As of late I’ve taken the advice of others and have been reading biographies and memoirs. Biographies and memoirs provide inspiration, insight and encouragement by way of example. I’ve always been one who learns best from example — and have tried to teach my children to observe and learn in a similar way.
And I encourage you to do the same – and to share your insights with other readers in the upcoming “Biography” edition of The Daniel Island News, set for Sept. 16.
But, before the specifics on how to submit your biography recommendations, here are a few biographies/memoirs that I recommend and the insights they provided.
On a recent vacation, I devoured three memoirs from writers: “A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life” (2016) by Pat Conroy, “Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy” (2019) by Cassandra King Conroy, and “Publishing: A Writer’s Memoir” (2015) by Gail Godwin.
The takeaways from all three books: write what you know, be generous with your time with other writers and readers, and if you want to be a writer, devote space and time to writing.
A somewhat different biography I also read on vacation, “The Professor and the Madman” (1998) by Simon Winchester, tells the story of the 80 years it took to write the Oxford English Dictionary, focusing on the editor and one of his most prolific volunteer contributors. Without providing any spoilers, this is a great story that teaches
insight, collaboration and contributions that can come from unlikely sources. Tragic, oddly uplifting, and a treat for people who love words and unlikely protagonists.
Finally, I read two autobiographies and one biography about Charleston’s very own Septima Clark. These are books I keep going back to as Clark is a woman whose life inspires me to do more and to be better.
“Echo In My Soul” was written by Clark in 1962. It is difficult to find a copy but Berkeley County Library System does have it in their Reader’s Room at the Moncks Corner location. “Ready from Within” is a first person narrative based on interviews Clark did with Cynthia Stokes Brown, published in 1990. The third book, “Freedom’s Teacher: The Life of Septima Clark” (2009) by historian Katherine Mellen Charron, is a comprehensive biography on Clark and the Civil Rights movement as it unfolded during her lifetime.
Clark’s life is motivational. I am inspired by her perseverance in the face of obstacles, commitment to education, relentless determination to secure voting rights, non-violent attitude, and example of meeting and loving people where they are.
Share Inspirations from Biographies and Memoirs
We’d like to hear what biographies you’ve read and how they inspire you. We will publish a collection of submitted reader recommendations in our Sept. 16 edition. Please submit the name of the title, the author, date of publication and up to 250 words about the book and the lesson or other takeaways you found inspiring from the book. Deadline to submit is Sept. 10 at noon. Please submit to Zach Giroux at email@example.com