As of today, this blog isn’t any longer a YA blog exclusively. Generally, my YA reading takes place amid a flurry of working with actual teenagers, and so the writing doesn’t get done. But I’ve noticed that I literally read more books than I can remember – and so I want to start chronicling what I do read, just so I have a record. I’m going to try keeping up with my woefully-neglected LibraryThing account, too, and see which system works better for me.
I just finished Ben Yagoda’s Memoir: A History (Riverhead/Penguin, 2009) and enjoyed it quite a bit. Yagoda is a journalism professor at the University of Delaware and has written a number of books on syntax and style, as well as some biographical and autobiographical items of his own. I wasn’t entirely sure, when I picked this title up at my local library, whether I would like it or not. It turned out to be a really readable text – not just a catalog of notable memoirs through the ages (from Robinson Crusoe to Running With Scissors), but an analysis of credibility (and what provides that credibility) and the appeal of this genre.
Admittedly, I am a word geek. I love books and history and good stories, but I am also fascinated by what makes language work and what exactly people mean when they say the things they do. I get all fired up when good writers start to talk about good writing. Memoir seems to be the precise intersection of all those interests. I enjoyed it, but I do think it’s a little esoteric (and I would never have gone looking for it); your mileage may vary.