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“What’s Memoir?”

I’ve been reading a lot of one kind of book lately. I’m studying the genre because my current book project is creative non-fiction memoir.

Recently, I stopped by a local library and asked where to look for memoir. The perplexed librarian said, “What?  What’s memoir?”

In case you are wondering, too, it’s just a fancy french word for a personal story. A subcategory of autobiography, a memoir is a collection of memories that an author compiles to create a re-telling of personal experience.

Currently I hold a membership with the National Association of Memoir Writers.  NAMW was founded by my current writing coach, author and memoir guru, Linda Joy Meyers.  Linda believes in the therapeutic process of memoir and provides great tips for mining your personal story. If you’ve been considering the possibility of writing your own story, even if you don’t intend to publish, go ahead and check out her sites.


My Top 3 Picks

I have a short stack of memoir sitting on my shelf right now.  In honor of Thanksgiving, I am hosting a giveaway including one of my 3 current favorites. Even if you aren’t the big Giveaway Winner, go ahead and check out these three great reads…


1.  Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

This raw and compelling memoir traces Cheryl Strayed‘s eleven-hundred mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail in California. After her mother’s death and the break up of her marriage, the inexperienced backpacker takes to the trail. Strayed is a master at weaving her story in and out of flashback and reflection. The book is full of occasional cussing, humorous circumstances, heart wrenching relationships, foot blisters, and personal epiphany.

“Wild” was featured on Oprah’s Book Club and is currently in production as a major motion picture featuring Reese Witherspoon.  Published by Knopf, 2012


2.  After Visiting Friends: A Son’s Story, by Michael Hainey.

I am partial to this New York Times Bestseller because Mike is a friend of mine from high school.  If nostalgia drew me to the book, the unexpected story kept me riveted until the last page.

After Visiting Friends“ chronicles Michael’s search for answers about his father’s mysterious death. The story reads deep and compelling as the current Deputy Editor of GQ uncovers truth buried under many years of closely held secrets about his dad, Robert Hainey — a newspaper Desk Editor during the Mad Men era of the Chicago Sun Times.

The writer’s clean style and concision clearly stem from his abilities as both editor and poet. The narrative storyline flows easily because of his work as an investigative journalist.  But, for me, the best aspect of this book lies in the heart of this wrenching personal story set in my hometown just outside Chicago.

AVF was recently named #1 Bestseller on Amazon and is due to reprint in paper back next year. Published by Scribner, 2013


3.  Sober Mercies: How Love Caught up with a Christian Drunk, by Heather Kopp.

The world needs more books like this.

Heather Kopp is an accomplished writer, editor, and author. You can find her writing about recovery issues over at Huff Post.  I enjoy and recommend her blog ‘Sober Boots‘ where she writes what nobody else is writing in her niche. And sheesh, the comments over there can get super HOT. But Heather manages to reply consistently, with grace.

In “Sober Mercies” Heather openly describes her battle with alcoholism from a point of view that pew dwellers and struggling Christians need to hear. Written in a conversational style which is engaging and funny, Sober Mercies walks us honestly through dark despair into genuine hope.

This is the kind of book friends hand to friends when words just seem inadequate.  It’s also the kind of book that gives voice to the kinds of questions we all have in times when faith just doesn’t seem to be ‘enough’.

Sober Mercies is a fresh read for dark times. Published by Hachette/Jericho Books, 2013


The Holiday Memoir Giveaway

Which book strikes your fancy? I’m giving it away!

Act quickly.The Giveaway ends at midnight Monday, November 25th.


How to Enter the Giveaway

Do three simple things:

1. Sign up for the Memoir Giveaway in the sidebar.

2. Leave a comment here on this post. Tell me which book you’d most like to receive and why.

3. Share this post on your Facebook page. (Hit the little icon below)

Simple as that!

Good luck!




The Small Print Details:

Giveaway closes midnight Monday, November 25th.

One entry per person.

Due to shipping limitations, entry is limited to my U.S. readers this time.

To keep things fair, winner will be selected by an random selection tool.



16 thoughts on “Holiday Memoir Giveaway!

  1. Bethel Trageser

    I love that you are back. If I won. I would like After Visiting Friends: A Son’s Story. I like that it takes place outside of Chicago and since I lived in IL I thought it would be an interesting read.


  2. Kim

    Hi! I pick Sober Mercies because I love Heather’s authentic voice on Sober Boots. And because After Visiting Friends is on my Kindle & Wild is on deck on my bedside table ;)


  3. Tiffany Cronin

    I am intrigued by Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild. I love to see a character resolve real life issues and come out a stronger entity in the end.


  4. Susan Cummings

    They all sound good. But, I guess Wild would be my first pick of the 3. The story line sounds like a life experience I can relate to.


  5. Mardy Roberson

    I wrote down all 3 to read but I think I’ll try “Sober Mercies” 1st. God knows I’ve had alot of addicted people in my life! So glad you are back.


  6. sibbi yarger, colorado

    I love memoirs, biographies and autobiographies. I am amazed they didn’t know what a memoir was at the library…so much of what to me is common knowledge is missing in this technological age. trying to figure out a father’s life is pretty tricky, and addicition is definitely all through our lives these days, but I think I am more at the “did I do the right thing all these years” with different areas in my life, and different people in my life, so the book, Wild, seems most interesting today. A memoir would be an interesting project, so many memories, or rather pieces of things come to mind, but fleshing them out, getting the true context, and getting the details…has to be a pilgrimage with the Lord, who has the wisdom and knowledge to share and show us. Hard work from all angles but I imagine amazingly healing.


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