Nonfiction Books: Memoir/Biography #NonficNov

November 16, 2020

Nonfiction: Memoir/Biography #NonficNov

Nonfiction Nov 2020I’m eager to participate in Nonfiction November this year hosted by Doing Dewey, Julz Reads, What’s Nonfiction, and Shelf-Aware.

During November, you will notice one nonfiction focused post each week:

Weekly Topics:

My Year in Nonfiction 2020

Fiction/Nonfiction Book Pairings 2020

Be the Expert (today’s post)

Nonfiction TBR

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Nonfiction: Memoirs & Biographies

Nonfiction November is an opportunity to reflect on the year, to celebrate and appreciate nonfiction, and to share recommendations.

Playing The Expert: Today for Nonfiction November hosted by Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction, I am playing “the expert” and sharing books in a subgenre that I have read and highly recommend. These are my favorite memoir/biography recommendations. I chose them because they each share a personal story and help build my understanding of a specific life experience. Do you have a favorite memoir or biography?

Please join me for Nonfiction November!

15 Favotite Memoirs & Biographies for #NonFicNov (Image: text over a tall stack of books on a blue painted wooden table)
Background Image Source: Canva

15 Favorite Memoirs and Biographies:

The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee

(My review of Girl With Seven Names here)

The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee (cover)

The Choice by Dr. Edith Eva Eger

(I have just started this, but I already know it will be a favorite! Review coming soon)

The Choice by Dr. Edith Eva Eger (cover) Image: black text on a white background and a black stemmed reddish flower is placed on the entire left margin

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

A young readers version of Born a Crime here.

(My review of Born a Crime here.)

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (cover) Image: a casual Trevor Noah

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

(My review of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone here)

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb (cover)

Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family by Mitch Albom

(My review of Finding Chika here)

Finding Chika by Mitch Albom (cover)

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin

(My review of Wait Till Next Year here)

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin (cover) Image: an old professional baseball stadium

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

(My review of Hillbilly Elegy here)

Hillbilly Elegy (cover)

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy movie here.

(My review of Just Mercy here)

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson cover

Unbroken: A WW11 Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken movie and YA version here.

(Not reviewed because I read this before I started blogging or Goodreads)


The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle movie.

(My review of Glass Castle here)

Glass Castle

Educated by Tara Westover

(My review of Educated here)

Educated by Tara Westover (cover) Image: a giant sharpened pencil as background

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle

(Not reviewed because I read this before blogging or using Goodreads)

Tattoos on the Heart

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

The Bonhoeffer movie.

(Not reviewed because I read this before blogging or using Goodreads)

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas (cover)

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (childhood memoir) (MG)

(My review of Brown Girl Dreaming here)

Brown Girl Dreaming

We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success by Sampson Davis (The Three Doctors) (MG)

(Not reviewed because I read this before blogging or using Goodreads)

we beat the street


ICYMI: Here’s my post for last year’s “Playing the expert”: Nonfiction and Racial Injustice


See any favorites?

Have you read one of these titles?

I know you can help me add to this list! If my husband had helped with this list he would include titles by Ron Chernow for sure! Here, here, and here.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for a favorite memoir or biography.

Happy Reading Book Friends!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.



  1. Thanks Carol. I’ve read 7 of these (some on your recommendation). And want to get Tattoos On the Heart (also loved by a very favorite Instagrammer – Shannan Martin. Do you know her? Loved her book The Ministry of Ordinary Places. And also want to get a copy of Brown Girl Dreaming to read and then pass on to the grand-girls. Thanks for a great list!!

    • I suspected that we have read some of the same! 🙌😂😍 I do follow Shannan …fabulous writer…she got a bit political in her stories lately and I muted her for awhile! Yes, I read Tattoos on the Heart at her rec! I hope you and your grands will love Brown Girl Dreaming!

  2. Wonderful list Carol. I have read a few of these and others are on my TBR.I was trying to remember where I had seen Hillbilly Elegy before and now I know. It came up as a recommendation on Scribd for me this week. I think I will listen to it when I catch up on all the ones I have from the library right now.

  3. This is an excellent list of memoirs/biographies. I also love Angela’s Ashes; All Creatures Great and Small; My Family and Other Animals; Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life; The Beauty in Breaking; How to Be a Good Creature; American Born Chinese; Save Me the Plums; and Bookworm.

    • What a great list Deb! Thanks so much! I read Angela’s Ashes a long time ago! I will put the others on my TBR! So many great books, so little time!

  4. Great recommendations Carol! Since most of the memoirs I read feature Australians I’m not sure they will hold your interest. I would recommend Jenny Lawson’s memoirs, they are hilarious, and another is coming out in 2021

  5. I love Memoirs and have read several this year. One of my favorites was If At Birth You Don’t Succeed by Zach Anner. However, oddly, one of my absolute favorite memories was Jon Cryers. If you are even a passing fan, the audiobook is amazing. Like a sit down with a friend!

  6. One of the most powerful memoirs I’ve read in recent times is I’m Supposed to Protect You From All This by Nadia Spiegelman (daughter of Art Spiegelman who created Maus – another amazing memoir that you should read even if graphic novels are not your thing, this is one to make an exception for). Nadia focuses on the grandmother, mother, daughter relationship in her memoir and it was beautifully done.

    • I haven’t read that one…I’ll add it to my list…thanks for the rec! By the way….I loved that the Resistance Women (histfic) referenced Bonhoeffer! The main character married his cousin.

    • Thanks! Born a Crime is memorable (I heard the audio is wonderful!) and I enjoyed Talk to Someone way more than I expected I would! Enjoy!

  7. Educated was a little flat and bizarre to me, I dont think its medically possible for certain parts to be accurate haha but who knows! I dont think ive read anything else on it!

  8. You have some of my very favorites here so I know I can trust your judgment! 🙂 I’ll pick a few from your list to add to my own. There are lots here that I have NOT read. Thanks!

    • It’s probably not my fav but it’s incredibly fascinating! I like against-the-odds memoirs and individuals who have grit! I get the feeling she’s still conflicted and working through a lot of this and maybe she should have waited 10 more years to write the memoir.

  9. I’ve not read many of the books on your list, but the ones I have are ones I really enjoyed (Born a Crime, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone), so I should probably check out the rest. I think Here For It is going to be one of my top nonfiction reads of the year and it’s a funny, sharp, moving memoir that I’d definitely recommend 🙂

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