I’ve read a lot of fiction so far this year, and though I love it, sometimes I just crave some non-fiction. I wanted to read a memoir, but I wasn’t feeling up to the emotional investment that can often come with reading about someone else’s struggle. Looking at my shelves and recent reading lists, I decided to read something that would teach me something about writing.
Why We Write About Ourselves: Twenty Memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literature (edited by Meredith Maran) is exactly what the title suggests — writings from many writers of memoirs, exploring why they choose to write about themselves. There are chapters from Sue Monk Kidd, Cheryl Strayed, Anne Lamott and more. As someone who aspires to be a memoirist (or at least to publish personal essays), I found this collection so inspiring. I love hearing about the writing process, and how it’s both the same and different for everyone.
I learned a lot about myself, and my writing style by what I agreed with and disagreed with when it came to advice given by these well-known and successful authors. I loved the focus on what truth in a memoir is (is it focusing on the straight facts, or understanding that memory is faulty, but it’s all we have?) and how much to protect yourselves, and those who are a part of your story. I have a feeling I will come back to these pages of advice as I write more personal pieces either for the blog or to be published in some other form in the future.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. However, if you don’t care to know what an author is thinking as they write, don’t enjoy reading memoirs, or are not interested in writing yourself, I’d say you can skip this one. However, if any or all of those appeal to you, I would definitely pick this up.
What are you reading? Let me know in the comments!