Favorite Memorable Memoirs #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge #WOYBC #NonFiction

July 22, 2022

Do You Have Memorable Memoirs on Your Bookshelf?

Memorable Memoirs (white type over a picture of an open laptop, a cup of cofee, and a pink flowering plant)

Today for the July #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge I’m focusing on Memoirs.

The memoirs I love have something to say about LIFE. My favorite memoirs are not the simplistic and often self-indulgent recounting of a celebrity’s life, fascinating as that may be!

The titles listed are representative of memoirs I’ve loved (and not an exhaustive list). As usual with any genre, personal taste accounts for my favorites. Reviews links are included when available. Do we share any favorites?

***Titles in this post are links to my reviews or Amazon affiliate links.

Favorite Memoirs

(in no particular order)

Open by Andre Agassi

Open by Andre Agassi (cover) Image: a head shot of Andre Agassi

Why: Although the detailed recounting of tennis matches could have been condensed, they actually help me understand the grueling (physical and mental) nature of the game. I really appreciate his reflections on the meaning of his life (any life) and his conclusions that helping/serving others is the secret ingredient of a fulfilling life. In my review (click title to follow link), I’ve included several poignant quotes.

Born a Crime: Stories of a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

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

Why: I really appreciate the glimpse into Trevor Noah’s childhood experiences and candid reflections on post-Apartheid racism in South Africa. I gained a new understanding of what it means to be “mixed race.” See my full review by clicking on the title. (FYI, there’s also a YA version of the book)

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson cover

Why: I appreciate Bryan Stevenson’s reflections on racial injustice and learning about his own initiative. Click on the title to follow the link to my full review. (FYI, there’s a YA version of the book)

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (cover)

Why: Years and years ago, before I read so much in the historical fiction (WW11) genre, I read The Hiding Place. I would like to experience a reread and review it properly. I think it would be more interesting/meaningful now because I’ve read so many WW11 titles. Not reviewed. (Christian)

The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Dr. Edith Eger

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

Why: I love how Dr. Eger applies the difficult learnings from her time in a concentration camp to our lives today.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb

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

Why: I love the field of psychology, but at first, I wasn’t sure about this memoir. I wasn’t too sympathetic to a therapist who couldn’t handle a personal break-up. However, as I continued to read, I ended up loving the memoir.

The Girl With Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee

The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee (cover)

Why: This memoir reads like a thriller! Read my review by clicking on the title link.

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

Finding Chika by Mitch Albom (cover)

Why: 1. I love Mitch Albom; and 2. I love “found family” and adoption. I appreciate how Albom tenderly and candidly shares his experiences of taking guardianship of a medically fragile child. His reflections on what makes a family are thoughtful and poignant. My review can be found by clicking on the title.

Educated by Tara Westover

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

Why: Well,….it was a case of FOMO but I am intrigued by a complicated family drama. I appreciate the example of an individual who grows up in a dysfunctional family and can escape and create a healthier life for herself. See my review by following the title link.

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin

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

Why: I love baseball and nostalgia and I appreciate Goodwin’s writing. I love a peek into the 50s and 60s! Click on the title to see my full review.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (MG)

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (cover)

Why: I love this look into Woodson’s childhood experiences. It encourages understanding and compassion for children in similar circumstances. Read my review by clicking on the title link.

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy (cover)

Why: I appreciate the exposure to a culture I didn’t grow up in, and I found a great deal in here that applied to the student population I served at the time. Read my full review by clicking on the title.

Unbroken: A World War 11 Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (cover) Image: white text over a sepia toned sunset over water

Why: After reading a great deal of WW11 historical fiction, I greatly appreciate reading about the life of a veteran and his experiences before, during, and after the war. Although this isn’t technically a memoir, it comes across as one because of the author’s extensive interviews. I read this before I started blogging….so no formal review.

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

The Glass Castle (cover)

Why: Actually my grandson recommended this to me as he was reading it for a high school class. Like Educated, it’s a remarkable story of dysfunctional family, resilience, and survival. Click on the title for my review.

We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success

We Beat the Street cover

Why: When I taught 5th grade, the special education teacher recommended this memoir to me. I loved that it was a diverse read and I bought copies for my classroom. Several students enjoyed reading about these three kids who made a pact to support each other in school and pursue their dreams in the medical field. As adults, these three doctors have a foundation to help students like themselves. Not reviewed.

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

Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle (cover) blue text above and below the graphic image of memorial candles

Why: I love this inspiring memoir of a man who dedicates his life to providing intervention, work, community, and hope for gang members in Los Angeles, California. Not reviewed.


Do you have a favorite memoir to share?
In your opinion, what makes a memoir memorable?

 I’m linking up with Deb @ Deb’s World and Sue @ Women Living Well After 50, Donna @ Retirement Reflections, and Jo @ And Anyways…. for the July installment of #WhatsOnYourBookShelfChallenge.

Whats On Your Bookshelf Challenge

Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“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

Let’s Get Social!

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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.

© ReadingLadies.com


  1. I have a copy of The Girl With Seven Names but haven’t read it yet – I didn’t want to read too many NKorean books close together. Still haven’t got around to Educated….

    My favourite would be Becoming by Michelle Obama

    • Hope you enjoy Girl With Seven Names! Not beautifully written but the story is compelling! Many have loved the M Obama memoir!

  2. Hi Carol thanks so much for joining us for the What’s On Your Bookshelf? link up this month. I don’t usually read memoirs but you have provided a good selection in your post. I also like you ‘why’ for each book. I look forward to you joining us for next month’s link up and seeing what you have read. Happy reading! x

  3. I haven’t read a memoir in years. But, I agree that we can usually learn a lot from them.

  4. Hi, Carol – Thank you for joining us at WOYBS. From your list I have read Born A Crime and Educated. I enjoyed them both. I would also like to read the Mitch Albom memoir. Thank you for the recommendations

  5. I’ve read Educated Carol, but none of the others! I tend to listen to memoirs rather than read them and have a few ready for my trip. Thanks for joining us for WOYBS, you always have so much to offer!

  6. Great list Carol. I have read or listened to seven of these. I have a few more on my TBR, probably when I read your wonderful reviews. I need to try to get to them now. I think of this list, The Hiding Place was the most powerful one for me.

  7. I loved The Girl With Seven Names and have just added Open to my digital library for reading on my upcoming holiday. I enjoyed reading about the books you’ve been reading and have added some of your suggestions to my pile.

  8. Thanks for joining us again this month. I have to admit I don’t read a lot of memoirs – and definitely not celebrity memoirs. I do, however, occasionally stray into travel memoir and food memoir territory…. I love how you break yours down into the why.

  9. Nice list! I have read and enjoyed three of these.
    Recently, I listened to Down and Out in Paris and London, by George Orwell, about the years he spent there in the early 30s.
    Definitely not rosy literature, but awesome portrait of how life was for the poorest back then. Highly recommended

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