Memoirs offer a glimpse into real-life experiences, from heartbreak and loss to survival and hope. They help us to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, deepening our understanding of the world. Here are five memoirs that belong on everyone’s reading list.
When faced with a seemingly simple question about life from her young son, author Mira Jacob finds herself struggling to find the best answer. This realization leads her to dig into the reasoning behind so many things in our lives. When did the world decide how things were going to work? How did she decide? As her 6-year-old asks questions about more complex topics, she finds herself examining the basis for her own thoughts dealing with race, religion, relationships, and more. Jacob seamlessly includes humor and graphic illustrations throughout the book, expertly depicting the careful balance that exists when talking to children about the world in which we live. Published: March 26, 2019, One World
At only 32 years old, Ady Barkan was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. A husband and new father to his son, he was reeling from the news that he may have just years left to live. In his compelling memoir, Barkan details how his diagnosis ignited a need to use his remaining time wisely, leading him to work toward making a positive and impactful change in the fight for social justice. Filled with unimaginable strength and hope, Barkan’s story is deeply inspiring. Published: Sept. 10, 2019, Atria Books
Bestselling author Laura Cumming combines the mystery of her mother’s abduction with her family’s tendency to keep the past hidden in this fascinating memoir. When her mother, Betty, was a young child, she disappeared from her small English town only to be found several days later, seemingly happy and healthy. Her kidnapping was just one of the secrets that Betty’s parents chose to hide from her. Sharing details from conversations with her mother, she explores how the truth was revealed about her secret past. Focusing on the impact of her relationship with her mother, she shares how the decisions to keep secrets affected generations of members of her family. Published: Aug. 27, 2019, Scribner
Lori Gottlieb is a therapist focused on helping her patients, but when an event changes her own life, she decides to begin therapy for herself. The sudden role reversal allows her to gain a new perspective and ultimately a deeper understanding into how individuals, no matter how different, all struggle with the same thoughts, fears, and feelings. Through her experiences as a therapist and a patient, Lori can’t help but see similarities. What follows is a relatable, smart, and humorous memoir highlighting the importance of connecting with other people, sharing your thoughts, and forming relationships. Published: April 2, 2019, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
A delicious look into the life of Ruth Reichl, a food critic and writer who stepped into the role as editor in chief of Gourmet magazine. Reichl details her feelings of excitement and hesitation when faced with the pressure to create a successful publication. Focused on fresh trends and faces in the culinary world, Reichl shares how her passion gave her the strength to grow into her leadership role and create a new wave of success for Gourmet. Reichl shares her knowledge, insight, and, of course, favorite recipes throughout her uplifting memoir. Published: April 2, 2019, Random House
Meghan Odegard is a librarian living in Wisconsin. She proudly supports Barn Sanctuary, a nonprofit dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating, and caring for farm animals in need.