The Best Memoir Books You Must Read: Updated 2019

Updated 2019

Memoirs have a massive emotional impact on the human psyche. These stories aren’t works of fiction, but they read as such. These gripping tales of life and survival are first-hand accounts of lives that endured. Maybe you can even relate with the characters and the lives they led. Or perhaps their world, while true, is so far beyond your own experience that you can barely recognize it. That’s the power of a memoir! In this article, we’ve compiled the best memoir books, movies and audio books just for you!

What Did These Memoir Books Do To Qualify For This List

Any time you are ranking the best of something the results are usually somewhat subjective but we have did our best to come up with a list the readers of the Memoir genre will truly like. To come up with this list we took into account:

  • quantity and quality of user reviews
  • sales data
  • public perception
  • opinions of readers of this genres
  • commercial success
  • and of course personal opinion

Take a look at the best Memoir Books you can read right now:

Table of Contents
• Best Memoir Books
• Best Memoir Movies
• Best Memoir Books in Audio

Best Memoir Books

Here’s your chance to read some of the best memoirs ever written. Check out the list below:

1) Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

  • Best Memoir BooksBook Summary: Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.
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2) When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
and Abraham Verghese

  • Best Memoir BooksBook Summary: At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new  father confronting his own mortality.
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3) Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance and HarperAudio

  • Best Memoir BooksBook Summary: A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
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4) The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui

  • Best Memoir BooksBook Summary: This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.
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5) Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson and Penguin Audio

  • Best Memoir BooksBook Summary: Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives – the ones we’d like to pretend never happened – are in fact the ones that define us. In Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes listeners on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor.
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6) A House in the Sky: A Memoir by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

  • Best Memoir BooksBook Summary: As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales. At the age of nineteen, working as a cocktail waitress in Calgary, Alberta, she began saving her tips so she could travel the globe. Aspiring to understand the world and live a significant life, she backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each adventure, went on to Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a television reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Somalia—“the most dangerous place on earth.” On her fourth day, she was abducted by a group of masked men along a dusty road.
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7) Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight

  • Best Memoir BooksBook Summary: Fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father and launched a company with one simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the trunk of his car in 1963, Knight grossed eight thousand dollars that first year. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. In this age of start-ups, Knight’s Nike is the gold standard, and its swoosh is one of the few icons instantly recognized in every corner of the world.
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8) The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee and David John 

  • Best Memoir BooksBook Summary: As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal communist regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and to realise that she had been brainwashed her entire life. Given the repression, poverty and starvation she witnessed surely her country could not be, as she had been told “the best on the planet”?
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9) The Size of Everything: A Memoir by Erin Cole and Jenna McCarthy

  • Best Memoir BooksBook Summary: The Size of Everything is Cole’s moving story and so much more. Equal parts heartbreaking and hilarious, it’s a love letter to her surviving siblings, a how-not-to-parent manual, a testament to the power of positivity, and proof that where you come from doesn’t have to determine where you can go. Above all, The Size of Everything offers a powerful message of hope to anyone who believes that impossibly rocky beginnings can’t have a happy ending.
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10) In Pieces by Sally Field

Best Memoir Books

Book Summary: With raw honesty and the fresh, pitch-perfect prose of a natural-born writer, and with all the humility and authenticity her fans have come to expect, Field brings readers behind-the-scenes for not only the highs and lows of her star-studded early career in Hollywood, but deep into the truth of her lifelong relationships–including her complicated love for her own mother. Powerful and unforgettable, In Piecesis an inspiring and important account of life as a woman in the second half of the  twentieth century.

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Best Memoir Movies

 

1)The Glass Castle

Starring: Brie Larson , Woody Harrelson , Naomi Watts , et al.
Directed by: Destin Daniel Cretton

Movie Summary:Based on the worldwide best-selling memoir starring Academy Award® winner Brie Larson and Academy Award® nominees Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts, THE GLASS CASTLE chronicles the adventures of an eccentric, resilient, tight-knit family.

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2)Memoir

Starring: Hadley Winn , Rosario Columbia , Emilly Anna Bell , et al.
Directed by: Christopher Sheffiel

Movie Summary:We are taken on a journey of remembrance and self realization , as Sam takes us through home video footage of his girlfriend, from the time they first fell for each other, to the dark times as she battles depression and anxiety. A look into ones self and how although we might not able to feel what others might, we can try to understand before its too late.

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3)Gia

Starring: Angelina Jolie , Elizabeth Mitchell , Kylie Travis , et al.
Directed by: Michael Cristofer

Movie Summary:Angelina Jolie stars in this drama based on the tragic true story of Gia Carangi, the supermodel who dominated the international fashion scene of the late ’70s.

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4)Memoirs of a Geisha

Starring: Ziyi Zhang and Ken Watanabe
Directed by: Rob Marshall

Movie Summary:A Cinderella story set in a mysterious and exotic world, this stunning romantic epic shows how a house servant blossoms, against all odds, to become the most captivating geisha of her day.

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5)Stories We Tell

Starring: Pixie Bigelow , Deirdre Bowen and Geoffrey Bowes
Directed by: Sarah Polley

Movie Summary:Stories We Tell is a “riveting” (Los Angeles Times), “unmissable” (Rolling Stone) genre-twisting film by Oscar- nominated director Sarah Polley.

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Best Memoir Books in Audio

Now that you’ve seen our list of the best memoir books and movies, I’m sure you’ll be interested in trying out more of the best memoir books in audio!

1)The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband by David Finch and Tantor Audio

Book Summary:At some point in nearly every marriage, a wife finds herself asking, “What is wrong with my husband?!” In David Finch’s case, this turns out to be an apt question. Five years after he married Kristen, the love of his life, they learn that he has Asperger syndrome. The diagnosis explains David’s ever-growing list of quirks and compulsions, his lifelong propensity to quack and otherwise melt down in social exchanges, and his clinical strength inflexibility. But it doesn’t make him any easier to live with.

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2)Heavy by Kiese Laymon and Simon & Schuster Audio

Book Summary:In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence to his suspension from college to his trek to New York as a young college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing, and ultimately gambling. By attempting to name secrets and lies he and his mother spent a lifetime avoiding, Laymon asks himself, his mother, his nation, and us to confront the terrifying possibility that few in this nation actually know how to responsibly love, and even fewer want to live under the weight of actually becoming free.

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3)Boys in the Trees: A Memoir by Carly Simon and Macmillan Audio

Book Summary:The memoir recalls a childhood enriched by music and culture but also one shrouded in secrets that would eventually tear her family apart. Simon brilliantly captures moments of creative inspiration, the sparks of songs, and the stories behind writing “Anticipation” and “We Have No Secrets”, among many others. Romantic entanglements with some of the most famous men of the day fueled her confessional lyrics as well as the unraveling of her storybook marriage to James Taylor.

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4)The Best of Us: A Memoir by Joyce Maynard and a Division of Recorded Books HighBridge

Book Summary:In 2011, when she was in her late 50s, beloved author and journalist Joyce Maynard met the first true partner she had ever known. Jim wore a rakish hat over a good head of hair; he asked real questions and gave real answers; he loved to see Joyce shine, both in and out of the spotlight; and he didn’t mind the mess she made in the kitchen. He was not the husband Joyce imagined, but he quickly became the partner she had always dreamed of.

Before they met, both had believed they were done with marriage, and even after they married, Joyce resolved that no one could alter her course of determined independence. Then, just after their one-year wedding anniversary, her new husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. During the 19 months that followed, as they battled his illness together, she discovered for the first time what it really meant to be a couple – to be a true partner and to have one.

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5)On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King and Simon & Schuster Audio

Book Summary: On Writing begins with a mesmerizing account of King’s childhood and his early focus on writing to tell a story. A series of vivid memories from adolescence, college, and the struggling years that led up to his first novel, Carrie, offer a fresh and often funny perspective on the formation of a writer. King then turns to the tools of his trade, examining crucial aspects of the writer’s art and life, offering practical and inspiring advice on everything from plot and character development to work habits and rejection.

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Conclusion

What do you think about our list of best memoir books? If you have another genre that you prefer to read we have probably compiled a list of our favorites for that genre too. So if you are looking for something other than the best memoir books you can find other genres here.

 

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