Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe

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Author: Mike Massimino

Genre: Memoir/Biography

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Pages: 336

 

Mike Massimino, or “Mass” as he is known to many, had a childhood dream: to be an astronaut. He wanted to go to space. He grew up on Long Island, when that wasn’t really a popular dream to have where he was from. Nevertheless, he worked hard and made his way to Columbia and MIT. He then proceeded to fail his first PhD exam, and be repeatedly rejected by the astronaut program. This is where that New York grit came in to play. He didn’t give up, became an astronaut, went to space, and wrote us his riveting memoir about it all.

            I absolutely loved this book! It was so interesting to learn about his journey to becoming an astronaut, and then his time working with NASA. He answered so many questions, and I learned so much from this memoir. I did listen to this book on audio, and I definitely think that this should be listened to (even if you read it in print first)! Massimino’s tone and inflection really made it all the more enjoyable. This is a must read, if you are a fan of science, space exploration, or just great memoirs!

The Princess Diarist

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Author: Carrie Fisher

Genre: Memoir/Humor

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Pages: 272

 

I have been a fan of Carrie Fisher for a very long time. I have always thought that she represented a lot of what I wanted to be as a woman- intelligent, outspoken, hilarious, fiercely unashamed to be who she is, and f*ck ‘em if they can’t take a joke! She had her struggles, and never hid that. In fact, she put them right out there in the hopes that she could help others. That was just another one of her amazing qualities. I read this book before her passing, and I can honestly say that it made me love her even more. Carrie was a very gifted author. This memoir was based on her journals that were kept during the making of the original Star Wars film. Rather than just a copy of her journal entries (although some of those are included for your reading pleasure), she tells the story in her own words based off of those journals. She is honest, straightforward, and hysterical in her storytelling. If you love Star Wars, Carrie, great memoirs, or all the above read this!!!

RIP Carrie. The Force will always be with you.

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Scrappy Little Nobody

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Author: Anna Kendrick

Genre: Memoir/Humor

Publisher: Touchstone

Pages: 304

 

Confession time: I am a bit in love with Anna Kendrick. I have followed her work for years, and her Twitter feed cracks me up on a regular basis. She is witty, funny, charming, and just the right amount of crazy….so….relatable! In this collection of stories, she recounts her life experiences starting as a young girl beginning on Broadway, to the false start of beginning her dating life, to really trying to launch her career. I am so glad that AK decided to “let the crazy out” in this memoir, because it was in many parts laugh-out-loud funny, which was just what I needed. If you are a fan, you will hear her voice loud and clear in this book and love every second of it! If you just need a good laugh, pick it up!

The Book of Joan

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Author: Melissa Rivers

Genre: Biography/Memoir

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Pages: 304

 

I have a confession: I am a HUGE Joan Rivers fan. I loved her, and was so sad when she died. I loved her no-nonsense attitude, the way that she would tell it like it was (no matter who it was that she was telling or telling about!), and her crass sense of humor. I had to imagine that she was a hysterical mother to have, and was truly looking forward to getting a true behind the scenes look from Melissa. I am sad to report that I was a bit underwhelmed by this memoir. I have been trying to figure out and put in to words exactly what it was that just didn’t hook me, but it seemed like it just never really got off of the ground for me. Some of the stories were very funny, and did make me laugh out loud, but overall it just wasn’t the book that I was looking for. I know that there are many, many reviews that disagree with me, so it very well could be that I was looking for something different or was expecting a different “voice” than the one that I heard come through. It was fun, however, to get hear some stories about Joan that I had not heard before, so that made it worth the read. If you choose to read it, I truly hope that you enjoy it more than I did.

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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Author: Irin Carmon

Genre: Biography/Memoir

Publisher: Dey Street Books

Pages: 240

 

First takeaway from this book: RBG is a badass! She is feminism done right. She was a pioneer in pushing for equality, and is still doing so from the highest court in our country, and I love her for that. She is the embodiment of the Shakespearian quote “Though she be but little, she is fierce”. She is a tough woman, but this book allowed me to see her softer side, which was lovely.

I really enjoyed this book. It is a very millennial take on a biography/memoir and not something that I would recommend using if you were looking for something to use for a research project. If, however, you are looking for a fun read that will give you a glimpse in to the life of one of the most influential women of our time, this is a good place to look. I will say that the writing style/layout of the book was a bit disjointed, or “clunky”, for lack of a better term. It jumps around throughout the timeline of her life and career a lot, and it is easy to lose exactly where you are in her life or career if you aren’t paying attention to what you are reading. Aside from that, the book is a lot of fun, and has some great humor and heartwarming parts in it. The additional material (pictures, annotated dissents, documents, etc) jut make it all the more enjoyable. It’s definitely a worthy read. I have long admired this remarkable woman, and this just made me admire her all the more.

Forgiving My Daughter’s Killer: A True Story of Loss, Faith, and Unexpected Grace

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Author: Kate Grosmaire

Genre: Memoir

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Pages: 240

 

Kate Grosmaire received the worst news that a parent can imagine: Her daughter, Ann, had been murdered. To make matters worse, her killer was her boyfriend, Conor. Conor had been considered a part of their family, and had even lived with them. This compounded the devastation that the family was already feeling at the loss of their nineteen-year-old daughter. The book centers on the decision that Kate and Andy made, which seems incomprehensible to many people: They decided to forgive Conor for the murder of Ann. They knew Conor, and believed that this one, momentary act should not define who he was as a person. Forgiveness remains the central theme of this memoir, as Kate details their journey to forgiving Conor. She explains how forgiveness is not an instantaneous decision that one makes, but it is a choice that must be made over and over again. She also gives the reader some insight in to her past story, so that the reader is able to connect with her on a different level. I liked this, as it made it feel as though I could understand where she was coming from a bit better.

I did enjoy this book, as I have been on a bit of a memoir/biography kick for a little while, and I do enjoy true crime. I had trouble understanding how someone could have the capacity to truly forgive the person who murdered their child, but there was a quote that made me understand why they made the decision: She said that if they had not chosen to forgive Conor, they would be in prison with him. That really took me aback a bit, and made me consider their choice a bit deeper. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy memoirs and true crime, but I will warn you that faith plays a lot in to the central theme of this memoir. If that is not something that you would be ok reading about, then I would steer clear. Overall, though, I think that it is a pick.

Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient

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Author: Norman Cousins

Genre: Memoir/Medical

Publisher: Open Road Media

Pages: 192

 

When Cousins was diagnosed with a terminal illness, he decided to take himself out of the hospital, and attempt to treat his disease at home. He and his doctor came up with a regimen of laughter, vitamin C, and rest. The treatment, surprisingly, worked! This proved his hypothesis that the patient’s attitude towards their health was a very large part of the battle against diseases. He used this same attitude to combat heart disease at a later time. This book, which tells of Cousins’ account of using these methods to combat disease, was revolutionary in the area of holistic medicine and gives patients hope to this day that they can have a large hand in their own medical treatment.

I found this book to be both honest, and at times, laugh out loud funny. It really gives you inspiration, and hope that you can truly take hold of your personal health and have a hand in your own treatment. I recommend this book to anyone interested in healthcare, battling an illness, or who has a loved one battling an illness. It may truly change your way of thinking about your health.

Thanks to NetGalley and the Publisher for this review copy.