Memoirs & Autobiographies

Surpassing Certainty – audiobook review

Surpassing Certainty

Janet Mock’s highly anticipated second memoir, Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me, picks up where she left off in Redefining Realness (2014). She relives her college days and the year spent working at a strip club in Hawaii; first marriage; and acclimation to life in New York City as she navigates a career in media. She also discusses the importance of owning when and with whom she disclosed her trans womanhood; the impact of having a strong network of family and friends; striving for professional success as a woman of color; and loving herself.

“This book describes the path I took as I figured out who I was and processed who I didn’t get know I’d become: The woman who thrives as a storyteller, an advocate, and a wife. This is my attempt to show up for that girl who is yearning to be let in, to be accepted; who believes that obscuring herself is her only possible gateway.”

Mock’s voice is a steady hand as she recounts her triumphs and struggles. Intensely personal, deeply relatable, and a must-listen for everyone. 

Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me by Janet Mock
Narrated by Janet Mock
Produced by Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: 7 hours, 51 minutes
Released: June 13, 2017

Available as an audiobook from Amazon/Audible, Audiobook.com, iTunes, and other retailers.  Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: audiobooks, lgbt, Memoirs & Autobiographies | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Women on Fire: Marie Equi & Mary MacLane

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, two American women challenged social norms and pushed themselves, and the world around them, to their limits. Mary MacLane, hailing from Butte, Montana, bucked convention for a shining moment in the sun, for a chance to live life as fast as she could instead of accepting a life that didn’t fit. Marie Equi always strove for the betterment of working class communities and advocated suffrage for women. She left high school to work in a textile mill, only to return to academia with a vengeance and graduate from medical school.

Both women seemed larger-than-life. And yet, despite the indelible impressions they left on their time and place, Marie and Mary all but disappeared from collective consciousness, even within their own lifetimes. Neither women expected to fade from the history pages they had helped write. Historian Michael Helquist drew from numerous resources to resurrect Equi’s life. Melville House reissued MacLane’s memoir through their Neversink Library (which follows the sentiment that when you have your best books by your side, you’re never alone and never totally bereft).

It’s the last day of Women’s History Month, but, as we all know, women are making history every minute of every day. Learning of LBGTQ2IA women in history is one of my passions and someday I will visit the Lesbian Herstory Archives in New York City. Also, check out the Gay Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest‘s website. Please share books by or about historical figures in the comment section below. I would love to add to my personal library!

 

Marie Equi was bold, brassy, smart, and driven by her social conscience. Born in 1872 in New Bedford, Massachussets, she grew up in a large, working-class Irish-Italian family. She was never one to let her social or economic circumstances (much less allow society to dictate to her based on her gender) keep her down or accept the status quo. The roller coaster of her life includes forays into homesteading near the Dalles in Oregon; treating San Francisco earthquakes victims in 1906; supporting striking laborers; and providing abortions. Not to mention her relationships with strong, community-minded women. 

Marie Equi: Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions by Michael Helquist
Publisher: Oregon State University Press
Released: 2015
ISBN: 978-0-87071-595-2

Check your local public library for availability. I asked mine to purchase it and they did! Join the discussion on Goodreads.

wood floor

Mary MacLane was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada on May 1, 1881. Growing up in small Minnesota and Montana towns, she yearned for adventure, unconventional thrills, and helter skelter big city pulsations. She wrote for her school newspaper, as well as kept a diary of her experiences and inner-life. Originally published by Herbert S. Stone & Company in 1902 as “The Story of Mary MacLane” (that title reflects a change from the author’s more fiery, intended title “I Await the Devil’s Coming”, as noted in the book’s 2013 foreword by Jessa Crispin). The memoir was lauded by critics and launched into bestseller status by a voracious public. MacLane’s conversational style and openness about most facets of her life connected with many readers. I can only imagine her Twitter feed and YouTube channel. 

I Await the Devil’s Coming by Mary MacLane
Published by Melville House
ISBN: 9781612191959
Publication date: March 2013

Check your local public library for availability. Join the discussion on Goodreads.

Categories: biography, history, lgbt, Memoirs & Autobiographies | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Audie Awards Finalist – Buffering

BUFFERING

 

On February 8th, 2017, the Audio Publishers Association announced the nominees of the 22nd annual Audie Awards nominees. 26 categories represent a range of non-fiction and fiction titles, single narrator and full cast productions, and the depth of talent nominated…well, it’s staggering. Bahni Turpin, Marc Thompson, Robin Miles, Juliet Stevenson, Cassandra Campbell, are but a few of the exemplary voices honored this year. They turn great stories into amazing stories. They are the kind of narrators that make you wish your commute was fifty hours long instead of fifty miles. 

Last November I reviewed Hannah Hart’s fully loaded memoir, Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded. All of the ingredients that combined to bring her to your computer screen, between your ears, and into your kitchens, with the added magic that is Hart’s accessibility and vivacious personality, make for a great listen. Her memoir received a nomination in the “Autobiography/Memoir” category, along with four other books.

Around the Way Girl written and narrated by Taraji P. Henson

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded by Hannah Hart, narrated by Hannah Hart and Judy Young

The Greatest: My Own Story by Muhammad Ali with Richard Durham, narrated by Dion Graham

The Rainbow Comes and Goes written and narrated by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi; Foreword by Abraham Verghese, narrated by Sunil Malhotra and Cassandra Campbell

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded
Hannah Hart
Narrators: Hannah Hart, Judy Young (Foreword)

Produced by HarperCollins
Length: 5 hours, 59 minutes
ISBN-10: 1441719202
ISBN-13: 978-1441719201
Released: October 2016

Categories: audiobooks, awards, essay, lgbt, Memoirs & Autobiographies | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

LGBT Audiobooks 2016 Listen List

I’m just a tad late in posting all of the glorious audiobooks that I listened to in 2016 (though they did make it into my year-end-stravaganza posting). Compared with 2015, there was an aural explosion! I think this in part because I had more options as far as buying and borrowing audiobooks (Overdrive, OneClick Digital, Audible). I’ve also spent more time perusing audiobook reviews on sites such as AudioFile Magazine and participating in a fantastic Facebook group, Lesbian Audiobooks

Now when I find an interesting book, I ask myself “is there an audiobook version?” Publishers seem to produce more and more audiobook versions these days, as opposed to limiting the production to “big” names and blockbuster series. What a time to be a listener!

My taste in listening varies from one day to the next. Below you’ll find my moods and interests reflected in the covers below. I enjoy literary fiction, modern-day retellings of Shakespeare plays, memoirs, YA, fantasy adventure, contemporary romance, far-flung settings, and historical fiction.

However, if I don’t enjoy the narrator, no matter how good the storytelling, I stop listening. And that’s just me; other listeners might find the narrator is a great fit for their ears. Some new-to-me narrators that I really enjoyed in 2016 include Laural Merlington and Kate Rudd (The Language of Hoofbeats); Amielynn Abellera (As I Descended); Sarah Grace Wright (Fallen Elements); and Bahni Turpin (Here Comes the Sun). These narrators deliver immersive experiences with wonderful pacing, tone, and excellent characterization.

As for 2017? Well, I’ve already listened to a contemporary romance and a fantasy-adventure! My Audible wishlist is long and getting longer. What LGBT+ fiction and/or non-fiction audiobooks did you listen to last year?  

The book covers are linked to either a review I posted or to a related external site (like Overdrive, AudioFile, publishers, etc.).

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully LoadedSaving Montgomery SoleAs I DescendedHere Comes the Sun by Nicole Y. Dennis-BennYou Know Me Well by David LevithanThe Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson CooperHit by a Farm by Catherine FriendThe Warrior's Path (When Women Were Warriors, #1)Being Jazz Audiobook2497445115726317327959Image result for if i was your girl audiobook207637391582434313587076937547633163705232513262325817288219421892292974125893681

Categories: audiobooks, family relationships, fantasy, fiction, friendship, historical fiction, lgbt, librarians, literary fiction, Memoirs & Autobiographies, mystery, nonfiction, paranormal, romance, suspense, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When We Rise

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Tonight ABC will air the first installment of its new miniseries, When We Rise, starring Guy Pearce, Mary-Louise Parker, Carrie Preston, and Rachel Griffiths. Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black derived partial inspiration for the script from Cleve Jones’ memoir of the same name. The series chronicles LGBT activism during the 1970s and 1980s. It is essential to understand and appreciate where we come from. It is also imperative to raise awareness that there is still much more that all of us can do. I hope that the miniseries does both. The Human Rights Campaign and Glaad are but a couple of the organizations that are working to ensure equal legal rights for LGBT+ persons and encouraging discussion. Click on the images below to learn more about who these organizations are and what they are doing.

hrc-logo  glaad

Since I don’t have a cable subscription, I’ll have to wait a bit until I can watch it (sigh). I was hoping it would be available for purchase à la carte from Amazon, much in the way that I purchase upcoming seasons of The Walking Dead so I can watch episodes the day after they air. In the meantime, I’ll listen to Jones’ memoir on my commute. Every person I read or listen to enriches my understanding of the LGBT+ history. Everyone relays their life through the lens they wear; that being said, I know I can’t count on one book to give me the whole story. I am always in search of more information and I hope you are, too.

When We Rise Book Cover

Cleve Jones’ memoir is a sweeping, profoundly moving account of his life from sexually liberated 1970s San Francisco, through the AIDS crisis and up to his present-day involvement with the marriage equality battle. — summary via NoveList Plus

When We Rise
Cleve Jones
Narrated by Cleve Jones
Produced by Hachette Audio and Blackstone Audio
Length: 9 hours, 31 minutes
ISBN-10: 1478942754
ISBN-13: 9781478942757
Released: November 2016

Available as an audiobook from AmazonAudible, Audiobooks, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. Join the discussion on Goodreads!

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Further Readings

If you are a fellow LGBT+ history enthusiast and are interested in learning more about activism, you may also enjoy reading:
*Note: this list focuses on United States’ history.

Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage EqualityThe Gay Revolution: The Story of the StruggleDifferent Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights MovementImage result for fire breathing lesbian avengeraint-gonna-let

Categories: audiobooks, essay, film adaptations, history, lgbt, Memoirs & Autobiographies, nonfiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reading Resolutions for 2017

 Oh, reading challenges. I love them, and yet, I fare better with the types of reading challenges that quantify, rather than qualify, my choices. For example, Goodreads only asks how many books I plan on finishing between January and December. That’s pretty straightforward, simple, and, in some ways, not that much of a challenge. I can set the bar at 5 books, if I wanted (I would wither away if I was only able to read five books in a year).

My excuses/reasons for failing to cross the finish line of the 2016 PopSugar challenge are many. I’m like that dog in the Pixar movie “Up”; I get distracted by every book that crosses my path. There are certainly not enough hours in the day for work, commuting, and my myriad of interests. I am also unable to read less than ten trillion books at a time. There is currently one book in my glove compartment of my car; an audiobook in my car’s disc drive and on my smartphone; Analog magazine on my phone for endless lines at the grocery store; eBooks on my Nook; and on and on.

I don’t give myself a hard time for not living up to my own reading standards. It’s supposed to be so many other things above and beyond a mere assignment. I will, however, craft mini challenges for myself that highlight voices and genres I haven’t spent much (if any) time with. And then there is the news… So long 2016!

How about you?

Categories: anthology, audiobooks, erotica, essay, family relationships, fantasy, fiction, friendship, historical fiction, history, Holiday, horror, lgbt, librarians, literary fiction, Memoirs & Autobiographies, nonfiction, novella, paranormal, poetry, primary sources, retellings, romance, romantic friendships, short stories, Uncategorized, young adult | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Buffering by Hannah Hart – audiobook review

hannah-hart-audiobook

Buffering is that time you spend waiting for the pixels of your life to crystallize into a clearer picture; it’s a time of reflection, a time of pause, a time for regaining your composure or readjusting your course.

Hannah Hart, host of “My Drunk Kitchen” on YouTube and author of My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going with Your Gut (2014), shares her life experiences in her new memoir, Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded. Hart infuses her memoir with the warmth and humor that endears her to fans. The author shares her experiences of growing up in California with a fractured family; her struggles with sexuality, self-harm, faith, and fame; and more. Her conversational style of writing made me feel like she was riding in the passenger seat of my car as I commuted. All of the exclamation points, italics, and caps found in the text are brought to life as she reads.

Readers and listeners who have never watched her videos or read her previous book, will still find connection through the trials and triumphs of Hart’s life.

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded
Hannah Hart
Produced by HarperCollins
Length: 5 hours, 59 minutes
ISBN-10: 1441719202
ISBN-13: 978-1441719201
Released: October 2016

Available as an audiobook from AmazonAudible, Barnes & Noble, and Overdrive (check your local public library for availability in both eAudio and CD), as well as many other retailers.

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

***Quotes come minus pagination because I do not have a text copy of the book. Remember rewinding a cassette or CD in an attempt to write down song lyrics? Yep, this was just like that.***

Categories: audiobooks, lgbt, Memoirs & Autobiographies | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Eleanor & Hick

Two audiobooks have been released this year about the 30+ year relationship between former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena “Hick” Hickok. The relationship began as a romance and mellowed into a sustaining, supportive friendship.  

Volumes have been written by and about Eleanor and to a more limited extent, you can find writings by and about Hick. Every nook and cranny of Eleanor’s life poured over by historians, journalists, critics, and politicians. Happily, however, these two books contribute to a more complete view of the women behind the personages. I’m miles behind folks, though, since I have only just now got my hot little hands on a copy of Empty Without You, a collection of the letters, annotated by Rodger Streitmatter. I recommend listening to Loving Eleanor and Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair that Shaped a First Lady. It isn’t necessary to start with one over the other, though. Enjoy!

 

loving-eleanor

 

 Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert is told with through the framework of a fictional memoir written by Hick and left with the voluminous correspondence she shared with Eleanor (known to her, fondly, as Madam, ER, and Eleanor). The letters were donated to the FDR Presidential Library in Hyde Park, with the provision that they remain sealed until ten years after Hick’s death. Albert, known for The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter and mystery series, draws from extensive research to pen a vivid story surrounding the the two women’s romance and friendship. Albert includes information at the end of the story for readers who want to find out more. She also clarifies which parts of the novel are creative license. These additions reflect important truths that were hidden away or reinterpreted by persons who found the letters unpalatable. Albert highlights Doris Faber’s 1980 biography of Hick, which demeans its subject; a result, Albert writes, of Faber’s disapproval and disgust with the relationship revealed by the letters. The novel spans four decades, covering the women’s first meeting prior to FDR’s term as Governor of New York until Hick’s death in 1968. It’s an engrossing read. Told through Hick’s eyes, it takes on an especially personal, candid tone.

Karen White narrates this story with a wonderfully straight forward style suited to the personality of it’s primary voice. Lorena eschewed jewelry for suits; built a successful career as a journalist; and relished solitude, a stark contrast to the life she lived while active and as part of Eleanor’s life. Skilled narrators resist exaggerated imitations of real persons. Eleanor Roosevelt has a very distinctive voice. White’s performance of ER reflects the cadence produced by a patrician upbringing. I enjoyed the depth of her delivery, as the emotional weight of ER’s experiences, hopes, and passions, pour through the speakers.

You can learn more about the authors, narrators, and where to purchase a copy of these audiobooks via the links below.

Loving Eleanor
Author: Susan Wittig Albert
Narrator: Karen White
Produced by Tantor Media
Length: 10.5 hours
Release date: March 22, 2016

Available as an audiobook from AmazonAudible, Barnes & Noble, and Overdrive (check your local public library for availability in both eAudio and CD), as well as many other retailers.

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

 

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eleanor-and-hick

Eleanor and Hick is a sympathetic, well-researched exploration of the relationship between the two women. While not all readers will agree on the weight or interpretation of the materials sources, the book will definitely inspire spirited conversation.Author Susan Quinn delves into primary source material and other resources from collections housed at the FDR Library, the Library of Congress, and universities, in order to present a balanced, informed, and contextual look at the women’s lives together and as individuals. 

Narrator Kimberly Farr delivers a solid performance. Her frank tone, with upticks of emotion for direct quotes, draws out the public and private personas of Eleanor and Hick.

Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady
Author: Susan Quinn
Narrator: Kimberly Farr
Produced by Penguin Audio
Length: 13 hours, 44 minutes
Release date: September 27, 2016

Available as an audiobook from AmazonAudible, Audiobooks, Barnes & Noble, and Overdrive (check your local public library for availability in both eAudio and CD), as well as many other retailers.

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

 

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Rodger Streitmatter curated and annotated a collection of letters Hick and Eleanor wrote to each other. He provides important context and discussion of their relationship. Prior to her death in 1968, Hick donated thousands of these letters to the FDR Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York, with the directive to keep them sealed until ten years after her passing. When the cache became available to researchers, some were dismayed and unsettled by what they discovered. One of Hick’s biographers, Doris Faber, produced a less than favorable book after she read them, according to the author’s note at the end of Loving Eleanor. I’ve just picked up a copy for my own library and look forward to reading them.

Empty Without You
Editor: Rodger Streitmatter
Published by Free Press
Originally published in 1998
Hardcover, paperback, and ebook copies are available. Don’t forget to check with your local public library for availability.

Categories: audiobooks, history, lgbt, Memoirs & Autobiographies, primary sources, romance, romantic friendships | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Your Story!

Check out my post on autobiographies and memoirs on the blog “Women and Words”!

Our Stories, Our Voices: Queer Women’s Autobiographies & Memoirs by Julie Thompson “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” – Hamilton: An American Musical “I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself […]

via A Reader’s Perspective: Our Stories, Our Voices: Queer Women’s Autobiographies & Memoirs by Julie Thompson — Women and Words

Categories: audiobooks, Guest Post, lgbt, Memoirs & Autobiographies | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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