Best Biography & Memoir 2019

Lives and times. The best biographies and memoirs published in 2019.

See all of our 2019 Best Books lists.

Brodeur, Adrienne. Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me. Houghton Harcourt. ISBN 9781328519030.
When Brodeur was 14, her mother started an affair with her husband’s best friend and Brodeur was her mother’s sole confidante. Keeping a secret of such magnitude had a colossal effect on Brodeur’s relationships. This story sensitively explores the mother-daughter dynamic and the ripple effect of family secrets.
Díaz, Jaquira. Ordinary Girls: A Memoir. Algonquin. ISBN 9781616209131.
Set against Puerto Rico’s history of colonialism, the narrative follows Díaz and her family as they relocate to Miami Beach, FL, finding the promise of a richer life unfulfilled. An intimate memoir on vulnerability, courage, and everything in between from a standout writer.
Fox, Amaryllis. Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA. Knopf. ISBN 9780525654971.
Fox’s fast-paced memoir offers a window into what it’s like to work undercover, making spur-of-the-moment, life-or-death decisions—and how she navigated the notoriously male-dominated organization.
Girma, Haben. Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law. Twelve. ISBN 9781538728727.
Born with deafblindness, Girma found her calling in advocating for the deaf and blind communities. This collection of vignettes illustrates the defining points in her life and challenges antiquated societal beliefs about people with disabilities.
Greene, Jayson. Once More We Saw Stars: A Memoir. Knopf. ISBN 9781524733537.
A uniquely vulnerable, raw memoir on unconventional ways to find meaning in the wake of grief. Greene never seems to lose hope, and his struggle for solace is one that many can relate to, whether they are religious or not.
Jones, Saeed. How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir. S. & S. ISBN 9781501132735.
This beautifully written memoir centers the experience of growing up black and gay in the South. Jones is unshrinking in his depiction of his search for community and acceptance.
Machado, Carmen Maria. In the Dream House: A Memoir. Graywolf. ISBN 9781644450031.
In this unconventional and unforgettable memoir, Machado reconstructs vivid memories and addresses the issue of domestic violence in same-sex relationships.
Miller, Chanel. Know My Name: A Memoir. Viking. ISBN 9780735223707.
A moving, powerful depiction of sexual assault and the ongoing effects of what it means to be either a victim or a survivor in the public eye.
Packer, George. Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century. Knopf. ISBN 9780307958020.
Richard Holbrooke served as U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan and ambassador to the UN. Packer’s balanced analysis of Holbrooke makes the argument that he was one of the most significant international policy advisors not to serve as secretary of state.
Shahani, Aarti Namdev. Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares. Celadon. ISBN 9781250204752.
After moving with his family from India to Flushing, NY, Shahani’s father was arrested for selling electronics; she describes how her father’s imprisonment and the threat of deportation shaped her life. A thoroughly engrossing memoir that challenges and engages with the “American Dream.”
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