Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Memoir x 2

I love memoirs. The more I read them, the more I've noticed there are different ways in which people write a memoir. Recently, I read two memoirs whose titles I've heard floating around often: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling and Paris in Love by Eloisa James. To be honest, I picked them up because a friend had copies she was willing to share, so why not? During these readings, I've also come to realize that timing affects the reading of a memoir too.


I read Kaling's book first. Although I didn't recognize the author right away (no, I don't watch The Office), the title was catchy (who hasn't felt like others are hanging out without them?). I soon fond out Kaling was both an actress and writer on The Office and feared it would effect my reading because I'm unfamiliar with the show for the most part. However, this wasn't the case. Kaling talks about many childhood events and her opinion on a variety of topics. Even the parts about The Office were funny to me because by the time I reached that section of the book, I was familiar with Kaling's voice and writing. I could imagine her actions and tone of voice and still get a kick out of what she described. I think Kaling's sense of humor seeping through the book is what made it most enjoyable. It is hard to find a writer with voice sometimes and as a writing teacher, it is hard to do, explain, and teach, so I'm always happy to see it.


Paris in Love was not as great an experience, but this really may have just been me. The book covers the year that author Eloisa James lived in Paris with her husband and two kids. The adventure predicates her survival of breast cancer and the need to appreciate life more. The book is written in chapters, each chapter opening with a longer essay on a topic. Following the essay is a series of journal-like/FB status type observations. They are literally snapshots of James's time in Paris (I believe much of it is actually a collation of her FB statuses over the year).

Story wise, it didn't move for me and I couldn't get into the reading at any point. I think it's partially because I prefer full fledged stories, whereas this one was pieced together throughout the course of the memoir. Also, I had started reading it when there were many things going on and I feel I was somewhat distracted. However, I can say that I did enjoy this author's use of literary elements - especially metaphor and simile. She painted great pictures in my mind at times. And I have to say she made me dream a bit. What would it be like to up and move somewhere so different than your home? To have the freedom to just explore and learn the area? I don't know that I'm brave enough to ever do what she did (I commuted to college!), but it makes for a nice daydream.

Have you ever traveled far away long term?

30 comments:

  1. I don't watch The Office either, but I just love Mindy Kaling. I'm sorry Paris in Love didn't work out so well. I seem to end up reading a lot of non-fiction involving Paris, and completely by accident. It's becoming a "thing."

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    1. I ended up with a few Paris books myself! I've been trying to spread them out.

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  2. It's nice to know that Kaling's book still holds up for non-Office viewers, since I don't watch either and that was one of my concerns with reading it.

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    1. Even in the Office parts, the stories are behind the scenes about happenings at work or fights with coworkers, etc. Just like anyone would tell about their job.

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  3. I read Mindy Kaling's memoir and being a first generation American to Indian immigrants, she had me rolling on the floor laughing about how she felt as a child, I could totally relate. She lost me a little though once she was trying to make it in comedy/writing. I didn't really watch the Office but I did admire her spunk and persistence in making it in a male dominated industry. I haven't read Paris in Love but sounds like there are other memoirs that are worth the time.

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    1. That's cool that you could relate to those parts! Best thing that happens with a book!

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  4. I loved Mindy Kaling's books. She makes neurotic charming. I read it a while ago, but picked it as my book club choice for my neighborhood gals. I can't wait to hear what they think!

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    1. Good way of stating it - "makes neurotic charming." I hope the book club enjoys it!

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  5. I loooove memoirs, and these are both new to me. Great post!

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    1. Nothing like a new memoir to check out!

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  6. I want to read Kaling's book badly! I wasn't much of a fan of her in The Office but I looove her new show, The Mindy Project. Glad you liked it. It makes me want to read it even more :)

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    1. I've got to watch The Mindy Project. I keep hearing it's funny!

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  7. Memoirs always make me want to write mine. I really should do that. Thanks for the reviews!

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    1. Yes, you should. Memoirs are the universal genre to me. Anyone has a story to tell with an audience to match somewhere! Many people even have someone write it for them - like a ghost writer type thing.

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  8. I've heard Mindy's book is hilarious. I don't really care for her and was really annoyed by her new show, Mindy, so I'm hesitant to read it based on that. BUT, if it comes with an endorsement from you I may get over it.

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    1. I wouldn't urge to rish out and read it...it was enjoyable, but no Glass Castle. Figure it this way, if it happens across your path at some point you can give it a try.

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  9. I LOVED Mindy Kaling's book. She is SO hilarious and relatable. Love her.

    I was glad to read your response to Paris in Love. I've seen this book around quite a bit but never made the commitment of buying it. I'm kind of glad of that after reading your review! I think you just saved me a not-so-satisfying reading experience so thank you!

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  10. I've traveled far away long term a few times and it didn't sit well with me. I'm too shy (even though nobody who knows me would believe that). Can't say I'm a Mindy fan, I'm not quite sure how she got so popular.

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    1. Yea, don't think it would sit well with me...I'm such a homebody. I have yet to see Mindy in something, so my jury's still somewhat out on her actual acting abilities.

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  11. I love memoirs too... so many people have fascinating stories to tell, and sometimes, they don't even realize it! Thanks for these reviews. And to answer your question, I've traveled far long term. I live in Paris, but grew up in Florida! I've been meaning to blog about the things I really miss about home...

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    1. That would be a cool blog. I think I'd learn a lot from it too. Sometimes we get in the habit of thinking everything is just like home.

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    2. I actually have started my blog, about life in Paris and writing -- but I have yet to write about some of the American/French differences. I'll have to do that soon! The blog is: http://adriainparis.blogspot.fr/

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  12. I guess you could consider my husband's rotation program traveling far away long term: a year and a half, consisting of 4 months in denver, 2 months in boston, and 12 months in a DC suburb. We'll finally get to spend a night back in FL in March!

    Also, great reviews!

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    1. Oh yea, that counts. I don't know how you do it!

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  13. I just came across your blog after finding it on a list of 2013's best blogs and I'm in love with the content you provide. I look forward to more but anyways,
    I love to read memoirs. I just finished reading Mao's Last Dancer and It really helped appreciate the little things in life. Have you read it?
    To answer your question if I've been on a trip for a long term, not really (unless you count two weeks, but I think not) but that would be interesting to experience even though I might get home sick. I haven't been completely around the world but I have been to some places, and I do like experiencing new cultures. Maybe in the future I'll take a trip somewhere, no one ever knows!

    Loved reading your blog!

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    1. So glad you stopped by and enjoyed it! I am such a homebody that two weeks would seem long term to me. Lol, but I've never traveled overseas and the only other country I've been to is Canada. I do plan on taking a trip to somewhere big and exciting when my kids are grown, so I've got about ten years to adjust to the idea ;)

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  14. Paris in Love is a book that I've seen around in the blogosphere and I made a mental note to actually read it. Sorry you didn't like it, maybe I will consider reading Mindy's book instead!

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    1. If it interested you, then it's worth a peek. I really think it was a matter of timing for me and the fact that I'm not a fan of writing in short pieces.

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