Memoir

Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran

By Roya Hakakian

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A Jew in a land where Islamic fundamentalism grew ever stronger, Roya was twelve when the revolution came, closing opportunities to the young woman even as she matured into a brilliant student.

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Five Finger Discount: A Crooked Family History

By Helene Stapinski

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"As Stapinski writes, Jersey City was a tough place to grow up, except I didn't know any better. In this unforgettable memoir, Stapinski tells the heartbreaking yet often hilarious story of growing up among swindlers, bookies, and crooks. With deadpan humor and obvious affection, she comes clean with the outrageous tales that have swirled around her relatives for decades, and recounts the epic drama and comedy of living in a household in which petty crime was a way of life. The dinner Helene's mother put on the table (often prime rib, lobster tail, and fancy cakes) was usually swiped from the cold-storage company where Helene's father worked. The soap and toothpaste in the bathroom were lifted from the local Colgate factory. The books on the family's shelves were smuggled out of a book-binding company in Aunt Mary Ann's oversize girdle (or taken by Grandpa Beansie from the Free Public Library). Uncle Henry did a booming business as the neighborhood bookie, cousins did jail time, and Great-Aunt Katie, who liked to take a shot of whiskey each morning to clear her lungs, was a ward leader in the notorious Jersey City political machine.

"No backdrop could be more appropriate for the Stapinskis than Jersey City; a place known for its ties to the Mafia, industrial blight, and corrupt local officials, and the author ingeniously weaves the checkered history of her hometown throughout the book. Navigating a childhood of toxic waste and tough love, Stapinski tells an extraordinary tale that, unlike the swag of her childhood, is her very own."

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Memories of a Munchkin: An Illustrated Walk Down the Yellow Brick Road

By Meinhardt Raabe

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"...one of the last surviving cast members of The Wizard of Oz reveals his life story and shares his memories of making that beloved Hollywood classic. Born into a family of German dairy farmers, Meinhardt Raabe grew up in Farmington, Wisconsin. In 1934, before starting college, he heard about a special 'Midget Village' exhibit at the World's Fair in Chicago. Raabe was hired to participate in that event, followed by years of appearing at other fairs and exhibitions. In 1938, he heard a rumor that MGM was going to make a movie with Judy Garland and 'they wanted as many little people as they could find.' Through an agent, Raabe was cast in the film.

"And what follows is his own account of life as a Munchkin on the set of The Wizard of Oz: enduring tough auditions, watching as the glorious Munchkinland set was built, putting up with long days of rehearsal, being costumed by legendary MGM designer Adrian, hob-nobbing on the set with the stars, witnessing various mishaps during filming, being visited on the set by curious Hollywood royalty such as Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable, and much more. Here, too, is Raabe's life after the The Wizard of Oz: His career as an accomplished pilot with the Civil Air Patrol during World War II; more than 30 years as 'Little Oscar,' spokesman for the Oscar Mayer Company; his charity work and his role as advocate and kindred spirit to Little People everywhere. This is a charming, humorous and inspiring memoir..."

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Poker Face: A Girlhood Among Gamblers

By Katy Lederer

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"Katy Lederer grew up on the bucolic campus of an exclusive East Coast boarding school where her father taught English, her mother retreated into crosswords and scotch, and her much older siblings played 'grown-up' games like gin rummy and chess. But Katy faced much more than the typical trials of childhood. Within the confines of the Lederer household an unlikely transformation was brewing, one that would turn this darkly intellectual and game-happy group into a family of professional gamblers.

"Poker Face is Katy Lederer’s perceptive account of her family’s lively history. From the long kitchen table where her mother played what seemed an endless game of solitaire, to the seedy New York bars where her brother first learned to play poker, to the glamorous Bellagio casino in Las Vegas, where her sister and brother wager hundreds of thousands of dollars a night at the tables, Lederer takes us on a tragicomic journey through a world where intelligence and deceit are used equally as currency."

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The Dog Who Rescues Cats: The True Story of Ginny

By Philip Gonzalez

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"Philip Gonzalez had lost all interest in living after an industrial accident left him disabled. A friend suggested he adopt a dog.Reluctantly he went to the shelter, where Ginny, a badly abused one-year-old pup,quickly won him over. Philip realized immediately that Ginny was no ordinary dog--she had an amazing sixth sense that enabled her to find and rescue stray and ailing cats.There's Madame, who is completely deaf; Revlon, who has only one eye; Betty Boop,who has no hind feet;and Topsy, a paralyzed kitten whom Ginny found abandoned in an empty building. Ginny and Philip have now rescued and found homes for over 200 cats, and they have over 60 'outdoor cats' whom they visit and feed twice daily. Even more than extraordinary, Ginny's angelic mission has given Philip a sense of purpose and a new lease on life. You will never forget the true adventures of Ginny, the dog who rescues cats."
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This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone

By Melissa Coleman

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"With urban farming and backyard chicken flocks becoming increasingly popular, Coleman has written this timely and honest portrait of her own childhood experience in Maine with her two homesteading parents during the turbulent 1970s. A luminous, evocative memoir that explores the hope and struggle behind one family's search for a self-sufficient life."

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Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan

By Edmund Morris

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A Pulitzer-Prize winning author with total access to the then President and his papers wrote a fascinating interpretation of Reagan's life, including his boyhood, his Hollywood days, his tremendous role in reshaping American politics, and his debilitating illness.

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A Different Drummer: My Thirty Years with Ronald Reagan

By Michael Deaver

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"Whether it was traveling with Reagan on endless campaign flights, discussing the day-to-day issues in the Oval Office, or surviving the harrowing assassination attempt, Deaver worked with the former chief executive for twenty consecutive years. Now he offers his memories of Ronald Reagan as governor, president, and friend."
Also available in large print.

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Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Uncovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process by Irene M. Pepperberg

Alex & Me cover

Years ago when researchers were in heated debates about whether or not animals can think, I could have told them that they do.  When I was first married I had an incredible dog named Doctor. One day when I was young and stupid, I had a knock on my door.  There was a man standing outside my door whom I didn’t recognize, so I locked my screen door to keep my dog in and stepped outside to see what this man wanted.  He began to ask me some very bizarre questions about the neighborhood. He kept stepping back to draw me away from my front door. Suddenly I found that I had gone into my front yard to talk to this strange young man. Red flags were going off in my brain at this point. He was about to ask me another odd question when he suddenly stopped and said, “I have to go.” He turned around and walked quickly away. I thought, “What a strange man that was!”  When I turned around I discovered that Doctor had jumped up, unhooked the screen door, and was sitting behind me with his lips curled back in a silent growl. Evidently, he thought that the man was odd also.

 When my husband bought me Alex & Me, by Irene Pepperberg, last year and gently said, “I think that you would like this," I politely thanked him and stubbornly put it on the shelf.  A year later I picked it up and now I grudgingly have to admit that he was correct.  I do love this book!

Waiting for Aphrodite: Journeys Into the Times Before Bones

By Sue Hubbell

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In this book, the author takes us on a journey through the mysteries of time -- geological, biological, and personal -- as she writes of the evolution of life on this planet and the evolution of her own life: her childhood next to a Michigan graveyard; the three colleges where she "learned three things;" her twenty-five years keeping bees on a farm in the Ozarks; and finally her move to a "strange little house" in a small Maine town, "the place I wanted to grow old in."
Also available on audio.

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