“I tend to avoid reading memoirs, as it has been my experience that they are too often gossipy, maudlin or both. But I have always loved the music of Irving Berlin (‘White Christmas,’ ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ and roughly 1,000 others), so I wanted to know more about this prodigious songwriter. His daughter, Mary Ellin Barrett, skipped all the clichés and wrote a wonderfully entertaining, almost 100-year history, based on her own recollections, those of family and friends and extensive research into her parents’ personal records. Starting with the background leading to the elopement of Ellin Mackay and Irving Berlin, she chronicles family life in the famous household, including her father’s excitement and stress as he produced scores for plays and movies, her parents’ steadfast devotion to each other throughout their 62-year marriage, and Irving’s bouts with depression. She briefly touches on his death at age 101. The tenor of her storytelling is consistently forthright and upbeat. This memoir did not disappoint.” — RITA BROWN, Kennebunkport

Mainers, please email to tell us about the book on your bedside table. In a paragraph or two, describe the book and be sure to tell us what drew you to it. What makes it a can’t-miss read for the rest of us? We want to hear what you are reading and why. Send your selection to pgrodinsky@pressherald.com, and we may use it as a future Bedside Table.

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