The Problem with Memoirs

As I've mentioned before, I've started a Recommended Reading Challenge, where, for an entire year, I'll read nothing but books that are recommended to me by friends... or even perfect strangers, for that matter.

C'mon, you know something these two recommended would be bitchin'.

The first book on the list was a memoir, and I loathed it. Since then, a few other memoirs have been added to the list, which is all fine and good, because the point of the challenge is to read things I wouldn't otherwise read if it was up to me... but here's the thing:

I absolutely hate memoirs.

Don't get me wrong. There are some memoirs I've enjoyed. Tony Pacitti's My Best Friend is a Wookie, for example, I absolutely loved; sure, it involves Star Wars, so me liking it was sort of a "gimme," but it was also witty, well-written, and heart-warming. Most memoirs don't hit me like that, because the question I'm asking myself the entire time is, "Why should I care about YOUR life? What makes you special enough for me to want to know about what you went through in your life, compared to what everyone else goes through, or what I have gone through?" In the case of Pacitti, he framed his life around his experiences with Star Wars, but in reality it was about a boy growing up and dealing with love, life, and disappointment, something worth reading, something identifiable. To me, that is much more worth reading about than, say, the way a horrible drug addict spends most of his adult life ignoring the way his equally horrible alcoholic father ended up homeless while it was in his power to help him and instead he chose to nothing, and then tries to pass all that off as deep wisdom. I'll pass, thanks. Even if parts of it were admittedly well written, there was still nothing in the content itself that I could connect with emotionally to give a rat's ass about.

Another example: when talking on Facebook about my general disinterest in memoirs, I was asked if I'd read a memoir by Kevin Smith. Um, hell yeah. Aside from the fact that I love his sense of humor, as someone who went from nothing to an indy filmmaker to a Hollywood filmmaker, I''d definitely be interested in what he has to say. Even if it was horribly written, I'd still care about the content.

So I guess the takeaway from all this is that, yes, for the most part. I hate memoirs. I'm still going to read the ones recommended to me during the year of this challenge, because it's a challenge, and what would be the point if I was going to say no? So if you're going to recommend a memoir instead of fiction, which is my main interest, feel free, but try to make it something I'll actually enjoy... after all, rule #4 of the challenge says "This isn't a 'Make Jim Miserable for a Week' Challenge."

Be my hero and make me happy instead!


  1. I am not a big memoirs reader myself. I do like a well written biography though.

  2. I like autobiographies better, personally. The problem with autobiographies though is that you can never be sure if it actually is an autobiography or if there was a ghost writer.


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