Why I Choose Memoirs by Kaylee Barron

Kaylee Barron is a graduate student in the department of Education, Policy, Organization, and Leadership studying Higher Education.

If I am reaching for a book, nine times out of ten it is a memoir. I am always searching for a good laugh and a story about something true. Memoirs tell how certain experiences have shaped someone’s journey, they give us insight into things we would otherwise not know about, make us laugh, and give us “so I’m not the only one who thinks/does that” moments.


LLove is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time by Rob Sheffieldove is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time by Rob Sheffield

Things I love: pop culture, love stories, memoirs. Add them all together and you have media writer Rob Sheffield’s Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time. Through mix tapes of days past, Sheffield tells of how he met and fell in love with his wife Renee as well as how he found a new normal when she suddenly passed away. Each chapter of Love is a Mix Tape begins with a tracklist of a mixtape Rob had during his courtship and marriage to Renee. How Sheffield turns something like a Hall and Oates song as a way to discuss falling in love with Renee is unlike anything else I have ever read. This is a man who loved everything there was to love about his wife and his use of old mixtapes to tell their story is so different and so wonderful. I laughed at his wit, cried at his truths.

“What is love? Great minds have been grappling with this question through the ages, and in the modern era, they have come up with many different answers. According to the Western philosopher Pat Benatar, love is a battlefield. Her paisan Frank Sinatra would add the corollary that love is a tender trap. The stoner kids who spent the summer of 1978 looking cool on the hoods of their Trans Ams in the Pierce Elementary School parking lot used to scare us little kids by blasting the Sweet hit “Love Is Like Oxygen”—you get too much, you get too high, not enough and you’re gonna die. Love hurts. Love stinks. Love bites, love bleeds, love is the drug. The troubadours of our times all agree: They want to know what love is, and they want you to show them. But the answer is simple. Love is a mix tape.” – Rob Sheffield


That Book about Harvard by Eric KesterThat Book about Harvard: Surviving the World’s Most Famous University, One Embarrassment at a Time by Eric Kester

As a graduate student in higher education, I am always searching for a book giving real insight into college life. I recently finished That Book about Harvard detailing the first year of Eric Kester’s life at the infamous university. What is so great about this memoir is that Kester pairs Harvard history alongside personal, and oftentimes painful, stories of being a first-year college student. Kester juxtaposes what makes Harvard Harvard to the struggles of being 18 and navigating the confusing waters of college. An added bonus of Kester’s memoir is his stories of being on the football team. As someone who shies away from any mention of sports, I found myself wanting more of Kester’s stories on the field. What is is like being a student athlete, having characters for coaches, and setting a new standard for the NCAA was more exciting because it all happened at Harvard.


What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir by Kristen NewmanWhat I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir by Kristen Newman

I oftentimes find myself wanting to read about a person who does things that make me say, “I could never.” Kristen Newman’s memoir about solo travel and the search for the perfect companion made me both cringe and smile. Weeks spent in Russia, Brazil, and Australia are fascinating as Newman takes every opportunity that comes her way, allowing her to meet the most interesting cast of characters. What I was Doing While You Were Breeding reminds us women that we need to get out there, stamp our passports, and do something new. Time spent traveling is never wasted, especially when a good story comes from it.


About iprh

The Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was established in 1997 to promote interdisciplinary study in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.
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