The Books We Read, The Lives We Lead (Bibliomemoirs, Part 6)

The question that we now turn to is regarding the literary value and relevance of bibliomemoirs as meta-narratives for the book(s) and / or author(s) that they are based on. Specifically: when is the bibliomemoir, as a hybrid genre, more worthwhile to readers than a related book that belongs to one of its component genres? In other words, when is, say, ‘My Life in Middlemarch’ more worthwhile than a biography of George Eliot or a socio-cultural history of Victorian novelists or a book-length literary criticism of ‘Middlemarch’ or simply an autobiography of a person who loves the book?

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The Books We Read, The Lives We Lead (Bibliomemoirs, Part 5)

D. The Catch-all Bibliomemoir: This is the all-inclusive kind where the author relates his/her life and the books that influenced it, but, not necessarily with any particular purpose other than to relate a coming-of-age, personal journey, or retrospective. On the one hand, these books don’t aim to inform or educate necessarily. Rather, they focus on giving a first-hand witness account. On the other hand, more often than not, these veer into over-sharing or full-on confessional mode — for which, of course, there is a healthy market.

The Books We Read, The Lives We Lead (Bibliomemoirs, Part 4)

C. The Re-purposed Essay Collection as Bibliomemoir: These are previously-published essays, lectures, reflections, or anthologies edited and packaged together as a new book. Mostly, they are like collectibles for loyal, long-time readers as well as an attempt to reach a newer audience through some clever re-packaging and re-positioning. And, often, these will appeal to bibliophiles who are not too fond of the overly-confessional memoir or the misery memoir.