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What Just Happened: Notes on a Long Year

This memoir, from a left-of-center political perspective, provides an honest account of the pandemic that will be relatable to many like-minded readers.

Hooked: How Crafting Saved My Life

Crafters and fans of Foster will enjoy this tender memoir about creative coping as a way to say yes to personal ambitions big and small.


This memoir, as exceptional as Porter himself, should please not only devotees of the actor and his work but readers interested in a story of perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds.

1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows

Ai creates a vivid portrait of two generations grappling with their place in the Chinese cultural and political landscape, and gives readers a glimpse of his approach to art and the creative process. Highly recommended for those interested in art, memoir, politics, and history.

The Gilded Edge: Two Audacious Women and the Cyanide Love Triangle That Shook America

This well-organized biography reads almost like historical fiction; readers are reminded that this is a true story when Prendergast inserts her witty intellectual commentary.

The Redemption of Bobby Love: A Story of Faith, Family, and Justice

The Loves’ warmth, humor, and honesty shine from the pages. Their Christian faith plays a large role in their lives, but their struggles and triumphs will resonate with a wide range of readers. The couple were featured on the Humans of New York Instagram account in 2020 and received worldwide attention, so expect some demand. Highly recommended.

Miss Dior: A Story of Courage and Couture

Outstanding scholarship reveals Catherine Dior’s participation in the French Resistance. Overall, this is a haunting biography that carefully examines Catherine’s largely unexplored life and will have broad appeal to fashion or World War II enthusiasts.

Saga Boy: My Life of Blackness and Becoming

Downing’s elegant, engaging memoir will have particular significance to readers from the Caribbean diaspora, but it will be understood by any reader who has ever had their world suddenly upended and needed to make it whole again.

The Chancellor: The Remarkable Odyssey of Angela Merkel

A fascinating look at a highly influential leader. Recommended for readers interested in world politics.

The Correspondents: Six Women Writers on the Front Lines of World War II

A must-read for those interested in women’s history and the Second World War.

Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves To Walk Outside

A great mix of wit and perceptive observation from travels in the United States and the United Kingdom just before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a surprising amount of history, nature, and ecology thrown in.

App Kid: How a Child of Immigrants Grabbed a Piece of the American Dream

Sayman has an inspirational story that will inspire and fascinate many readers, especially those interested in technology and coding. This accessible, personal account is sure to be popular and should have YA crossover appeal.

Those We Throw Away Are Diamonds: A Refugee’s Search for Home

Those interested in international relations, immigration, and social work will find Dogon’s firsthand account essential reading.

No Cure for Being Human: (And Other Truths I Need To Hear)

General readers will be engrossed by this heartfelt memoir of sickness, family, and recovery. The table that serves as an appendix of complicated truths is worth the price of the book.

Poet Warrior

This poignant read offers a lot of food for thought. Highly recommended for any library, especially for memoir collections.

Shelf Life: Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller

Wassef’s toughness and honesty will endear her to readers, who will surely champion her throughout this chronicle spanning marriage and divorce, the Egyptian revolution of 2011, the country’s first democratic election, and the author’s eventual decision to leave her role at Diwan to make space for the new.

Smile: The Story of a Face

A moving, insightful account that will appeal to many readers, especially those who like memoir. It will particularly engage readers interested in reflections on women in society or self-acceptance, and, of course, fans of Ruhl’s plays.

Red Roulette: An Insider’s Story of Wealth, Power, Corruption, and Vengeance in Today’s China

Students of Chinese politics and business will appreciate Shum’s personal narrative of China’s turbulent economic rise; this book deserves a wide audience.

Robert E. Lee: A Life

Based on family letters and other primary documents, this fine biography is a must-read for Civil War enthusiasts and those interested in Lee’s legacy.

The Education of Corporal John Musgrave

This often-engrossing memoir might offer comfort to families of people serving in the armed forces and will also appeal to Vietnam Warera readers. See Gerald Nicosia’s classic Home to War for an in-depth narrative of the VVAW.

Flesh & Blood: Reflections on Infertility, Family, and Creating a Bountiful Life

This memoir is full of sensitive thoughts on childlessness and infertility. Moss’s contemplations on life in general will resonate with women who are seeking peace and meaning in their own lives.

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Blind Man’s Bluff

Hill has written an account of identity and self-acceptance that is likely to interest many readers, perhaps especially disabled teens and young adults. Librarians might consider acquiring the audiobook as well.

Honor Bound: An American Story of Dreams and Service

This uplifting, inspirational memoir by a rising political figure is a recommended purchase for most libraries.

The Farmer’s Lawyer: The North Dakota Nine and the Fight to Save the Family Farm

An enjoyable true-life legal drama on par with Erin Brockovich. Vogel uses only the occasional legalese, and her story will appeal to readers who enjoy a good underdog legal story.

Churchill’s Shadow: The Life and Afterlife of Winston Churchill

Fans of history will find much value in this readable work; historians may be challenged by some of its interpretations.

The Mountbattens: The Lives and Loves of Dickie and Edwina Mountbatten

For fans of any of the iterations of the Windsor story; an absorbing biography of important figures that will generate a lot of interest.

Alpha: Eddie Gallagher and the War for the Soul of the Navy SEALs

This often-gripping narrative will appeal to readers interested in U.S. military courts’ prosecution of war crimes, or the mindsets of combatants in modern warfare.

Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement

Painful and personal, yet beautiful and necessary, this book deserves to be read for its political significance and literary merit. Burke’s writing shines when she describes finding her voice as an aspiring activist.

The Lost Café Schindler: One Family, Two Wars, and the Search for Truth

A must-read work of narrative nonfiction that’s highly recommended for readers of memoirs or 20th-century European history.

The Night the Lights Went Out: A Memoir of Life After Brain Damage

Fascinating, with wonderful digressions on human anatomy, medical science, and technological advancements in assistive devices. A must-read memoir for anyone seeking answers to their own medical mysteries or navigating the world post-trauma. Magary’s writing will draw in longtime fans and new readers.

Seeing Ghosts

Chow’s book is an important and welcome addition to a growing catalogue of memoirs by a new generation of Asian American writers, including Michelle Zauner’s Crying in H Mart and Anna Qu’s Made in China.


Concepcion: An Immigrant Family’s Fortunes

Samaha’s memoir of his family’s experience is a clear, moving, and powerful rumination on what it means to be an immigrant. Recommended for biography readers or for those wanting to read about the experiences of one immigrant family.

I Live a Life Like Yours

An honest look at the complexities of being human no matter how one’s body functions. Grue’s reflections on life will spark the interest of all readers of literary nonfiction.

The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power

This account lucidly illustrates Thiel’s rise as a right-wing power broker, during the hi-tech boom, bust, and resurgence; it will appeal to readers fascinated by the intersection of technology and politics. See Kurt Andersen’s Evil Geniuses for a narrative of how the United States aided the rise of the ruling billionaire class.

Magical Habits

Recommended for all graduate students of literature and for readers who enjoy experimental writing styles.

Easy Crafts for the Insane: A Mostly Funny Memoir of Mental Illness and Making Things

Brown is able to express the gravitas of the lowest point of her life while maintaining a sense of humor with her dry wit. By openly talking about mental illness, Brown will inspire readers to do what she struggled to do herself: express difficult emotions and find a way forward through the darkness. Recommended where mental health memoirs are in demand.

Slonim Woods 9: A Memoir

A poetic and intimate memoir of a harrowing ordeal. Any reader interested in the workings of cults or the experiences of people in cults will find this book worthwhile.


A searing indictment of capitalism, the gig economy, and the U.S. medical system--all recounted with a sense of dark humor. Copaken’s latest will engage readers of feminist memoirs.

The Ambassador: Joseph P. Kennedy at the Court of St. James’s 1938–1940

Fans of popular history and biography should appreciate this addition to the ranks of books about the Kennedy family.

Beautiful Country

A haunting memoir of people and places that will stay with readers long after the last page.

Made in China: A Memoir of Love and Labor

A nuanced examination of complicated ripple effects of intergenerational emigration. A powerful memoir of finding self-worth.

Exodus, Revisited: My Unorthodox Journey to Berlin

A barebones description of the storyline doesn’t even begin to do justice to this magnificent piece of literature, which will stand the test of time. Like Feldman’s previous book, this is another captivating memoir that will find a wide audience.

Everything I Have Is Yours: A Marriage

An intimate, absorbing, and painful look at chronic illness in a relationship. Readers in similar situations will likely find it strikes a deep chord, but anyone who has endured difficulties in a long-term relationship will find much to ponder here as well.

Year of Plagues: A Memoir of 2020

D’Aguiar’s memoir is intensely personal and candid, technically informative, and, as a result of its range and inviting style, far from morbid or dry.


Essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary life in China, and highly recommended for memoir enthusiasts in general. Readers interested in personal histories of elite Chinese political families should also consider Lan Yan’s memoir The House of Yan.

The Great Peace

An honest and unadorned Hollywood confessional that casts a light on the darkness behind the scenes.

In the Shadow of the Empress: The Defiant Lives of Maria Theresa, Mother of Marie Antoinette, and Her Daughters

While there are fascinating details here about royal childhoods, courtships, marriages, and extramarital love affairs, this meticulously researched collective biography is best for serious readers of 18th-century European politics and history.

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty

The truth is often disturbing, and this thorough account by Keefe brings new truths to light. In recounting the exploits of the Sackler family, Keefe has written an engaging, unputdownable book.

The Big Hurt

Some will no doubt find the messiness of Schickel’s life and history too much to enjoy, but readers drawn to women’s stories of struggle, self-destruction, and attempted recovery will likely be wholly absorbed.

The Passion of Anne Hutchinson: An Extraordinary Woman, the Puritan Patriarchs, and the World They Made and Lost

In situating the Hutchinson controversy within the “religious heterodoxy, social volatility, and political instability” of the time, Westerkamp broadens our understanding of early American history, especially as it relates to women and the religious experience. A worthy addition to Perry Miller’s seminal works on the period.

The Ugly Cry

An honest account of an unconventional childhood, and of learning to accept the hard truths of loving people who disappoint you. Henderson’s debut is a treat for memoir fans.

A Quantum Life: My Unlikely Journey from the Street to the Stars

Oluseyi’s skills as public speaker and motivator are on full display as he recalls his long road to personal and professional success. A great read for memoir fans, who will be drawn in from the first page.

The Great Dissenter: The Story of John Marshall Harlan, America’s Judicial Hero

Canellos has written a skillful biography that illuminates the lives of both John Harlan and Robert Harlan. It will spark the interest of readers looking for more insight on the Reconstruction era. As in Canellos’s previous books, the life and times of his subjects come alive here.

Nowhere Girl: A Memoir of a Fugitive Childhood

Diamond’s memoir is compulsively readable; for fans of suspense novels or memoirs like Tyler Wetherall’s No Way Home.

The Ride of Her Life: The True Story of a Woman, Her Horse, and Their Last-Chance Journey Across America

Skillful prose and meticulous research combine to create a rich narrative and captivating character portraits of both Annie Wilkins and the people and places of the 1950s. Considering the popularity of her other nonfiction titles, the latest by Letts is likely to be on many hold lists.

Somebody’s Daughter

Moving testimony about the effect of incarceration on the lives of the children and families who live in its shadow. Ford’s writing sets itself apart.

Upper Bohemia

Herrera’s memoir engages in discussions of mental health, equality, and fulfillment without passing judgement on her subjects; a rare feat. A riveting story of necessary resilience.

Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir

A must for fans of Freshwater; readers new to Emezi’s writing will find themselves drawn in by their way with words.


A memoir that will appeal to many readers as a story about triumph of the will. Fleming conveys his passion for learning and teaching, in writing that is by turns entertaining and moving. This is a must-read for educators, as a professional development tool and to consider for high school curricula.

The Wreckage of My Presence

Equally irreverent and heartfelt, this collection is a roller-coaster, as Wilson shares her journey through the best and worst parts of her life. You might cry and scream, but you’ll be eager to get back in line to take another ride. For fans of Samantha Irby, Judy Greer, or Sarah Silverman.


She Memes Well

Laid back and relatable, Brunson’s book is reminiscent of a chat with your oldest friend from high school. Her honesty and tenacity will inspire readers to follow their own dreams. For fans of Tiffany Haddish, Tina Fey, or Napoleon Dynamite.


Committed: Dispatches from a Psychiatrist in Training

This well-written, engaging book will have a special appeal to those already in academia and will be of interest to those who are considering it. It is essential and recommended for all academic and public libraries.

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Phosphorescence: A Memoir of Finding Joy When Your World Goes Dark

There are sections that are reminiscent of Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, and sections similar to Amy Silverstein’s My Glory Was I Had Such Friends, but the book lacks cohesiveness and is a convoluted read overall.

The Tiny Bee That Hovers at the Center of the World

A dreamlike, wandering meditation on place and memory. Readers of literature or poetic prose will enjoy riding along paths of the Southwest and wondering about bygone eras with Searcy.

The Director: My Years Assisting J. Edgar Hoover

Readers should compare Letersky’s book with Hoover’s FBI by Cartha DeLoach, a 25-year FBI veteran who became number three in the agency (outranked only by Clyde Tolson); The Real J. Edgar Hoover by former assistant FBI director Ray Wannall; and the controversial book J. Edgar Hoover by Curt Gentry.


Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power

Page has written a comprehensive biography of Pelosi that follows her entire career in politics and describes how early family experiences influenced her policies and political leadership style.

The Windsor Diaries: My Childhood with the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret

An insider account that is essential for followers of the royal family.

All the Colors Came Out: A Father, a Daughter, and a Lifetime of Lessons

With strong appeal for book clubs, this heartbreaking, yet strongly inspirational memoir is very highly recommended for all public library collections, and deserving of a wide readership.

Swimming to Freedom: My Escape from China and the Cultural Revolution

A touching and fascinating memoir that is essential for anyone interested in life during the Cultural Revolution or the experiences of the freedom swimmers. For a political assessment of the Cultural Revolution, readers should consider The World Turned Upside Down, by Yang Jisheng.

My Name Is Selma: The Remarkable Memoir of a Jewish Resistance Fighter and Ravensbrück Survivor

There are many extraordinary books written by survivors of the Holocaust, and this numbers among them. The author’s voice, strength, and pain are palpable throughout; everyone can benefit from reading her story.

Sacrifice: A Gold Star Widow’s Fight for the Truth

A Gold Star family’s faltering path towards normalcy in the wake of loss is documented alongside a failed military operation. Though the book loses a little momentum towards the end, Black’s recollections on grief are especially poignant.

The Lost Boys of Montauk: The True Story of the ‘Wind Blown,’ Four Men Who Vanished at Sea, and the Survivors They Left Behind

Fairbanks deftly handles the story, with an eye for detail and page-turning prose. An evocative, well-researched, and compelling account, this highly recommended book will stay with readers past the last page.

My Remarkable Journey

Readers will enjoy Johnson’s personal accounts of the space race and the roles of Black women in STEM. This wonderful, insightful memoir is the perfect companion piece to Margot Lee Shetterly’s best-selling Hidden Figures, which recounted the lives of Johnson and her colleagues Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson.

Punch Me Up to the Gods

Cleverly framed around Gwendolyn Brooks’s poem “We Real Cool,” Punch Me Up to the Gods is an exquisite and important memoir that will sit proudly among the likes of Kiese Laymon’s Heavy and Darnell L. Moore’s No Ashes in the Fire.


Chasing the Thrill: Obsession, Death, and Glory in America’s Most Extraordinary Treasure Hunt

Reminiscent of Douglas Preston’s adventures, this modern-day treasure hunt is an entertaining thrill ride.

Journey to the Edge of Reason: The Life of Kurt Gödel

Readers shouldn’t be discouraged by the complexity of Gödel’s mathematics; this is the first major biography of the brilliant yet tragic figure and, in all respects, a first-rate one.

Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy

A deft, chilling, and long overdue biography of an American woman singled out by dark political and cultural forces that were bent on keeping women at home and “foreign” ideas out of American minds.

Napoleon: A Life Told in Gardens and Shadows

Though this isn’t the first book one should about Napoleon, it is an attractive one, which presents an unusual perspective on the life of the general.

Heartwood: The Art of Living with the End in Mind

An affecting and informative memoir about the lessons we can glean from life as well as death.

Emma’s Laugh: The Gift of Second Chances

Overall, Kupershmit has managed to produce a noticeably well-written and eloquent narrative of motherhood, and a beautiful tribute to her daughter. Recommended for readers interested memoirs about the variety of human experiences within the United States.

The Happiest Man on Earth: The Beautiful Life of an Auschwitz Survivor

This short book is an inspiring, yet heartbreaking read. Jaku’s message, he says, is to above all remain grateful in the face of adversity. His words will resonate, and his story will engage readers interested in Jewish history or inspirational writing.

Mergers and Acquisitions: Or, Everything I Know about Love I Learned on the Wedding Pages

Doty’s love-filled memoir will delight readers hoping for an inside look at the wedding section, and fans of uplifting memoirs.

Pure Flame: A Legacy

Part memoir, part social commentary, this book is a meditation on the evolving role of white women in Western society. Especially of interest for social science and gender studies collections.

Better, Not Bitter: Living on Purpose in the Pursuit of Racial Justice

An important memoir and call to action that sheds light on the personal injustices of mass incarceration.

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Twilight Man: Love and Ruin in the Shadows of Hollywood and the Clark Empire

This is a definite must-read for fans of early Hollywood, and those interested in LGBTQ history, with plenty of scandals and gossip to grab interest.


Rodenberg writes with an evocative and unflinching style, despite sometimes jarring shifts in narrative. This is a richly nuanced portrait of people and place, along with the bounds of forgiveness. Good for biography readers eager to explore the complexities of family relationships, or readers interested in women’s lives in Appalachia.

The Profession: A Memoir of Community, Race, and the Arc of Policing in America

A candid, even-handed account that is highly recommended for popular collections. A natural fit for libraries where The Turnaround circulated well.

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Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell

Based on interviews and ideas replete in Sowell’s innumerable books, this biography is seasoned with selections from the economist’s sardonic quips. While many will disagree with his proposals, few should disregard his impact.

Susan, Linda, Nina & Cokie: The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR

Readers interested in feminism, women’s history, and biography will be rewarded with a great story that deserves to be widely known.

How to Be Human: An Autistic Man’s Guide to Life

A unique memoir showing the importance of diversity of thought. Fleming also makes clear the lasting impacts of language. An ideal complement to I Have Been Buried under Years of Dust, by Valerie Gilpeer and Emily Grodin.

Besharam: On Love and Other Bad Behaviors

A phenomenal debut, ideal for readers interested in women’s issues and women’s voices.

Low Country

Jones’s gift for spinning a tale is readily apparent, and her intertwining the history of the Low Country with her own familial history gives the book depth. A haunting memoir with poetic prose that will appeal to a large audience, owing to its interesting subject and skillful writing.

Permission to Dream

This fable-like tale, which blends biography and self-help, is an inspirational reminder to dream big and dream often. Gardner’s latest memoir will especially resonate with readers of Mitch Albom and Paulo Coelho.

Everything Is Fine

Granata’s skills, as a writer and former English teacher, shine here; he not only brings a personal perspective to living alongside a family member with mental illness, but also shows that there isn’t a right way to grieve. A welcome memoir.

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