When it comes to finding a good book to read whether for some light reading before bed, for something fun to read while on vacation, or just to curl up on the couch with the cat on a rainy day, biographies, autobiographies and memoirs are my guilty pleasure.
I would consider that my first exposure to biographies took place in my pre-teens through my idol, Erma Bombeck. Her unique style demonstrated a consistent ability to make readers crack a smile or laugh out loud, from her seemingly effortless ability recount those everyday moments of family life we have all lived through, whether as a child or as a parent. Her talent was in the ability to hit the nail on the head in breaking down the story and examining every detail through her microscope of humour.
Even though I would suspect that she might have used some creative licence in retelling her humourous stories of a suburban housewife, at its core, her storytelling style had to be built on a foundation of truth, authenticity and love. While her books may not have been typically classified as biographies, letting us into the intimate details of her family life as she did, in memoir style, was to me, my gateway into biographies.
Throughout my teen years, I would spend much of my allowance money buying fan magazines and entertainment magazines. It was not because I had any appreciable appetite for celebrity gossip, but to me it was a way to get to know my favourite TV and musical artists outside of the realm of their public personas. This period also offered my first experiences in being inspired by celebrity quotes, especially when they related to the creative process and working at one’s craft.
In 1986, when taking a break from an all-nighter, working on a paper for university, I recall a middle-of-the-night trip to the 24-hour grocery store and stumbling upon Shirley MacLaine’s book “Dancing in the Light”. The notes on the jacket struck a chord with me. I bought the paperback and read it in a few weeks.
At 21 years old, I was struggling with a number of things, faith, identity, and my place in the world as a young adult. Miss MacLaine’s book offered the right words at the right time. “Dancing in the Light” was a catalyst in helping me understand my natural curiosity about life and my innate desire to continuously evolve. “Dancing in the Light” was the first book that demystified the concept of the soul for me and also positioned me for my own spiritual journey in life. These were my first “aha moments”, while reading a book.
As a result, once the university years were over and I returned to reading for the fun of it, my go-to books became biographies. Continue reading