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The Nazis Knew My Name: A Remarkable Story of Survival and Courage in Auschwitz

Hellinger has written an important perspective of the Holocaust, of a kind that we rarely see. A standout memoir that will draw the interest of readers of World War II history and women’s memoirs or biographies.

Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How To Become American

A compassionate and insightful memoir full of hope and humor; recommended for all collections.

We Don’t Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland

In O’Toole’s case, sharp reporting makes good history.

Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey

Readers will appreciate Williams’s candid portrayal of her personal journey and the book’s understanding of heartbreak’s impact on the human body.

Fifty Sounds: A Memoir of Language, Learning, and Longing

The philosophical explorations of linguistics may be esoteric for some readers, but many can relate to Barton’s journey of finding her place in the world. Readers who are fascinated by the art of translation or stories about living between cultures will find much to unpack here.

What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma

Foo’s writing is shrewdly insightful. In telling her story so compellingly, she joins authors such as Anna Qu and Ly Tran in adding nuance to the “model minority” myth, if not actively subverting it. Highly recommended.

Best Memoir & Biography of 2021

The Last Nomad: Coming of Age in the Somali Desert

A memoir that demonstrates the power of a young woman to adapt to many difficult changes in life, by an author who was truly inspired by the strength and power of women in her own family. Recommended strongly for all libraries.

Bird Brother: A Falconer’s Journey and the Healing Power of Wildlife

Stotts’s gift for storytelling, as an educator and public speaker, is on full display in this remarkable memoir; it’s thought-provoking, moving, and inspiring.

Free: A Child and a Country at the End of History

This astonishing memoir is a lively and subtle reflection on the relation between personal and political, in a world where neither old nor new fit without personal loss. Ypi’s writing sets itself apart.

I Came All This Way To Meet You: Writing Myself Home

What Attenberg has learned about being a writer and a human offers a valuable lesson for readers seeking wholeness, healing, self-expression, and strength. The result is a humorous memoir of transformation that will delight a range of readers.

The Loft Generation: From the de Koonings to Twombly; Portraits and Sketches, 1942–2011

This account of one of the most important moments in the history of modern art is invaluable as well as fascinating.

Generations: A Memoir

Clifton is one of our great truth-tellers, and this work stands among her best. Elegiac and celebratory, unfussy and profound, full of pain and healing and thanks for the ties that hold, this slim memorial contains multitudes, and every word of it is true, “even the lies.”


House of Sticks

Tran’s debut memoir is recommended for those who loved Tara Westover’s Educated, Jeanette Walls’s The Glass Castle, and Anchee Min’s The Cooked Seed.

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.


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.

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.

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

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.

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.”]

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.

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.


Burn the Place: A Memoir

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

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.


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.


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.


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


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)

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)

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)

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.]

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";]

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.

Man of the Year

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

Ars Botanica: A Field Guide

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

We Are All Shipwrecks

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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