I am not practiced in evaluating biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs. I don’t often read them. In fact, I only just learned (by asking Google) that the difference between an autobiography and a memoir is that the former generally consists of key facts about a person who just happens to be the author, whereas the latter is more about “emotional truth”.
So what do I think of the emotional truth of Tara Westover’s memoir Educated? I’m not sure. I could go at it one of several ways. Maybe it’s an indictment of a backward Mormon family. Maybe it’s the story of the triumph of a determined individual over uniquely challenging circumstances. Maybe it’s the literary equivalent of a sordid reality TV-show. Probably it’s a little bit of all those things. See below for more on what I thought of the book and why.
Are there spoilers in the post? Well… memoirs don’t have plot, and you know that Tara became a successful author in the end, so… no. Not really.
I know where the book came from, but not how it ended up where it did, in the West Elm home furnishings store in Ponce City Market in Atlanta, Georgia, where along with two other books it was resignedly decorating a console table.
When I moved to Singapore in 2008, my then-husband’s employer put us up in a hotel (The Copthorne Orchid, since torn down) while we looked for a place to rent. The hotel ran a shuttle bus to downtown Singapore’s shopping district, Orchard Road. The first time I took the shuttle bus, I alighted, went up and over a pedestrian bridge, walked in a shopping mall, and immediately encountered a bookstore. “I’m going to like this country,” I thought.
That bookstore, San Bookshop, has since closed. So have all the other San Bookshops. So has another bookshop I found at Far East Plaza that day.
Asian Proverbs is a heavy, compact hardcover volume of full-color, glossy pages showcasing 40 sayings from each of 11 different countries and regions: India, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Tibet, China, The Philippines, Korea, and Japan. The quotations are shown in smoothly translated English and the original language opposite a selection of artworks representing the culture of the country or region. Some of the sayings are rather opaque, while others have a familiar flavor. Most have the ring of truth.
When and Why I Read Asian Proverbs
I bought this book at ANA Book Shop at Far East Plaza.
Genre: Reference Date started / date finished: 21-Mar-20 to 21-Mar-20 Length: 186 pages ISBN: 9789889827069
Originally published in: 2011
Amazon link: Asian Proverbs
I knew that the book would be different from the stage play because halfway through the film of the stage play the organizers showed a short “making of” documentary describing the development of the play and its puppets. Just how different, I could only imagine.
This book of folktales was a gift brought back for me from Uzbekistan with a couple of other items:
The booklet is not a top-quality production, and has some flaws and errors. By far the worst error is that one of the stories was accidentally split into two parts, the second part printed on an earlier page and the first part printed on a later one! Still, the translation is accessible, the introduction is informative, and the folktales are entertaining.
The stories are a mix of humor, wisdom, and foolishness. The central character, Mulla Nasreddin or Nasrudin, is known by a variety of names with a variety of spellings. He is sometimes clever and sometimes obtuse.
I read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as a high school student. When I re-read it again recently for the Hungry Hundred Book Club I asked myself, more than once, why I’d even bothered, not having liked it the least little bit the first time around.
Enough was enough, I told myself. Lesson learned. I was never going to read more Joyce. Life’s too short to spend time trying to like stuff I don’t actually like, regardless of how ‘important’ the stuff purports to be. But then, I read more Joyce anyway! Why did I do that?!
The Irish Embassy in Singapore invited local readers to participate in Bloomsday by reading James Joyce's short story collection Dubliners and coming for a discussion on 14 June 2019. I saw it as an opportunity to pursue the question of whether Joyce is really the founder of ALL modern fiction, as has been asserted.
Genre: literary fiction (short stories) Date started / date finished: 30-May-19 to 05-Jun-19 Length: 150 pages ISBN: Project Gutenberg 2814 Originally published in: 1914 Gutenberg link: Dubliners
The full title of the work is The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World, to That Which Is to Come. The work tells the story of a man named Christian who reads the Bible and thus comes to fear his doom and to feel that he is carrying a burden. He desires to be saved. Luckily, he subsequently encounters a man named Evangelist who advises him to travel to the Celestial City by a certain path. Christian tries to follow his instructions, with varying degrees of success, and (massive spoiler alert) ultimately reaches his goal.
Is it worth reading this venerable Christian text nowadays?
The characters of Little Women refer to the book and its setting, characters, and plot.
Genre: fiction (religious allegory) Date started / date finished: 16-May-19 to 20-May-19 Length: 145 pages ISBN: Project Gutenberg 131 Originally published in: 1678 Gutenberg link: The Pilgrim's Progress
Little Women, a popular and influential nineteenth-century American novel about the coming of age of four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, is familiar, charming, and—for those with a compatible upbringing—only a little bit too didactic.
It’s easy to admire Jo, the fiercely independent heroine of Little Women, a tomboy who cuts all her hair off, looks forward to spinsterhood, and aims to support herself by writing. I wonder if she’s a Mary Sue; others (doubtless more fruitfully) debate whether or not the book is feminist.