We often read memoirs for the exact reason we read fiction – to get inspired and to learn. The memoirs in this list are real stories of courageous, hope-filled ordinary human being who have faced the worst kind of adversities imaginable but had survived to tell their stories of victory. Read them and get inspired!
10 Life Changing Memoirs That You Must Read:
10. The Horse Boy: A Father’s Quest to Heal His Son
By: Rupert Isaacson.
The story deals with a father and his severely autistic son as they make a journey to Mongolia together in order the search for the ancient culture of Shamans. The shamans are known for their beliefs in the healing effects of horses and with the possible hope that they could know how to manipulate the horses into healing his son. Parts of the memoir are narrated by his son himself that serves as a window into the mind of an autistic conditioned boy. They also took a film crew with them to document their journey.
9. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
By: Cheryl Strayed.
The memoir was a smashing best seller that made the poor, debt burdened author into one of the highest paying celebrity memoir writers. Her popularity can partly be owed to her mention in Oprah’s Book Club. On the superficial level, her memoir voices her treacherous trekking journey in the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995 but also touches deeply into the power of human strength for overcoming sufferings and the ultimate pursue of empowerment. Strayed made this trek to recover following the unforeseen death of her mother. The memoir has been adapted into a film, Wild (2014) starring Reese Witherspoon.
8. Unstill Life
By: Gabrielle Selz.
Selz is the daughter of an artist and a former curator of Modern Art in New York. She had always been fascinated by modern art and tried to carve a place for herself in that world. Growing up with her vibrant father who was as enthusiastic about women as he was about art, was quiet an emotional challenge for her. The memoir narrates her version of her emotionally transformed journey.
7. Second Wind: One Woman’s Midlife Quest to Run 7 Marathons on 7 Continents
By: Cami Ostman.
Unlike an athlete, Ostman ran for emotional freedom. She had previously lived a life of emotional repression and in time she began questioning her upbringing and infused values. Her plan was simple, Ostman decided to run 7 marathons in 7 different continents (including Antarctica). This memoir revel insights and the power of endurance of the human soul that she had discovered during her journey.
6. Losing Amma, Finding Home: A Memoir about Love, Loss and Life’s Detours
By: Uma Girish.
Following the death of her mother owing to breast cancer, Girish goes through a life transforming journey where she struggles alone in a foreignland. While dealing with deep grief and feeling of isolation, she eventually manages to find solace in her sadness. After many hardships, Girish comes close to realise the universal concept of ‘home’ that can exist anywhere, even in an alien land filled with foreigners.
5. The Year of Magical Thinking
By: Joan Didion.
This is another classic memoir hailed for its deep understanding and insight of loss and grief. This memoir gives no advice, only presents the raw emotional experiences Didion had to face when her husband – John Gregory Dunne – died in a heart-attack in 2003 while their daughter was being treated for septic shock and pneumonia. Her next equally heartbreaking and gripping memoir ‘Blue Night’ deals with her emotional nightmares following the death of her daughter in 2005.
4. My Father’s Gardens
By: Karen Levy.
Immigrants who constantly question their loyalty can relate to this memoir. In ‘My Father’s Gardens’ Karen Levy narrates her emotional struggle on losing her real home back in Israel and trying to fit in with the new culture in a new place. The constant but difficult transitions that immigrants often face when uprooted from their own soil is the main theme of the memoir.
3. Unremarried Widow
By: Artis Henderson.
The memoir was a way of dealing with the grief of losing her husband in Afghanistan who was a pilot for the United States army. Writing helped her to heal and survive. In an interview Henderson recounts how she had thought that she can make everything right and one day her husband would walk through the door and come back to her. But when she came to terms with the reality she decided to do something good out of bad.
2. The Liar’s Club
By: Mary Karr.
Mary Karr’s critically acclaimed memoir had held a spot on the New York Times bestsellers list for over an entire year. Its story deals with volcanic emotional state, memories of childhood abuse, facing the truth et al. The memoir also takes a deep look into the Karr’s family history and her mother’s past. It is worth noting that, the genre of memoir has been growing faster owing to the astounding success of Karr’s ‘The Liar’s Club.’
1. Searching for Mercy Street
By: Linda Gray Sexton.
Sexton is the daughter of Pulitzer Prize winning poet Anne Sexton and it is wise to mention that she is a great believer in ‘telling truth about one’s life.’ In this book she narrates about her life when she lived in a very emotionally unpredictable state. At one point Sexton directly tells the readers, “If I can forgive my mother, then the reader can forgive his/her mother.”