Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Top Ten Favorite

Memoirs and Biographies


In putting together this list I’ve noticed something about the biographies I like to read. The books which intrigue me the most are not always about famous celebrities. I enjoy stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things under the most difficult of circumstances. Those are the ones that really inspire me. Without further adieu, here are my favorites in alphabetical order.


A Deeper Shade of Grace by Bernadette Keaggy: Written by the wife of Christian musician Phil Keaggy, this book deals with the challenges they faced in becoming a family. After losing five children to stillbirth, neonatal death, and miscarriage, the couple took the time to deepen their relationship with Christ and each other. They were, eventually, blessed with children, but what a journey. Their courage, faith, and trust in God had me weeping as I turned pages.


Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt: Set during The Great Depression, and taking place primarily in Ireland, this book deals with the struggles of growing up poor. My heart ached for the children who always seemed to be cold and hungry. Yet, their resiliency really moved me. I laughed and cried as these kids rose above poverty and adversity to lead truly amazing lives.


Argo by Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio: I remember the Iranian Hostage Crisis, so after watching the movie, I “had” to get this book. The suspense was palpable, and I learned a new word; exfiltration. It took a lot of preparation to smuggle the “houseguests” out of Iran, and it was dangerous business. The teamwork demonstrated by everyone involved was heartwarming to say the least.       


The Burning Bed by Faith McNulty: This book was tough to read but it taught me a lot about the social issue of battered women, and the criminal justice system that isn’t always black and white. While I’m saddened at violence against women, I’m glad this story helped change attitudes and opened the public’s eyes to the plight of women stuck in abusive relationships.   


The Coal Miners Daughter by Loretta Lynn and George Vescey: This is the first biography I can remember reading. I picked it up shortly after the movie came out in 1980. I love the Cinderella, rags-to-riches story of overcoming obstacles and making something of your life. Although the movie made it look somewhat easy, Loretta worked hard to get where she is today.   


Dead Man Walking by Sister Helen Prejean: In this story, a humble, Catholic nun taught me how to have empathy for death row inmates. Sister Helen works closely with those on death row and she made me aware of the realities of the death penalty. This book really made me think, and reconsider some of my preconceived notions regarding criminals.


The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherrill: I love this book. It’s the story of two spinster ladies, and their elderly father, who hid and protected Jews in WWII Europe. They were caught and sent to a concentration camp, but still prayed for the very Nazi’s who beat and tortured them. Corrie teaches me the true meaning of compassion and forgiveness. The unwavering faith of this remarkable family teaches me something new about the true meaning of Christianity every time I read it.      


Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody with William Hoffer: A remarkable story of courage and bravery. Although I did enjoy learning about a different culture, it broke my heart to see how Betty and her daughter were treated. Still, she refused to leave Iran without her child. She chose to flee the situation with her daughter. They endured great hardship to escape.


Seven from Heaven by Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey with Gregg and Deborah Lewis: This book makes me hug my kids. Bobbi and Kenny faced frightening challenges in carrying seven babies but overcame those odds and remained true to their faith. Bobbi loved her unborn children enough to put her life on the line for them. A mother’s love is strong but carrying seven babies at once is still a tough ordeal.  


Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton: I am amazed at Bethany’s determination to keep surfing after a shark attack. She demonstrates undeniable courage and has not lost sight of her faith through her ordeal. Bethany has adapted to the loss of her arm and she doesn’t seem to be bitter about it. This is an inspiring story of loss and acceptance that had me reaching for the tissues.


Although most of the people in these books will say they were just doing what had to be done, their courageous experiences are sure something to talk about.


Coming in February 2015, in honor of Valentine’s Day, my Top Ten Favorite romance titles in the Love Finds You series by Summerside Press. By the way, I “love” this series and it breaks my heart that it’s been discontinued.