Best True Stories List


105 books
82   votes


Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story


3.87 rating

Comment 1: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a quirky book with quirky characters and quirky events. Some of it sounds like fiction but I am told that it is all true. For the sake of discussion, let us say it is nonfiction as claimed. This would then be a case where “Truth is stranger than fiction.” A 1997 interview on Booknotes on C-Span shows author John Berendt to be almost as quirky as his book. He is entertaining and delightful to watch and listen to. If you want to treat yourself, go to . At that time the book had been on the NY Times best seller list for over 160 weeks on its way to 216. And if quirky doesn’t quite seem like the right descriptor, try eccentric. Berendt took seven years to research and write this book. It is loaded with information about Savannah, Georgia, plus a fascinating story. If you can read the following paragraph without smiling just a little, you probably won’t like this book. Luther says “I’ve got too much Savannah in me, I guess. My family’s been here seven generations, and after that long a time I suppose it gets into your genes. It’s like the control insects at the laboratory. Did I ever tell you about them? Well, we keep a lot of insect colonies in big glass jars out there. Some of them have been breeding for twenty-five years. That’s a thousand generations. All they know about life is what goes on inside their jar. They haven’t been exposed to pesticides or pollution, so they haven’t developed immunities or evolved in any way. They stay the same, generation after generation. If we released them into the outside world, they’d die. I think something like that happens after seven generations in Savannah. Savannah gets to be the only place you can live. We’re like the bugs in a jar.” The book is filled with many possible but only some likely events, details about people, especially rich people, that seem at least cause for embarrassment if not lawsuits. When he was living out at Foot Point Plantation, he’d invite people for Sunday lunch and tell them, “Now, be sure to arrive by noon.” And he meant it. At quarter to twelve, he’d take a drink and his rifle and climb into a tree, where he could watch his guests coming up the long driveway. At the stroke of noon, he’d take aim through the telescopic sights and shoot the hood ornaments off the cars of the latecomers, just to let them know they were late.” I am sure that the veracity of this book has been talked and written about extensively so I will only offer my uneducated opinion. Everything in this book could not be true so it should rightly be called historical fiction. After all, if you had to pick between true and humorous, wouldn’t you pick humorous? It is clear that John Berendt did. And, considering the best selling stature of the book, he made the right choice.You get a clue that Berendt has a good relationship with the funny bone when you discover he was on the staff of The Harvard Lampoon while he was an undergraduate English major. His humor skills were employed to their best advantage in Midnight: some subtle, some raucous and some ribald but all enjoyable.I enjoyed reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil as have many of my GR friends. The book has been a success as evidenced by the fact that it sold over 2.7 million hardcovers. Although the book is going on twenty years since publication, it doesn’t seem at all dated.This is one of the many books that I might not have ever read or heard of without GoodReads. I was evidently focused on something else when it was on the NYT best seller list for over four years. I have had the book on my shelf for a while. What finally got me to read it was that it was chosen as one of the monthly reads for the GR group On the Southern Literary Trail. Check out that group at found it easy to give this book four stars. Many times I wanted to keep on reading without stopping. It is fun to occasionally run into a book that keeps me turning the pages. Sometimes I feel obligated to finish a book once I start it. That was not a problem here.


First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers


4.24 rating

Comment 1: I feel bad I didn't love this book--maybe I've been jaded by too many tales of misery and atrocity. Or maybe it's just reading this so soon after Egger's What is the What about Sudan or for that matter after Vaddey's The Shadow of the Banyan, also about this period, this book has a lot to live up to. I admit I'm someone who finds it hard to just go with the flow of the practice of memoirs written with the immediacy of a novel. I just don't find it credible--especially in this case where it's written from the point of view of a very young child narrator. Ung was only five years old when the Khmer Rouge forcibly evacuated her city of Phenom Pehn, less than eight when she was trained to be a soldier. The book is also written in the very literary fiction present tense, with events she didn't experience but could only imagine told through the gauze of italics. I wished at times she had told the story straight--it doesn't need to be tarted up. Or that like Vaddey or Eggers, she had written this as a novel, and not claimed this as memoir. Interestingly, Ung addresses some of these issues in her afterward about writing the book. She says she takes offense at those who feel someone so young would not remember--wouldn't even feel the trauma. She wanted to give voice to a child going through such experiences. She also defended the use of present tense. She said she originally tried to write this in the past tense, but felt that "by writing in the past tense" she was protecting herself. That she needed that immediacy. But I actually think present tense--unless handled very, very skillfully--attracts attention to itself, and so can be more distancing than the past tense.That said, this did give a day to day sense of life under the Khmer Rouge I didn't get either from the film The Killing Fields nor Veddey's novel In the Shadow of the Banyan. Part of that is because being partly Chinese, Ung experienced racism and had to hide her background, even her skin color, to avoid "ethnic cleansing"--giving her a different perspective than I've heard in other stories of this period. She spoke of the favor given to "Base People"--those native Khmer from the countryside who had been there for generations, as opposed to the "new people" driven there from the cities. And she certainly gave a vivid, harrowing account of hunger--from the physical effects to what it drives you to. Despite my criticism, this is definitely a remarkable story of survival.


Stories I Only Tell My Friends


3.75 rating

Comment 1: مجموعه ای داستان ها، خاطرات و یادبود هاست که شامل رشد کردن، بزرگ شدن، معروف شدن و درنهایت رسیدن به چیزی که همیشه در زندگی میخواست، شدن. داستانهای جذابن اما بعضی هاشون واقعا تلخ ان. نکته جالبش توصیف مراحل آشنایی و رفتارش با سلبرتی هایی بود که باهاشون آشنا میشد. ابتدا تمام مشخصاتشون رو میگفت، رفتارشون رو نشون میداد و درنهایت اسمشون رو بیان می کرد. چند بار از این تکنیک توی متن استفاده کرد. نثرش ساده س وسریع هم به پایان میرسه. Comment 2: Rob Lowe chronicles his life in this interesting often funny autobiography. He shares about the impact of his parents divorce and mothers “illness” and his pervasive feeling of insecurity. He is honest and transparent about his alcohol addiction and sexual escapades finally discovering that they will lead him no where. He is brave as he becomes sober and strives to learn and grow each day. His life is encouraging and surprising. I’d love to sit down with him over a cup of coffee to hear more — n


Beneath the Bamboo: A Vietnam War Story


3.98 rating

Excerpt: “I watched two point men take a 50-caliber machine gun bullet to the head, and watched the third being grabbed and taken behind enemy lines. Two of the enemy soldiers, which we often referred to as gooks, quickly came after me. As I quickly mowed them down with my automatic rifle, I crawled backwards away from the enemy gunfire, using my helmet to push sand in front of me as I went, which made it possible to look behind me. But as I looked back, I realized that my safety net was no longer safe. I saw my entire company falling like dominoes. Medics were running left and right, risking their lives to help others with bravery that even the most amazing soldier couldn’t hope to match. Some of the events I witnessed during that moment were beyond comprehension. I watched a young, courageous black medic take an 81-millimeter round to his head, and his whole body instantly turned to smoke. Young nineteen and twenty year old kids were crying like children, but fighting like someone had raped their sisters. So many things were going through my head at that moment, and in one single heartbeat I was overwhelmed with a flashback of my entire life. This is my story, from point A to B, of my life and times in the midst of hell on Earth.”


They're Rugby Boys, Don't You Know?


4.32 rating

Comment 1: “The things described here are the grateful response of a Christian who has been rescued from a life of sin and death and reconciled to God for a life of hope and an eternal future in heaven.” That’s what the Author says in the biographical note (“Natalie’s Personal Story”) at the end of her book. In fact, Natalie Vellacott believed God’s promise that, ‘All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved’. And “God, by His grace, planted true faith in my heart and I determined to live a new life Comment 2: By the grace of God, Natalie coped with crisis after crisis that would have propelled many others into retreat, callousness or hostility. One of the things that amazed me the most was her intense desire to return to the streets and continue to sow and nurture the good seed into ground hardened, minds crippled, and souls crushed by human rejection and substance abuse. It is said that love for the lost will take you to the mission field, but love for the Lord will keep you there. Natalie’s love fo Comment 3: This book is convicting and a great reminder that no matter what we plan, the Lord is directing our steps. The story is both heartwarming and heartbreaking as the missionary author shares her experience with street boys in the Philippines. For me, one of the most fascinating aspects of the story was that no matter how much she resisted attachment and accepted the fact that she’d only be in Olongapo for a short time, God repeatedly placed the welfare of these boys on her heart and allowed her mor

Description of list:

These are books based on true stories or are true accounts of real stories. Feel free to add to it and find something interesting to inspire you.