13 Surprisingly Candid and Touching Memoirs
Though it's easy for a notable individual to get a book deal and write about his or her life, most of the time, people aren't willing to be honest or reveal much about themselves. That's why it's so great when an author is able to present difficult and humorous moments from the past in a way that's genuine and touching. This list is made up of authors who've dedicated themselves to the kind of refreshing honesty readers can connect with. For more uplifting true stories, check out this list of the best inspirational books.
13 Surprisingly Candid and Touching Memoirs
- "Have a Little Faith: A True Story" by Mitch Albom
- "Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia" by Elizabeth Gilbert
- "How to Be a Woman" by Caitlin Moran
- "Moab Is My Washpot" by Stephen Fry
- "Just Kids" by Patti Smith
- "The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships" by Neil Strauss
- "Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things" by Jenny Lawson
- "The Faraway Nearby" by Rebecca Solnit
- "Love Warrior: A Memoir" by Glennon Doyle
- "I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban" by Malala Yousafzai
- "Paula: A Memoir" by Isabel Allende
- "The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo" by Amy Schumer
- "Calypso" by David Sedaris
Elizabeth Gilbert Talks About "Eat, Pray, Love"
What's The Difference Between A Memoir And An Autobiography?
The term "Memoir" is much more common these days, and is often used interchangeably with "autobiography," a term you probably heard more often in school. Most of the time, there is not much difference, and it all comes down to intention. If the writer is trying to chronicle his or her entire life, displaying events chronologically and taking great pains to be factually accurate, that's an autobiography. A memoir may only focus on one aspect of an author's life, and many details, like character names, may be changed on purpose. Though most books people write about themselves are now put in the memoir category, some of them may also be autobiographies. Just remember that if it says "Memoir," that's the author's way of letting you know that this is how he or she remembers it, not necessarily how it actually happened.
A Q&A With Jenny Lawson
Memoirs give readers a window into the lives of writers, and the best authors of these books manage to be completely open with their experiences, no matter how difficult that may be. In no particular order, here are 13 refreshingly honest memoirs that reveal their subjects' struggles and triumphs in ways few of us would ever risk.
Starting us off at #1 is "Have a Little Faith: A True Story." Mitch Albom's beautiful narrative recounts his journey discovering the different worlds of two spiritual men, an elderly rabbi and a Christian pastor. Albom explores how belief can unite people despite their differences, as he recognizes something greater than himself. This book is not only about faith, but about the importance of relationships as well.
At #2 is "Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia." Elizabeth Gilbert lays bare her difficulty in finding happiness. Despite her visible success, she felt something was missing, so she decided to set out on a journey across three countries: Italy, India, and Indonesia, to explore the varying aspects of her being. "Eat, Pray, Love" has touched countless lives with Gilbert's eye-opening exploration as she takes stock of her life and what she really wants from it.
Next, at #3, is "How to Be a Woman." Caitlin Moran entertains readers with her witty, humorous, and fresh take on feminism. "How to be a Woman" explores feminism and femininity in a cheeky way while exhibiting an extraordinary ability to speak frankly about herself.
At #4, we have "Moab Is My Washpot." Stephen Fry brilliantly narrates how he managed to handle the troubles in his young life, surviving beatings, expulsion, and criminal charges while navigating a world where he felt like an outsider.
Coming in at #5 is "Just Kids." Patti Smith gives readers a glimpse of what her relationship was like with Robert Mapplethorpe, an American photographer known for his delicate but blunt work, during the late 60s and 70s. This book offers a moving and honest story about being young and building friendships, with Smith using a lyrical style to bring her memories to life.
At #6 is "The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships." Completely aware of his flaws and wrongdoings, Neil Strauss pens a strikingly honest account of the life struggles he admits were caused by his own behavior. This book reveals how Strauss explored the questions people often ask themselves when it comes to what he considers his life's biggest challenge: relationships.
Next, at #7, is "Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things." Jenny Lawson shares how an illness inspired her to live life fully. "Furiously Happy" presents depression with an unapologetic, outrageous, and candid approach to storytelling. While the book is about mental illness, it opens a wider door to joy.
Coming in at #8, "The Faraway Nearby." Rebecca Solnit shares stories of her life, her travels, and her family, weaving together different threads to demonstrate how people's stories are interconnected, with reflections about grief and memory.
#9 is "Love Warrior: A Memoir." This title is a wonderful account of how people are capable of fighting like warriors in the midst of pain. Glennon Doyle narrates an inspiring story about dishonesty, and the discovery of one's self in the midst of misery. "Love Warrior" speaks to readers who are longing to have deeper and more meaningful relationships.
At #10, "I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban." When the Taliban held Swat Valley in Pakistan, a girl held her ground and fought for her right to be educated. Her name is Malala Yousafzai. Many thought she would not make it when she was shot in the head point-blank while on her way home from school. Yousafzai has captivated readers all over the world with her story of triumph through adversity.
Next is #11, "Paula: A Memoir." Isabel Allende writes about what her family went through when her daughter, Paula, was comatose after becoming gravely ill. The book honors Paula's life, while Allende traces her family history with stories of childhood memories, anecdotes, and secrets passed through whispers. It is a compelling read, exploring fear, loss, courage, and love.
At #12 is "The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo." In this book, Amy Schumer lays herself bare as she recalls her teenage years and shares her experiences with relationships and sex. Schumer will make you laugh with the shocking stories she's willing to share.
Last, at #13, is "Calypso." David Sedaris delights his readers with this memoir packed with humor and wit. After acquiring a beach house on the coast of Carolina, Sedaris attempts to relax, but finds out that it is not possible to take a break from oneself. This book is full of insights about getting old and accepting one's mortality.