was offered as a loan by the maitre d’, who apparently thought

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  6. Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin
    by Calvin Trillin

    A lighthearted collection from his memoirs, satires, and novels. Typical quotes: My long-term investment strategy has been criticized as being entirely too dependent on Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. Math was never my best subject.  I was never able to convince my math teachers that many of my answers were meant ironically. [Since his mother managed for thirty years to feed her family nothing but leftovers], “We have a team of anthropologists in there now looking for the original meal.” The

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