Book Review {Then Again}

In January, I set a goal for myself to read 75 books this year. You may remember from this post that last year I read 57 books and, although I was excited about that number, I decided to see if I could step it up a notch this year. So, I made the goal of 75 books, logged it at Goodreads.com and with the Google Books 2012 Spreadsheet I'm a part of with friends, and I set to reading. As of today, I'm officially just over 1/3 of the way through my goal (26 - almost 27 - of 75 read) and April hasn't even ended yet!

So far this year, I've read some really amazing books (Let's Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell, In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson and I've read 2 of the 5 released books in the Game of Thrones series) and some not so good ones (1Q84 by Haruki Murakami - review here - and Cleaving by Julie Powell). Most recently, I finished Diane Keaton's Then Again and I want to share my thoughts on this interesting memoir.

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Amazon describes this book as follows:

"Mom loved adages, quotes, slogans. There were always little reminders pasted on the kitchen wall. For example, the word THINK. I found THINK thumbtacked on a bulletin board in her darkroom. I saw it Scotch-taped on a pencil box she’d collaged. I even found a pamphlet titled THINK on her bedside table. Mom liked to THINK.

So begins Diane Keaton’s unforgettable memoir about her mother and herself. In it you will meet the woman known to tens of millions as Annie Hall, but you will also meet, and fall in love with, her mother, the loving, complicated, always-thinking Dorothy Hall. To write about herself, Diane realized she had to write about her mother, too, and how their bond came to define both their lives. In a remarkable act of creation, Diane not only reveals herself to us, she also lets us meet in intimate detail her mother. Over the course of her life, Dorothy kept eighty-five journals—literally thousands of pages—in which she wrote about her marriage, her children, and, most probingly, herself. Dorothy also recorded memorable stories about Diane’s grandparents. Diane has sorted through these pages to paint an unflinching portrait of her mother—a woman restless with intellectual and creative energy, struggling to find an outlet for her talents—as well as her entire family, recounting a story that spans four generations and nearly a hundred years.

More than the autobiography of a legendary actress, Then Again is a book about a very American family with very American dreams. Diane will remind you of yourself, and her bonds with her family will remind you of your own relationships with those you love the most."

Amazon's description is a perfect synopsis of what exactly this story is about. Do you love Diane Keaton? Is quirky Americana your thing? Is your relationship with your mother intertwined in such a way that your story cannot be separated from hers? If so, then I 100% recommend that you read Then Again as soon as possible.

I do like Diane Keaton - the First Wives' Club being among one of my favorite empowering women movies of the 90s (I can belt out You Don't Own Me with the best of them) - but I haven't seen Annie Hall and I haven't seen every Woody Allen movie and so I think some of the intricacies of this story may have been lost on me. (Note: For those of you who are worried, Annie Hall has been Netflixed and will be watched soon.)

Keaton tells a beautiful story about how she got into acting, what pushed her and what drove her, while showcasing her mother's story right alongside of her own. I found that this memoir was more about Diane's love for her mother, Dorothy, and her desire to be the type of mother that her own would be proud of, than it was about Diane Keaton. The last two Hollywood autobiographies that I read (Tina Fey's Bossypants and Rob Lowe's Stories I Only Tell My Friends) focused primarily on the actor telling the story and that's what made them so enjoyable. Keaton is a 66 year old woman with two teenage children and, unfortunately, I felt as though I was unable to relate to parts of her story. However, I do admire her for the work that she has done and her own personal coming-of-age story within the memoir is inspiring. I would love to sit down with Diane Keaton (whose real name is Diane Hall) and pick her brain about some of the story I feel that she left out of this book. For a short book though, it was worth the read, and I'm glad to know more about one of my favorite actresses.

Have you read Then Again? Would you recommend it? Did you love all of the journal excerpts or did you wish there had been less Dorothy and more Diane? If you haven't read this, what about Rob Lowe's or Tina Fey's autobiographies? Did you love them as much as I did? I'd love to hear your take on these books!

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