Newest Autobiography Reviews

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Single, Again, and Again, and Again …: What Do You Do When Life Doesn't Go to Plan? by Louisa Pateman

4.5star.jpg Autobiography

You can't be happy and fulfilled on your own. You are not complete until you find a man.

This was what Louisa Pateman was brought up to believe. It wasn't unkind: it was simply the adults in her life advising her as to what they thought would be best for her. It was reinforced by all those fairy tales where the girl (she's usually fairly young) is rescued by the handsome prince who then marries her so that they can live happily ever after. Few girls are lucky enough to be brought up without the expectation that they will marry and have children. It was a belief and it would be many years before Louisa would conclude that a belief is a choice. Full Review

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Hunter School by Sakinu Ahronglong

4.5star.jpg Autobiography

The flyleaf to this little collection tells us that it is a work of fiction. That's possibly misleading. I am not sure whether it is "fiction" in the sense that Ahronglong made it all up, or whether it is as the blurb goes on to say recollections, folklore and autobiographical stories. It feels like the latter. It feels like the stories he tells about his experiences as a child, as an adolescent, as an adult are real and true. But memory is a fickle thing, and maybe poetic licence has taken over here and there and maybe calling it fiction means that its safer and therefore more people will read it. More people should. Full Review

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Ambassadors Do It After Dinner by Sandra Aragona

4star.jpg Autobiography

It's tempting to think that the diplomatic life is privileged and luxurious. It might be privileged, but family connections tell me that it is far from luxurious. Now you're not going to get many ambassadors telling you what it's really like (it's not diplomatic to do so, you know), but the diplomatic spouse, the accompanying baggage, well, that's an entirely different matter. She (and it still usually is a 'she') can tell us exactly what goes on. Full Review

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Our House is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis by Malena Ernman, Greta Thunberg, Beata Thunberg and Svante Thunberg

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The Ernman / Thunberg family seemed perfectly normal. Malena Ernman was an opera singer and Svante Thunberg took on most of the parenting of their two daughters. Then eleven-year-old Greta stopped eating and talking and her sister, Beata, then nine years old, struggled with what was happening. In such circumstances, it's natural to seek a solution close to home, but eventually, it became clear to the family that they were burned-out people on a burned-out planet. If they were to find a way to live happily again their solution would need to be radical. Full Review

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Coming of Age by Danny Ryan

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography

He began writing novels and poetry at the age of twelve, but it was to take him a further forty-eight years to realise that he wasn’t very good at either. Consistently unpublished for all that time, he remains a shining example of hope over experience...


This a memoir from someone you have never heard of - but will feel like you have. Full Review

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Letters from Tove by Tove Jansson (Author), Boel Westin (Editor), Helen Svensson (Editor), Sarah Death (Translator)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography

Back at the beginning of the century I went on holiday to Nepal. I met a wonderful Finnish woman and we became sort of friends. I can't remember if it was on that holiday or a later one that Paula told me I really had to read Tove Jansson. I do know that it was four years later that I finally acquired an English translation of The Summer Book, and that I eagerly awaited the Sort Of translations of the rest of Jansson's work and devoured them as soon as I could get my hands on them. Full Review

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Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews History, Travel, Autobiography

Sometimes when people suggest that you read a certain book, they tell you this one has your name on it. Mostly we take them at their word, or not, but rarely do we ask them why they thought so, unless it turns out that we didn't like the book. That's a rare experience. People who are sensitive to hearing a book calling your name, rarely get it wrong. In this case I was told why. The blurb speaks of the author considering an older, less tethered sense of herself. Older. Less tethered. That's not a bad description of where I am. Add to that my love of the natural world, of those aspects of the poetic and lyrical that are about style not form, and substance most of all, about connection. Of course this book had my name on it. It was written for me. It would have found its way to me eventually. I am pleased to have it fall onto my path so quickly. Full Review

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Wild Child: Growing Up a Nomad by Ian Mathie

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography

For Ian Mathie fans there is good and bad news. Ian has come up with the missing link in his narrative, the story of a very unusual childhood (yes, the very years that made him the amazing man he became). The bad – well it's hardly news two years later – is that the book is published posthumously. As always, it's beautifully written, with many exciting moments. What I most enjoyed was the feeling that many of the questions in Ian Mathie's later books are answered in Wild Child with a satisfying clunk. Seemingly all that's now left in the drawer is unpublishable. Full Review

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Painting Snails by Stephen John Hartley

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography, Lifestyle

It's very difficult to classify Painting Snails: originally I thought that as it's loosely based around a year on an allotment it would be a lifestyle book, but you're not going to get advice on what to plant when and where for the best results. The answer would be something along the lines of 'try it and see'. Then I considered popular science as Stephen Hartley failed his A levels, did an engineering apprenticeship, became a busker, finally got into medical school and is now an A&E consultant (part time). I found out that there's an awful lot more to what goes on in a Major Trauma Centre than you'll ever glean from Casualty, but that isn't really what the book's about. There's a lot about rock & roll, which seems to be the real passion of Hartley's life, but it didn't actually fit into the entertainment genre either. Did we have a category for 'doing the impossible the hard way'? Yep - that's the one. It's autobiography. Full Review

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How to Lose a Country: The 7 Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship by Ece Temelkuran

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Politics and Society, Autobiography, History

A little while ago a friend asked me if I thought that we were living through what in years to come would be discussed by A level history students when faced with the question Discuss the factors which led to... I agreed that she was right and wasn't certain whether it was a good or bad thing that we didn't know what all 'this' was leading to. I think now that I do know. We are in danger of losing democracy and whilst it's a flawed system I can't think of a better one, particularly as the 'benevolent dictator' is as rare as hen's teeth. Full Review

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Deviation by Luce d'Eramo and Anne Milano Appel (translator)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction, Autobiography, Historical Fiction

For those of you who have read books of life in the Nazi camps – and of course, for those of you who have not – this can be considered a next step. It begins, after all, with someone escaping Dachau and fleeing her work assignment during a bombing raid, and you'd not blame her one minute, as her career was deemed to be cess-tank cleaner and sewage unblocker by the Germans. In Munich, she stumbles on help to get her to what seems to be a camp for non-native civilians to look for work, or company, or transport elsewhere, either official or otherwise. But then the next chapter sees her going back into the camp next to Dachau once more, and by then eyebrows are being raised. Full Review


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Ask For Blues by Malcolm Walton

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography, Entertainment, General Fiction

Malcolm Walton's book is clearly a memoir about his introduction to the Trad Jazz scene of the late 1950's and early 1960's, but he has chosen to write it in the form of a novel, claiming in his prologue that this would give the book a different approach to the music memoir. His protagonist 'Martin' takes on Malcolm's mantle, and begins with his first discovery of the Salvation Army band with his grandfather. This catapults him into a love of music, initially taking piano lessons, and later delving into his true love – the trumpet. Full Review

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War Baby: A Dyslexic Life by Mike Strange

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography

The author admits here that there is a peculiar ground where the autobiography of somebody very unfamous lies – it stands as a personal document for the family concerned, as much as a book to capture the attention of strangers. Either way, there are certainly events of note to be covered here – from an idyllic if damp Sussex farmhouse the lad gets evacuated, with his mother and gran, to maternal relatives in South Wales, and arrive back when it's clear we aren't about to be invaded – that is to say, just in time to be in the flightpath of all the doodlebugs and V2 rockets. A boisterous teenaged existence post-war leads to Mr Strange needing a few nudges to get into the academic world, at which he ultimately excels – even with a strong case of dyslexia. Full Review

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Find Another Place by Ben Graff

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Biography, Autobiography, Home and Family

When Ben Graff's grandfather Martin handed him a plastic folder of handwritten notes from his journal, he didn't take much notice of it. At the age of 24, Graff didn't realise the gravity of the pages he was holding. [[Find Another Place by Ben Graff|Full Review]

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Birth of a Dream Weaver: A writer's awakening by Ngugi wa Thiong'o

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography

The true story of Kenya's foremost author in his own words. Ngugi wa Thiong'o is the most important writer that you've (or at the very least, I've) never heard of. In this volume of his autobiographical series we follow Ngugi as he ventures to University in Uganda and starts writing professionally. Ngugi tells the story of British colonialism at the end of the Empire as clearly as his own tale – making this one of the most important books on the market today. Full Review

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Parenting through the Eyes of a Child: Memoirs of My Childhood by Tabitha Ochekpe Omeiza

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography, Lifestyle

Tabitha Ochekpe Omeiza was brought up in Nigeria and came to Britain to study for her A levels when she was 18. Her parents used their savings to give her this opportunity and called it an investment in her future. Now a qualified pharmacist, married and with a child of her own, Tabitha looks back at her childhood and reflects on the way her mother and father raised her. And she gives their parenting top marks. Full Review

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Revelation Ch:25 - A Letter To The Churches From The 24th Elder by Edward K Micheal

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography, Spirituality and Religion

Edward K Michael has taken the brave step of laying out his spiritual journey for all to see. It is a deeply personal book and he's honest enough - genuine enough - to wonder if he would have taken a different path if he had known then what he knows now, but he's generous enough too to hope that people will find comfort in the supernatural manifestations he has seen. Before you begin reading you will need to accept that the book seems to have been written without editorial intervention: you are hearing the real man speak and what you will read is very close to stream of consciousness. Full Review

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The Art of Failing: Notes from the Underdog by Anthony McGowan

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography

I had not come across Anthony McGowan's work before reading this book, as he mainly writes for Young Adults. I can imagine his books to be engaging and humorous from the clever way he constructs sentences, and the ironic subtlety with which he uses descriptive details. Full Review

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Don't Let My Past Be Your Future: A Call to Arms by Harry Leslie Smith

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Politics and Society, Autobiography


Don't Let My Past Be Your Future: A Call to Arms is part autobiography and part rallying call for society to tackle the systemic, endemic and debilitating inequality faced by the people of the United Kingdom, particularly in the North. Through reflecting on his own experiences during his childhood, Harry Leslie Smith has painted a frank and uncompromising picture of the grim, appallingly miserable childhood he had to endure due to the poverty faced by his family contrasted with the, shamefully still, grim and miserable lives many people endure today in a country ravaged by cuts, austerity and political turmoil. Full Review

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China in Drag: Travels with a Cross-dresser by Michael Bristow

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography Politics and Society, Travel

Having worked for nine years in Bejing as a journalist for the BBC, author Michael Bristow decided to write about Chinese history. Having been learning the local language for several years, Bristow asked his language teacher for guidance - the language teacher, born in the early fifties, offered Bristow a compelling picture of life in Communist China - but added to that, Bristow was greatly surprised to find that his language teacher also enjoyed spending his spare time in ladies clothing. It soon becomes clear that the tale told here is immensely personal - yet also paints a fascinating portrait of one of the world's most intriguing nations. Full Review