Best Selling Books in Biographies & Memoirs - Family & Childhood

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release date: Jan 11, 2000
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Rocket Boys (The Coalwood Series #1)
The #1 New York Times bestselling memoir that inspired the film October Sky, Rocket Boys is a uniquely American memoir—a powerful, luminous story of coming of age at the dawn of the 1960s, of a mother's love and a father's fears, of a group of young men who dreamed of launching rockets into outer space . . . and who made those dreams come true.

With the grace of a natural storyteller, NASA engineer Homer Hickam paints a warm, vivid portrait of the harsh West Virginia mining town of his youth, evoking a time of innocence and promise, when anything was possible, even in a company town that swallowed its men alive. A story of romance and loss, of growing up and getting out, Homer Hickam's lush, lyrical memoir is a chronicle of triumph—at once exquisitely written and marvelously entertaining.

Now with 8 pages of photographs.

A number-one New York Times bestseller in mass market, brought to the screen in the acclaimed film October Sky, Homer Hickam's memoir, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, comes to trade paperback with an all-new photo insert.

One of the most beloved bestsellers in recent years, Rocket Boys is a uniquely American memoir. A powerful, luminous story of coming of age at the end of the 1950s, it is the story of a mother's love and a father's fears, of growing up and getting out. With the grace of a natural storyteller, Homer Hickam looks back after a distinguished NASA career to tell his own true story of growing up in a dying coal town and of how, against the odds, he made his dreams of launching rockets into outer space come true.

A story of romance and loss and a keen portrait of life at an extraordinary point in American history, Rocket Boys is a chronicle of triumph.
release date: Oct 09, 2009
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The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt: Letters from 1920s Farm Wives and the 111 Blocks They Inspired

Be Inspired by the Stories

The 1922, The Farmer's Wife magazine posed this question to their readers: "If you had a daughter of marriageable age, would you, in light of your own experience, have her marry a farmer?" The magazine at the time had 750,000 subscribers, and received over 7,000 letters. The best answers to this question are included in this book, along with the traditional quilt blocks they inspired.

Laurie Aaron Hird provides everything you need to be inspired and create your own sampler quilt:

  • 111 six-inch quilt blocks, with assembly diagrams for piecing the blocks and template cutting directions
  • Complete instruction for making a sampler quilt in any traditional size: lap, twin, queen or king
  • CD with easy-to-print, full-sized templates for all 111 blocks, and printable quilt construction diagrams
  • 42 letters from the 1922 Farmer's Wife contest to give you a priceless glimpse into our country's past
Indian Boyhood (Native American)
Charles Eastman, or Hakadah, as his Sioux relatives and fellow tribesmen knew him, as a full-blooded Indian boy learned the reticent manners and stoical ways of patience and bravery expected of every young warrior in the 1870's and 1880's. The hunts, games, and ceremonies of his native tribe were all he knew of life until his father, who had spent time with the white man, came to find him.
Indian Boyhood is Eastman's first-hand reminiscence of the life he led until he was fifteen with the nomadic Sioux. Left motherless at birth, he tells how his grandmother saved him from relatives who offered to care for him "until he died." It was that grandmother who sang him the traditional Indian lullabies which are meant to cultivate bravery in all male babies, who taught him not to cry at night (for fear of revealing the whereabouts of the Sioux camp to hostile tribes), and who first explained to him some of the skills he would need to survive as an adult in the wilds. Eastman remembers the uncle who taught him the skills of the hunt and the war-path, and how his day began at first light, when his uncle would startle him from sleep with a terrifying whoop, in response to which the young boy was expected to jump fully alert to his feet, and rush outside, bow in hand, returning the yell that had just awakened him. Yet all Indian life did not consist in training and discipline. In time of abundance and even in famine, Indian children had much time for sport and games of combat — races, lacrosse, and wrestling were all familiar to Eastman and his childhood friends.
Here too are observations about Indian character, social custom, and morality. Eastman describes the traditional arrangements by which the tribe governed itself — its appointed police force, hunting and warrior scouts, and its tribal council, and how the tribe supported these officers with a kind of taxation. Eastman also includes family and tribal legends of adventure, bravery, and nature that he heard in the lodge of Smoky Day, the tribe historian. But Eastman's own memories of attacks by hostile tribes, flights from the white man's armies, and the dangers of the hunt rival the old legends in capturing a vision of life now long lost.
release date: Dec 31, 2011
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The Farmer's Wife Pony Club Sampler Quilt: Letters From the Lucky Pony Winners of 1915 and 90 Blocks That Tell Their Stories
In 1907, the Webb Publishing Company in St. Paul, Minnesota, created The Farmer's Wife Pony Club. Children who joined competed for prizes by selling subscriptions to The Farmer's Wife magazine. Some of the prizes included bicycles, talking machines, and rifles, but it can only be imagined that most children were working for the grand prize, a Shetland pony with a saddle and often a carriage. To satisfy skeptics who doubted a child would, indeed, receive a pony, they asked the winners to send photographs of themselves with their ponies. Thankfully, many of the children also sent in letters along with their photographs. These endearing, poignant, and sometimes hilarious letters provide a unique window into the lives of children and their families in America in the early 1900s.

The Pony Club Quilt has 90-eight inch blocks and measures 96" x 105."

The enclosed 400+ page CD has something for every quilter
A complete set of templates for each of the 90 blocks
Foundation patterns when applicable
Rotary cutting measurements when applicable
Full-size line drawing of each block
Quilt assembly diagrams for lap, twin, queen and king sizes

Favorite Excerpts

There isn't a store in town where "Larry" hasn't been in. He goes in the drug store and the druggist knows he wants ice cream and he bows enough to say, "Yes." He gives him a cone of ice cream and "Larry" will eat every bit of it and then looks for more. Then he will drink pop and root beer right out of a glass in the drug store. Then the druggist gives him some gum and he will chew the gum and I am on his back all the time. (Wilford Schaffer, Grant County, Minnesota)

When I received your good letter telling me I had won "Winkle," I just leaped for joy and clapped my hands. I ran to the telephone and told my aunt I had won "Winkle" and his outfit and she was so overjoyed she ran about one half mile across a cornfield to break the news to grandpa about my success. Aunt is a large fleshy woman and just imagine how funny she looked running across the cornfield to break the news to grandpa. (Myrtle Pearl Holbrook, Wilkes County, North Carolina)

I must tell you some of the cute things my pony "Sweetheart" does. One day mamma was picking cherries and "Sweetheart" was around the tree so he knocked the ladder down and mamma had to stay up in the tree for some time until someone came and put the ladder up for her. She scolded "Sweetheart" and told him to go and amuse himself somewhere else, so he chased the chickens until he caught one by the tail. Then he trotted back under the tree mamma was in and held the hen in his mouth and looked up at mamma as much as to say, "This is something new." He does so many cute things. (Lillias. E. T. Howe, Nevada County, California)

I am not going to drive "Ray" any this summer or ride him, just let him enjoy life. He is just too cute for anything. I am going to teach him to say his prayers and then I am going to take him to Sunday School with me. Everyone is just wild over him. (Irene Brooks, about 5 years old, Cheshire County, New Hampshire)

"Hector" rides on the automobile sometimes and that makes him feel like he is the biggest horse in the country, but when he is down again, he sees that he is only a little Shetland Pony. (Verna Beerbohm; Cuming, Nebraska)

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release date: Jan 01, 2008
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Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl
Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl delivers a treat as delicious as oatmeal cookies hot out of the oven - a memoir of a happy childhood. In charming and memorable vignettes, Carol Bodensteiner captures rural life in middle America, in the middle of the 20th Century. Bodensteiner grew up on a family-owned dairy farm in the 1950s, a time when a family could make a good living on 180 acres. In these pages you can step back and relish a time simple but not easy, a time innocent yet challenging. If you grew up in rural America, these stories will trigger your memories and your senses, releasing a wealth of stories of your own. If the rural Midwest is foreign territory to you, Carol s stories will invite you into a fascinating and disappearing world.
release date: May 13, 2014
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Hotel Paradise: Nothing Is As It Seems

Husband and wife Charles and Carol Devereux, both filmmakers, are excited to have plans to fly to Paris to make a movie. But their plans are shattered, when suddenly while they are asleep, are hit by a devastating earthquake, thrusting them out of their bed. In less than one single minute the quake destroys their dream home, and changes their lives. They lose everything, but feel lucky to be alive.

They seek refuge in a hotel full of other victims, colorful characters, freeloaders, and charlatans. Charles and Carol face ongoing struggles and conflicts on how to replace their losses, while living under the mercy of insurance adjustors and unreliable building contractors.

Con artists try to take advantage of the emotionally distraught Charles and Carol, under the pretext to help them solve their problems, rebuild their home, or even promising to make them millionaires, by their hilarious or imaginative schemes. All are out to grab a share of the money from the deep pockets of Fema or the insurance companies.

Difficult demands by the ever-changing parade of quirky insurance adjustors leave Charles and Carol never knowing how they can settle their claim, overcome their crises, and have a home to live in. Will they ever go back to their normal life again, despite all the anxiety, chaos, and uncertainty? They wish they knew.

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release date: Apr 17, 2014
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Naked: Stripped by a Man and Hurricane Katrina
* Writer's Digest Finalist
* Top Rated Southern Memoir
* Amazon Bestseller
* National Indie Excellence Award Finalist
* Staff Pick at Anne Patchett's Parnassus Books
* Readers' Favorite Bronze Best Memoir
* USA Best Books Finalist

In one week, a house and marriage violently disintegrate. Alone raising an infant in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Julie is surrounded by the rubble of her life - stripped bare by love and loss. Suddenly a single mother, Freed's prose captures the love and adoration for her daughter, the indomitable spirit of her New England family, and her father's unwavering devotion. Touching ties survive even the most powerful surge Mother Nature delivers. This debut memoir candidly reveals intimate details of one woman's shattered dreams as well as humanity's resilience and sweet goodness. Unflinchingly honest, NAKED is a remarkable true story of hope, family, and love in a southern coastal Mississippi town.

"Accolades to memoirist Julie Freed - this stunningly poignant book candidly reveals intitmate details of her life with clarity but not a whiff of "poor, pitiful me." In facing the end of her marriage and the end of life as she had known it on Mississippi's Gulf Coast, Freed exhibited the strength other Mississippians also showed in response to this country's worst natural disaster. She persevered - and she wrote a damn good book." ~ Nancy Kay Wessman author of Katrina, Mississippi: Voicesfrom Ground Zero

"Occasionally, real-life setbacks smash into authors' lives with the degree of intensity usually found in fiction. Julie Freed's memoir recounts just such an extreme situation ... The strengths Julie Freed draws on in her life are generously passed along to her readers, reminding us that just past the darkness, there is dawn." ~ JerryWaxler, author of Memoir Revolution 

"A heart-wrenching truestory told with dignity." ~ Victoria Twead, New York Times and Wall StreetJournal bestselling author of the Old Fools Series.

"It is a rare talent that can make you feel the emotions portrayed in words and Freed accomplished this. Showing that true strength and power can derive from the lowest of places. NAKED is one memoir that I am glad I read." ~ 125 Pages Book Review

"Her intention is to show how close we all are, at any moment in time, to unexpected, monumental and life altering change. An intelligent and engaging memoir." ~ Book Viral

"Masterful!" ~ Cinda Brooks, author of bestselling Heartprints of Africa, A Family's Story of Faith, Love, Adventure, and Turmoil.

"An honest, courageous,eye-opening and brilliantly written testament to a harrowing and life-changing period of her life." ~ George Mahood, author of Free Country, Every Day is Holiday, and Life's a Beach
release date: Mar 20, 2012
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And The Whippoorwill Sang
Happy times, a sunny day, a driving drunk, eight lives forever changed. A mother’s account of actual events of her family, filled with laughter, love, loss, and survival. It is a day like any other, except the intense heat wave has broken and signs of early fall are in the air. Around the dining room table of her 100 year old farmhouse Micki Peluso's six children along with three of their friends eagerly gulp down a chicken dinner. As soon as the last morsel is ravished, the lot of them is off in different directions. Except for the one whose turn it is to do the dishes. After offering her mother a buck if she’ll do them, with an impish grin, the child rushes out the front door, too excited for a hug, calling out, "Bye Mom," as the door slams shut. For the Peluso’s the nightmare begins. Micki and Butch face the horror every parent fears—awaiting the fate of one of their children. While sitting vigil in the ICU waiting room, Micki traverses the past, as a way of dealing with an inconceivable future. From the bizarre teenage elopement with her high school sweetheart, Butch, in a double wedding with her own mother, to comical family trips across country in an antiquated camper with six kids and a dog, they leave a path of chaos, antics and destruction in their wake. Micki relives the happy times of raising six children while living in a haunted house, as the young parents grow up with their kids. She bravely attempts to be the man of the house while her husband, Butch is working out of town. Hearing strange noises, which all the younger kids are sure is the ghosts, Micki tiptoes down to the cellar, shotgun in hand and nearly shoots an Idaho potato that has fallen from the pantry and thumped down the stairs. Of course her children feel obligated to tell the world. Just when their lives are nearly perfect, tragedy strikes—and the laughter dies. A terrible accident takes place in the placid valley nestled within the Susquehanna Mountains in the town of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. On a country lane just blocks from the family’s hundred year old haunted farmhouse, lives are changed forever. In a state of shock, Micki muses through their delightful past to avoid confronting an uncertain future—as the family copes with fear and apprehension. One of her six children is fighting for life in Intensive Care. Both parents are pressured by doctors to disconnect Noelle, their fourteen-year-old daughter. Her beautiful girl, funny and bright, who breathes life into every moment, who does cartwheels in piles of Autumn leaves, who loves to sing and dance down country roads, and above all loves her family with all her soul. How can Micki let this child go? The family embarks upon yet another journey, to the other side of sorrow and grasps the poignant gift of life as they begin. . .to weep. . .to laugh. . .to grieve. . .to dance—and forgive.
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release date: Mar 01, 2004
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Letters My Mother Never Read: An Abandoned Child's Journey
When her mother died in a fire, eight-year-old Jerri thought life couldn't get worse. She was wrong. Sent to live with people who didn't want her, Jerri was powerless to stop her once-happy childhood from becoming a nightmare of cruelty and neglect. Only a stubborn belief in her own worth and a fierce will to live allowed her to reach adulthood physically and emotionally intact. This is a book that will inspire not only those who have been orphans or foster children, but anyone who has known the pain of being unwanted.
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release date: Apr 11, 2011
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Spanish Mountain Life

This jewel-like memoir by noted herbalist and traveler Juliette de Bairacli Levy details her personal struggle against typhus fever, during which she gave birth to her second child, Luz, who had to be suckled by a nanny goat.  As ever we are embraced by Juliette’s love of nature and animals, and welcomed onlookers as she relates with people whose lives are far different from ours. 

Gypsies dance and sing their way through this book, adding their picturesque – and sometime threatening – energy to an exquisitely detailed story that is always intriguing, and sometimes suspenseful.  

Juliette shares with us the herbal lore she learned and used in the Spanish Sierra Nevada mountains.  You’ll find herbs to combat vermin, counter burns, keep your skin beautiful, and many more.

(Juliette de Bairacli Levy)
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