Older and Still Popular: Books by and about Journalists

July 26, 2021 | Bill V.

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There are 100 libraries in Toronto and each branch has it's own character, collection and community. Across all libraries though, biographies and memoirs are popular. In this blog post I'm looking at the life experiences of journalists (very broadly defined!). The Dewey call number range for these books is 070-079. Some older books have withstood the test of time. They're borrowed over and over and, in a way, handed from one reader to another. They've also survived physically with many wearing their scars proudly. 

Below are some of our highest circulating, well loved and well used, books by journalists and about journalism. These titles are popular all across Toronto. 

The book descriptions are all taken from our catalogue.

A House in the Sky A Memoir

A House in the Sky: A Memoir

"As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales. At the age of nineteen, working as a cocktail waitress in Calgary, Alberta, she began saving her tips so she could travel the globe. Aspiring to understand the world and live a significant life, she backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each adventure, went on to Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a television reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Somalia-"the most dangerous place on earth." On her fourth day, she was abducted by a group of masked men along a dusty road."


Tiny Beautiful Thing Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

"Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can't pay the bills--and it can be great: you've had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar--the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild--is the person thousands turn to for advice."


Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)

Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)

"In an illustrated memoir, the creator of the Bloggess blog shares humorous stories from her life, including her awkward upbringing in Texas and her relationship with her husband."


Furiously Happy A Funny Book About Horrible Things

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

"In Furiously Happy, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jenny Lawson explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. But terrible ideas are what Jenny does best."


Paris a love story  a memoir

Paris: A Love Story : A Memoir

"This is a story for anyone who has ever fallen in love in Paris or with Paris.In this remarkably honest memoir, award-winning journalist and distinguished author Kati Marton presents an impassioned and romantic story of love, loss, and life after loss. Paris is at the heart of this deeply moving account."


Are You Somebody

Are You Somebody: The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman

"Irish Times columnist Nuala O'Faolain recounts the private struggles she endured as a child in rural Ireland, the blossoming intellectual scene she encountered in Dublin during the 1950s, and her struggle for the equality that Ireland's conservative, confining environment long denied to girls and women."


The tender bar a memoir

The Tender Bar: A Memoir

"The "New York Times" bestseller and one of the 100 Most Notable Books of 2005. In the tradition of "This Boy's Life" and "The Liar's Club," a raucous, poignant, luminously written memoir about a boy striving to become a man, and his romance with a bar. J.R. Moehringer grew up captivated by a voice. It was the voice of his father, a New York City disc jockey who vanished before J.R. spoke his first word. Sitting on the stoop, pressing an ear to the radio, J.R. would strain to hear in that plummy baritone the secrets of masculinity and identity. Though J.R.'s mother was his world, his rock, he craved something more, something faintly and hauntingly audible only in The Voice. At eight years old, suddenly unable to find The Voice on the radio, J.R. turned in desperation to the bar on the corner, where he found a rousing chorus of new voices."


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream

"This cult classic of gonzo journalism is the best chronicle of drug-soaked, addle-brained, rollicking good times ever committed to the printed page. It is also the tale of a long weekend road trip that has gone down in the annals of American pop culture as one of the strangest journeys ever undertaken."


Hitch-22 a memoir

Hitch-22: A Memoir

"Most who have observed Christopher Hitchens over the years would agree that he possesses a ferocious intellect and is unafraid to tackle the most contentious subjects. Now 60, English-born and American by adoption; all atheist and partly Jewish; bohemian (even listing "drinking" along with "disputation" as "hobbies" in Who's Who), he has held to a consistent thread of principle whether opposing war in Vietnam or supporting intervention in Iraq. As a foreign correspondent in some of the world's nastiest places, a lecturer and teacher and an esteemed literary critic, Hitchens manifests a style that is at once ironic, witty, and tough-minded."


Educating Alice Adventures of a Curious Woman

Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Woman

"Eight years ago, Alice Steinbach, a Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist for the Baltimore Sun, decided to take a break from her life. She took a leave from job, friends, and family for a European journey of self-discovery, and her first book,Without Reservations, was the exquisite result. But once Steinbach had opened the door to a new way of living, she found herself unwilling to return to the old routine. She quit her job and left home again, only this time her objective was to ?nd a way that would allow her, personally and professionally, to combine three of her greatest passions: learning, traveling, and writing. This funny and tender book is the result of her decision to roam around the world as an informal student, taking lessons and courses."


Stet A Memoir

Stet: An Editor's Life: A Memoir

"This is Diana Athill's memoir of her time spent working with some of the charismatic characters that dominate 20th-century literature. She recounts tales from a life in publishing - including her reflections on editing writers such as V.S. Naipaul, Jean Rhys, Gitta Sereny and Brian Moore. She also offers an account of her own writing career, which includes the works, Instead of a Letter and After a Funeral."


True Story Murder  Memoir  Mea Culpa

True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa

"The story begins in February of 2002, when a reporter in Oregon contacts New York Times Magazine writer Michael Finkel with a startling piece of news. A young, highly intelligent man named Christian Longo, on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list for killing his entire family, has recently been captured in Mexico, where he'd taken on a new identity--Michael Finkel of the New York Times.

The next day, on page A-3 of the Times, comes another bit of troubling news: a note, written by the paper's editors, explaining that Finkel has falsified parts of an investigative article and has been fired. This unlikely confluence sets the stage for a bizarre and intense relationship. After Longo's arrest, the only journalist the accused murderer will speak with is the real Michael Finkel. And as the months until Longo's trial tick away, the two men talk for dozens of hours on the telephone, meet in the jailhouse visiting room, and exchange nearly a thousand pages of handwritten letters.

With Longo insisting he can prove his innocence, Finkel strives to uncover what really happened to Longo's family, and his quest becomes less a reporting job than a psychological cat-and-mouse game--sometimes redemptively honest, other times slyly manipulative. Finkel's pursuit pays off only at the end, when Longo, after a lifetime of deception, finally says what he wouldn't even admit in court--the whole, true story. Or so it seems."


So, if I'm being honest, this list was not what I was expecting from a journalist memoir experience. But that kind of makes it more interesting for being unexpected. I hope you enjoy it. Do you have any  and who would you have added in?