To Stop a Warlord
Shannon Sedgwick Davis
To Stop a Warlord describes Shannon Sedgwick Davis’s extraordinary work in Africa against the warlord Joseph Kony, who murdered, abducted, and displaced hundreds of thousands of people in Central and East Africa. Davis aimed to end that war, and her memoir tells the story of how she collaborated with others to accomplish it.
Black Is the Body
Racism is still a serious issue in the US, and Emily Bernard confronts the matter head-on in her memoir. Bernard grew up Black in the South, and her race has defined her all her life. But being Black is more than just skin color; it’s an identity, a story people tell about you. This book examines the intricacies of what that means.
The Master Plan
How does a person go from life behind bars on a murder charge to an entrepreneur and mentor? It’s thanks to a Master Plan, which Chris Wilson devised to turn his life around after going to prison for committing murder. Now, he shares that plan with readers, showing them how they too can find a new path.
Love You Hard
Abby Maslin’s life changed forever after three men robbed her husband, beat him, and left him for dead. TC suffered a traumatic brain injury, unable to walk or speak. This memoir is about caregiving, unconditional love, the journey back from tragedy, and choosing joy over sorrow.
Michelle Obama is a beloved public figure, which is just one the reasons her memoir has resonated so strongly. She candidly describes her childhood and upbringing, her romance with and marriage to Barack Obama, and her time as First Lady over eight memorable years.
He Wanted the Moon
In this memoir, Mimi Baird goes on a quest to learn more about her father, Dr. Perry Baird, who did groundbreaking research into manic depression. Unfortunately, he himself also suffered from the disease, and he was sidelined, his accomplishments almost forgotten. That is, until Mimi Baird becomes determined to set the record straight.
In the summer of 1970, M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, and James Beard met in Provence and continued corresponding across oceans about how food was cooked and prepared, while also confiding personal struggles to one another. Now, Fisher’s grandnephew has collected their letters to create this stunning portrayal of a seminal summer.
Frances Mayes might be best known for her memoirs about Tuscany, but this reflection takes readers back to her early years growing up in Fitzgerald, Georgia. Mayes looks at how home and landscape shape us all, and how we’re defined by the places we came from.
All That You Leave Behind
Erin Lee Carr
When Erin Lee Carr’s father, David Carr, died suddenly, she turned to his letters and their correspondence in search of an answer to her grief. What ensues is a search for meaning in the notes her father left her, as Carr looks for a way to move forward without her father’s love and sage advice.
In Love with the World
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
This memoir follows Buddhist monk Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche as he struggles to unlearn everything he knows. When he embarks on a wandering retreat, he doesn’t realize that the teachings he’s embraced all his life could actually hold him back. It’s only when he’s at his lowest that he figures out a path forward.
Riding the Elephant
This collection of essays from the former host of The Late Late Show is a chronicle of Craig Ferguson’s ability to constantly defy the odds. Each of these stories lends insight into how Ferguson came to be the person he is—and shows off the good (and bad) times he’s had along the way.
No Walls and the Recurring Dream
Ani DiFranco is both a celebrated singer-songwriter and a renowned activist. In this memoir, she chronicles how she became both. This is her coming-of-age story, which will resonate with anyone who aspires to activism, calls themselves a feminist, and makes a habit of questioning the rules.
More Than Enough
Elaine Welteroth is best known as being the person who revamped Teen Vogue, and now she has a part-memoir, part-guide on how to come of age and break barriers. She relates her own story of being the only Black woman in most rooms, and how she came to be the leader of a movement for young people.
Love Thy Neighbor
Ayaz Virji, M.D.
What does it mean to be a Muslim in rural America, to serve as a doctor to people who hate you for the color of your skin? That’s what Dr. Ayaz Virji faces when he moves from the East Coast to rural Minnesota, where he contends with the worst human impulses while trying to make a home for his family.
Life in the Garden
Penelope Lively has spent her life in gardens of all kinds, and she chronicles them in this memoir of the places she’s lived. From Egypt to Oxford, Lively takes a look at what gardening can mean to an intrepid newbie or a master with a green thumb, and how gardens can heal the soul.
Notes from a Young Black Chef
Notes from a Young Black Chef is about constantly being told you aren’t enough and triumphing over people’s expectations. Food was what saved Chef Kwame, a contestant on Top Chef. It was what helped him break out of a cycle that could have consumed him, from the Bronx to Nigeria to the kitchens of world-famous restaurants.
Robert A. Caro
Robert Caro has won two Pulitzer Prizes, and in Working, he recounts writing his lauded books. In penning these histories, Caro investigated how power can transform and mold people, for good and bad. Now, he collects the wisdom he’s gained to share with readers.
Dustin Lance Black
How do we find the courage to accept the people we love as they are, not as we think they should be? That’s what Dustin Lance Black’s memoir faces head-on. Raised Mormon, Black is gay and an LGBTQ+ activist. But it’s his relationship with his mother that’s shaped him and been the rock he’s leaned on.
Call Me American
Abdi Nor Iftin
What does it mean to be an American? For some, it’s to look and act a certain way. For others, it’s a dream and a path to a better life. Abdi Nor Iftin celebrates what this country is supposed to stand for in his memoir of a Somali childhood and eventual immigration to the US.
Once More We Saw Stars
In this memoir of grief, Jason Greene recounts the freak accident that led to the death of his 2-year-old daughter. But he recognizes there is life beyond the pain and works to move through it one step at a time. This is a story of courage and resilience when faced with the unthinkable.
Seymour M. Hersh
In an era when journalists are being laid off and newsrooms are being downsized, this memoir from celebrated reporter Seymour Hersh recounts an astounding career on the front lines of journalism. Hersh tells the powerful stories behind his reporting, reminding us all of the importance of this work.
The Edge of Every Day
Marin Sardy’s memoir illuminates the lines of schizophrenia that has run though generations of her family. This book combines science, art, and more to tell a full story about what it means to have this legacy and live with the condition, as well as how the mentally ill are treated by society.
Why do memoirs captivate us to such a degree? Perhaps it’s getting that honest insight into someone else’s life. They take our minds off our own issues and put us in someone else’s shoes. They inspire compassion and open our world view.
But memoirs also tell us truths about ourselves that are hard to face. They illuminate the struggles we’re experiencing in our own lives and help us find a path forward through the darkness. If you’re looking for a new memoir to add to your list, try one of these best memoirs from the past decade.
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