Tenth Anniversary Edition

Japanese Edition

The Original

Writing Life Stories:
How to Make Memories into Memoirs, Ideas into Essays, and Life into Literature

I distilled a decade of teaching memoir and essay writing into the original WRITING LIFE STORIES. Ten more years and a changed writing landscape led to a complete revision. With the brilliant Kristen Keckler, I brought all the assignments up to date and added dozens of new ones. Every chapter got an overhaul, and the famous list of books and authors at the end was expanded and revised (see below!). The book is still the book for writers of all ages and backgrounds seeking to tell their stories, but it's been specifically revised to better accommodate writing classes, particularly at the undergraduate and graduate level. It's been widely assigned across the country, and has sold over 50,000 copies in the original and revised editions. People send me their exercises almost daily, and I love seeing how my ideas have borne fruit. It's all here, from getting started to getting published, with ideas for new writers as well as seasoned pros, and plenty of ideas for teachers.

Kristen Keckler, co-author of the Tenth Anniversary Edition of Writing Life Stories

"Bill Roorbach's WRITING LIFE STORIES is brimming with valuable suggestions, evocative assignments, insights into the writing process, and shrewd common sense. I can't wait to try some of this ideas in the classroom and on myself. This writing guide delivers the goods."

"WRITING LIFE STORIES is an inspiring way to begin writing a memoir. Roorbach is a fine author whose enthusiasm is infectious."
--Lee Gutkin, Editor of Creative Nonfiction Magazine

"I would never have written word one without Bill Roorbach. It's as simple as that."
--Abigail Thomas, author of AN ACTUAL LIFE, GETTING OVER TOM, and A THREE DOG LIFE

"This is the book that I have been searching for for a long time. As a busy mom of three, I needed a "teaching book" that would give me concrete activities that I could work into my writing time. Reading this book and working on the subsequent "assignments" gives purpose to my very short writing time that I can squeeze into a day. If you are interested in writing memoir, but don't know where or how to start...this is the book for you."
--Logan Fisher

Hi Bill,
I wanted to write and tell you how much Writing Life Stories has changed my teaching. I've taught mostly ENG 101 and 102 classes at different universities (now at Arizona State), and I've always tried to supplement department books (which focus so heavily on 'social issues') with more creative ways to tap into inner voice and passion. My students always respond so positively to the chapters I use from your book; their topics are better, they have more confidence in their own experiences, and they finally admit to liking the readings I assign :). I'm an aspiring writer myself--mostly screenwriting at the moment and a teaching memoir. Aside from your book being great in and of itself, the conversations from the readings have helped me open up about my own writing process to students. This, I know, has allowed me to be expressive and show more of who I really am. I'm not being overdramatic when I say your book has been a big part in my development as a teacher and person. SO THANK YOU.
Meghan Bacino

Suggested Readings in Creative Nonfiction from WRITING LIFE STORIES

These are books and collections and anthologies I've enjoyed and learned from over the years (or have been impressively irritated by), united simply by their places on the shelf of creative nonfiction. Remember that the books on the shelf represent a broad continuum from memoir to the personal essay to literary journalism, all with an I at the center, all made with reverent attention to language, and either a strong core of storytelling or a lyrical sense of ideas and associations (often both). Most of the titles here could be listed in any of a number of our categories, but I've decided for simplicity’s sake to list each book only once. I’ve also generally listed only a book or two per author, when many have several or more good books for you to crack open. And I know I’ve missed a good many wonderful books—let these be your own discoveries (my apologies to writers I’ve left out, among them many friends, no doubt).
Don't be daunted by the length of the list—just know that there are lots of good books out there that might inform whatever project you are working on. A good place to start would be in one of the anthologies listed at the end of this appendix (anthos is the ancient Greek word for flowers; an anthology is a gathering of flowers, a bouquet). In the anthologies you'll find introductions by smart editors who announce subgenres and define forms and include shorter samples from a huge array of writers, some of whom you'll surely want to follow up on. Another good place to start is simply at the library or book store, browsing for literary soulmates.
Reading is writing!
MEMOIR Achebe, Chinua No Longer at Ease

Adams, Henry The Education of Henry Adams
Allison, Dorothy Two or Three Things I Know for Sure
Angelou, Maya I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Asher, Don Notes From a Battered Grand: A Memoir
Austin, Mary Earth Horizon: Autobiography The Land of Little Rain
Baker, Russell Growing Up

Baldwin, James Notes of a Native Son
Barber, Phyllis How I Got Cultured: A Nevada Memoir
Bateson, Mary Catherine With a Daughter's Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson
Bernhard, Thomas Gathering Evidence: A Memoir
Bogan, Louise Journey Around My Room: The Autobiography of Louise Bogan
Bourke-White, Margaret Portrait of Myself
Broyard, Anatole Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir
Buechner, Frederick The Sacred Journey: A Memoir of the Early Days Now and Then
Burn, June Living High: An Unconventional Autobiography
Cantwell, Mary American Girl: Scenes From a Small-Town Girlhood
Chesnut, Mary A Diary From Dixie
Cisneros, Sandra The House on Mango Street
Cohen, Leah Hager Train Go Sorry: Inside a Deaf World
Colebrook, Joan A House of Trees
Conrad, Joseph The Mirror of the Sea

Conroy, Frank Stop-Time
Conway, Jill Ker The Road From Coorain
Cooper, Bernard Truth Serum: Memoirs Maps to Anywhere
Crews, Harry A Childhood: The Biography of a Place
Dahlberg, Edward Because I Was Flesh
Dana, Richard Henry Two Years Before the Mast
Davison, Peter Half Remembered: A Personal History
Day, Clarence Life With Father
Day, Dorothy The Long Loneliness: An Autobiography
De Beauvoir, Simone Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter
Debuys, William, and Alex Harris River of Traps: A Village Life
Delaney, Sarah and Elizabeth Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years
Delbanco, Nicholas Running in Place: Scenes From the South of France
Digges, Deborah Fugitive Spring: A Memoir

Dillard, Annie An American Childhood
Dinesen, Isak Out of Africa
Doig, Ivan This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind Heart Earth
Doty, Mark Heaven's Coast: A Memoir
Douglass, Frederick Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Dubus, Andre Broken Vessels: Essays
Dunham, Katherine A Touch of Innocence: Memoirs of Childhood
Durrell, Lawrence Bitter Lemons
Eastman, Charles Alexander Indian Boyhood
Eighner, Lars Travels With Lizbeth
Eiseley, Loren All the Strange Hours: The Excavation of a Life
Ernaux, Annie A Man's Place, A Woman's Story
Facey, A.B. A Fortunate Life
Fairey, Wendy W. One of the Family
Fishman, Steve A Bomb in the Brain: A Heroic Tale of Science, Surgery, and Survival

Fitzgerald, Robert The Third Kind of Knowledge: Memoirs and Selected Writings
Ford, Ford Madox Your Mirror to My Times: The Selected Autobiographies and Impressions of Ford Madox Ford
Fox, Suzanne Home Life: A Journey Through Rooms and Recollections
Franklin, Benjamin Autobiography
Garland, Hamlin A Son of the Middle Border
Ghosh, Amitav Dancing in Cambodia
Gilmore, Mikal Shot in the Heart
Glasgow, Ellen The Woman Within
Goldbarth, Albert A Sympathy of Souls: Essays
Golden, Marita Migrations of the Heart
Gonzalez, Ray Memory Fever: A Journey Beyond El Paso Del Norte
Gordon, Mary, The Shadow Man
Gorky, Maxim My Childhood
My Apprenticeship My Universities
Gornick, Vivian Fierce Attachments: A Memoir

Grant, Ulysses S. Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant
Graves, John Goodbye to a River Graves, Robert Good-Bye to All That
Gray, Spalding Sex and Death to the Age 14 Etc.

Grealy, Lucy Autobiography of a Face
Green, Henry, and Sebastian Yorke Pack My Bag: A Self-Portrait

Greene, Graham A Sort of Life Ways of Escape
Grumbach, Doris Coming Into the End Zone: A Memoir Extra Innings: A Memoir
Guinness, Alec Blessings in Disguise
Hall, Donald String Too Short to Be Saved Life Work
Hall, Edward T. An Anthropology of Everyday Life
Hampl, Patricia A Romantic Education Virgin Time
Harnack, Curtis We Have All Gone Away The Attic: A Memoir

Harrison, Kathryn The Kiss
Hart, Moss Act One: An Autobiography
Hecht, Ben A Child of the Century
Heilman, Samuel The Gate Behind the Wall: A Pilgrimage to Jerusalem
Hellman, Lillian Pentimento Scoundrel Time An Unfinished Woman
Hemingway, Ernest A Moveable Feast Green Hills of Africa
Herr, Michael Dispatches
Hongo, Garrett Volcano: A Memoir of Hawai'i
Horgan, Paul Tracings: A Book of Partial Portraits
Howard, Maureen Facts of Life
Hudson, W.H. Far Away and Long Ago: A History of My Early Life The Purple Land
Hughes, Langston The Big Sea: An Autobiography
Hull, John M. Touching the Rock: An Experience of Blindness
Hurston, Zora Neale Dust Tracks on a Road Mules and Men
Huxley, Elspeth The Flame Trees of Thika: Memories of an African Childhood
Jacobs, Harriet Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl James, Henry Autobiography
Johnson, Fenton Geography of the Heart: A Memoir
Johnson, James Weldon Along This Way: The Autobiography of James Weldon Johnson
Johnson, Joyce Minor Characters
Jordan, Teresa Riding the White Horse Home: A Western Family Album
Kaplan, Alice French Lessons: A Memoir
Karr, Mary The Liars' Club: A Memoir
Kaysen, Susanna Girl, Interrupted
Kazantzakis, Nikos Report to Greco
Kazin, Alfred Walker in the City
Keillor, Garrison Lake Wobegon Days
Keller, Helen The Story of My Life
Kilgo, James Deep Enough for Ivorybills

Kincaid, Jamaica A Small Place
Kingston, Maxine Hong The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts
Kittredge, William Hole in the Sky: A Memoir
Kusz, Natalie Road Song; A Memoir
Larson, Thomas River of Fathers
Lavender, David One Man's West
Lawrence, T.E. Seven Pillars of Wisdom
Levi, Primo Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity The Reawakening
Levin, Harry Memories of the Moderns
Levi-Strauss, Claude Tristes Tropiques
Lewis, C.S. Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life
Lorde, Audre Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
Lusseyran, Jacques And There Was Light
MacNeil, Robert Wordstruck: A Memoir
Mason, Robert Chickenhawk
Masters, Hilary Last Stands: Notes From Memory
Mathabane, Mark Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa
Maxwell, Gavin Ring of Bright Water
Maxwell, William Ancestors: A Family History
McCarthy, Mary Memories of a Catholic Girlhood How I Grew
McConkey, James Court of Memory
McCourt, Frank Angela's Ashes: A Memoir
McKain, David Spellbound: Growing Up in God's Country
McKay, Jean Gone to Grass
McKenna, Rollie A Life in Photography
McLaurin, Tim Keeper of the Moon: A Southern Boyhood
Mead, Margaret Blackberry Winter
Mehta, Ved Vedi Face to Face Up at Oxford Daddyji Mamaji
Merrill, James A Different Person: A Memoir
Merton, Thomas The Seven Storey Mountain
Michaels, Leonard Sylvia: A Fictional Memoir
Middleton, Harry The Earth Is Enough: Growing Up in a World of Fly Fishing, Trout, and Old Men
Miller, Henry The Books in My Life Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch Remember to Remember
Mitchell, John Hanson Living at the End of Time
Mitchell, Joseph McSorley's Wonderful Saloon
Momaday, N. Scott The Way to Rainy Mountain The Names: A Memoir
Monette, Paul Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story
Moodie, Susanna Roughing It in the Bush, or, Life in Canada
Moody, Anne Coming of Age in Mississippi
Morris, Wright Solo: An American Dreamer in Europe, 1933 1934 Will's Boy: A Memoir A Cloak of Light: Writing My Life
Muir, Edwin An Autobiography
Muir, John The Story of My Boyhood and Youth My First Summer in the Sierra
Munro, Eleanor Memoir of a Modernist's Daughter
Murray, Pauli Song in a Weary Throat: An American Pilgrimage Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family
Nabokov, Vladimir Speak, Memory
Naipaul, V.S. Finding the Center: Two Narratives The Enigma of Arrival: A Novel
Nelson, Richard K. The Island Within
Newby, Eric Love and War in the Apennines
Norris, Kathleen The Cloister Walk
Offutt, Chris The Same River Twice: A Memoir
Olmstead, Robert Stay Here With Me: A Memoir
Ondaatje, Michael Running in the Family
Owens, William This Stubborn Soil: A Frontier Boyhood
Pemberton, Gayle The Hottest Water in Chicago
Phibbs, Brendan The Other Side of Time: A Combat Surgeon in World War II
Ponce, Mary Helen Hoyt Street
Porter, Gene Stratton Moths of the Limberlost
Price, Reynolds A Whole New Life: An Illness and a Healing
Puleston, Dennis Blue Water Vagabond
Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan Cross Creek
Rhodes, Richard A Hole in the World: An American Boyhood
Rodriguez, Richard The Hunger of Memory Days of Obligation: An Argument With My Mexican Father
Rogers, Annie G. A Shining Affliction: A Story of Harm and Healing in Psychotherapy
Roorbach, Bill Summers With Juliet Into Woods
Temple Stream
A Place on Water

Roth, Phillip Patrimony: A True Story
Saint-Exupery, Antoine de Wind, Sand and Stars
Sandoz, Mari Old Jules
Sarraute, Nathalie Childhood
Sartre, Jean-Paul The Words
Scott, Evelyn Escapade: An Autobiography
Segal, Lore Other People's Houses
Selzer, Richard Down From Troy: A Doctor Comes of Age Raising the Dead: A Doctor's Encounter With His Own Mortality
Shammas, Anton Arabesques
Sheed, Wilfrid Frank and Maisie: A Memoir With Parents My Life As a Fan People Will Always Be Kind In Love With Daylight: A Memoir of Recovery
Shen, Congwen Recollections of West Hunan
Shulman, Alix Kates Drinking the Rain
Simon, Kate Bronx Primitive: Portraits in a Childhood A Wider World: Portraits in an Adolescence Etchings in an Hourglass
Simpson, Eileen Poets in Their Youth
Slater, Lauren Welcome to My Country
Smith, Annick Homestead
Smith, Lillian Killers of the Dream
Smith, William Jay Army Brat: A Memoir
Soyinka, Wole AkÄ: The Years of Childhood
Spark, Muriel Curriculum Vitae: Autobiography
Spiegelman, Art Maus
Staples, Brent Parallel Time: Growing Up in Black and White
Stegner, Wallace Wolf Willow: A History, a Story, and a Memory of the Last Plains Frontier
Stein, Gertrude The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
Styron, William Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness
Talayesva, Don Sun Chief: The Autobiography of a Hopi Indian
Thomas, Dylan Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog
Thomas, Lewis The Youngest Science: Notes of a Medicine-Watcher
Thompson, Flora Lark Rise to Candleford: A Trilogy
Thurber, James The Thurber Carnival
Toth, Susan Allen Blooming: A Small-Town Girlhood Ivy Days: Making My Way Out East Trevelyan, Katharine Through Mine Own Eyes
Trevor, William Excursions in the Real World: Memoirs
Trillin, Calvin Remembering Denny
Trilling, Diana The Beginning of the Journey: The Marriage of Diana and Lionel Trilling
Trollope, Anthony An Autobiography
Twain, Mark Life on the Mississippi
Updike, John Self-Consciousness: Memoirs
Wade-Gayles, Gloria Pushed Back to Strength: A Black Woman's Journey
Washington, Booker T. Up From Slavery
Waters, Ethel, with Charles Samuels His Eye Is on the Sparrow: An Autobiography
Welty, Eudora One Writer's Beginnings
West, Paul Words for a Deaf Daughter
Wharton, Edith A Backward Glance
Wideman, John Edgar Brothers and Keepers
Williams, William Carlos The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams
Wilson, Edward O. Naturalist
Wolff, Geoffrey The Duke of Deception: Memories of My Father
Wolff, Tobias In Pharaoh's Army: Memories of the Lost War This Boy's Life: A Memoir
Wozencraft, Kim Notes From the Country Club
Wright, Richard Black Boy
X, Malcolm, and Alex Haley The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Yourcenar, Marguerite Dear Departed

Ackerman, Diane A Natural History of Love A Natural History of the Senses
Auster, Paul The Art of Hunger: Essays, Prefaces, Interviews
Baker, Nicholson The Size of Thoughts: Essays and Other Lumber U and I: A True Story
Baudrillard, Jean The System of Objects The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena
Berry, Wendell Another Turn of the Crank: Essays What Are People For?: Essays
Blount, Roy, Jr. Crackers One Fell Soup, or, I'm Just a Bug on the Windshield of Life
Burroughs, Franklin Billy Watson's Croker Sack: Essays
Butler, Hubert Independent Spirit: Essays
Buzzi, Aldo Journey to the Land of the Flies and Other Travels
Codrescu, Andrei The Dog With the Chip in His Neck: Essays From NPR and Elsewhere
Cohn, Nik The Heart of the World
Cronon, William, ed. Uncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature
Crouch, Stanley Notes of a Hanging Judge: Essays and Reviews, 1979-1989
Daniel, John The Trail Home: Essays
Didion, Joan The White Album Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Dunn, Stephen Walking Light: Essays and Memoirs
Ehrlich, Gretel Questions of Heaven: The Chinese Journeys of an American Buddhist A Match to the Heart The Solace of Open Spaces
Eiseley, Loren The Immense Journey The Unexpected Universe The Night Country
Elkin, Stanley My Tuxedo and Other Meditations
Elkins, James The Object Stares Back: On the Nature of Seeing
Ellison, Ralph Shadow and Act Going to the Territory
Epstein, Joseph A Line Out for a Walk: Familiar Essays
Fitzgerald, F. Scott The Crack-Up Afternoon of an Author: A Selection of Uncollected Stories and Essays
Frazier, Ian Great Plains Family
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. Colored People: A Memoir
Gonzalez-Crussi, F. Notes of an Anatomist
Gornick, Vivian Approaching Eye Level
Gutkind, Lee Stuck in Time: The Tragedy of Childhood Mental Illness
Hall, Donald Here at Eagle Pond
Hearne, Vicki Adam's Task: Calling Animals by Name Bandit: Dossier of a Dangerous Dog
Heilman, Robert Leo Overstory--Zero: Real Life in the Timber Country
Hoagland, Edward Balancing Acts: Essays Walking the Dead Diamond River The Tugman's Passage
Kingsolver, Barbara High Tide in Tucson: Essays From Now or Never
Kittredge, William Owning It All: Essays
Levi, Primo The Periodic Table
Lopate, Phillip Against Joie De Vivre: Personal Essays Bachelorhood: Tales of the Metropolis Portrait of My Body
Lopez, Barry Crossing Open Ground
Lynch, Thomas The Undertaking: Life Studies From the Dismal Trade
Mairs, Nancy Voice Lessons: On Becoming a (Woman) Writer
Malcolm, Janet The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes
McNair, Wesley, Mapping the Heart.

Montaigne, Michel de Essays
Oliver, Mary Blue Pastures
Ozick, Cynthia Art and Ardor: Essays Metaphor and Memory: Essays
Pollit, Katha Reasonable Creatures: Essays on Women and Feminism
Sanders, Scott Russell The Paradise of Bombs
Sante, Luc The Factory of Facts
Schor, Mira Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture
Schwartz, Lynne Sharon Ruined by Reading: A Life in Books
Sedaris, David Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays
Seneca Letters From a Stoic
Shacochis, Bob Domesticity: A Gastronomic Interpretation of Love
Simic, Charles The Unemployed Fortune-Teller: Essays and Memoirs
Sontag, Susan Illness As Metaphor Under the Sign of Saturn
Thomas, Elizabeth Marshall The Hidden Life of Dogs
Thoreau, Henry David Walden The Maine Woods

Vidal, Gore Matters of Fact and of Fiction: Essays 1973-1976
White, Bailey Mama Makes Up Her Mind: And Other Dangers of Southern Living
White, E.B. Essays of E.B. White The Second Tree From the Corner
White, Edmund The Burning Library: Essays
White, Katharine S. Onward and Upward in the Garden
Winterson, Jeanette Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery
Wolff, Geoffrey A Day at the Beach: Recollections
Woolf, Virginia Moments of Being: Unpublished Autobiographical Writings A Room of One's Own
Bass, Rick Oil Notes
Bukowski, Charles Notes of a Dirty Old Man
Cheever, John The Journals of John Cheever
Dennison, George Temple
Ellis, Edward Robb A Diary of the Century: Tales From America's Greatest Diarist
Frank, Anne The Diary of a Young Girl
Gauguin, Paul Noa Noa
Hubbell, Sue A Country Year: Living the Questions
Pepys, Samuel The Diary of Samuel Pepys
Sarton, May At Seventy: A Journal The House by the Sea: A Journal Journal of a Solitude

NATURE And Place
Abbey, Edward Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness
Barnes, Kim In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country
Berry, Wendell Clearing A Place on Earth
Carson, Rachel Under the Sea Wind Silent Spring
Dillard, Annie Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters
Galvin, James The Meadow
Gould, Stephen Jay Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes The Flamingo's Smile: Reflections in Natural History An Urchin in the Storm: Essays About Books and Ideas
Hauser, Susan Carol Sugartime: The Hidden Pleasures of Making Maple Syrup With a Primer for the Novice
Heat Moon, William Least PrairyErth
Hersey, John Blues
Holldobler, Bert, and Edward O. Wilson Journey to the Ants: A Story of Scientific Exploration
Hubbell, Sue A Book of Bees . . . and How to Keep Them
Robert Kimber:
Wild and Domestic: Confessions of a Hunter Gardener
Lea, Sydney Hunting the Whole Way Home
Leopold, Aldo A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There
Lopez, Barry Of Wolves and Men Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape
McPhee, John Coming Into the Country Etc!

Middleton, Harry Rivers of Memory On the Spine of Time: An Angler's Love of the Smokies The Bright Country: A Fisherman's Return to Trout, Wild Water, and Himself
Mowat, Farley The Siberians
Norris, Kathleen Dakota: A Spiritual Geography
Roorbach, Bill: Temple Stream: A Rural Odyssey; Into Woods: Essays; Summers with Juliet; A Place on Water (with Wesley McNair and Robert Kimber)

Thomas, Lewis The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology Watcher
Thoreau, Henry David The Maine Woods Cape Cod Williams, Terry Tempest Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

Bryson, Bill Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe etc.

Chatwin, Bruce In Patagonia
Chatwin, Bruce, and Paul Theroux Patagonia Revisited
Eighner, Lars Travels With Lizbeth
Frazier, Ian Great Plains
Gutkind, Lee Bike Fever
Heat Moon, William Least Blue Highways: A Journey Into America
Muir, John Travels in Alaska
O'Hanlon, Redmond Into the Heart of Borneo No Mercy: A Journey to the Heart of the Congo In Trouble Again: A Journey Between the Orinoco and the Amazon
Theroux, Paul The Pillars of Hercules: A Grand Tour of the Mediterranean The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia

Capote, Truman In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences Music for Chameleons
Conover, Ted Rolling Nowhere Coyotes: A Journey Through the Secret World of America's Illegal Aliens Whiteout: Lost in Aspen
Didion, Joan Salvador
Frey, Darcy The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams
Hersey, John Hiroshima
Johnson, Joyce What Lisa Knew: The Truths and Lies of the Steinberg Case
Junger, Sebastian The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea
Kidder, Tracy House Among Schoolchildren
Krakauer, Jon Into the Wild Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster
Mailer, Norman The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, the Novel as History The Executioner's Song
Malcolm, Janet The Journalist and the Murderer
McPhee, John Alaska: Images of the Country Assembling California Coming Into the Country The Control of Nature Encounters With the Archdruid Irons in the Fire Looking for a Ship Oranges The Pine Barrens Rising From the Plains Powers, Ron Far From Home: Life and Loss in Two American Towns
Wolfe, Tom The Right Stuff From Bauhaus to Our House
X, Malcolm, and Alex Haley The Autobiography of Malcolm X
ANTHOLOGIES The Art of Truth, Oxford Universtiy Press, Bill Roorbach Editor.

The Anchor Essay Annual, Phillip Lopate, editor
The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology From the Classical Era to the Present, Phillip Lopate, editor
The Best American Essays, annual anthology, Houghton Mifflin
Essays on the Essay: Redefining the Genre, Alexander J. Butrym, editor
The Granta Book of the Family, Bill Buford, editor
In Short: A Collection of Brief Creative Nonfiction, Judith Kitchen and Mary Paumier Jones, editors
The Literary Journalists, Norman Sims, editor
Modern American Memoirs, Annie Dillard and Cort Conley, editors
The Norton Book of Nature Writing, Robert Finch and John Elder, editors
Sisters of the Earth: Women's Prose and Poetry About Nature, Lorraine Anderson, editor
Turning Toward Home: Reflections on the Family From Harper's Magazine, Katharine Whittemore and Ilena Silverman, editors
Writing Creative Nonfiction: The Literature of Reality, Gay Talese and Barbara Lounsberry, editors
Writing Women's Lives: An Anthology of Autobiographical Narratives by Twentieth-Century American Women Writers, Susan Neunzig Cahill, editor


Anderson, Mark /​ Jesus Sound Explosion

Bernstein, Jane /​ Rachel in the World: A Memoir; Loving Rachel

Bourdain, Anthony /​ Kitchen Confidential

Burroughs, Augusten /​ Running with Scissors; Dry

Cooper, Bernard /​ Truth Serum; The Bill from My Father

Carkeet, David /​ Campus Sexpot: A Memoir

Doty, Mark /​ Firebird

Didion, Joan /​ The Year of Magical Thinking

Earley, Pete /​ Crazy: A Father’s Search through America’s Mental Health Madness

Flynn, Nick /​ Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

Gordon, Emily Fox /​ Mockingbird Years; Are You Happy?

Grealy, Lucy /​ Autobiography of a Face

Hoffman, Richard /​ Half the House

Knapp, Caroline /​ Drinking: A Love Story

Land, Brad /​ Goat

Mackall, Joe /​ The Last Street before Cleveland: An Accidental Pilgrimage

O’Faolain, Nuala /​ Almost There; Are You Somebody: The Accidental Memoir of a F Dublin Woman

Patchett, Ann /​ Truth and Beauty

Rapp, Emily /​ Poster Child

Sedaris, David /​ Me Talk Pretty One Day; Naked

Silverman, Sue William /​ Because I Remember Terror Father, I Remember You; Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey Through Sexual Addiction

Simon, Clea /​ Mad House

Smith, Alison /​ Name all the Animals

Suleri, Sura /​ Meatless Days

Walls, Jeannette /​ The Glass Castle

Zachter, Mort /​ Dough: A Memoir

Zailckas, Koren /​ Smashed

Personal Essay and Book Length Essay

Ballantine, Poe /​ Things I Like About America

Burroughs, Augusten /​ Magical Thinking

D’Agata, John /​ Halls of Fame

Foster, Patricia /​ Just Beneath My Skin

Gornick, Vivian /​ Approaching Eye Level

Lamott, Anne /​ Wandering Mercies

McMurtry, Larry /​ Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen

Literary Journalism

Harvey, Steven /​ Bound for Shady Grove

Hendrickson, Paul /​ Sons of Mississippi

Junger, Sebastian /​ The Perfect Storm

Kotlowitiz, Alex /​ There Are No Children Here

Krakauer, Jon /​ Under the Banner of Heaven

Larson, Erik /​ The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America

Lavergne, Gary M. /​ Bad Boy

Orlean, Susan /​ My Kind of Place; Saturday Night; The Orchid Thief

Sides, Hampton /​ Americana: Dispatches from the New Frontier; Ghost Soldiers; Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West

Talese, Gay /​ The Bridge: The Building of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge; Unto the Sons; Thy Neighbor’s Wife

Wells, Ken /​ Travels with Barley

Wright, Lawrence /​ The Looming Tower

Travel Writing

Ballantine, Poe /​ Things I Like About America

Orlean, Susan /​ My Kind of Place

Stauver, Hank /​ Off Ramp

Wells, Ken /​ Travels with Barley


Moore, Dinty The Truth of the Matter: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction
Manette Ansay, Limbo: A Memoir

Harold Brodkey, This Wild Darkness: The Story of My Death

Anatole Broyard, Intoxicated by My Illness

Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

Andre Dubus, Broken Vessels, Meditations from a Moving Chair

Hope Edelman, Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss

Kenny Fries, Body, Remember

Temple Grandin, Thinking in Pictures

Lucy Grealy, Autobiography of a Face

Evan Handler, Time on Fire: My Comedy of Terrors

Ann Hood, Do Not Go Gentle: The Search for Miracles in a Cynical Time

Roger Kamenetz, Terre Infirma

Jamaica Kincaid, My Brother

Kay Jamison, An Unquiet Mind

Natalie Kusz, Road Song

Mindy Lewis, Life Inside

Audre Lorde, The Cancer Journals

Nancy Mairs, Carnal Acts; Waist-High in the World: A Life Among the Nondisabled

Christopher Noel, In the Unlikely Event of a Water Landing: A Geography of Grief

Reynolds Price, A Whole New Life

Sue William Silverman, Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey Through Sexual Addiction

Patricia Stacey, The Boy Who Loved Windows

William Styron, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (how not to write a memoir)

Laurie Alberts, Fault Line

Max Apple, Roommates: My Grandfather’s Story; I Love Gootie: My Grandmother’s story

Paul Auster, The Invention of Solitude

Peter Balakian, Black Dog of Fate

Jane Bernstein, Loving Rachel

Mary Clearman Blew, All But the Waltz: Five Generations in the Life of a Montana Family

Francine Cournos, City of One

John Daniel, Looking After: A Son’s Memoir

Patty Dann, The Baby Boat: A Memoir of Adoption

Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Nora Eisenberg, The War at Home

Kathleen Finneran, The Tender Land

Nick Flynn, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

Patricia Foster, All the Lost Girls: Confessions of a Southern Daughter

Dorothy Gallagher, How I Came into My Inheritance

Gail Hosking Gilberg, Snake’s Daughter: The Roads in and Out of War

Vivian Gornick, Fierce Attachments

Adam Hochschild, Half the Way Home: A Memoir of Father and Son

Susan Jacoby, Half-Jew

Bret Lott, Fathers, Sons, Brothers: The Men in My Family

Rebecca McClanahan, The Riddle Song and Other Rememberings

Karen McElmurray, Surrendered Child: A Birth Mother’s Journey

Valerie Miner, The Low Road: A Scottish Family Memoir

Michael Ondaatje, Running in the Family

Molly Peacock, Paradise, Piece by Piece

Sandra Scofield, Occasions of Sin

Sue William Silverman, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You

Don Snyder, Cliffwalk
Abigail Thomas, Safekeeping: Some True Stories from a Life

Jim Toner, Serendib

Bruce Weigl, The Circle of Hanh

John Edgar Wideman, Brothers and Keepers

Geoffrey Wolff, The Duke of Deception

Tobias Wolff, This Boy’s Life
James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son

Phyllis Barber, How I Got Cultured: A Nevada Memoir

Jo Ann Beard, The Boys of My Youth

Jerome Charyn, The Dark Lady of Belorusse

J. M. Coetzee, Boyhood

Judith Ortiz Cofer, Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood

Frank Conroy, Stop-Time

Faith Edise, Nina Sichel, Eds., Unrooted Childhoods: Memoirs of Growing Up Global

James Ellroy, My Dark Places

Alexandra Fuller: Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood

Henry Louis Gates, Colored People

Patricia Hampl, A Romantic Education

Tony Hendra, Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Life

Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation

June Jordan, Soldier: A Poet’s Childhood

Lisa Knopp, Flight Dreams: A Life in the Midwestern Landscape

Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of my Name

Mary McCarthy, Memories of a Catholic Girlhood

Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes

Paul Monette, Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story

Vladimir Nabokov, Speak Memory

Alberto Rios, Capirotadas: A Nogales Memoir

Richard Rodriguez, Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez

Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Ruined by Reading: A Life in Books

Kate Simon, Bronx Primitive

Ilan Stevens, On Borrowed Words: A Memoir of Language

Richard Wright, Black Boy

Stephen Akey, College

Robert Benchley, Benchley Beside Himself

Dinty Moore, The Accidental Buddhist

S. J. Perelman, Most of the Most of S. J. Perelman

David Sedaris, Naked

James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sylvia Ashton-Warner, Teacher

Ted Conover, Newjack: Guarding Sing-Sing

Pat Conroy, The Water is Wide

Robert Cowser, Dream Season: A Professor Joins America’s Oldest Semi-Pro Football

Gail Griffin, Calling: Essays on Teaching in the Mother Tongue

Ben Hamper, Rivethead

Thomas Lynch, The Undertaking

Susan Neville: Iconography: A Writer’s Meditation

Danielle Ofri, Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue

Louise Rafkin, Other People’s Dirt: A Housecleaner’s Curious Adventures

Ruth Reichl, Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table

Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

Richard Seltzer, Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery; Confessions of a Knife

Frank Vertosick, Why We Hurt; The Natural History of Pain

Nature and Place
Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses

Susanne Antonetta (Suzanne Paola), Body Toxic; A Mind Apart

Kim Barnes, Hungry for the World

Rick Bass, Winter

Wendell Berry, Recollected Essays, 1965-1980

Jane Brox, Here and Nowhere Else: Late Seasons of a Farm and its Family

Joanna Burger, The Parrot Who Owns Me

Franklin Burroughs, Billy Watson’s Croker Sack

Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, Rock, Ghost, Willow, Deer: A Story of Survival

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek: Teaching a Stone to Talk

Ivan Doig, This House of Sky

Ariel Dorfman, Heading South, Looking North

Gretel Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Space

J. H. Fabre, Social Life in the Insect World

Edward Hoagland, The Courage of Turtles

Garrett Hongo, Volcano: A Memoir of Hawai’i

Marcy Houle, Prairie Keepers

Cynthia Huntington, The Salt House: A Summer on the Dunes of Cape Cod

Theresa Jordan, Riding the White Horse Home

William Kittredge, Hole in the Sky

Verlyn Klinkenborg, The Last Fine Time

Ted Kooser, Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps

David Lazar, The Body of Brooklyn

William Least Heat Moon, Blue Highways

Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in Northern Landscape

Nancy Lord, Beluga Days

Norman MacLean, A River Runs Through It

Michael Martone, The Flatness and Other Landscapes

Peter Mayle, A Year in Provence

John McPhee, Coming into the Country

Harry Middleton, The Earth is Enough

Kathleen Norris, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography

John Price, Not Just Any Land: A Personal & Literary Journey into the American

Leila Philip: A Family Place

Bill Roorbach, Temple Stream: A Rural Odyssey, Into Woods, Summers with Juliet

Dana Sachs, The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam

Alix Kates Shulman, Drinking the Rain

Mark Spragg, When the River Changes Direction

Robert Stepto, Blue as the Lake: A Personal Geography

Celia Thaxter, An Island Garden

Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

Baron Wormser, The Road Washes out in Spring

New Journalism

Ricardo Ainslie, Long Dark Road (about the James Byrd racially inspired murder)

Steve Almond, Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America

Mark Curtis Anderson, Jesus Sound Explosion

Victoria Armour-Hileman, Singing to the Dead: A Missioner’s Life Among Refugees
from Burma

Bill Ayers, Fugitive Days

Barrie Jean Borich, My Lesbian Husband: Landscapes of a Marriage

Lady Borton, Sensing the Enemy

C.D.B. Bryan, Friendly Fire

Truman Capote, In Cold Blood

Dalton Conley, Honky

Rosemary Daniell, Confessions of a (Female) Chauvinist

Joan Didion, Slouching Toward Bethlehem

Beverly Donofrio, Looking for Mary (Or, The Blessed Mother and Me)

Gretel Ehrlich, Questions of Heaven: The Chinese Journey of an American Buddhist

Eduardo Galeano, Soccer in Sun and Shadow

William Gass, On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry

Mikal Gilmore, Shot in the Heart

Melissa Fay Greene, Praying for Sheetrock

Lee Gutkind Many Sleepless Nights:

Sebastian Haffner, Defying Hitler

Jim Harrison, Off to the Side

Tom Hayden, Irish on the Inside: In Search of the Soul of Irish America

Robin Hemley, Invented Eden: The Elusive, Disputed History of the Tasaday

John Hersey, Hiroshima

Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost: Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa

Eva Hoffman, After Such Knowledge: Memory, History, and the Legacy of the

Sebastian Junger, A Perfect Storm, A Death in Belmont

Kazuko Kuramoto, Manchurian Legacy: Memoirs of a Japanese Colonialist

Thomas Keneally, Schindler’s List

Tracy Kidder, Among Schoolchildren and House

Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air

Anne Lamont, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

Bernard Lefkowitz, Our Boys

Beverly Lowry, Crossed Over

Norman Mailer, The Executioner’s Song

Nancy Mairs, Ordinary Time: Cycles in Marriage, Faith, and Renewal

Pablo Neruda, Memoirs

Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk

Tillie Olsen, Silences

Mary Rose O’Reilley, Barn at the End of the World: The Apprenticeship of a Quaker,
Buddhist Shepherd

Susan Orlean, The Orchid Thief

Caryl Phillips, The Atlantic Sound

Mary Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Randy Shilts, And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic

Natalia Rachel Singer, Scraping by in the Big Eighties

Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others

Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Susan Tiberghien, Circling to the Center: One Woman’s Encounter with Silent Prayer

Studs Terkel, Working

Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff; The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, etc.

Experimental Forms

David B., Epileptic

Italo Calvino, The Road to San Giovanni

Elias Canetti, The Agony of Files: Notes and Notations

E. M. Cioran, All Gall is Divided

Inga Clendinnen, Tiger’s Eye

Dennis and Vicki Covington, Cleaving: The Story of a Marriage (husband-wife

Seamus Deane, Reading in the Dark

Nick Flynn, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

Robin Hemley, Nola: A Memoir of Faith, Art, and Madness

Brian Lennon, City, An Essay

Primo Levi, The Periodic Table

Pat Mora, House of Houses

Donald Morrill, The Untouched Minutes

James Richardson, Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays

Richard Rodriguez, Days of Obligation

Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood; Embroideries

W. G. Sebald, The Emigrants; The Rings of Saturn

Bob Shacochis, Domesticity: A Gastronomic Interpretation of Love

Art Spiegelman, Maus I and II (A Survivor’s Tale)

Lawrence Sutin, A Postcard Memoir

Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Peter Trachtenberg, 7 Tattoos: A Memoir in the Flesh

Personal Essay

Brenda Miller, Season of the Body

Becky Bradway, ed., In the Middle of the Middle West: Literary Nonfiction from the

Janet Burroway, Embalming Mom: Essays in Life

Bernard Cooper, Maps to Anywhere

Charles D’Ambrosio, Orphans

Toi Dericotte, The Black Notesbooks: An Interior Journey

The Eloquent Essay: An Anthology of Classic & Creative Nonfiction

M.F.K. Fisher, Among Friends

Patricia Foster, Just Beneath My Skin: Autobiography & Self-Discovery

Daniel Francis, ed., Imagining Ourselves: Classics of Canadian Non-Fiction

Ian Frazier, On the Rez

Kenny Fries (ed.), Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out

William Gass, On Being Blue

Albert Goldbarth, Many Circles

Vivian Gornick, Approaching Eye Level

Lee Gutkind: Forever Fat

Steve Harvey, Bound for Shady Grove

Emily Hiestand, Angela the Upside-down Girl

Pico Iyer, Falling off the Map

Judith Kitchen, Distance and Direction; Short Takes: Brief Encounters with
Contemporary Nonfiction

Ted Kooser, Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps

David Lazar, The Body of Brooklyn

Phillip Lopate, Against Joie de Vivre; Portrait of My Body

Rasunah Marsden, Crisp Blue Edges: Indigenous Creative Non-fiction

Brenda Miller, Season of the Body

Naomi Shihab Nye, Never in a Hurry: Essays on People and Places

Cynthia Ozick, Fame & Folly, Quarrel & Quandry, and Metaphor & Memory

Molly Peacock (ed.), The Private I (on privacy)

Scott Russel Sanders, Staying Put

Marjorie Sandor, The Night Gardener

Mimi Schwartz, Thoughts from a Queen-Sized Bed

David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day

David Shields, Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity

Gerald Stern, What I Can’t Bear Losing

Michael Steinberg, Still Pitching

Ira Sukrungruang, Scoot Over Skinny: The Fat Nonfiction Anthology

Abigail Thomas, Safekeeping

Robert Vivian, Cold Snap as Yearning

Lawrence Weschler, Vermeer in Bosnia

E. B. White, One Man’s Meat

Virginia Woolf, Moments of Being; The Death of the Moth and Other Essays


Bill Roorbach, ed. Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: The Art of Truth

Jill Bialofsky and Helen Schulman (eds.), Wanting a Child

Journals & Letters

Genevieve Jurgensen, The Disappearance: A Primer of Loss

Carl H. Klaus, My Vegetable Love: A Journal of a Growing Season

Jean Rhys, The Letters of Jean Rhys, Selected & Edited by Francis Wyndham & Diana

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Cezanne and Letters to a Young Poet

May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

Leslie Marmon Silko & James Wright, The Delicacy and Strength of Lace: Letters

Anne Truitt, Prospect: The Journal of an Artist

Faith Adiele, Meeting Faith: The Forest Journals of a Black Buddhist Nun

Books by Bill Roorbach

Now in Paperback
Nature Nonfiction
"A Marvel in a genre that's tough to master." --National Geographic Explorer
"One of the best novels of this or any year... A flat-out funny, sexy, and poignant romantic thriller." David Abrams, author of FOBBIT
Stories, forthcoming from Algonquin in 2017
New Down East Books edition, 2016
Counterpoint Press, 2001 (paperback 2003)
(Winner of the Flannery O'Connor Prize for Short Fiction)University of Georgia Press, 2001, paperback: Counterpoint Press, 2003
Memoir/Nature Writing
Houghton Mifflin, 1992. Paperback: Ohio State University Press, 2000.
The Best Instruction Book on the Market
The Best Creative Nonfiction Anthology on the Market
Widely adopted, loved and admired. Oxford University Press, 2001