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100 of My Favorite Memoirs

In my Memoir Mastery class, I’ve been sharing some of my favorite memoirs to illustrate the craft and technique of writing a compelling memoir. As part of that discussion, folks have asked me to compile a list of my favorite memoirs. Here it is!

100 of My Favorite Memoirs

  1. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
  2. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston
  3. The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride
  4. Don’t Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller
  5. A Woman in Amber: Healing the Trauma of War and Exile by Agate Nesaule
  6. The Language of Baklava: A Memoir by Diana Abu-Jaber
  7. The Storyteller’s Daughter: One Woman’s Return to Her Lost Homeland by Saira Shah
  8. Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams
  9. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  10. Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez by Richard Rodriguez
  11. The Tender Bar: A Memoir by J.R. Moehringer
  12. Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
  13. Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
  14. The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr
  15. H Is for Hawk by Helen McDonald
  16. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
  17. The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander
  18. Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon*
  19. Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
  20. Truth and Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
  21. The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca by Tahir Shah
  22. Black Dog of Fate: A Memoir by Peter Balakian
  23. Broken: A Love Story by Lisa Jones
  24. Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach
  25. Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat
  26. Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott
  27. All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes by Maya Angelou
  28. The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou
  29. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  30. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  31. Dreams of My Father by Barack Obama
  32. Brothers and Keepers: A Memoir by John Edgar Wideman
  33. The Places In Between by Rory Stewart
  34. The Long Goodbye: A Memoir by Meghan O’Rourke
  35. An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield
  36. Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at The Table by Ruth Reichel
  37. Are You Somebody? The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman by Nuala O’Faolain
  38. What Comes Next and How to Like It by Abigail Thomas
  39. Daughter of the Queen of Sheba by Jackie Lyden
  40. A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas
  41. Fierce Attachments: A Memoir by Vivian Gornick
  42. Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber
  43. Ake: The Years of Childhood by Wole Soyinka
  44. Falling Through the Earth: A Memoir by Danielle Trussoni
  45. The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit
  46. Almost There by Nuala O’Faolain
  47. After Long Silence by Helen Fremont
  48. Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
  49. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
  50. Love Warrior: A Memoir by Glennon Doyle Melton
  51. French Lessons: A Memoir by Alice Kaplan
  52. Name All the Animals: A Memoir by Alison Smith
  53. Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd
  54. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
  55. Lit by Mary Karr
  56. Devotion: A Memoir by Dani Shapiro
  57. This Boy’s Life: A Memoir by Tobias Wolf
  58. All Over but the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg
  59. Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
  60. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
  61. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  62. Limbo: A Memoir by A. Manette Ansay
  63. Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing by Jennifer Weiner
  64. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
  65. Finding Manana: A Memoir of a Cuban Exodus by Mirta Ojito
  66. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home by Rhoda Janzen
  67. The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood by Helene Cooper
  68. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
  69. Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found by Jennifer Lauck
  70. Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil by Deborah Rodriquez
  71. Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas
  72. Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran by Azadeh Moaveni
  73. I Promise Not to Suffer: A Fool for Love Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail by Gail Storey
  74. The Stone Fields: An Epitah for the Living by Courtney Brkcic
  75. Fury: A Memoir by Koren Zailckas
  76. My Invented Country: A Memoir by Isabel Allende
  77. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  78. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
  79. Two or Three Things I Know for Sure by Dorothy Alison
  80. Lucky by Alice Sebold
  81. Bossypants by Tina Fey
  82. My Life in France by Julia Child
  83. Marriage and Other Acts of Charity: A Memoir by Kate Braestrup
  84. Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller
  85. The Possibility of Everything by Hope Edelman
  86. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
  87. The Names of Things by Susan Brind Morrow
  88. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
  89. Here if You Need Me by Kate Braestrup
  90. An American Childhood by Annie Dillard
  91. My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayer
  92. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan
  93. Heart in the Right Place: A Memoir by Carolyn Jourdan
  94. In the Body of the World: A Memoir by Eve Ensler
  95. Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamaties, and Occasional Moments of Grace by Ayelet Waldman
  96. Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed by Sonia Choquette
  97. Water Oak: The Happiness of Longing by Sue Frederick
  98. Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me From Myself by Julie Barton
  99. The Book of Separation by Tova Mirvis
  100. The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Dr. Eva Edith Enger
  101. The Secret Life of Grief: A Memoir by Tanja Pajevic (me!)

* Kiese and I earned our MFAs together, and I’m so happy for the incredible success he’s having with Heavy–he deserves it!

Now it’s your turn! I’d love to hear what your favorite memoirs are. Please leave a comment below. 

And if you’re interested in writing your own memoir, stay tuned–our next round of Memoir Mastery class starts this Fall! 

2 thoughts on “100 of My Favorite Memoirs”

    • Thanks for reaching out, Carolyn! I loved the warmth and humor of your book, as well as how kindly and compellingly you wrote about moving back home to help care for your family and your dad’s practice.


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