Biographies & Memoirs

11/29/2016 - 2:36am
Cover to Escape to Virginia: From Nazi Germany to Thalhimer’s Farm

When I was a child, Thalhimer’s meant shopping—Christmas shopping in Richmond. It was one of the last grand old department stores before shopping malls took over, and it got itself gussied up for the holidays. We might come home with bars of marzipan or hermit crabs but always with stars in our eyes. It was a place of sweet and inventive dreams. Little did we know that the store’s founder had played an important part in making dreams of safety come true for many Jewish teenagers in World War II.

Robert H. Gillette’s previous book, The Virginia Plan: William B. Thalhimer and a Rescue from Nazi Germany, gave an overview of how Mr. Thalhimer managed it.  In Gillette’s current work, Escape to Virginia: From Nazi Germany to Thalhimer’s Farm, readers learn the in-depth stories of two of the rescued teenagers.

11/17/2016 - 3:29pm
Bibliophiles, Real and Imagined

For those of us who love books and reading, there are few things more pleasurable than meeting other readers and bibliophiles. Swapping books, book suggestions, and perhaps even going on a reading retreat are all a thrill to those of us who are avid readers.  

There are times, though, when a fellow book lover isn’t available, or you are tired and just want to be alone, but yet you’d still love to discuss books. Did you know that there is an entire genre written for those times? I like to call them books about books, and there are many that have been written, both fiction and nonfiction, just for people like us.

10/26/2016 - 12:47am
Cover to Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery

Emma Rowena Caldwell was an intelligent, attractive young woman and a hard worker. Growing up in rural Ohio in the very early 1900s, there wasn’t much opportunity for someone in her circumstances. Born into a poor family with 15 brothers and sisters, she grew up to know farm work, but she also loved to read. At 19, she married 27-year-old, college-educated P.C. Gatewood. It wasn’t very long before the beatings started. And continued.

In 1940, having borne him eleven children and endured near constant torment, she left him. Few outside her community knew the part of her story she left behind her.  But everyone across America came to know “Grandma Gatewood,” the first woman to walk the entire Appalachian Trail—more than 2,000 miles—from Georgia to Maine. By herself.

10/21/2016 - 10:54am
If You Like Addiction Memoirs

This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse other book matches here.

 

There are many "addiction memoirs" in our collection. Some are funny, some are bleak and despairing, some a combination. Try these titles:

Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson
A young girl uses crystal meth to escape the pain of losing her mother and grandmother in Hurricane Katrina, and then struggles to get over her addiction. (catalog summary)



Crank
by Ellen Hopkins
Kristina Snow is the perfect daughter, but she meets a boy who introduces her to drugs and becomes a very different person, struggling to control her life and her mind. (catalog summary)






Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
A powerful, brave, and moving memoir of one woman's struggle with alcoholism, a disease that affects fifteen million Americans each year. "It happened this way: I fell in love and then, because love was destroying everything I cared about, I had to fall out." So begins Caroline Knapp's searing account of her twenty-year love affair with alcohol, the "liquid armor" she used to protect herself from life's painful realities: family tension, social insecurity, fear of intimacy, her parents' deaths. Though she was for twenty years a functioning alcoholic, few would have suspected that beneath her attractive, Ivy League veneer, this successful professional was a young woman who had to drink herself to sleep every night. She thought alcohol gave her the courage to face life. It took her twenty years to admit that drinking only made it more difficult to bear. Written with warmth, candor, and wisdom, here is one woman's story of addiction and recovery—a story that begins in despair and loneliness, but ends with the hope that within each of us lies the strength to survive in the world without anesthesia. (catalog summary)

 

10/19/2016 - 11:23am
If you like Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi

This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading  recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse other book matches here.

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi
Prosecuting Attorney in the Manson trial, Vincent Bugliosi held a unique insider's position in one of the most baffling and horrifying cases of the twentieth century: the cold-blooded Tate-LaBianca murders carried out by Charles Manson and four of his followers. What motivated Manson in his seemingly mindless selection of victims, and what was his hold over the young women who obeyed his orders? Here is the gripping story of this famous and haunting crime. (catalog summary)


If you like the true crime aspect of Helter Skelter, try these titles as well:



Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-occupied Paris
by David King
A gripping, true story of a brutal serial killer who unleashed his own reign of terror in Nazi-Occupied Paris. As decapitated heads and dismembered body parts surfaced in the Seine, Commissaire Georges-Victor Massu, head of the Brigade Criminelle, was tasked with tracking down the elusive murderer in a twilight world of Gestapo, gangsters, resistance fighters, pimps, prostitutes, spies, and other shadowy figures of the Parisian underworld. (catalog summary)

 

 



In Cold Blood: A True Account of A Multiple Murder and Its Consequences
by Truman Capote
On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues. As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence. (catalog summary)
 

10/05/2016 - 12:33am
Cover to The Perfect Horse: The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis

Horses have long been an important part of culture in peace and war. An enormous amount of effort has gone into creating breeds that are the swiftest, strongest, bravest, hardiest, and most intelligent, depending on need. Partly a matter of status and partly a matter of practicality, the search for The Perfect Horse was one of the matters occupying the Nazi elite during World War II.

09/27/2016 - 12:27am
Cover to Journeys Home

Actor and travel writer Andrew McCarthy eventually discovered his family roots in Ireland and added on more family besides when he wed a Dublin girl.

His several-page story of a reunion across generations is part of Journeys Home, a collection of more than two dozen tales of seekers who found out more about themselves by finding where they came from: Cuba, Africa (and then to Virginia), Peru, Prague, India, Taiwan, and England, among others. Journeys Home is replete with glorious photographs, old and new, that are typical of the quality a reader would expect from its publisher, National Geographic.

09/20/2016 - 12:23am
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

After graduating with honors from Emory University, Christopher Johnson McCandless left his suburban home in Annandale, Virginia, behind to pursue an odyssey to the Stampede Trail in Alaska.

McCandless gave up his $25,000 college grant to charity and began traveling across the Western United States. To the disappointment of his family back home, he ceased all communication with them and abandoned his 1982 Datsun after a flash flood somewhere in the Midwest.

09/13/2016 - 12:18am
Cover to Irena’s Children: A True Story of Courage by Tilar J. Mazzeo

History is complicated, and people’s lives are even more so. In the short biography and video clip that Facebook has to share, Irena Sendler is presented as a Catholic woman who saved approximately 2,500 Jewish children. That is true, as far as it goes. Irene was certainly a courageous woman, and she came from Catholic roots and was devoted to the Church during her later years. But there is more to her story. Real heroes often lead complicated lives, as readers of Tilar J. Mazzeo’s Irena’s Children will discover.

09/07/2016 - 11:43am
Virginia Women: Their Lives and Times

From the Queen of the Pamunkey tribe to Civil War officer and nurse Sally Louisa Tompkins, the Virginia Women presented in Kierner’s and Treadway’s essay collection are well worth knowing about.

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