The Book of Life: A Compendium of the Best Autobiographical and Memoir Writing edited by Eve Claxton (Ebury Press, 2006).
The Book of Life is the anthology of memoir I edited for Random House in the U.K. During many months spent in the Rose Reading Room of the New York Public Library, I selected excerpts from memoirs of every era to create a mosaic of lives, arranging them thematically from childhood through to old age. This was the book that consolidated my love of memoir and autobiography.
Read an article I wrote for The Guardian about some of my favourite memoirs here.
Buy the book here.
Praise for The Book of Life
“Occasionally a book comes along that is so well conceived and artfully constructed it demands a permanent place on a book lover's shelf - The Book of Life is one. This is an enthralling collection of memoirs and anecdotes ... Claxton has done a magnificent job in digging out fascinating works ... Moving, emotional, revealing - this is a book that devotees of the written word will read again and again.” —The Daily Record
“In The Book of Life ... the reader is very aware of the marvelous, pulsing veined and passionate, unique-to-every-individual life force ... you dip into the pages and find treasure upon treasure ... we can enjoy an abundance of heart-felt outpourings ... fascinating ... like the vast spectrum of human experience collected in this book, it excites us and affords us a little shock of recognition.” —The Daily Mail
“Bold and endlessly diverting ... Cleverly constructed as an autobiography itself, Claxton neatly tessellates the entries, creating telling juxtapositions, so that Einstein rubs shoulders with Muhammad Ali. This is insightful, humane and re-readable: a perfect gift.” — Scotland On Sunday
“…generous and teeming...” —The Independent, UK