Notable Non-Fiction

Reading memoirs can be a tricky proposition.  The author simply has to have some sort of compelling experience that makes you, the reader, want to pick up the book and learn more.  Generally, a reader wants to learn more about the author if

a.  they are some sort of celebrity (this is especially true in American culture); or
b. they overcame some sort of adversity and serve as an inspiration to others.

Mary Karr's latest installment of what has become a trilogy of memoirs falls into that last category.  She overcame a horrendous childhood (she chronicled that in her best-seller The Liars' Club in 1995), struggled through adolescence (that part was covered in Cherry in 2000), and triumphed over alcoholism in later life - and this is the subject of her latest best-selling memoir, Lit.

Being neither an alcoholic (okay, yet) nor suffering an abusive childhood, A Reader's Respite simply didn't see  where we had anything at all in common with Mary Karr.  In fact, we might not have even turned the first page had the book not made The New York Times' 10 Best Books of 2009 list.

But we did turn that first page.  And then another, and another.  And while we had no frame of reference with Karr's alcoholism and childhood demons, we did find a common ground in an unexpected place:  religion.  In a big way, Lit is about the role that religion/God/a higher power played in Mary's recovery.  A self-proclaimed agnostic, one of Mary's biggest obstacles in recovery was figuring out all of the God stuff.  All of a sudden, she had A Reader's Respite's attention in a vice-grip.

She relates her struggle with spirituality in a way we've never quite experienced before.  Soul-rendering observations mixed with humor and a healthy dose of common sense make the latter part of the book (or the God Part, as we like to call it) riveting.  We couldn't put it down.

And we'd like to think that this book changed us in some small way.  Or maybe a large way.

There's a reason this one made the NYT list.  It's a book that once read, you won't forget.

Dear FTC Guy,
A publicist sent me this book.  Bite me.
A Reader's Respite


If you'd like a chance to read a gently-used copy of this memoir, leave us a comment below and we'll draw a random winner on March 17th.  All entrants welcome!

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