My favourite memoirs!

I’m very excited for this post, because one of my great joys in reading these days discovering people’s true stories. There will be some crossover with my must read non fics, because, well, I can’t help it! 😉 I will, however, resist the urge to mention Man’s Search for Meaning for the millionth time… although I kinda just did 😉

Eat, Pray, Love– part self-help, part memoir, this was really worth reading. Not just because it offers a trip across the globe at the budget price of a book, it also offers a lot of positivity and spiritual guidance.

This is Going to Hurt– this one absolutely will sting a bit. Not just for the personal stories, but how it points to the current state of the NHS and what a junior doctor goes through. However for all of the discomfort and emotional moments, this does offer some medicinal humour to make the pill less bitter.

Educated– I didn’t review this, because the experience of reading this was so unusual that I couldn’t quite pin down my thoughts. What’s interesting about this memoir is that Westover doesn’t give her retrospective feelings or impose her will on the writing- she let’s you draw your own interpretations from events. It is a unique way of telling a lifestory and all the more compelling for it. It also happens to be a memoir that occupies my thoughts long after reading.

Infidel– it’s been a long time since I mentioned this- however I can’t think of many books more important. This is the origin story of a champion of free speech and a woman of tremendous courage. Before this, she was a refugee, an intellectual and a former member of the Dutch parliament.

March– I read this in the graphic novel version. And I found this moving and important and well worth reading.

Maus– speaking of graphic novels, this was a book that proved to me how great the format can be. It was heartbreaking, powerful and original. I loved how this intertwined Spielberg’s parents painful experiences with his own story growing up with them. It was beautiful how the narrator came to understand them with the telling of it. I can’t recommend it enough.

In Order to Live– I’ll admit I had this in the last list, but I simply couldn’t leave it out! Park is a North Korean defector and she gives a peek behind the iron fences of that regime. Her perseverance in the face of such adversity is inspiring beyond belief.

Wild Swans– this family epic made me so emotional. Spanning three generations of Chinese women, it gives a close look into China’s history, including of Maoist China. It’s not just worth reading for the personal stories, but for the significance of the history. It can help understand the modern context of China.

Man in the White Sharkskin Suit– oh this one made me cry- for many, many reasons. Telling of the 20th Century exodus of the Jews from Egypt, it has a personal touch, developing Lagnado’s relationship with her family across its pages. Beautifully written, it was not a book I expected to love quite as much as I did, and yet it had a great impact on me. 

Becoming– I listened to the audio version of this and completely get the hype around it. What’s interesting is I found the parts pre-presidency far more compelling (mostly because, for good reason, there were a lot of things in those 8 years she couldn’t talk about) and I recommend it more for her story than anything else. 

Inheritance– this is a book I read recently and can’t get out of my head. In this genealogical detective story, Shapiro discovers the truth about her parentage. Fundamentally, it is asking the question “who am I”, but I felt like it was answering the question “who are we”? It explores everything that goes into making us who we are and how we guide each other through life.

*BONUS!!!*

I Partridge, We Need to Talk About Alan- AHA we have a winner! Okay, yes, this isn’t a real memoir, but it is a damnably hilarious parody of celebrity memoirs! Definitely worth a read- but all the more fun if you’re at all familiar with the character Alan Partridge!

And that’s all for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? And what are your favourite memoirs? Let me know in the comments!

30 thoughts on “My favourite memoirs!

  1. I’ve only read Maus from this bunch. I’m not surprised though. I don’t like people talking about themselves. I don’t trust them, not one bit. Give me a good biography if I “have” to read about somebody.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. Dear Bookstooge,

          Hello! I am delighted to hear from you. Happy December to you! I apologized for being somewhat terse with my previous comment.

          I meant that some of these books are quite well circulated, published, publicized, reviewed and discussed, and the authors have been interviewed and/or have presented readings.

          Your opening statement, “I’m very excited for this post, because one of my great joys in reading these days discovering people’s true stories.” neatly conveys the crux and tenet of your post. Indeed, memoirs belong to a special category of literature. I myself have written one out of lingering love and filial devotion. To demonstrate this to you, here’s just one small but important part of what I wrote about my late mother in the eulogy-cum-memoir-cum-biography published at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2019/08/31/khai-khim-for-always-and-beyond-goodbye/

          In the end, Khim quickly succumbed, met her quietus and relinquished the breath that gave her life as she became an exanimate entity, completing her brief but spectacular journey of being born and living a full, meaningful life on the pale blue dot known as Earth, still surrounded by the majesty and mystery of a vast universe that earthlings are only starting to understand via contemporary cosmology. Figuratively speaking, or rather, introspectively musing and tenderly reminiscing, the remnant afterglow of the universe within Khim has continued to illumine me as I recollect our good times together. It was a universe expanded by the timelessness of her being, governed by her virtuous laws of motion, populated by her muted delights and inner feelings, gravitated by her gentleness and contentment, where one could find the best of her temperament, the essence of her disposition, the grace of her beauty, and the embrace of her affection, maternal or otherwise.

          If you intend to peruse this said eulogy-cum-memoir-cum-biography in full, please be informed that you might need to use a desktop or laptop computer with a large screen to view the rich multimedia contents available for heightening your multisensory enjoyment at my website, which could be too powerful and feature-rich for iPad, iPhone, tablet or other portable devices to handle properly or adequately.

          Moreover, even though the eulogy-cum-memoir-cum-biography is book-length in scope, it has three navigational menus to help you to jump to many different sections, music and videos in the post instantly so that you can resume reading at any point of the post over multiple sessions in your own time. When I have time, I shall implement the fourth menu containing all the links to my mother’s writings, so that readers can instantly jump to them from the menu.

          In addition, hovering your mouse cursor over stylized words or hyperlinks will usually bring up tool tips showing additional information.

          This eulogy-cum-memoir-cum-biography is by no means completed, and I shall expand on it from time to time, or on certain occasions. You are very welcome to submit a comment there, as I am keen and curious to learn about your feedback and suggestions.

          Like

            1. Dear Bookstooge,

              Since my long comment is addressed to you, I should have started its third paragraph by changing the first and penultimate words of the first sentence as follows:

              The opening statement, “I’m very excited for this post, because one of my great joys in reading these days discovering people’s true stories.” neatly conveys the crux and tenet of this post.

              Like

    1. Maus is incredible! And the only one I’d push on people if they weren’t interested in memoirs- so, good choice! Fair enough! I was really sceptical about memoirs for such a long time, for the same reason. But I got into a few that really inspired me to pick up more and have become a little addicted!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Not a big fan of memoirs, but I definitely agree Infidel is a great book, smart and powerful (and Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of my heroes!).
    And Maus is one of the best graphic novels, no doubts about it. Spiegelman masterly depiction of both his family story, and the biggest tragedy of the bloodiest century is so moving…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve read about half of the books listed- I loved Wild Swans when I read it years ago for the first time. It was amazing to see how China changed so much within a 100-year time span.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve read many of the memoirs you’ve listed here and found each remarkable for different reasons. A few remain on my TBR list. If you’re looking for more memoirs to read, may I suggest: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, on the unexpected deaths of her husband, writer John Donne, and their just married daughter. It can’t be an easy or even a complete accomplishment to examine one’s role at the bedside of deeply injured loved ones, questioning what if you did things differently – would they have survived? Dirty Wars and Polished Silver by Lynda Shuster, who followed her 2 husbands as they navigated the perilous paths of being US ambassadors to dangerous countries. One did not escape death, the other almost didn’t either. Wild by Cheryl Strayed who walked much of the John Muir trail for many months while trying to come to grips with the death of her mother and her own need to transform her life in order to move forward. A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout, a rather inexperienced and rosy-eyed journalist who traveled to Somalia and was kidnapped by violent teenagers, was tortured and raped for 15 months before her family and a Canadian hostage crisis group was able to negotiate her freedom and that of the Australian journalist she first traveled with. Each of these stories addresses identity and purpose in the face of horrific situations. It’s a testament to their humanity that none of them came out of their trauma engorged with hate but with a sympathetic bend toward the suffering of others. You are likely to be moved by all of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love a memoir! I really enjoyed This Is Going to Hurt and Educated. Becoming has been on my TBR shelf for ages and I need to get round to reading it soon. I read Me by Elton John at the beginning of the year, and I found his story incredibly interesting even though some of his behaviour left me speechless!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Same here regarding Becoming. I much preferred the parts about her, the pre-presidency parts. Then again, I guess it’s because I read it wanting to know more about her and her background and we get that in those parts. Once they got to the White House, the book focuses more on the presidency, understandably.
    And totally agree on Eat Pray Love and Maus.

    Liked by 1 person

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