What we're about

A group for anyone interested in reading and discussing memoirs, autobiographies and biographies. Meet new people and enjoy lively discussion. We can change meetup locations and book selections for each month based on group preferences.

Here is the list of everything we've read to date as of March 21, 2020

March 18, 2020: “Murder at the Roosevelt Hotel In Cedar Rapids,” by Langton

February 19, 2020: “My Life In France,” by Julia Child

January 15, 2020: “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” by James Lowewen

November 20, 2019: “Victoria the Queen,” by Baird, second half

October 16, 2019: “Victoria the Queen,” by Baird, first half

September 18, 2019: “The Warmth of Other Suns,” by Isabel Wilkerson, second half

August 21, 2019: “The Warmth of Other Suns,” by Isabel Wilkerson, first half

July 17, 2019: “The Spirit Catches You and You All Fall Down,” by Ann Fadiman

July 2, 2019: “Out of the Darkness: The Story of Mary Ellsen Wilson, Shelman and Lazoritz

May 15, 2019: “Becoming,” by Michelle Obama

April 17, 2019: “Born A Crime,” by Trevor Noah

March 20, 2019: “Black Klansman,” by Ron Stallworth

February 20, 2019: Alexander Hamilton,” by Ron Chernow, second 400 pages

January 16, 2019: Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow, first 400 pages

October 17, 2018: “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly

September 19, 2018: “Run of His Life, People vs. O.J., by Jeffrey Toobin

August 15, 2018: “Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Churchill,” by Sonia Purnell

July 18, 2018: “White Like Her: A Family’s Story of Racial Passing” by Gail Lukasik

June 20, 2018: “Where the Past Begins,” by Amy Tan

May 16, 2018: “Madness: A Bipolar Life” by Marya Hornbacher

April 18, 2018: “Stitches: A Memoir” by David Small

March 21, 2018: “Summer at Tiffany,” by Marjorie Hart

February 21, 2018: “American Heiress, The wild saga of the kidnapping, crimes and trial of Patty Hearst,” by Jeffrey Toobin

January 17, 2018: “The Witches, Salem 1692,” by Stacy Schiff

November 15, 2017: “Twenty-Six Seconds,” by Alexandra Zapruder

October 18, 2017: “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot

September 20, 2017: “The Boys in the Boat,” by Daniel James Brown

August 16, 2017: "Sleepwalk with Me," by Mike Birbiglia Wonderful discussion lead by Sara Edstrom!

July 19, 2017: "Lab Girl" by Hope Jahren

June 21, 2017: "Rosemary, The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Larson (Most Memorable: Big turnout. There were probably 15 people there.)

May 17, 2017: "Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman" by Richard Feynman

April 19: 2017: "The Light of the World" by Elizabeth Alexander

March 15, 2017: "Bettyville" by George Hodgman (Interview with George Hodgman via skype at Urbandale Library on May 16.)

February 13, 2017: "The Girls from Ames: A story of women and a forty-year friendship

January 18, 2017: "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain

November 16, 2016: "Boys in the Trees: A Memoir" by Carly Simon

October 19, 2016: "An Invisible Thread" by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski

September 21: 2016: "Steve Jobs" by Water Isaacson

April 17, 2016: "When Breath Becomes Air" by Paul Kalanithi

July 20, 2016: "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls

June 15, 2016: "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion

May 25, 2016: "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin"

April 20, 2016: "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind," by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

March 30, 2016: "The Good Shufu" by Tracy Slater (Most Memorable: A pop-up Author interview with Tracy Slater who lived in Japan at the time. We got to Q&A with her via skype at Barns and Noble Bookstore on May 3.)

February 17, 2016: "Wave" by Sonali Deraniyagala

January 20, 2016: "Tiny Beautiful Things" by Cheryl Strayed

December 2, 2015: "Me Talk Pretty One Day" by David Sedaris

October 21, 2015: "Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption"

September 16, 2015: "The Water is Wide" by Pat Conroy

August 11, 2015: "The Liar's Club" by Mary Karr

June 9, 2015: Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalish

April 7, 2015: "The Girl from Human Street" by Roger Cohen

Upcoming events (3)

Book Discussion: Bryson Read Of Your Choice

Online event

For our next book discussion the theme is all things Bill Bryson. Pick a Bryson title, read it and be prepared to share. We'll look to each person to detail what the book they chose was about, what they liked and didn't. We'll also look to our collective reading to discern what we learn about Bryson's view of the world. Pull out a book you've already read, or a Bryson book you've always meant to read. Here is a full list of Bryson books: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/authorpage/bill-bryson.html Join us for a virtual book discussion on Zoom.

Book Discussion: Yellow Bird by Sierra Crane Murdoch

Online event

The gripping true story of a murder on an Indian reservation, and the unforgettable Arikara woman who becomes obsessed with solving it—an urgent work of literary journalism. “I don’t know a more complicated, original protagonist in literature than Lissa Yellow Bird, or a more dogged reporter in American journalism than Sierra Crane Murdoch.”—William Finnegan, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Barbarian Days NAMED ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2020 BY Chicago Tribune • BuzzFeed • Newsweek • PopSugar • Pure Wow • LitHub • CrimeReads • The Week • Book Riot When Lissa Yellow Bird was released from prison in 2009, she found her home, the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, transformed by the Bakken oil boom. In her absence, the landscape had been altered beyond recognition, her tribal government swayed by corporate interests, and her community burdened by a surge in violence and addiction. Three years later, when Lissa learned that a young white oil worker, Kristopher “KC” Clarke, had disappeared from his reservation worksite, she became particularly concerned. No one knew where Clarke had gone, and few people were actively looking for him. Yellow Bird traces Lissa’s steps as she obsessively hunts for clues to Clarke’s disappearance. She navigates two worlds—that of her own tribe, changed by its newfound wealth, and that of the non-Native oilmen, down on their luck, who have come to find work on the heels of the economic recession. Her pursuit of Clarke is also a pursuit of redemption, as Lissa atones for her own crimes and reckons with generations of trauma. Yellow Bird is an exquisitely written, masterfully reported story about a search for justice and a remarkable portrait of a complex woman who is smart, funny, eloquent, compassionate, and—when it serves her cause—manipulative. Drawing on eight years of immersive investigation, Sierra Crane Murdoch has produced a profound examination of the legacy of systematic violence inflicted on a tribal nation and a tale of extraordinary healing.

Book Discussion: Walking With the Wind by John Lewis

Online event

An award-winning national bestseller, Walking with the Wind is one of our most important records of the American Civil Rights Movement. Told by John Lewis, who Cornel West calls a “national treasure,” this is a gripping first-hand account of the fight for civil rights and the courage it takes to change a nation. In 1957, a teenaged boy named John Lewis left a cotton farm in Alabama for Nashville, the epicenter of the struggle for civil rights in America. Lewis’s adherence to nonviolence guided that critical time and established him as one of the movement’s most charismatic and courageous leaders. Lewis’s leadership in the Nashville Movement—a student-led effort to desegregate the city of Nashville using sit-in techniques based on the teachings of Gandhi—set the tone for major civil rights campaigns of the 1960s. Lewis traces his role in the pivotal Selma marches, Bloody Sunday, and the Freedom Rides. Inspired by his mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Lewis’s vision and perseverance altered history. In 1986, he ran and won a congressional seat in Georgia, and remains in office to this day, continuing to enact change. The late Edward M. Kennedy said of Lewis, “John tells it like it was…Lewis spent most of his life walking against the wind of the times, but he was surely walking with the wind of history.”

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