Today I’m sharing 7 more of my favorite memoirs. Here’s what sets these apart: in last week’s list, you’d probably heard of all (or certainly most) of the titles already. But these are memoirs you have to be on the lookout for: you won’t spy them on a bestseller list, or stumble upon them at your local bookstore.
I heard about these wonderful books from fellow readers, word of mouth, who either encouraged me to read a book I’d never seen before, or persuaded me to read a book I would have otherwise overlooked because of the reviews.
That’s my definition of “underrated.” I can’t wait to hear your underrated favorites in comments.
I was flabbergasted on my first reading by how smart and entertaining Eleanor Roosevelt was. (I should have known better, but I didn't. My mistake.) Roosevelt penned this book—part memoir, part advice manual—in 1960, when she was 76 years old. It’s striking how fresh and wise her insight seems today, over fifty years later. Roosevelt offers an interesting perspective on history, unique insights into her life (which contained a surprising amount of personal tragedy), and a good bit of wisdom you might just apply to your own life. More info →
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 →
I adore this 114-page collection of bite-sized essays about marriage, ministry, and motherhood, and have shoved it into the hands of more readers than I can count. Those topics may be dry in other hands, but Willis Pershey writes writes beautifully about the places where those things collide–and sometimes those collisions are pretty bumpy (and hilarious). Genuine, inspirational, and moving, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. More info →
When Annie Dillard is discussed these days, it's either for her Pulitzer Prize-winning Pilgrim at Tinker Creek or her cult classic The Writing Life. Nobody talks much any more about her poignant and whimsical memoir about her idyllic childhood in 1950s Pittsburgh. That's a shame. My favorite parts are when Dillard turns her thoughtful, poetic style to the subject of reading: how she "opened books like jars" and fell in love with the written word for keeps. More info →
Of all Winner's books, this one has the lowest rating on Goodreads. I understand why: there are more than a few lackluster chapters breaking up the good parts. But the good parts are so good this book is well worth the effort, especially if you've resonated with Lauren's previous works.
Everyone knows Ann Patchett, but readers tend to overlook this e-only mini-memoir. Patchett sketches a path from childhood through the completion of her ﬁrst novel, The Patron Saint of Liars. Stops along the way include her college years, a failed marriage, the Iowa writing program, and a waitressing stint at TGIFriday’s. I loved this one enough to include it in the summer reading guide. A great read for any Patchett fan, but an absolute must-read for you writerly types. More info →
This spiritual memoir has prompted so many wonderful conversations amongst my friends and family members about growing up evangelical, and I find myself recommending it regularly. Addie’s gift is to make you feel the emotional weight of the seemingly no-big-deal yet simultaneously life-altering events common to a particular brand of Christian adolescence and young adulthood. I'm eagerly anticipating her second book, due out next year. More info →
Do you have a favorite underrated memoir? Give it some word-of-mouth love and us all about it in comments.