15 engaging and inspiring memoirs I keep coming back to

15 engaging and inspiring memoirs I keep coming back to

The eleventh category in the 2018 Reading Challenge is “a memoir, biography, or book of creative nonfiction.” I love all three genres, but when it comes to books I’m likely to keep coming back to, memoir takes the cake.

I love the genre; I’ve read many over the years. Today I’m sharing 15 of my favorites, “favorite” in this case meaning the ones I keep coming back to. I’ve read these 2 or 3 or even a dozen times. (I’m looking at you, Kathleen Norris.)

A special note for audiobook fans: I love listening to memoirs, especially when the author reads her own story. I’ve made a special note below of the books I loved on audio.

I’d love to hear your favorites in comments. For those who’d like to pile even more titles on their TBR list, Mary Karr also includes a terrific (and long) list in the back of The Art of Memoir.

Memoirs for your Reading Challenge
On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft

On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft

Author:
This is an exceptional book for book lovers and a must-read for writers, and I'm saying that as someone who has read a grand total of two books by King. (The other is 11/22/63.) I thoroughly enjoyed his descriptions of his fiction writing process (although his descriptions convinced me that I never, ever want to read Carrie.) I especially enjoyed the anecdotes he shared about his marriage, and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough when he explores his devastating car wreck and recovery. More info →
The Light of the World: A Memoir

The Light of the World: A Memoir

I LOVED THIS. In Alexander's words: "The story seems to begin with catastrophe but in fact began earlier and is not a tragedy but rather a love story." The author's husband died just four days after his fiftieth birthday. A few years later, Alexander looks back on their life together, their love, and the impact of that loss in her life. Her source material is fantastic: Alexander is an American, born in Harlem. Her husband was born in Eritrea, in East Africa, and came to New Haven as a refugee from war. Both were artists—and their home sounds like this amazing, vibrant, multicultural extravaganza with food and friends and music and art. I could barely put this down, and while sad, it exudes joy. Heads up for audiophiles: Alexander's narration of her own work is magnificent. More info →
A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, And The Things That Really Matter

A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, And The Things That Really Matter

This is one of my favorite Jane Austen memoirs. (Yep, that's a real genre.) Deresiewicz had zero interest in reading Jane Austen—he thought it was chick-lit, fluffy and boring. But then as a young grad student he was forced to read Emma for class, and actually reading Austen shattered his preconceptions. Part memoir, part literary criticism: Deresiewicz reflects on the path of his own life through each of Jane Austen’s novels in turn. You'll want to go back and re-read Jane after finishing this book. A good thing, I think. More info →
Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life Of A Critic In Disguise

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life Of A Critic In Disguise

Author:
This ostensibly foodie memoir is as much about identity as it is about fancy restaurants. When Ruth Reichl takes the plum job of New York Times food critic, she’s determined to let ordinary diners know what the city’s great restaurants are really like. She soon discovers that the Times food critic is no ordinary diner: her headshot is pinned to the wall of every kitchen in the city so the staff can recognize and wow her. So Reichl goes undercover, enlisting the help of an old theater friend to become a sultry blond, a gregarious redhead, and a tweedy brunette, each with her own backstory. A fascinating read for any foodie, or student of human nature. More info →
A Circle of Quiet (The Crosswicks Journals)

A Circle of Quiet (The Crosswicks Journals)

I’ve adopted Madeleine L’Engle as an honorary mentor (which I'm sure is obvious if you've read I'd Rather Be Reading. Anyone who can coin a phrase like “the tired thirties” and admit that her kids told her to sit down at the typewriter and write when she got cranky is worth listening to. Reading these pages, in which L'Engle muses on her life and her career, it's clear that L'Engle sees herself as a work-in-progress. But she's working it through, and this peek into her thought process gives readers hope that they can work it through, too. This is my favorite L'Engle book. More info →
The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and “Women’s Work”

The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and “Women’s Work”

Author:
“Quotidian” means “ordinary,” or “everyday,” and in this slim volume (88 pages!) Norris affirms the inherent worth of the mundane tasks that consume our everyday–the cooking, the cleaning, the dishes, the diapering. “What is it about repetitive acts that makes us feel that we are wasting our time?” Norris asks. Yet she insists that our daily activities are anything but trivial, and have the power to shape our souls, if we let them. More info →
A Homemade Life

A Homemade Life

Author:
I love this memoir about making recipes and making a life. After her father died, Molly Wizenburg didn’t know what to do with herself. So she went to Paris, and later, she started a blog. No spoilers here, so let’s just say I especially loved hearing about how the internet introduced the author to new, life-changing relationships. This memoir made me laugh, cry, check airfare to Paris, and curse my low carb diet. More info →
Almost Everything: Notes on Hope

Almost Everything: Notes on Hope

Author:
You know it's a good sign when you want to read a book out loud to anyone close enough to listen, and that was me with this new Anne Lamott book (which, as a bonus, is completely gorgeous). The guiding principle here, as she expresses in her "Humans 101" chapter, is: "Almost everything is screwed up, broken, clingy, scared, and yet designed for joy." I laughed, I cried—sometimes on the same page. This is one I'll want to read again soon. More info →
Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs

Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs

Such a gem I wanted to make sure it was on your radar for the 2018 Reading Challenge (or perhaps as "a book you can read in a day"). These 52 "micro-memoirs" are by turns quirky, witty, poignant, and laugh-out-loud funny, and so different from pretty much anything else I've ever read. More info →
The Art of Memoir

The Art of Memoir

Author:
Karr unpacks the key elements of great literary memoir and breaks down her own creative process. It’s not just a book for writers: of the book’s 200 pages, only 35 or so are devoted to “how-to.” Frequent readers will also enjoy a peek behind the curtain of Karr's work and that of dozens of other memoirists: what differentiates good work from mediocre, and why do some stories ring true while others falter? For those who'd like to read more, Karr provides a terrific (and long) reading list in the back of the book. This was a great reading experience. More info →
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

Austin Channing Brown is one of my favorite follows on twitter: I appreciate her perspective so much and have been eager to get her words into my hands in book-length format. I'm Still Here was worth the wait. The book opens with a story from the library, but it's not a warm and fuzzy one. Austin reveals that her parents named her Austin so that future employers would believe she was a white man, thus opening doors that would typically be closed to a black woman. She writes extensively about how white, middle-class Christians, though well-intentioned, perpetuate racial tensions—and provides guidance on what genuinely effective perspectives and behaviors could actually look like. A great read, important and timely. More info →
The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother

The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother

Author:
McBride speaks directly and poignantly of his childhood, growing up in Brooklyn with a white Jewish mother and black father. McBride's parents didn't hold race or religion in common, something that was exceedingly rare in 1940s America. The story is told from two points of view: one voice belongs to McBride, who tells the story of his childhood; the other to his mother, who also begins her story in her childhood. Each voice is beautifully done; for the reader, the combined effect is greater than the sum of its parts. This is excellent on audio. More info →
Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me

This is an incredible book, and a timely one. Coates frames this series of essays as a letter to his son, exploring what it means to be black in America, and how issues involving race have shaped and continue to shape the country in which he lives. The audio version, read by the author, is fantastic. More info →
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Author:
The haunting story of Angelou's childhood in the American South in the 1930s. The prose is incredible, and the story is by turns heartwarming ("I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare") and utterly heartbreaking. If this is one you've been meaning to read, give the audio version a try: Angelou's lilting voice brings her powerful, touching story to life. More info →
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster

Author:
Krakauer climbed Mt. Everest while on assignment for Outside Magazine in 1996, which would become the deadliest year in the history of the mountain. 8 people died on the mountain the day Krakauer himself summited; 15 died that season. Krakauer made it back down to tell the tale of what it was like on the mountain that May. Of note: known for his journalistic integrity, Krakauer has revised his story over the years as new information has come to light about the disaster. A first-class adventure story. More info →

What are your favorite memoirs? Which ones compel you to return to them again and again?

P.S. 11 juicy memoirs to toss in your beach bag this summer7 underrated memoirs that deserve a place on your TBR list, and 13 engaging audiobooks read by their authors.

108 comments | Comment

108 comments

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  1. Susan says:

    My all time favorite memoir is Safekeeping by Abigail Thomas. Brilliant tiny chapters woven into a narrative that lets you read between the lines.

  2. Helen C says:

    Lovely and informative post, I’ve now got some new books on my TBR! I love taking a break from fiction and reading a memoir or creative no-fiction. I tend to read celebrity memoirs, how-to books, or light self-help books in this case. Your selection of reads sound really interesting however particularly the one relating to an undercover food critic as I find the foodie world fascinating. If you haven’t read them already I recommend Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo or anything by Paul Arden which all fall underneath creative or self-help fiction. Happy reading! 🙂 xx

    Helen | Helen’s Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

  3. I’ve read On Writing and the Ar of Memoir. I’m currently reading Almost Everything, but my book is no longer beautiful:(. My puppy knawed on it! I love so many memoirs, I’m impressed you could narrow it down. I love all of Kelly Corrigan’s books, and I read The Year of Magical Thinking at the exact right time for me.

  4. Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber is definitely my favorite memoir and maybe in my top 3 to 5 books of all time! She’s a wonderful writer and tells her story so engagingly — it reads so much like a novel that I actually kept thinking to myself, “Is this really a memoir? Wow, this actually happened to someone!” I’ve read it about once a year for the past few years and definitely plan on making it a regular re-read. Other favorites:

    -The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield
    -Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me by Karen Swallow Prior
    -When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
    -The Nazi Officer’s Wife by Edith Hahn Beer

  5. Andrea Olynick says:

    All audiobooks: Under the Tuscan Sun – Frances Mayes(Movie was cute but nothing like the book), and Bella Tuscany

    Bookstores and Audible don’t have it anymore but I loved the audiobook Nella Last’s War and Nella Last’s Peace (Wartime diaries of everyday life) I listen to this every year.

    Bird By Bird – Anne Lamott, 84 Charing Cross Rd – HeleneHaniff
    The Road from Coorain, Jill Ker, The Tender Bar, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle,
    Teacher Man, Frank McCourt, Starting with Tuscany – Giovania Peel,
    Berlin Diary, William Shirer, The Hare with the Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal, (He didn’t read it but the reader was excellent – Michael Maloney, Under Magnolia, Frances Mayes

    Books: The Soul of a Lion, Alice Von Hildebrand, Dinner at Miss Lady’s, Luanne Landon, Coming of Age in Mississippi, Anne Moody, The Hills of Tuscany, Ferenc Mate. I have many more. I’ll stop now. (You can tell I love memoirs and I look forward to seeing what is on everyone’s list). I did love Toni Morrison’s books too!
    I keep enjoying these over and over. I don’t care very much for books that take place now.

  6. Mary says:

    This year I have really enjoyed An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison and also The Choice: Embrace the Possibly by Dr. Edith Eva Eger. Ooooh, and I was riveted by Educated, too!

  7. Kristie says:

    I read “The Quotidian Mysteries” for the first time this year and it was honestly life changing. I have read several of Kathleen Norris’s books and they all moved me deeply. Her book “The Cloister Walk” is in my top 5 most profound reading experiences ever.

    May Sarton’s “Journal of a Solitude”, Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “Gift from the Sea”, Colleen Carroll Campbell’s “My Sisters the Saints”, and Marya Hornbacher’s “Wasted” round out my list of favorite memoirs. (Fair warning, though: “Wasted” can be incredibly triggering for anyone sensitive to eating disorders and/or self harm)

  8. I read two of Pat Conroy’s memoirs this year, My Reading Life and The Water Is Wide. Both were very interesting and very different. I also read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential after his death. I really love food memoirs and definitely want to read Ruth Reichl’s Garlic & Sapphires. I enjoyed Tender at the Bone by her and have her novel, Delicious!, on my shelves waiting for me to pick it up!

    • Andrea says:

      Tender at the Bone was one of my first audiobooks. I was hooked, listened to it many times and then played it in the car for my daughter and then my son. Both loved it. I forgot My Reading Life. I’ve listened to that twice and read it once. Great writing.

  9. Lizabeth Snell says:

    Everything Abigail Thomas has ever written. (her idea: fiction is about what’s going to happen? memoir is about what the f*&k happened??)
    Also seriously love Lee Smith’s Dimestore. Wrote in my journal about this one : Read Again!
    Hunger by Roxane Gay

  10. Nancy says:

    I am embarrassed to say I have not read any Anne Lamott books but want to. What order do you recommend I begin with? Thank you for the suggestion of Kelly Corrigan books…just listened to most recent and LOVED LOVED LOVED it…then listened to Glitter and Glue which was also fabulous…now on to The Middle Page tomorrow.

    • Michele says:

      I’d start with Traveling Mercies, the first of her memoirs on faith. After that, I think you can read what appeals to you but just know that you may read some of her family stories out of chronological order. (They’ll still be great.)

      In a very different vein, I’d recommend Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Unique and captivating.

      • Claire says:

        I loved Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott. I also just read After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry (not the same Sarah Perry that wrote The Essex Serpent) and I thought it was a beautiful tribute to Sarah’s mother who was murdered. Not a pleasant subject but worth the read.

  11. Rinda says:

    Love in the Driest Season by Neely Tucker – a journalist couple decides to adopt a child in Africa. Moving and wonderfully written.
    A Country Year by Sue Hubbell – a woman moves to the country and chronicles the restorative power of the simple life. Plus beekeeping!
    Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdon a big city lawyer returns to a small town to help her country doctor father. Lovely and heart felt.

  12. Suzanne says:

    Thanks for this post… I am inspired to try a few. One of my favorite memoirs is “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion.

    I want to do your reading challenge for 2019! I didn’t do this year’s because I discovered your challenge too late in the year.

  13. Tanya says:

    Ohhh-a few to add to my TBR list!
    I really enjoyed ‘Redefining realness’ by Janet mock, ‘A house in the sky’ by Amanda Lindhout, and ‘Born a crime’ by Trevor Noah

  14. Melissa K says:

    I read most of Anne Lamott’s Almost Everything out loud, and I was home alone. The prose just begged to be articulated. So awesome!

  15. Janet Keeler says:

    Drinking, A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
    Still Me by Christopher Reeve
    the Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
    Hourglass by Dani Shapiro

  16. Susan V says:

    Here are my favorite memoirs from the past couple of years of reading:
    The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls
    Hillbilly Elegy – J.D. Vance
    Educated – Tara Westover
    Tell Me More and The Middle Place – Kelly Corrigan
    Stolen Innocence – Elissa Wall (FLDS story)
    Escape – Carolyn Jessop (FLDS)
    The Polygamist’s Daughter – Anna LeBaron
    The Sound of Gravel – Ruth Wariner
    One Beautiful Dream: The Rollicking Tale of Family Chaos, Personal Passions, and Saying Yes to Them Both – Jennifer Fulwiler
    Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After – Heather Harpham
    I Can Only Imagine – Bart Millard
    If You Only Knew: My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming Free – Jamie Ivey
    Between Heaven and the Real World – Steven Curtis Chapman
    It Was Me All Along – Andie Mitchell

    • C Ann says:

      “Life Is So Good” by George Dawson & Richard Glaubman, one man’s extraordinary journey through the 20th century & how he learned to read at age 98. Mr. Dawson was so lovely & inspiring, a beautiful soul.

    • Elizabeth Ball says:

      I could not put Hillbilly Elegy down! That is the best one I’ve read in several years. I also read The Water Is Wide and The Color of Water.

    • Jen in Maryland says:

      I was hoping someone would mention When We Were the Kennedys! That book put into words some of the deepest feelings I had about losing my dad when I was a child. Brilliant and moving.

  17. I just added A HOMEMADE LIFE to by TBR list; that one sounds so good! And, as someone who recently started a food (and book) blog, that topic definitely hits close to home. Thanks for the suggestion!

    I also finally — FINALLY!! — added ON WRITING to my TBR list. I keep hearing people go on about it, but I’m not a huge Stephen King fan (nothing against him; just never really got around to reading him or seeing the movies). However, since you said you’re also not a fan but found this book fantastic, I couldn’t resist any longer. READING IT. Thanks!

  18. I’ve read a surprising number of these (though I guess I shouldn’t be *too* surprised, given that you are one of the first sources I go to for book recs!). One of my favorite memoirs of all time is Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle, which I love for the writing and for the fact that it inspired me to make some of my own food changes. Memoir is one of my favorite genres, and I’m always burning through one or another (I’m currently in the middle of Bringing Up Bebe, about an American mother in Paris who picks up parenting tips from the French). As evidenced by these two mentions, I love memoirs that are more than just a good story–I love memoirs that inspire ME in some way to live my life better (ooo, and another recent one that did just that was Everything Happens For a Reason (and Other Lies I’ve Loved).

  19. Pamela Carr says:

    A new book from a woman of a different generation to me – Meg Fee’s Places I Stopped on the Way Home really resonated for me. Also Ruth Fitzgerald’s I Found My Tribe.

  20. Claudia Schmidt-Black says:

    I just finished “The Sun Does Shine”. This book is an absolute must-read for everyone. So emotional, so much to learn from. It is awe-inspiring and if I could rate 10 stars, I would.

  21. Mary Jane L says:

    Born A Crime – Trevor Noah (absolutely do this one as an audio, read by Trevor Noah himself)
    Unity – Corey Booker
    Just Mercy – Bryan Stevenson
    The Sun Does Shines – Anthony Ray Hinton
    Angela’s Ashes – Frank Mc Court
    The Glass Castle – Jeanette Wall
    The Life and Times of The Thunderbolt Kid – Bill Bryson

    • Emily says:

      I just finished Born a Crime in print and loved it. I might just have to add it to my Audible wishlist too! Also, though I read Angela’s Ashes many years ago, it remains an all-time favorite. Also also, I read A Walk in the Woods awhile back and thought it was great. I should browse some of his other offerings!

  22. Andrea says:

    I second On Writing and I’m Still Here. A couple of recent favorites are Educated by Tara Westover and Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. I also loved Born Standing Up by Steve Martin and Bossypants by Tina Fey on audio.

  23. Christine says:

    Not My Father’s Son, by Alan Cumming and read by him. So well done; such an interesting and resilient life, and that voice!

  24. You’ve got four of my favorites here and another that’s been sitting on my shelf for months. Just requested another from your list. Thank you! Please tell me you’ve gotten to Rick Bragg’s All Over But the Shoutin’. I know you’ll love it.

  25. Abby says:

    I feel like you’re missing SO many!! The Invisible Wall: A love story that broke barriers was one of my favorites this year. Brain on fire is another one that I loved. Hillbilly Elegy is a MUST read for anyone that lives in this region.

  26. Chris says:

    Looking forward to reading LOTS of these! Some of my favorites (new & old):
    The Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris (perhaps my all time fave)
    The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
    When Breath becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
    Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance
    To The Field of Stars by Kevin A Codd (picked this up because of the lovely title and now I want to do the Camino!)

  27. Chrissie says:

    The Stephen King book I ever read was Cujo back in college but as someone who intends to write again I picked up his On Writing. Couldn’t put it down and I ended up liking him a lot even if we would agree on little politically. Good writing tips to boot. Also, Carly Simon’s Boys In the Trees was just great, if you are of a certain age.

  28. Laura Newton says:

    I loved My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl. Her journey of healing using food, family, and a focus on the simple pleasures in life was a delight.

  29. Lizabeth Snell says:

    Brand new by Madeline Kunin, former gov of VT, ambassador to Switzerland & creator of training programs to support women running for office. Called Coming of Age: My Journey to the Eighties. Tender, honest and deeply personal. Also very funny

  30. Leslie Einhaus says:

    I have quite a few favorites! Anne, I met you in Houston and recommended Northwest author and conservationist Rick Bass. In the Loyal Mountains & Book of the Yaak are both keepers.
    One I thought you might like is
    Pine Island Paradox by Kathleen Dean Moore.

    Some of my favorites are:
    •Where Rivers Change Directions by Mark Spragg
    •An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison [Warning: Numerous triggers. Know what you are getting into. Yet very good book on subject.]
    •The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker
    •What Remains by Carole Radziwill
    •Through the Narrow Gate by Karen Armstrong
    •Flannery by Brad Gooch [If you can read letters by author at the same time as biography. Quite fun. #nerdalert By the end oh my goodness I wanted to visit her place of birth and where she spent her life. I was crying buckets at the end. It was a special book.
    •All of Mary Karr’s books, of course!
    •Boys of My Youth by JoAnn Beard

    • Leslie Einhaus says:

      I just realized I when I posted my favorites I was thinking nonfiction not memoir. Most are memoir but some are not. Sorry about that. Got excited to share my faves with fellow readers. 🙂
      -Leslie

  31. Julie R says:

    Loving all these comments! Several of my favorites were already mentioned (Glass Castle, Not My Father’s Son, Educated…), but one I haven’t seen yet that I loved was Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae. It’s her story of growing up with parents who were hoarders – like, HORRIFIC hoarders – and how it affected her. Reading Lolita in Tehran was great too, as well as The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

  32. Deborah Larson says:

    Memoir is my favorite genre! I’ve read 6 on the list, but always enjoy adding new titles to my TBR list. A few of my favorite memoirs: The Glass Castle-Jeannette Walls, Educated-Tara Westover, Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio- Peg Kehret (children’s author), Three Little Words- Ashley Rhodes-Courter (Foster Care System), Change Me Into Zeus’s Daughter-Barbara Robinette Moss, Fly A Little Higher- Laura Sobiech (Written by mother of teen son who passed with Cancer- THIS MEMOIR WILL STAY WITH YOU FOREVER-also song he wrote on YouTube by same name), Stick Figure- Lori Gottlieb (Eating Disorder), The Aqua Net Diaries- Jennifer Niven, Mistaken Identity- Van Ryan/Cerak families, 90 Minutes in Heaven- Don Piper (Faith-inspiring), Evicted- Matthew Desmond, Memoir of the Sunday Brunch- Julia Pandl, Mom and Me and Mom- Maya Angelou, The Promise- Ora Lee Brown (Education), Assisted- John Stockton (Basketball), Coming Back Stronger- Drew Brees, This Is the Story of a Happy Marrriage/Truth & Beauty- Ann Patchett, Cruel Harvest- Fran Elizabeth Grubb, Replacement Child- Judy Mandel, When We Were The Kennedys- Monica Wood, Miracles from Heaven- Christy Wilson Beam -(Faith-inspiring), Jesus Land- Julia Sheeres, Elle and Coach- Stephany Shaheen (Childhood Diabetes/Medical Assistance Dog), Sully- Chesley Sullenberger III, Dimestore: A Writer’s Life- Lee Smith, Orphan #8- Kim van Alkemede, Hillbilly Elegy- J.D. Vance, The Distance Between Us- Rayna Grande, Moonlight on Linoleum- Terry Helwig, Kelly Corrigan memoirs, Beverly Cleary’s memoirs,
    Holocaust memoirs: Clara’s War- Clara Kramer, The Girl in the Green Sweater- Krystyna Cliger, The Boy on the Wooden Box- Leon Leyson (Youngest person on Schindler’s List), The Girl in the Red Coat- Roma Ligocka, The Tattooist of Auschwitz- Heather Morris

  33. jme091@aol.com says:

    My favorites are:
    Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand
    Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus – Nabeel Qureshi
    Saving My Assassin – Virginia Prodan

  34. Guest says:

    I’ve read several of these and enjoyed them all! Another I would add to the list is Candice Bergen’s memoir, A Fine Romance. I watched Murphy Brown when I was a teen and loved it. Was interesting to read more about her life – most of which I had never heard.

  35. Hannah Beth Reid says:

    Our book club read “The Color of Water” last month and it is so wonderful! Readable and educational, funny and tearjerking and wonderful!

  36. Nicole says:

    A few that are great listens:
    Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe; Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (both hilarious); A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold (difficult but great read by the parent of one of the Columbine killers). Thanks for all the great suggestions!!

  37. Sheree says:

    Peggy of the Flint Hills by Zula Bennington Greene

    Goodreads has a wonderful little synopsis:
    “Peggy of the Flint Hills” was a beloved Topeka newspaper columnist, dispensing common sense and uncommon insight six days a week for 55 years. But her true masterwork was this little memoir, now seeing publication for the first time – a breathtakingly rich recollection of her childhood in the Ozark foothills and her young adulthood in the Kansas Flint Hills. With a full heart and a matchless memory, Peggy writes of the people and places that shaped her, offering readers a crystalline window into a long-gone world.

  38. Katie says:

    I love your paragraph about On Writing – they’re my thoughts exactly. It was my first King (which I’ve read a couple times) and 11/22/63 was my second and last. I loved it, but he hasn’t written anything else this HSP could handle. Also, I just finished A Circle of Quiet – Does Madeleine L’Engle know my soul!?

  39. Karen says:

    Memoir is one of my favorite genres, and it also crosses genres. A “few” of my favorites are: A Circle of Quiet, The Summer of the Great-Grandmother, Two-Part Invention, Walking on Water – Madeleine L’Engle; Plant Dreaming Deep, A House By the Sea, Journal of a Solitude – May Sarton; A New Kind of Country – Dorothy Gilman; 84 Charing Cross Road and Q’s Legacy – Helene Hanff; A Year By the Sea – Joan Anderson; Still Life with Chickens – Catherine Goldhamer; Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher (hilarious & heartbreaking); The Dance of the Dissident Daughter – Sue Monk Kidd; Traveling with Pomegranates – Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd Taylor; Dakota, The Cloister Walk, The Quotidian Mysteries, Amazing Grace, Acedia and Me – Kathleen Norris; Virgin Time – Patricia Hampl; Gift from the Sea – Anne Morrow Lindbergh; Tolstoy and the Purple Chair – Nina Sankovitch; Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert; The End of Your Life Book Club – Will Schwalbe; Word from Wormingford – Ronald Blythe; Nature Cure – Richard Mabey; A Shepherd’s Life – James Rebanks; Traveling Mercies, Bird By Bird, Plan B – Anne Lamott; A Joyful Noise, With a Merry Heart, Bedlam in the Back Seat, The Joy of a Small Garden – Janet Gillespie; Heidi’s Alp – Christina Hardyment, Frances Mayes; Peter Mayle, Robert Macfarlane….I could go on and on….And on. And you would want to kick me downstairs, like Father William threatened to do to his son.

  40. Courtney says:

    I loved your recommendations and the additional titles through the comments! My TBR shelf is quickly overflowing. One title I didn’t see listed is West With The Night by Beryl Markham. Has anyone read it? I loved her writing and even Hemingway sang her praises after reading it. Love that one along with anything by M.F.K. Fisher, especially An Alphabet for Gourmets.

  41. Megan says:

    Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. Funny, authentic, informative about how apartheid became institutionalized. Excellent book and audio, read by the comedian himself.

  42. Megan says:

    Going through all the comments made me realize that I will start a MEMOIRS THAT I HAVE READ category in my book journal. It is a genre I’ve always enjoyed. I’ve read 25 of the titles suggested and put many on my TBR list, especially the audio versions.

  43. emmaclaire says:

    Just a couple to add to the list –
    Anybody Can Do Anything – Betty McDonald (of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle fame)
    My Father Before Me – Chris Forhan. He is a poet and his memoir is lyrical and poignant.

  44. Annie says:

    I love Reichl’s Tender at the Bone even more than G&S. And I go back to Bob Massie’s A Song in the Night not because it’s so beautiful (though parts are) but because the story is amazing and inspiring. My all time favorite memoir is Annie Dillard’s An American Childhood.

  45. Kathleen Potter says:

    I love memoirs. Madeliene L’Engle’s Crosswicks Journals changed my life. I have read and loved many of the memoirs mentioned in these comments. I would like to share the following additional memoirs:
    Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox, Big Russ and Me by Tim Russert, My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl, Journal of an Artist by Ann Truitt and Still Foolin ‘em by Billy Crystal (audio version). Thanks you for all the wonderful suggestions. I love being surrounded by passionate readers through Modern Mrs. Darcy!!!

  46. Jennifer Bubb says:

    1. I need to spend some serious time with the comments here to add to my TBR
    2. I’ve read Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club multiple times. I think the southern voice in it reminds me of my mom’s family. Have her Art of Memoir on my kindle and haven’t read yet!
    3. I LOVED Let’s Take The Long Way Home by Gail Causwell. I think it counts as a memoir. It’s a sad but lovely book about female friendship.
    4. Bossypants by Tina Fey.

  47. Birgitta Qvarnström Frykner says:

    One of tjevmost known The Diary of Anne Frank 84 Charing Cross Road. The Michel Caine etc there are so many

  48. Molly says:

    I love the Crosswick Journals! I have read each of them multiple times. My favorite memoir, though, is My Sergi by Ekaterina Gordyeva (my spelling of her name might be off). I grew up watching grew up watching this Russian skating pair and marveling at their strength and grace. This is their love story told after Sergi’s untimely death by his widow.

  49. Cherrie Croyle says:

    This is my favorite genre, yet I can’t believe that there are so many in the comments that I haven’t heard of! It isn’t a bad thing, quite the opposite! I have been reading Tom Corbett’s Confessions of a Clueless Rebel. It’s been so fun to read, but also his story is pretty amazing. I have laughed so hard but been provoked to think a little more. It’s been a fun easy read. booksbytomcorbett.com is his site. He’s got another memoir as well more about his work life.

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