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Biographies & Memoirs

11/20/2015 - 2:36am
If you like The Pianist
This readalike is in response to a patron'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 the book matches here.

The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-45 by Władysław Szpilman: A Jewish pianist's real-life account of survival in World War II Warsaw.

If you like The Pianist, you may also like the following titles:


10/20/2015 - 3:16am
Dr. Mütter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

Some people today fear going under the surgeon’s knife. It’s mostly a dread of the unknown. What might happen while they are knocked out, unaware of what is going on around them. They may not realize how fortunate they are. In Dr. Mütter’s Marvels, readers are swept back in time to a period before anesthesia was generally used. A good surgeon was a swift, careful cutter who could make the operation as mercifully short as possible for his wide-awake patient. He might even do some good for the patient in the process.

09/18/2015 - 2:56am
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller

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. See all book matches here

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller: "It is difficult for most people even to imagine the world described in this book, let alone live in it as a child: the nights are dark, scary, and filled with strange noises; the people welcome you and despise you at the same time; there is a constant anxious feeling burning in your stomach, which, you later realize, is fear of the unrest surrounding you. The British-born Fuller grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), losing three siblings to disease as her father fought in the Rhodesian civil war and her mother managed the farm. She approaches her childhood with reserve, leaving many stories open to interpretation while also maintaining a remarkable clarity about what really transpired in her homeland, in her own home, and in her head." (Library Journal)

If you enjoyed this title, you may also like these picks:

The Last Resort by Douglas Rogers
Thrilling, heartbreaking, and, at times, absurdly funny, The Last Resort is a remarkable true story about one family in a country under siege and a testament to the love, perseverance, and resilience of the human spirit. Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Douglas Rogers is the son of white farmers living through that country's long and tense transition from postcolonial rule. He escaped the dull future mapped out for him by his parents for one of adventure and excitement in Europe and the United States. But when Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe launched his violent program to reclaim white-owned land and Rogers's parents were caught in the cross fire, everything changed. (catalog description)

Rainbow’s End by Lauren St. John
In 1978, in the final, bloodiest phase of the Rhodesian civil war, 11-year-old Lauren St John moves with her family to Rainbow's End, a wild, beautiful farm and game reserve set on the banks of a slowflowing river. The house has been the scene of a horrific attack by guerrillas, and when Lauren's family settles there, a chain of events is set in motion that will change her life irrevocably.  (catalog description)


07/14/2015 - 2:13am
Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson

In Isaac’s Storm, Erik Larson tells the story of the fateful year 1900 when Isaac Cline and a hurricane crossed paths in the city of Galveston, Texas. As a meteorologist at a time when that science was still not being taken seriously by most people, performing well at his job was a major goal for Isaac. Despite his commitment, a series of factors—most significantly disillusionment with the Cuban weather reporting and an incomplete understanding of certain weather patterns, would result in absolute catastrophe for Galveston and the people living there.

07/21/2015 - 10:05am
The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir by Dee Williams

A life-threatening health condition led Dee Williams, author of The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir, to make some unorthodox life decisions. In seeking the traditional American dream of being a homeowner, she buys a house—one with great potential, but in need of extensive TLC. Dee, a farm girl, is not intimidated by hard work, and gradually she transforms her fixer-upper into charming digs, complete with a lavish garden. Between maintaining her abode and traveling for her job as a state hazardous waste inspector, she has no time to simply luxuriate in little day-to-day pleasures. It’s not until she is diagnosed with heart failure in her early forties that she realizes how vital it is to change her priorities. She is no longer content to be a slave to house and yard work.

03/27/2015 - 1:33pm
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

This readalike is in response to a patron'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 the book matches here.

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer: "A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that 'suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down.' He was wrong. The storm, which claimed five lives and left countless more--including Krakauer's--in guilt-ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for Into Thin Air, Krakauer's epic account of the May 1996 disaster." (Book Summary)

If you like nonfiction accounts of survival like Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster, then you may also like these titles:

Adrift: Seventy-six days lost at sea by Steven Callahan
The author recalls his seventy-six day ordeal adrift in the Atlantic Ocean in a five foot inflatable raft, after the sinking of his sailboat, recounting his problems surviving the weather, shark attacks, raft leaks, and food and water shortages.

Alive: The story of the Andes survivors by Piers Paul Read
On October 12, 1972, a plane carrying a team of young rugby players crashed into the remote, snow-peaked Andes. Out of the forty-five original passengers and crew, only sixteen made it off the mountain alive. For ten excruciating weeks they suffered deprivations beyond imagining, confronting nature head-on at its most furious and inhospitable. And to survive, they were forced to do what would have once been unthinkable ... This is their story -- one of the most astonishing true adventures of the twentieth century. (

03/27/2015 - 9:00am
Finding Spiritual Strength: Biographies of Great Christian Men and Women

Have you been inspired by a great man or woman? Perhaps it was a political figure or leader you saw on TV, a humanitarian featured on the cover of a magazine, or a CEO in the Wall Street Journal. Most of us have found someone to admire at one time or another. While I have been intrigued by many people in the news, I usually turn to biographies for any in-depth understanding of great people. Poets, kings and queens, theologians, statesmen, artists, and authors—I don’t shy away from any type of person.

07/22/2015 - 12:36pm
From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her Island by Lorna Goodison

From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her Island, by Lorna Goodison, is a lyric examination of past generations living in the cityscapes and countryside of Jamaica. Ms. Goodison looks at her family’s strengths and strayings with loving, wise eyes.

01/27/2015 - 10:09am
Gladys Poles Todd, Courtesy of the Free Lance-Star

Gladys Poles Todd, long-time Fredericksburg resident, died recently at the age of 101, having witnessed and been a part of the city’s changeover from its days of segregation. She lived to see schools and lunch counters integrated, and she was an important force behind making that happen. Among her many works, Mrs. Todd organized sit-ins, led voter registration drives, and supervised night study programs.

Her obituary gives a goodly number of details from her long and generous life, but you may also wish to read more about her in Fitzgerald’s A Different Story: A Black History of Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Spotsylvania.

In 1997, she and other local leaders in the Civil Rights era got together for a forum at the library to discuss those difficult days. Fortunately, the program, Civil Rights: Fredericksburg’s Story, was recorded in DVD format and can be checked out.

Besides a historic legacy to be shared by the community, Mrs. Todd also left a personal record of her life. Her oral history, part of HFFI’s Pieces of Our Past series, is available to read in the Virginiana Room of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

Photo courtesy of The Free Lance-Star
01/15/2015 - 1:38pm
2015 Great Lives Chappell Lecture Series

The University of Mary Washington's popular Great Lives Chappell Lecture Series returns in 2015 with another great lineup. Lectures begin at 7:30 p.m. in Dodd Auditorium and are free and open to the public. For more information about each lecture and presenter, see the full schedule here.


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