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The 2007 books we liked best: memoirs

Of the memoirs reviewed in the Monitor this year, these received the top marks.

ABOUT ALICE,by Calvin Trillin (Random House, 78 pp., $14.95)

Calvin Trillin's moving tribute to his wife of almost 40 years is a slender, graceful volume that most readers will find hard to read without tears. (1/2/07)

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STEALING BUDDHA'S DINNER,by Bich Minh Nguyen (Viking, 256 pp., $24.95)

This is the touching, funny account of a young Vietnamese immigrant's obsession with American snack foods – symbols to her of assimilation into US life. (2/6/07)

ONCE UPON A COUNTRY,by Sari Nusseibeh with Anthony David (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 542 pp., $27.50)

Palestinian intellectual Sari Nusseibeh lays out his legacy and his ideals as a Middle Easterner who dares to continue to hope for peace in his region. (5/22/07)

PEELING THE ONION,by Günter Grass, translated by Michael Henry Heim(Harcourt, 425 pp., $26)

Nobel Prize-winner Günter Grass's memoir includes his account of his days in the Nazi Waffen-SS. (7/17/07)

LITTLE HEATHENS,by Mildred Armstrong Kalish (Bantam, 304 pp., $22)

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This generous-hearted account of the author's life on an Iowa farm with her Puritanical grandparents during the Depression is full of unexpected joy. (7/17/07)

HERE IF YOU NEED ME: A TRUE STORY,by Kate Braestrup (Little, Brown, 215 pp., $23.99)

Kate Braestrup tells how, after her husband's tragic death, she stepped up to fulfill his dreams and became a chaplain serving search-and-rescue workers in Maine. (8/7/07)

Down the nile,by Rosemary Mahoney Little (Brown and Company, 273pp., $23.99)

Rosemary Mahoney serves up an intelligent, touching, and evocative travelogue of her solo, 120-mile journey down the Nile in a rowboat. (8/28/07)

Brother, I'm Dying,by Edwidge Danticat (Knopf, 288 pp., $23.95)

Haitian immigrant Edwidge Danticat has written a moving tribute to her father and uncle, the two men who raised her and loved each other and yet spent most of their adult lives on separate shores. (9/11/07)

HOW STARBUCKS SAVED MY LIFE,by Michael Gates Gill (Gotham Books, 265 pp., $23)

After losing his job, home, wife, and health, Michael Gates Gill, a son of privilege, turned to Starbucks for a job and discovered how to put his life back together even as he steamed milk and poured lattes. (10/2/07)

THE FLORIST'S DAUGHTER,by Patricia Hampl (Harcourt, 227 pp., $24)

Patrica Hampl's tender, thoughtful account of her parents' lives (and her own life by their sides in St. Paul, Minn.) is a journey through two questions: "Who are these people" and "How is it that I never got away?" (10/16/07)

SOLDIER'S HEART: READING LITERATURE THROUGHPEACE AND WAR AT WEST POINT,by Elizabeth D. Samet (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 259 pp.,$23)

Elizabeth Samet has penned an intelligent, sensitive meditation on her work: teaching literature to West Point cadets. (10/30/07)