When asked what my favorite genre is, I don’t hesitate to answer “memoirs.” Some of my very favorite books are classified under this genre because the stories are so powerful and provide lessons unlike other books can, knowing the real experiences come directly from the author.
Here are the top 10 memoirs I regularly recommend — some I continue to think about even years later:
Educated by Tara Westover
I didn’t read a much for a number of years, and I think it was Educated that got me back in the game. This story about a girl growing up with a survivalist family and discouraged to pursue an education was completely fascinating. The author has to overcome a lot of struggles throughout — one more dramatic than the next.
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
I can only hope that Know My Name will be required reading in high schools, colleges and universities across the country some day because it’s a book absolutely everyone should read. Chanel Miller, a victim of sexual assault, tells her story of her traumatic experience at Sanford party and the years that followed. This story became top news across the country when her victim impact statement went viral and inspired changes in California law. Miller’s writing is simply incredible.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
In When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi takes us with him through his stage IV cancer diagnosis. As a neurosurgeon, he provides perspective as a doctor while also learning how to cope as a patient. He realizes what’s important in his life and with his relationships. It’s truly unforgettable.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
While Michelle Obama shares about her years in the White House in her memoir, Becoming, it’s her childhood and early adulthood years that I really piqued my interest. Knowing more about where she came from provides a such great perspective on her years as First Lady.
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells
I think The Glass Castle might be one of my favorite books, even though I read it (and those that followed) years and years ago. It’s even on my fall reading list. In this book, Jeanette Wells paints a vivid picture of her unconventional childhood and overcoming disfunction and adversity.
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle
Might be an unpopular opinion, but I loved Love Warrior even more than Glennon Doyle’s most recent best-seller, Untamed. This book is about someone hitting rock bottom and finding their way back — something I think almost all of us can relate to at some point in our lives.
Open Book by Jessica Simpson
Hear me out — this one is really entertaining. In Open Book, Jessica Simpson tells everything — and when I say everything, I mean everything. Issues with dad, Disney auditions, alcoholism, John Mayer — nothing is off limits. If you watched Newlyweds in the early 2000s (and even if you didn’t), this one is a must-read.
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Born a Crime has it all — incredible storytelling, education on South Africa under apartheid, and lots of laughs. I honestly learned so much from this book. Trevor Noah’s childhood tales should not be missed.
Anglela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
It’s been years since I read Angela’s Ashes, but this one certainly sticks with you and for good reason. Frank McCourt’s stories of growing up poor in Ireland are emotional, yet heartwarming and funny. This book is storytelling at its best.
Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
Greenlights took me by surprise. After putting it off for a long time, I finally listened to the audio book. Let’s just say I was inspired by Matthew McConaughey’s stories about pushing himself be the best he can be. It’s definitely worth the read!
Do you have a favorite memoir?