Category Archives: Memoir

Intelligence Was My Line by Ralph W. Hauenstein

Hauenstein was an intelligence officer in World War II. Intelligence Was My Line is his story of that period of time in his life. Though he repeated himself quite a bit, there was a lot of interesting stuff in there. Included are pictures. I recommend this book to anyone interested in World War II or intelligence gathering.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2018: 5
Pages Read in 2018: 1246
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under History, Memoir, Reason: Birthstone Bookology

The Toaster Oven Mocks Me by Steve Margolis

Steve Margolis sees letters and numbers as colors (among other things). For many years he thought this was so strange that he expended huge amounts of mental energy covering up his weirdness. In reality, while seeing letters and numbers as colors is unusual, it is a documented neurological condition called synesthesia. What a synesthete experiences is different from other synesthetes, but they all have in common some sort of crossed senses. The Toaster Oven Mocks Me is the author’s story of dealing with synesthesia. The book caught my eye because my daughter has synesthesia (ever tried to make sense of math problems when two numbers are dating, two other numbers are fighting, and they all appear in different colors?). It was pretty well written, in a conversational tone like the author was just sharing his life with colors one on one. There were occasional grammar errors. It’s short so it reads fast. It absolutely must be read on a device with color as the colors of letters are very important to his story. I recommend this book to anyone who knows someone with or is interested in synesthesia (though it might annoy another synesthete because as my daughter said, “Those colors are all wrong!”).

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 156
Pages Read in 2017: 42,203
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (T in TOPAZ)

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Dear World by Bana Alabed

Eight-year-old Bana Alabed spent six years in a warzone. Known for tweeting during the siege of Aleppo, Dear World is her story of growing up in Syria. It’s written quite simply, sometimes with an overabundance of optimism (she is only 8 after all!). Every once in a while there is a bit written by her mother inserted that explains things Bana didn’t know or understand. Her mother’s parts are written as if it was a letter to Bana. Dear World is heartbreaking and horrifying and also hopeful all at the same time. I highly recommend reading it.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 142
Pages Read in 2017: 38,615
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: 52 Books Bingo (Debut Author)

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Don’t You Know Who I Am? by Tony James Slater

Tony James Slater travels around the world and writes books about his crazy (always so crazy) adventures. But before he got the travel bug, he tried to become an actor. That didn’t work out so well, but he, of course, had some crazy adventures along the way. Don’t You Know Who I Am? is full of typical self-deprecating Tony humor. He has a way of telling a story that makes you literally laugh out loud. It is well-edited with just a handful of typos (though American readers may “see” more than that since British English and American English have quite a lot of differences). I highly recommend reading this book and all of Tony’s other books, too. You won’t be sorry (though you may have to explain, repeatedly, why you are laughing)!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 140
Pages Read in 2017: 38,240
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: I like Tony’s books

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Outcry by Manny Steinberg

Manny Steinberg spent 6 years, from age 13 to age 19, in a ghetto in Poland and then in various concentration camps. Outcry is his story. I’ve read a lot of Holocaust survivor memoirs and I always ask myself how in the world did they survive. There are two common threads. One, they are determined to make it to liberation for some specific reason. For some that is to help a younger sibling, for others, like Mr. Steinberg, it is to be a witness about what happened. Two, there is always a kind German. A German who was only a Nazi because of the country where he was born. A German who disagreed with the Nazi philosophy, but knew they’d be shot, and maybe their family, too, if that was made known. And, so, they gave a few extra crumbs of bread or stopped a beating when no more could be withstood. I think that’s one of the most important takeaway from these memoirs and why they are so important. We need to be that kind German. In writing Outcry, Mr. Steinberg succeeded in his goal to be a witness. Well-written and quick to read, this is a book everyone should read so we will remember and never let such a thing happen again.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 137
Pages Read in 2017: 37,185
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (O in OPAL)

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There I Go Again by William Daniels

William Daniels has had a very long career on stage, radio, and big and small screen. I loved watching him every Friday as Mr. Feeny on Boy Meets World. In There I Go Again, he goes basically chronologically talking about some of the things he has done in his career and through his marriage to his wife. I highly recommend this book to people who enjoy his work.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 108
Pages Read in 2017: 29,773
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Birthstone Bookology (T in PERIDOT)

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My Name Used to Be Muhammad by Tito Momen

Tito Momen was born in Nigeria to fundamentalist Muslims. His father wanted him to become an imam and sent him to Syria and Egypt to study. He began to have questions about Islam, but was beaten by his instructors when he asked those questions. His questions eventually led him to investigate The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and become a Mormon. Sharia Law does not allow a Muslim to convert to Christianity and so he spent many years in jail for his beliefs. Momen’s story is fascinating and I really like his writing style. I found it hard to put the book down at times. I highly recommend reading it!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2017: 98
Pages Read in 2017: 27,675
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Reason I Chose It: Real Life Book Club

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