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Personal Lives of Black Women | Memoir Reviews

Don’t Forget Us Here

This unvarnished memoir will grip readers and anger them; a decisive contribution to the continuing reappraisal of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


 Moore's experiences will draw in readers interested in an intimate perspective on housing issues or life in recent Detroit. She provides thoughtful perspective on community, capitalism, and making art in difficult times.


Rememberings: Scenes from My Complicated Life

Much like her songs, O’Connor’s writing is haunting, sometimes mystifying, and transcendent. Her fans will revel in her words, while her critics may reevaluate their opinions.

Pride Month Picks | Social Science Reviews

Biography & Memoir Best Sellers, Apr. 2021 | Most In-Demand in Libraries & Bookstores

Memoirs of Grief and Hope| Social Sciences Reviews

Notes on a Silencing

This brave, brilliant memoir reveals the multifaceted effects of trauma on a survivor’s life, the damage done by some of the ways in which disclosures happen, and the power of finding a voice on one’s own terms, if and when one feels supported, sustained, and able to speak.

Shuttle, Houston: My Life in the Center Seat of Mission Control

Spaceflight is an inherently risky business, and Dye sheds insight into how NASA has used culture, technology, and training to mitigate this risk. This motivating book shows people succeeding at their best: smart, cooperative, innovative, and caring.


The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness: A Memoir

Though dense at times, this work is among the few about understudied chronic conditions that primarily affect women, and the little attention they receive. For those living with invisible illnesses who have been told they don’t look sick, and fans of the podcasts This Is Not What I Ordered and No End In Sight.


A Delayed Life: The True Story of the Librarian at Auschwitz

A story of survival that is rare in its coverage of life before and after the Holocaust, addressing the difficult question of what comes after such tragedy.

Quest for Eternal Sunshine: A Holocaust Survivor’s Journey from Darkness to Light

This heartfelt account of a remarkable life will interest anyone who has suffered trauma or who is overcoming difficulties, as well as those interested in ­Holocaust survivor biographies.

Those Who Forget: My Family’s Story in Nazi Europe–A Memoir, A History, A Warning

In searing yet engaging prose, Schwarz makes her case for the need for memory work in this highly recommended read for fans of memoirs and World War II history.

Personal Stories of Genealogy and Family History

Memoirs Exploring Family and Identity

Best Biography & Memoir 2019

Saeed Jones on the Power of Writing | Editors' Fall Picks 2019

Ordinary Girls

A must-read memoir on vulnerability, courage, and everything in between from a standout writer. 

How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir

An unforgettable memoir that pulls you in and doesn’t let go until the very last page. [An editor’s pick, see “Fall Fireworks.”]

A Wild and Precious Life: A Memoir

Whether readers are seeking material on U.S. LGBTQ history, particularly regarding the pre–Stonewall era, or an enrapturing memoir, this work will satisfy. Don’t miss out on this essential read.

The Arab of the Future. Vol. 4: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1987–1992

The difficulty of growing up in a culture you feel no commonality with is powerful in this volume and will definitely resonate with some readers. Others will be touched by the humor amid the drama. A must for most collections, especially those with the previous books in the series.

Burn the Place: A Memoir

A well-written and honest chef memoir, both rough and charming.

Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me

Brodeur’s story explores the bond between mother and daughter and the ripple effect a family secret can have when passed among generations. Highly recommended.

Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem; A Memoir

Dapper Dan is a Harlem success story. His tale, told here in the vernacular and with honesty, is a true treasure. Absolutely fascinating; will exceed all expectations.

Three Women

Readers of women’s history and of memoir will be better served elsewhere.


Nice Try: Stories of Best Intentions and Mixed Results

Fans of Gondelman will find these stories delightful, and readers unfamiliar with his comedy will still discover a connection to a nice guy making a nice try.

When We Were Arabs: A Jewish Family’s Forgotten History

Hayoun’s debut memoir offers a new perspective on world affairs and will be appreciated by readers interested in family histories told through personal narratives.

The Yellow House

Though largely a linear narrative, this debut memoir feels collage-like, at once impressionistic, cumulative, and multisensory; imbued with ambivalence about leaving and wonder at the pull of home. Recommended for all who enjoy family history or care to explore beyond the surface of place.


Stealing Green Mangoes: Two Brothers, Two Fates, One Indian Childhood

An insightful read about the strength of individuals to overcome adversity, reminding us that while our past and family do contribute to our identity, they do not define who we become.

More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say)

An inspiring memoir of a remarkable journey that shows of the power of faith, friendship, family and dreams.


Serious Eater: A Food Lover’s Perilous Quest for Pizza and Redemption

An exciting read for fans of the site and those interested in the start-up process from one who has been there.


Knitting the Fog

YA readers might connect particularly well with Hernández’s voice. For fans of Ocean Vuong, Junot Diaz, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.


Becoming Superman: My Journey From Poverty to Hollywood

Recommended for readers of true crime and intense family drama, behind-the-scenes stories of Hollywood and the world of publishing, sf/fantasy fandom, and, especially, Straczynski’s work.


Commute: An Illustrated Memoir of Female Shame

By turns harrowing, sad, revealing, and infuriating, this isn’t for all readers of graphic novels or memoirs, but those who brave it are in for a challenging, confrontational experience. Optional; frequent profanity, nudity and frank discussions of sex and sexual assault. [Previewed in Ingrid Bohnenkamp's Graphic Novels Spotlight, "Mass Appeal," LJ 6/19.]


Magical Realism for Non-Believers

A solid choice for large collections, especially where memoirs are popular.


Mama’s Boy: A Story from Our Americas

This earnest memoir is somewhat overstuffed with discussions of religion and Hollywood; the greatest appreciation will likely come from readers interested in a heartfelt look at self-acceptance as well as the complexities of family or personal stories about mending divides between liberal and conservative

Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide

Expect high demand from podcast fans, but also recommend to readers of Jenny Lawson, Cheryl Strayed, and Issa Rae. Crossover potential for older teens

The Scar: A Personal History of Depression and Recovery

While there are quite a few memoirs on depression, Cregan's debut stands out for its personal and profound insights into a subject that can be difficult to grasp.

Humanoids Newest Graphic Novel about Coping with Bipolar Disorder, Just in Time For Mental Health Awareness Month

Tough Childhoods, Adult Adventures: Memoir Previews, Jul. 2019, Pt. 3 | Prepub Alert

Critics, Cartoonists, Cooks, & More: Memoir Previews, Apr. 2019, Pt. 4 | Prepub Alert

In Their Own Words: Memoirs for Everyone | The Reader's Shelf


The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure

An absolute joy to read. Through her close encounters with the bovine kind, Narayan shows how Indian traditions are incorporated into contemporary ways of life. (Memoir, 10/20/17)

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death

A heartfelt meditation on the fragility and wonder of life, O'Farrell's work emphasizes the body's desire to fight for survival, even as it takes on challenges from all sides. (Memoir, 12/13/17)

First Time Ever

An engrossing read for all, even those who don't know their folk music history. (Memoir, 12/13/17)


Gurba is a writer for our times; her memoir brings a powerful perspective. (Memoir, 10/20/17)

Flunk. Start. Reclaiming My Decade Lost in Scientology

An early candidate for memoir of the year, this is a thrilling story of one woman's search for truth and her place in the world. (Memoir, 1/12/18)

The Wine Lover's Daughter

A fascinating book with something to interest anyone; a pure reading pleasure. [See "Reconciling Histories, Unraveling Mysteries,"].

Montaigne in Barn Boots: An Amateur Ambles Through Philosophy

One couldn't hope for a better introduction to the work of Perry or Montaigne. [See "Families & Addiction, Philosophers, Two Debuts, & Joyce Maynard";]

Where the Past Begins

Readers of Tan's novels will enjoy learning about the inspiration behind many of her stories. Book clubs and those who enjoy writers' memoirs, stories about difficult families, or children-of-immigrants narratives will also find much to savor. [See Prepub Alert, 4/24/17.]

We Are All Shipwrecks

Moving and complex, this is an exquisitely written tale of perseverance and unconditional love. A worthwhile addition to any collection.

Ars Botanica: A Field Guide

This singular account will make readers wish that Taranto was a more polished writer and thinker.

Man of the Year

A very fine family memoir that proves, in a variety of ways, that things are not always what they seem.

Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man's Voice from the Silence of Autism

Recommended with reservations for readers who enjoyed The Reason I Jump or those seeking deeper insight into one man's distinctive struggle. [See Prepub Alert, 2/16/17.]

Sleepless Nights and Kisses for Breakfast: Reflections on Fatherhood

A perfect summer read that will allow parents, dads especially, to reflect upon their own experiences raising children.

We Were the Future: A Memoir of the Kibbutz

A highly recommended introduction to the kibbutz movement.

Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me

Admirers of Sacks will want to seek this out for the glimpses into his personal life; general readers need not bother.

Should I Still Wish

Evans's prose is often pedestrian, and his insights don't always resonate. This is a book that would be more enjoyable to pick up and read in increments rather than all the way through.

The Inventors

A remarkable model of the art of the memoir, this book will satisfy all readers. Highly recommended.

Burdens by Water: An Unintended Memoir

An original and funny/sad compilation of writings that will appeal to a wide readership.

Detroit Hustle: A Memoir of Love, Life & Home

Pictures of the house in question would have enhanced this book, and, at times, the prose is overwrought. Still, it is surprisingly full of practical advice and always entertaining.

Bullies: A Friendship

This essential memoir, which could have been twice as long and remained as fascinating, is recommended for general readers.

The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father

Yang powerfully demonstrates that much of what society doesn't hold valuable—gifts and talents that don't translate into monetary or educational success—still carry immense value, if only we choose to see it.

Sex with Shakespeare: Here's Much To Do with Pain, but More with Love

A thoroughly enjoyable read, not just for the juicy bits of Shakespeare, but also for the sex-positive message. Recommended for readers who are interested in a different reading of Shakespeare, as well as anyone working through issues of sexuality and identity.

The Penny Poet of Portsmouth: A Memoir of Place, Solitude, and Friendship

The author writes with great honesty about the challenges of caring for someone who can be a difficult patient. Readers with an interest in pursuing "the writing life," or who have struggled with caring for aging relatives or friends, will appreciate this open look at the subjects.

Dinner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship

This is a book full of life lessons, a reminder that no matter how old we grow, we still have much to share, and to learn.

Reasons To Stay Alive

Haig's inspiring account is an essential read for anyone who has suffered from depression, or knows someone who has. It should lead to a greater understanding of the illness.

Navel Gazing: True Tales of Bodies, Mostly Mine (But Also My Mom's Which I Know Sounds Weird)

Fans of Black (VH1 series I Love the…; The State) will of course want to seek this one out. Most others need not bother.

The Alaskan Retreater's Notebook: On Man's Journey into the Alaskan Wilderness

The work's one drawback is its somewhat haphazard organization. Still, readers will appreciate this fascinating story of a modern-day homesteader.

GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human

Though one of the more amusing memoirs in recent memory, its audience will probably be limited to academics and intellectuals.

White Walls: A Memoir About Motherhood, Daughterhood, and the Mess In Between

This is a modern woman's look at how we construct who we are

Wild Mama: One Woman's Quest To Live Her Best Life, Escape Traditional Parenthood, and Travel the World

With so much pressure on modern parents to "live for their kids," this title is a refreshing reminder that it's both possible and necessary to live for oneself, too.

Welcome to Marwencol

Sometimes tragedies can be catalysts for immense creativity. This is an encouraging read for anyone struggling with issues of self-expression and illustrates the many interlocking components of artistic expression and identity.

My Confection: Odyssey of a Sugar Addict

A delicious morsel of memoir writing that will resonate with junk-food junkies and their clean-living counterparts.

Controlled: The Worst Night of My Life and Its Aftermath

Teen readers who have had a similar experience may find it healing to read about someone talking openly about her own sexual assault. Parents would also benefit from this account. Arter's experiences underscore the need for their engagement and support.

The Point of Vanishing: A Memoir of Two Years in Solitude

A deeply felt and moving journey into no longer taking life, or the world around us, for granted.

Red Velvet Underground: A Rock Memoir, with Recipes

An appealing choice for readers who are looking for a humorous take on parenthood and food. Recommend to those who enjoy books that combine elements of storytelling with recipes such as Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate and Ruth Reichl's Comfort Me with Apples.

You Think It Strange

Burt describes the world he grew up in well. His reactions to his experiences are less strong, making for an unsuccessful memoir.

Born on the Bayou

Readers looking for a little Southern flair in their memoirs should check out Rick Bragg's All Over But the Shoutin' and Mary Carr's The Liars' Club, which offer better places to start.


Though not for all readers, those who stick with this slim volume will find much to recommend. A truly wonderful book. [See "Nobel Prize Winner Modiano," LJ 9/1/15.

Cabin Fever: The Sizzling Secrets of a Virgin Airlines Flight Attendant

For readers who have ever wondered what it's like to be a flight attendant or to sleep with different men in exotic locales, this memoir is for them. It's like Sex and the City on a 747.

A Field Guide to Awkward Silences

Petri is willing to put herself in the middle of hilariously awkward situations with no fear of looking stupid. Readers will delight in accompanying her on the ride.

Leave the Dogs at Home

An excellent choice for those touched by grief, ready for a change, or just wanting to read a beautifully written memoir.

Head Case: My Brain and Other Wonders

Cohen's distinctive voice makes this tale of navigating elementary school through young adulthood while literally missing a part of her brain a charming, enjoyable read.

That Thing You Do With Your Mouth: The Sexual Autobiography of Samantha Matthews as Told to David Shields

While not a memoir about surviving abuse, this history of Matthews's sexual past is daring, juicy, and theatrical.

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)

Day's writing is warm and charming. Fans of her work will gobble this up, but anyone who has ever despaired of finding their passions would benefit from a read as well.

Visiting Hours: A Memoir of Friendship and Murder

While the writing is haunting in its eloquence, this is not a memoir of true crime but of a complicated friendship, omitting any perspective from the victim or her family.

What Comes Next and How To Like It

It's a credit to Thomas's detailed powers of observation and calm reportage that when she suggests that we all hold hands and "rush into the surf together," the future seems a less daunting destination. [See Prepub Alert, 9/22/14.]

Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds

A classic tale of a woman overcoming her demons to achieve a lofty goal, this memoir will resonate with anyone who has ever felt the joy and satisfaction that comes with proving oneself.

The World's Largest Man

Smart, funny, and wildly engaging, this personal narrative of a man's bumpy relationship with his upbringing and specifically his father is beyond relatable. It reads like fiction that is too crazy to be anything but truth. Fans of memoir, personal essays, and humor writing will devour this in one sitting.

The Rose Hotel: A Memoir of Secrets, Loss, and Love from Iran to America

Andalibian's story provides a sweeping account of life in Iran following the revolution and how the aftermath of a political uprising affected one family in a profound way.

Primates of Park Avenue

This anthropological journey into the wilds of New York City's most exclusive zip code could have easily devolved into condescension, but instead it proves that mothers everywhere want the same thing: health and happiness for their progeny. [See Prepub Alert, 12/15/14.]

It Was Me All Along

A worthwhile addition to memoir collections.

The Book of Love: Improvisations on a Crazy Little Thing

True to its subtitle, this is a collection of "improvisations," meandering in a way that allows readers to pick it up and begin from any page in this tiny, precious book. [See Prepub Alert, 7/7/14.]

Motorcycles I've Loved

This is a road trip book in the literal and figurative sense as the author takes readers on a scenic ride through the backcountry roads of being a woman in what is often considered a man's world. Ideal for readers who enjoyed the motorcycle sections of Robert M. Pirsig's cult classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance but could have done without the zen. [See Prepub Alert, 10/20/14.]

Girl in the Dark

This memoir, which reads like a diary, will remind readers in good health of the simple things often taken for granted, such as watching television, cooking, and being outdoors. Readers battling an illness for which doctors have little explanation may find this work quite bleak. [See Prepub Alert, 9/21/14.]

The Light of the World

While it's impossible to avoid comparisons to Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking (2005), this work is set apart by the fluid translation of Alexander's poetic ability into sentences so beautiful they beg to be reread. [See Prepub Alert, 10/20/14.]

All the Wrong Places: A Life Lost and Found

Though at times too revealing about his life (his need to tell us about his phone sex experiences struck this reviewer as odd), this is an honest and frank account of one man's coming to terms with a tragic personal event. [See Prepub Alert, 8/4/14.]

Screening Room: Family Pictures

A fine addition to Lightman's oeuvre, this a great story tinged with nostalgia for an America that no longer exists. The author grew up in Memphis, TN, and the book is full of quirky history and details about that iconic American city. [See Prepub Alert, 8/4/14.]

Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully

Criticisms of this memoir qua memoir aside, Kurzweil paces his book beautifully and it is recommended even for those who normally don't read nonfiction or memoirs. It moves like a thriller, is very funny, and in the right hands, would make a great movie. [See Prepub Alert, 7/7/14.]

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