Recently Read: Coming Clean … and Thoughts on Memoirs/ Reality TV

A few weeks ago I rediscovered the joy of reading. It’s not that I’d exactly forgotten it. And I certainly hadn’t stopped doing it. But mostly lately I’ve been reading for work or for school so when I was looking to do something “relaxing” as downtime I’d turn on the TV. I got pretty TV-obsessed for awhile there. But then the school semester ended, I didn’t have my new textbooks for the Spring yet and I remembered that I actually really like just taking a few hours, shutting out the world and immersing myself in a book. Since then, I’ve been reading a lot.

coming clean memoir hoarding

One of my recent reads was Coming Clean: A Memoir┬áby Kimberly Rae Miller. It’s the story of a girl who grew up in a home with parents who were hoarders. It’s her story of getting away from that in her own life and yet having it always kind of trail her. It’s the story of having secrets in your family and learning to share those secrets with the world. It’s the story of having fallible parents that you love anyway, parents you learn to set boundaries with and then cross your own boundaries for because life shifts things sometimes. It’s a sad story but a story of strength and a touching story with what basically amounts to a happy ending. I liked it.

I love memoirs. I could read nothing but memoirs for the rest of my life and probably be satisfied with my reading world. Of course I do read other things but there’s something about memoirs that just capture me. I like the first person story. I continue to believe that we each have a really unique experience and perspective of the world. And yet there is also something that ties us each together as humans no matter how disparate our experiences. And so I believe that in the sharing and telling and hearing of stories something magical happens, a sort of growth of the collective unconscious. Through reading memoirs I understand others better and understand myself better as well.

This book did give me some food for thought (don’t they all?) The author notes that people didn’t ever used to know what hoarders were; there wasn’t a recognized name for it. Now we all know and it’s due in part to the popularity of reality TV series like the show Hoarders on AETV. It’s a show I’ve watched a lot; I’m fascinated by the stories of the lives that play out there and how they do and do not relate to my own experience of life. The author at first couldn’t bring herself to watch those shows. Then she sat down and watched them and felt pain, knowing that a lot of the people watching the show were just voyeurs who couldn’t possibly understand. I find that I think about reality TV shows like this the same way that I do about reading memoirs, as a way to get insight into the stories of others to better understand the human world around me. But of course the shows are sensationalized and short and I wonder if there is a large difference between my experience of learning about people through TV vs. learning through memoirs. I’m still gnawing on this thought …

What memoirs have you read and loved? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!