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Bios & Memoirs > Personal Memoirs

Personal Memoirs

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Cynthia

Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States Member Since 2012

Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!

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  • "One Book Can Change the World"

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    Malala Yousafzai is on a crucial, well publicized and lauded mission to educate children. I expected "I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot By the Taliban" (2013) would be An Alarming Book with lots of Depressing Statistics that would make me feel Somewhat Superior in a Privileged Western Way, but Inspired to Help. What I didn't expect was that I would gain respect for a very different culture and enjoy a fascinating, but tragic story.

    The inhabitants of the Swat Valley of northwest Pakistan often use rope-pulley bridges to cross dangerous raging rivers and deep chasms quickly. "I Am Malala" is a fast ride across what has been, for me, an uncrossable gulf.

    Pashtuns have lived in the stunningly beautiful Swat Valley for more than 2300 years. Malala is a proud member of the Pashtun tribe, who are fierce fighters, culturally bound to welcome guests, and have traditions of marriage handed down for centuries. When Malala was born in Mingora, her father Ziauddin, was delighted - although tribal custom means only the birth of a boy is celebrated. Ziauddin was determined to give Malala and the other girls in Swat an education.

    Swat is almost entirely conservative, traditional Muslims. Men and women are kept separated after puberty, people pray five times a day, and work outside the home is not encouraged for women. That doesn't mean that the Koran says that women shouldn't be educated - in fact, it says the exact opposite. (And let's not forget that jobs weren't encouraged for women in the Western World until 60 or so years ago.)

    After 9/11, the Taliban arrived in Swat and took effective control of the area from an impotent and absentee Pakistani government. In their fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran, there is no dancing, no television, no song, and women are to be illiterate. When I read this book, I realized that the Taliban is to Islam what Westboro Baptist Church is to Christians - really out there, aching for jihad or crusade, and not actually representative of either religion.

    Malala learned to love learning, and to love school - especially when the Taliban took it from her. She became the voice of girls who wanted to learn by blogging, and then by appearing as an education advocate on television. She was prominently featured by the New York Times in a documentary "Class Dismissed" (2009). I remember that well - it was the first NY Times documentary I watched.

    Malala and her family never thought, as a child, that she was in danger. "Who would shoot a child?" everyone said. They underestimated the desperation of fundamentalists who find their beliefs - and therefore, their power - challenged. The Taliban shot her in the head on October 9, 2012. On October 9, 2013, she answered the question she'd been asked right before the assassination attempt: "Who is Malala Yousafzai?" with this book.

    I will leave the political analysis and sociological critique to other reviewers who have handled that so adeptly already. To me, this is a really good book. I'm sure Christina Lamb, the co-author, contributed greatly to that. Malala has been attending school and has had multiple surgeries in the last year, and she could not have had the time to do everything.

    I am sure this book will end up on school reading lists, alongside "The Diary of a Young Girl" (Anne Frank, 1947, posthumous). Teachers, please don't mar a wonderful story by making your students find only 'One True Meaning.' For Marie Arana, writing a reverent review of "I Am Malala" for the Washington Post on October 11, 2013, this book meant something more global and less personal. We both found profound meaning in this book - but the meanings, while complementary, were different.

    Finally, this book worked better for me as an Audible than in text. Mentally, reading excerpts, I tripped over Pashto and Urdu pronunciations - which would have distracted me from the book. Archie Panjabi sounds young, and her narrative as a 16 year old works.

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

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    I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Malala Yousafzai
    • Narrated By Archie Panjabi
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (782)
    Performance
    (710)
    Story
    (714)

    When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York.

    Jan says: "So much more than expected..."
  • "Well Served by this Book"

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    On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama was elected to his first term as President. Three days later, I read a nice piece in the Washington Post by Wil Haygood. "A Butler Well Served by this Election" was the too brief story of Eugene Allen, a Black butler who served eight presidents, retiring during the Reagan administration. Later, watching the inaugural on television, the camera panned to Allen, and a commentator mentioned he was there as a special guest of the President's. Allen must have had interesting stories, but he was discrete and I thought they had died with him in 2010.

    I was thrilled to find "The Butler: A Witness to History" (2013) at the top of the Audible crawl. "Wow," I thought. "A story I always wanted to hear more of, and one of the narrators is Forest Whitaker!" I like his voice so much I'd listen to him reading a refrigerator repair manual. It was the fastest Audible purchase I've made, and I don't regret it.

    I thought I would be listening to a lengthier biography of Allen, or perhaps a novelization of the movie, but "The Butler" book is really a companion to the movie. According to this book, the movie "The Butler" is partially fictionalized, and a dramatic conflict was created between Allen and a radicalized son. This book first discusses how Haygood came up with the original story idea, and his lovely interviews with Allen and his wife, Helene. The book discusses Allen's relationships with the presidents he served, but briefly -it's a short book. It also discusses the tragedy Allen honored to vote for Obama, and then his physical struggle to attend the inauguration.

    There's also a section on the difficulty bringing "The Butler" to the screen. Oprah Winfrey discusses the history of Blacks in film, as actors, directors and producers. I am familiar with all of the actors she mentioned, but the directors in the 1920's and 30's were new to me.

    I'm giving the book a story rating of "3" because, as an Audible, it wandered. I wasn't always sure what point was being raised.

    [If you found this review helpful, please let me know by clicking 'helpful'.]

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    The Butler: A Witness to History

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Wil Haygood
    • Narrated By Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (198)
    Performance
    (171)
    Story
    (171)

    When acclaimed Washington Post writer Wil Haygood had an early hunch that Obama would win the 2008 election, he thought he'd highlight the singular moment by exploring the life of someone who had come of age when segregation was so embedded in the culture as to make the very thought of a black president inconceivable. He struck gold when he tracked down Eugene Allen, a butler who had served eight presidents, from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan. Forest Whitaker narrates the story of this remarkable man who, while serving tea and supervising buffets, was also a witness to history.

    Cris says: "Not what I was expecting"
  • "Nothing can take my Spirit from Me"

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    I listened to the audible of Mark Owens and Kevin Maurer's "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama bin Laden" (2012) shortly after it came out. I liked the book well enough to rate it 5's - it was really great to hear about that mission from someone who was there. I went back and reread my review (which was lackluster and not well received) and realized what I wasn't saying in that review was that I didn't like 'Mark Owens' and I thought it was a "me, me, me" story. There had to be more to being a SEAL than that - and this is the book that shows there is.

    "Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown" (2012) is the story of a flawed, heroic man who was genuinely admirable and truly loved. I'm not sure 'Mark Owens' has a conscience. I am certain Adam did. Adam was the kind of kid who stood up to a bully in middle school who was picking on Down Syndrome kid, and packed his rucksack with shoes for children in Afghanistan so they wouldn't have to endure winter barefoot. No one told him he had to do either - he was just that kind of person.

    Adam wasn't always heroic. He was a crack addict with 11 felony arrests, spent a long stint in rehab, and relapsed several times. He enlisted in the Navy at 24, and worked with determination to ascend to DEVGRU, and was the best of the best. Adam overcame severe injuries that could have let him retire on full disability - he crushed his right fingers and lost his right eye, but he still passed all of the qualifications tests and reached the pinnacle of his profession.

    "Fearless" was published by The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group, and the audio production is by Christian Audio. I was worried that this was going to be a preachy "you should" book, or a tale of unsupported faith. I almost didn't listen - but I remembered that Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption" (2010) had an important spiritual element for Louis Zamperini. Adam Brown's faith, and his family's faith, love and support were even more essential to him than his M4 Carbine.

    Even though I knew how Adam's story ended - author Eric Blehm tells of Adam's death at the beginning - I so wanted Adam to live for his beloved wife, Kelley, and adored children, Nathan and Savannah.

    Listening to narrator Paul Michael was like listening to a favorite uncle telling a well-loved family story after Thanksgiving dinner.

    There's a bonus at the end - an interview with the author. That's heart wrenching, too, because of the loss of so many of Adam's SEAL team members.

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

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    Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Eric Blehm
    • Narrated By Paul Michael
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1070)
    Performance
    (974)
    Story
    (985)

    When Navy SEAL Adam Brown woke up on March 17, 2010, he didn’t know he would die that night in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan - but he was ready: In a letter to his children, not meant to be seen unless the worst happened, he wrote, "I’m not afraid of anything that might happen to me on this earth, because I know no matter what, nothing can take my spirit from me."

    Karen Knabe says: "Truly the story of a Hero"
  1. I Am Malala: The Girl Who...
  2. The Butler: A Witness to ...
  3. Fearless: The Undaunted C...
  4. .

Andy

Andy Westport, CT, United States 03-16-12 Member Since 2002
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0
  • "surprising and inspiring"

    27 of 28 helpful votes

    Chester Nez lays out an inspiring journey that took him from his Native American homeland to a key strategic role in World War II, and on to a life in pursuit of the American dream. One of the most enjoyable audiobooks I've listened to in over a decade as an AudibleListener. Narration was super too.

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    Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WW II

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Chester Nez, Judith Schiess Avila
    • Narrated By David Colacci
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (494)
    Performance
    (430)
    Story
    (438)

    Chester Nez, the only surviving member of the original twenty-nine Navajo code talkers, shares the fascinating inside story of his life and service during World War II.

    Roxane says: "Interesting Listen for WWII Buffs"

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    At one time, Corrie ten Boom would have laughed at the idea that she had a story to tell. For the first 50 years of her life, nothing out of the ordinary ever happened to her. She was a spinster watchmaker living contentedly with her sister and their elderly father in the tiny house over their shop in Haarlem. Their uneventful days, as regulated as their own watches, revolved around their abiding love for one another. But with the Nazi invasion and occupation of Holland, everything changed....

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    At 22, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State - and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.

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    North Korea is isolated and hungry, bankrupt and belligerent. It is also armed with nuclear weapons. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people are being held in its political prison camps, which have existed twice as long as Stalin’s Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. Very few born and raised in these camps have escaped - but Shin Dong-hyuk did.

    Amanda says: "Worthwhile, but difficult on many levels."
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    Story
    (555)

    Masters of Doom is the amazing true story of the Lennon and McCartney of video games: John Carmack and John Romero. Together, they ruled big business. They transformed popular culture. And they provoked a national controversy. More than anything, they lived a unique and rollicking American Dream, escaping the broken homes of their youth to produce the most notoriously successful game franchises in history - Doom and Quake - until the games they made tore them apart. This is a story of friendship and betrayal, commerce and artistry.

    Ryan says: "How it was"
  • Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison (






UNABRIDGED) by Piper Kerman Narrated by Cassandra Campbell

    Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Piper Kerman
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2800)
    Performance
    (2545)
    Story
    (2561)

    With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money 10 years ago. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to 15 months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187-424 - one of the millions of women who disappear "down the rabbit hole" of the American penal system.

    Mark says: "My favorite book of the year, so far"
  • Switching Time: A Doctor's Harrowing Story of Treating a Woman with 17 Personalities (






UNABRIDGED) by Richard Baer Narrated by Lloyd James

    Switching Time: A Doctor's Harrowing Story of Treating a Woman with 17 Personalities

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Richard Baer
    • Narrated By Lloyd James
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (317)
    Performance
    (153)
    Story
    (152)

    Switching Time is the first story centering on multiple personality disorder to be told by the treating physician. It is the incredible saga of a young woman stranded in unimaginable darkness who, in order to survive, created 17 different versions of herself. One by one, Karen's "alters" began showing themselves: men, women, young boys, a toddler, black, white, vicious, nurturing, prim, licentious. And their "stepping out" confronted Baer with the challenge of a lifetime.

    Casey says: "Couldn't help myself"
  • I'm a Caregiver! Who Said This Was Easy: A Humorous Look at My Journey (






UNABRIDGED) by Mary K. Hukill Narrated by Richard Frances

    I'm a Caregiver! Who Said This Was Easy: A Humorous Look at My Journey

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 28 mins)
    • By Mary K. Hukill
    • Narrated By Richard Frances
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    This audiobook shows my journey as a caregiver for my mom. This can show what you may see in your journey, what can be done, what to do, and some ideas. Hope you have great luck in your journey. Remember to eat well, rest when you can, and keep positive. Enjoy the opportunity in taking care of a loved one. It is a gift.

  • Travels with My Opera Glasses (






UNABRIDGED) by Anthony Ogus Narrated by Anthony Ogus

    Travels with My Opera Glasses

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Anthony Ogus
    • Narrated By Anthony Ogus
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    The author is a retired academic who has had a life-long passion for opera and who has attended many performances at home and abroad. The book draws on his numerous and geographically diverse experiences. It contrasts opera-going in different, predominantly European, countries and over time, from the 1960s to the present day.

  • An Underground Life: Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin (






UNABRIDGED) by Frank Heibert Narrated by John Feather

    An Underground Life: Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Frank Heibert
    • Narrated By John Feather
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    That a Jew living in Nazi Berlin survived the Holocaust at all is surprising. That he was a homosexual and a teenage leader in the resistance and yet survived is amazing. But that he endured the ongoing horror with an open heart, with love and without vitriol, and has written about it so beautifully is truly miraculous. This is Gad Beck's story.

  • Cowboys, Armageddon, and the Truth: How a Gay Child was Saved from Religion (






UNABRIDGED) by Scott Terry Narrated by Jason P. Hilton

    Cowboys, Armageddon, and the Truth: How a Gay Child was Saved from Religion

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Scott Terry
    • Narrated By Jason P. Hilton
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    Cowboys, Armageddon, and the Truth: How a Gay Child Was Saved from Religion offers an illuminating glimpse into a child's sequestered world of abuse, homophobia, and religious extremism. Scott Terry's memoir is a compelling, poignant and occasionally humorous look into the Jehovah's Witness faith - a religion that refers to itself as The Truth - and a brave account of Terry's successful escape from a troubled past.

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  • Like a Tramp, Like a Pilgrim: On Foot, Across Europe to Rome (






UNABRIDGED) by Harry Bucknall Narrated by Roger Davis

    Like a Tramp, Like a Pilgrim: On Foot, Across Europe to Rome

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Harry Bucknall
    • Narrated By Roger Davis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    Watching in disbelief as his computer was struck by lightning in 2007, Harry Bucknall had no idea that the subsequent trail of events would lead him to Rome - five years later, on foot. Following the Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrim path that dates back nearly 2,000 years, Harry walks through England, France, Switzerland, and Italy weaving a historical tapestry liberally colored with tales of angels and saints, emperors and kings, and war and revolution.

  • Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found (






UNABRIDGED) by Rebecca Alexander, Sascha Alper Narrated by Tavia Gilbert

    Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Rebecca Alexander, Sascha Alper
    • Narrated By Tavia Gilbert
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    Thirty-four-year-old Rebecca Alexander is a psychotherapist, a spin instructor, a volunteer, and an athlete. She is also almost completely blind, with significantly deteriorated hearing. Not Fade Away is a deeply moving exploration of the obstacles we all face-physical, psychological, and philosophical. Rebecca's story is an exquisite reminder to live each day to its fullest.

  • Walking Home: My Family and Other Rambles (






UNABRIDGED) by Clare Balding Narrated by Clare Balding

    Walking Home: My Family and Other Rambles

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Clare Balding
    • Narrated By Clare Balding
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    In Clare Balding's family, walking just took too long - she galloped through the countryside and she galloped through life. Then, in 1999, Clare took a call from a BBC producer looking for a presenter for a new radio series. "Do you walk?" she asked. "Well, I walk the dog...." That series, Ramblings, is still going strong - and Clare's caught the walking bug. Now she wants her family to share some of that pleasure. Her and her brother Andrew are determined to conquer the Wayfarer's Walk, a 71-mile route. What could possibly go wrong?

  • Beautiful Ever After (






UNABRIDGED) by Katie Piper Narrated by Sally Orrock

    Beautiful Ever After

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Katie Piper
    • Narrated By Sally Orrock
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    Katie Piper's extraordinary story of strength and recovery after a brutal rape and acid attack has captivated Britain. In this powerful sequel to her bestselling memoir, Katie tells the remarkable story of what's happened in the years since she bravely left the safety of her parents' home. With her trademark honesty, humour and heartfelt emotion, Katie shares the highs and lows she has faced as her life changed in ways she never thought possible.

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  • What I Know for Sure (






UNABRIDGED) by Oprah Winfrey Narrated by Oprah Winfrey

    What I Know for Sure

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Oprah Winfrey
    • Narrated By Oprah Winfrey
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    The inspirational wisdom of Oprah Winfrey, collected for the first time in a beautiful book. After film critic Gene Siskel asked her, 'What do you know for sure?' Oprah Winfrey began writing the 'What I Know For Sure' column in O, The Oprah Magazine. Saying that the question offered her a way to take 'stock of her life', Oprah has penned one column a month over the last 14 years.