Tag Archives: Autobiography

Women and the Square Circle

Women’s wrestling appears to be garnering interest with the public again due, I surmise, in part to the rise in popularity of the Netflix show GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling).  Stepping into the square this year are two books which throw a spot light on the world of women in the ring.

The first is Sisterhood of the Squared Circle: The History and Rise of Women’s Wrestling by Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy. It offers short biographies of several athletes from around the globe and their journey into the world of female wrestlers. Two of the women are from Kentucky whose paths led them from an attraction at a freak show in a circus to a tag team matched up again male wrestling tag teams.  While some will see wrestling as a charade, which by in large it is, the performers/wrestlers display athletic prowess and drive to do whatever it takes to get ahead even if it results in broken bones or missing teeth, as displayed in the book.

Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy present a good mix of information, past and present, up to the latter half of 2016, as well as images of each female wrestler. There is still enough mystery in the field of women’s wrestling to keep the reader wondering what the future may hold for this rough and tumble sport.  If shows like GLOW are of interest or if wrestling draws your attention check out this latest non-fiction title.

My other selection is entitled Crazy is my Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules by AJ Mendez Brooks

As in many autobiographies/memoirs, there is a mixture of good, bad and ugly. Brooks’ book is no different. Memories of her early years show the hardships – being bullied as a child and being raised by her older siblings – while her parents worked just to keep food on the table.  As a child, Brooks was drawn to the world of wrestling as she watched the excitement in the ring and the fancy ring attire.  She also struggled with anorexia and depression but she always knew she wanted to be in the ring, at the center of attention.  

At one point in the book she talks of traveling to a plethora of different venues around the States and Mexico.  Each chapter builds Brooks’ story and brings the reader along on her journey to the ring. There are lists at the end of the chapters in which Brooks’ rates her experiences.

Formats Available:  Book

Reviewed by MicahShawnee Branch

The Elaborate Life of Stan Lee

stanleeA memoir in graphic novel form?  Say it isn’t so!

Stan Lee, creator of a vast universe of superheroes (The Avengers, Fantastic Four, The Punisher, and Spider-Man to name just a few), recently released a memoir of his journey to becoming an icon in the world of comic books, entitled Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir.  Early in his adolescent years, Lee could always be found with a book close within reach, reading anything he could wrap his hands around.  Lee was greatly influenced by classic characters found in pulp literature (such as Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ Tarzan), as well as Shakespeare’s works of drama and poetry.  These literary influences were combined with images of what a human could become to produce his intriguing, well-rounded characters for Marvel Comics.

While much of the book is devoted to his character development of the superheroes and villains, there is also a more serious side that details Lee’s time in the military.  One of his first duties was as a graphic artist for a campaign on sexual abstinence.  He also developed materials focusing on how American troops should act in other countries.

Readers also learn about how Lee came to do hysterical cameos in recent Marvel movies.  One such example from the recent Avengers: The Age of Ultron shows him sitting around a table with the characters discussing stories over a few beverages.  Lee is as proud of his appearances as all the work he has done over the years.

Lee presents his memoir to readers as if one were to meet him at a Fandom Fest or Comic Con.  Read Amazing Fantastic Incredible and meet the man behind the worlds of some of your comic and film characters.  Hard work, dedication to his craft, and a roller coaster ride of events in his life have formed Stan the Man, a man who has brought joy to millions around the world.

Lee also dedicates portions of his memoir to staff editors, writers, and artists who have contributed to his career.

For the reader who may traditionally prefer reading graphic novels, this selection will possibly open other opportunities to read similar autobiographical texts.  A brief list of works available through the library can be found below.

Formats Available: Book, Audiobook, eBook

Reviewed by MicahShawnee Branch

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

furiouslyhappyI love listening to comedic biographical audiobooks, better yet are comedic audiobooks read by the author themselves.  I think it adds a more genuine quality to the listening experience because only authors truly know how they meant something to be interpreted.  On an especially bleak day this fall I needed something uplifting and turned to Jenny Lawson’s newest book Furiously Happy.  Jenny Lawson’s first title, Let’s Pretend this Never Happened, chronicles the bizarre things that seem to always happen to Lawson.  From digging up a dead pet in her backyard so vultures won’t get it, to buying lots of taxidermied animals through the internet, Lawson has a lot of weird things happen to her.  You’ll find the same love of taxidermy and strange happenings in her second book, but Lawson gets bit more personal this time about her mental health struggles.

The title of her second book comes from a blog post on one of her especially dark days.  She is in the midst of a depression so dark she wasn’t seeing anyway out of it and instead of giving in and falling further into the black hole she makes a choice, be happy.  Be so furiously happy that there is no room for darkness.  Within hours of the blog post attached to #FuriouslyHappy thousands of messages poured in relating to Lawson’s experience and offering support.

The fame of her blog and the success of her first book put the spotlight on how many people suffer with anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders that are often misunderstood or diminished by those unfamiliar with the symptoms.  Lawson delivers a slightly uncomfortable look at what dealing with these disorders does to your body, your family, and your friends.  She is brave and honest about her attempts to hurt herself, the days when she isn’t able to leave her bed, and how much she hates and loves being successful.  She approaches these setbacks not with defeat but with the knowledge that tomorrow is a new and hopefully better day.

Her awkwardness is relatable as I’m sure everyone has had a moment where they’ve said something they regret or made a fool of themselves and can’t hide.  Perhaps we haven’t all pulled a taxidermied raccoon claw from our bags during a huge press conference for a newly published book; but the metaphor is there.  We’ve all done embarrassing things because we are all human.  Getting up, moving forward, and trying to make better tomorrows is the overall message in this hilarious book where almost anything could come out of Jenny Lawson’s mouth.  Really, she says some ridiculous things.

Formats Available: Book, eBook

(Note: LFPL does not have this title in Audiobook format at the moment)

Reviewed by Lindsay, Southwest Branch