When I read and discussed the first selection of community book projects from the Roseburg Public Library, “Rough House” by Tina Ontiveros, I realized again how much I like memoirs.

Memoirs are inherently intimate, and some of my favorites deal with topics like overcoming adversity, coping with difficult family situations, and accepting fate. I think the genre is so popular in part because we can relate to people sharing their truth through storytelling.

Those who want to learn how to make their own memoirs are invited to a two-hour online writing workshop with Ontiveros on Thursday from 6pm to 8pm. Email kfischer@cityofroseburg.org for the zoom link.

The workshop is the final program of the project, made possible by Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries, an American Library Association (ALA) initiative that helps library staff better serve their small and rural communities. Our local partners are the Douglas Education Service District and friends of the Roseburg Public Library.

Those looking to read additional memoirs should read these recommendations:

“The Song Poet: A Memory of My Father” is Kao Kalia Yang’s ode to her father, Bee Yang, a Hmong refugee and the keeper of his people’s stories. Yang survived war-torn Laos, but his new life in Minnesota did not offer the happiness he deserved.

Paul Kalanithi wrote “When Breath becomes Air” when he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at the age of 36. Suddenly Kalanithi went from doctor (he was a neurosurgeon) to patient, and his meditations on life and death are poetic and heartbreaking.

“Men We Reaped” is Jesmyn Ward’s investigation into the deaths of five men who were close to her for over five years. Ward examines how racism and economic insecurity while living in rural Mississippi contributed to her death.

In Heavy: An American Memoir, Kiese Laymon explores his complicated relationship with his mother, who grew up black in Mississippi and grappled with childhood trauma.

Finally, fans of Jeannette Walls ‘modern classic The Glass Castle might be interested in Change Me Into Zeus’s Daughter, Barbara Robinette Moss’ story of her impoverished childhood with a large family, including an alcoholic father, in Alabama.