A comment I left on Joan's blog got me to thinking about trying to read a biography of a person whose life choices just exasperate you. I had that experience recently when I read "Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously". Check out my comment on Joan's blog for my review. The gist is that this woman seemed so immature, so self-involved and so rudderless that it was difficult to stay with her through the book. You wanted to grasp her by the shoulders and shake her - "Just grow up, for pity's sake!" Her friends seemed just as clueless and weak-spined, and the passivity of her husband was creepy. If this is typical of 30 year olds nowadays (does that sound old enough for you!) I am worried.
I have run into the overly-intrusive-author's-personality syndrome in several non-fiction books read in the past months. One was "Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World". If the book was about the cat, Ms. Author, why did so much of it revolve around you? Ditto for "Marley and Me" and "A Good Dog". (Wait - there's a trend here. Are people who write about their pets generally insufferable? Remind me not to talk about my cat so much!)
The only book I read recently where this didn't bother me was Anne Lamott's latest, "Grace (Eventually)". Anne Lamott IS all about Anne Lamott, but if you know her you know what you're getting, and conveyed by her wonderfully conversational writing style are the unfliching insights of a woman who has often fallen but keeps limping toward God, a damaged personality that is gamely trying to maintain her balance, sobriety and faith. Her book about her son's first year, "Operating Instructions" is also good, as is "Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith". They may not be a traditionally religious person's cup of tea, but I saw the honesty and effort inside the fluff of self-absorption.