Good Reads - Nonfiction
Oh, Grow Up!
Parish the Thought: An Inspirational Memoir of Growing Up Catholic in the 1960s by John Bernard Ruane - 2007
One Catholic’s warm, funny account of his days as a student and altar boy at St. Bede the Venerable church on Chicago’s Southwest side during a simpler time.
Warm Springs: Traces of a Childhood at FDR’s Polio Haven by Susan Richards Shreve - 2007
The author richly recalls her 1950s bout with polio, her confinement at the Georgia sanitarium founded by FDR, her experience of first love with a paralyzed fellow patient, and the discovery of the vaccine that ended a national nightmare for many families of the era.
Hands of My Father: A Hearing Boy, His Deaf Parents, and the Language of Love by Myron Uhlberg - 2009
Uhlberg grew up in 1940s Brooklyn interpreting the world for his deaf parents - even the cruel parts - at a time when society treated deaf people as if they were invisible.
Cardboard Gods: An All-American Tale by Josh Wilker - 2011
Wilker navigates his childhood and the pop culture of the 70s, marking the stages of his life through his baseball card collection.
Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm during the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish - 2007
With a novelist’s eye for detail, Kalish transports the reader to 1930s Iowa in the throes of the Great Depression. Despite the hardships of the era, she conveys kinship, neighborliness, and the simple gifts of a lost way of life.
Biography BERNSTEIN, H.
The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers by Harry Bernstein - 2007
In pre-World War I England, when young Harry discovered that his older sister Lily had fallen in love with a boy of a different faith, he defied his upbringing to help them keep their secret. This is a captivating coming-of-age story that tackles universal themes of love and bigotry.
Biography BOYLAN, J.F.
I’m Looking Through You: Growing Up Haunted by Jennifer Finney Boylan - 2008
In her previous memoir, She’s Not There, Boylan candidly discussed her transgendered childhood. This engaging follow up adds ghosts to the mix as she writes about growing up haunted in a dilapidated Victorian mansion, troubled by spirits, disembodied sounds, and the real and imagined mysteries that confronted her.
Biography BRYSON, B.
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir by Bill Bryson - 2006
Humorist Bryson was born in Middle America in the middle of the 20th century. This endearing memoir makes clear from the start that the time and place are subjects of the story as much as Bryson himself. This is an effortless and fun read for baby boomers, but is also sure to charm those who are looking at the era with fresh eyes.
Biography CHIN, S.
The Other Side of Paradise: A Memoir by Staceyann Chin - 2009
Activist and performance artist Chin’s forthright memoir details her hardscrabble childhood in the slums of Jamaica, her mother's rejection of her, uncertainty about the identity of her father, and her fierce determination to find her way.
Biography EIRE, C.M.N.
Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy by Carlos M. N. Eire - 2010
In 1962 the author and his brother arrived in Florida as part of Operation Pedro Pan - an evacuation of 14,000 children from revolution-torn Cuba. Here, Eire continues his cultural journey of acclimation that began with his award-winning Waiting for Snow in Havana.
Biography GILDINER, C.
After the Falls by Catherine Gildiner - 2010
This compelling account of a rebellious teen’s coming-of-age during the tumultuous 1960s changes direction when tragedy teaches her the meaning of family.
Biography GOROKHOVA, E.
A Mountain of Crumbs by Elena Gorokhova - 2009
Gorokhova writes lyrically about her girlhood behind the Iron Curtain in the 1960s and the struggle to selfhood that led her to America.
Biography GULLEY, P.
I Love You, Miss Huddleston: And Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood by Philip Gulley - 2009
With easygoing humor reminiscent of Jean Shepherd, Pastor Gulley confesses the boyhood mischief and teenage yearnings of his formative days in Danville, Indiana.
Biography HANCOCK, E.E.
Trespassers Will Be Baptized: The Unordained Memoir of a Preacher’s Daughter by Elizabeth Emerson Hancock - 2008
Hancock has written an irreverent and funny chronicle about growing up in 1980s Kentucky as the smart-mouthed elder daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher.
Biography HUSTON, A.
Love Child: A Memoir of Family Lost and Found by Allegra Huston - 2009
After her mother’s sudden death, Allegra’s life with her dad, legendary director John Huston, was shaken by the discovery of the identity of her true biological father and by her attempts to resolve conflicting loyalties.
Biography MOSES, K.
Cakewalk: A Memoir by Kate Moses - 2010
The author’s mix of remembrance and recipes reveals the sometimes bitter taste of her childhood. Insecurities triggered by her emotionally erratic mother and distant father led to confectionary obsession, honest introspection and, ultimately, a recipe for forgiveness.
Biography NICHOLAS, T.
Buryin’ Daddy: Putting My Lebanese, Catholic, Southern Baptist Childhood to Rest by Teresa Nicholas - 2011
Nicholas escaped Yazoo City, Mississippi, and Daddy’s penny-pinching and bigoted ways when she left for college and rarely looked back. But when she returned for her father’s funeral twenty years later, she came face to face with the complexities of a man she barely knew.
Biography OPPENHEIMER, M.
Wisenheimer: A Childhood Subject to Debate by Mark Oppenheimer - 2010
Mark felt like the ultimate outsider until he reached middle school and found a new world of kids just like him – precocious kids who loved language and found an outlet for their verbosity in competitive debate.
Biography POOLE, E.
Where’s My Wand?: One Boy’s Magical Triumph over Alienation and Shag Carpeting by Eric Poole - 2010
Poole’s boyhood obsession with Endora from “Bewitched,” his embarrassing dorkiness, and his increasing alienation from his peers spawn oddball stories in this comic and heartfelt memoir of growing up different but ending up exceptional.
Biography ROBINSON, H.
The Gerbil Farmer’s Daughter: A Memoir by Holly Robinson - 2009
Robinson’s delightful story of life with her unorthodox father, a military man with a plan to raise gerbils for profit, is also a funny and affecting look at the lessons learned during her unconventional 1960s upbringing.
Biography SAYRAFIEZADEH, S.
When Skateboards Will Be Free: A Memoir of a Political Childhood by Said Sayrafiezadeh - 2009
Said’s multicultural childhood was steeped in his parents’ revolutionary dreams of a perfect socialist society. He wrestled emotions of deprivation and longing while confronting his identity as an American, an Iranian and a Jew in the era of the Ayatollah and the Iranian hostage crisis.
Biography SCHNEIDER, M.
Not a Happy Camper: A Memoir by Mindy Schneider - 2007
Schneider’s lighthearted summer reminiscence of coping with adolescence and a unique assortment of bunkmates in the Maine woods is a nostalgic snapshot of finding yourself at sleep-away camp.
Biography SCHRAND, B.R.
The Ender’s Hotel: A Memoir by Brandon R. Schrand - 2008
With an eye for detail, Schrand tells evocative stories of growing up at the struggling, family-owned Ender’s Hotel in Soda Springs, Idaho, while searching for meaning and manhood.
Biography WALLS, J.
The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls - 2005
Walls and her siblings were raised on the margins of society by eccentric, often neglectful, parents. Jeannette navigated chaos and heartbreak, somehow arriving at adulthood with unconditional love for her dysfunctional family.
Biography WOLFF, M.
I’m Down: A Memoir by Mishna Wolff - 2009
Born to white parents, Mishna suffered an identity crisis when her father embraced all things African American and steeped her in black culture. When she was transferred to an all-white gifted school, she felt equally out of sync with her new peers. Her hip and funny memoir explores her attempts at cultural self-acceptance.
Prepared by Lori Sennebogen, October 2011