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Great Memoirs

Fascinating life stories

Here are recommended-reading lists for various types of memoirs. There's another page for articles and sites about Writing memoir, biography, or corporate history and yet another for Telling your story (as personal history -- writing your life story or a family history, leaving lessons learned). As time permits, I'll post reading lists of memoirs of interest in various categories -- both as good reading material and as models for those who are practicing life writing. Let me know if any other titles are good candidates, or if any titles appear on the wrong lists. Happy reading.

• Coming-of-age memoirs
• "Best" and "top" memoir and biography lists
• Memoirs and personal accounts of
vocation, avocation, occupation, profession, calling

• Memoirs and reflections of surgeons and about surgery
• Medical memoirs
• Memoirs of ordinary people (and lives lived outside the limelight)
• Memoirs of friendship, family, and other relationships
• Memoirs of celebrity, scandal, gossip, and secrets
• Memoirs of place
• Graphic memoirs
• Short pieces of memoir writing
• Food memoirs and biographies
• Memoirs of food addiction
Memoirs of war and conflict
Memoirs of illness, crisis, disability,
differentness, and survival
(a reading list)
Memoirs of coping with chronic, rare, or invisible diseases,
including mental health problems

Memoirs about drug abuse, addiction, and recovery
Memoirs about struggling with cancer
Memoirs of, and other books about, caregiving
• Memoirs and other accounts of death and dying, loss and grief
• Links to life-story-related sites, articles
What is the difference between a memoir and an autobiography (or memoirs)
Memoir, biography, and corporate history
(articles about the craft and business)

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"Best" and "Top" Memoir and Biography Lists

The 50 Best Memoirs of the Last 50 Years (The New York Times, 6-26-19) The New York Times’s book critics select the 50 most outstanding memoirs published since 1969. (See also Behind the Scenes of Choosing the Best Memoirs.)
Jewish Lives An interesting biography series that Yale University publishes. Each book, written by a noted scholar, focuses on a single notable Jewish person, selected across all fields and disciplines. (H/T Marcy Davis)
100 Biographies & Memoirs to Read in a Lifetime (Amazon picks)
The world’s top 50 thinkers 2021 (Prospect, 7-13-21) Mini-bios.
24 Memoirs About Unforgettable Moms (Goodreads)
18 Memoirs That Will Change The Way You See The World (Arianna Rebolini, BuzzFeed, 7-8-19) Among them, The Meaning of Matthew: My Son's Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed by Judy Shephard. (“Gives us a chance to know the young man whose brutal death started a movement that inspired the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Law. Raw, honest and real, with some surprising new details never before published.”—Kathi Isserman, Curve Magazine). Also, In Pieces by Sally Field ("Field fuels this aching, lyrical memoir with frankness about her emotional childhood, her conflicted relationship with the late Burt Reynolds, and how acting helped her interpret life in all its pain and beauty."―Entertainment Weekly).
100 Biographies & Memoirs to Read in a Lifetime (Goodreads Readers' Picks)
13 Beautifully Written Memoirs You'll Think Are Actually Novels (E Ce Miller, Bustle, 5-28-15). Read what she writes about

---Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith,

---The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls,

---Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood by Alexandra Fuller,

---Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood by Fatima Mernissi,

---Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel,

---The Liars' Club by Mary Karr,

---False Papers by André Aciman,

---Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick,

---Island of Bones essays by Joy Castro,

---Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang,

---The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca by Tahir Shah,

---An American Childhood by Annie Dillard, and

---West with the Night by Beryl Markham.
25 Biographies Every Man Should Read (GQ, March 2015)
• MacDonald, Helen. H Is for Hawk.  Macdonald's story of adopting and raising one of nature's most vicious predators. Fierce and feral, her goshawk Mabel's temperament mirrors Helen's own state of grief after her father's death, and together raptor and human "discover the pain and beauty of being alive." Here until I start a list of memoirs about human-and-animal relationships.

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• Allison, Dorothy. Bastard Out of Carolina (semi-fictionalized). The first writer of her generation to dramatize the lives and language of poor whites in the South. 
• Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings As children living with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight, back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.
• Baker, Russell. Growing Up In this funny and heart-warming memoir, Pulitzer-winning New York Times columnist Russell Baker traces his youth from the backwoods mountains of Virginia to a New Jersey commuter town to the Depression-shadowed landscape of Baltimore.
• Balakian, Peter. Black Dog of Fate: An American Son Uncovers His Armenian Past "A poetic reminiscence of growing up in the '60s takes a sharp turn as the author discovers and explores his family's painful memories of the Armenian genocide in the early years of this century."~School Library Journal
• Baldwin, James. Notes of a Native Son Essays on Baldwin's "first experiences of racism and his strained relationship with and eventual compassion for his bitter father."
• Barber, Phyllis. How I Got Cultured: A Nevada Memoir (a Mormon childhood in Nevada)
• Barnes, Kim. In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country A warm remembrance of growing up in 1970s Idaho, rebelling against her Pentecostal Christian parents as a teen.
• Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier This unforgettable memoir of a young boy whose teen years in Sierra Leone became a killing field is ultimately a story of hope and redemption.
• Beard, Jo Ann. The Boys of My Youth Twelve autobiographical essays summon back with grace and humor moments of childhood epiphany and cataclysms of adult life: betrayal, divorce, death.
• Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Graphic (comic) memoir of the popular lesbian comic artist (author of the long-running strip, Dykes to Watch Out For), whose father was ahigh school school teacher and director of the family-owned funeral home (hence Fun Home), and closeted homosexual, who killed himself soon after she came out.

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• Benjamin, David. The Life and Times of the Last Kid Picked Nostalgic memoir of the joys of boyhood in 1950s Wisconsin.
• Bragg, Rick. All Over but the Shoutin' A haunting, harrowing, gloriously moving recollection of life on the American margin, growing up dirt poor in Alabama, in a hard-working, hard-drinking family. Follow that with Ava's Man (about Rick's maternal grandfather and life during the Depression in the southern Appalachian foothills of Alabama and Georgia) and The Prince of Frogtown (about Rick's father, a troubled, charismatic hustler)
• Brennan-Jobs, Lisa. Small Fry "Bringing the reader into the heart of the child who admired [Steve] Jobs’s genius, craved his love, and feared his unpredictability."
• Burch, Jennings Michael. They Cage the Animals at Night (story of survival of a Brooklyn-born boy whose ill mother left him at an orphanage, said she'd return, and never did)

• Carmi, Krystyna.The Strange Ways of Providence In My Life: An Amazing World War II Survival Story More than 100 photos, taken by her father. The only Jewish child to survive the holocaust in Obertyn, Poland, where she attended a Ukrainian school.
• Carr, Mary. The Liar’s Club. As Beth Kephart writes: Carr looks back on a childhood of "poverty, abuse, danger, hurting of every measure--and come up with a story written not to tattle...or blame...but to try to understand what breed of sadness, heartache, or shatter might lie at the bottom of her mother's supreme but never evil oddness."
• Charyn, Jerome. The Dark Lady of Belorusse (the Bronx in the 1940s)
• Childers, Mary. Welfare Brat (growing up poor in the Bronx in the 1960s)
• Choi, Annie.Happy Birthday or Whatever: Track Suits, Kim Chee, and Other Family Disasters "It perfectly showed the relationship between first-generation Korean parents and their American-born children." —Esther Yoo
• Coates, The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood “Ta-Nehisi Coates is the young James Joyce of the hip-hop generation.”~Walter Mosley
• Coetzee, J. M.. Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life (life as a bookish adolescent, contemptuous of his weak father, overattached perhaps to his mother, growing up in cruel and narrow South African society in the years following World War II. Part of the acclaimed novelist's trilogy of fictionalized memoirs in one volume Scenes from Provincial Life: Boyhood, Youth, Summertime
• Cofer, Judith Ortiz. Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood
• Conroy, Frank. Stop-Time A Memoir
• Conroy, Pat. My Losing Season: A Memoir . "Loss is a fiercer, more uncompromising teacher, coldhearted but clear-eyed in its understanding that life is more dilemma than game, and more trial than free pass," writes Conroy, re-creating here the losing basketball season Conroy and his team endured during his senior year at the Citadel, 1966- 1967.

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• Conway, Jill Ker. The Road from Coorain Born on a sheep ranch in the Australian outback, she was seven before she saw another girl child. At eight, too small to mount her horse unaided, she galloped miles, alone, across Coorain, her parents' thirty thousand windswept, drought-haunted acres in the Australian outback, doing a "man's job" of helping herd the sheep. Staggered by the loss of her father, catapulted to the suburban Sydney of the 1950s, she found her way to university. The first of an amazing autobiographical trilogy.
• Crews, Harry E. A Childhood: The Biography of a Place Crews was born during the Great Depression, in a one-room sharecropper's cabin at the end of a dirt road in rural South Georgia. Shocking and elegiac, heartrending and comical, A Childhood recalls the transforming events of Crews's youth and conveys his growing sense of self in a world "in which survival depended on raw courage, a courage born out of desperation and sustained by a lack of alternatives." See also “A Childhood” Is One of the Finest Memoirs Ever Written (Casey Cep, New Yorker, 3-28-22) Crews said that writing the book, first published in 1978, almost killed him.
• Crowell, Rodney. Chinaberry Sidewalks (growing up poor and white in east Texas, with parents who fight but love each other).(Jonathan Yardley's review, WashPost 1-14-11)
• Cunningham, Laura Shaine. Sleeping Arrangements Funny, sad memoir of girl orphaned at eight and raised by two bachelor uncles in the Bronx.
• Davidson, Sara. Loose Change: (three women coming of age at Berkeley in the 1960s)
• DeMuth, Mary E. Thin Places The victim of childhood trauma and abuse, DeMuth allows us into her story, but draws us into the places where God embraced her raggedy, disheveled, and chronically needy, blessed soul.
• Díaz, Jaquira Ordinary Girls While growing up in housing projects in Puerto Rico and Miami Beach, Díaz found herself caught between extremes. "There is more life packed on each page of Ordinary Girls than some lives hold in a lifetime." ~ Julia Alvarez
• Dillard, Annie. An American Childhood, available in a collection of her three most popular works: Three by Annie Dillard, also available separately:
An American Childhood (growing up in Pittsburgh in the 1950s)
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (her account of one year's exploration on foot in the part of Virginia's Roanoke Valley through which Tinker Creek runs--beloved of many who write about nature, including Bill Harper in Stop Often 'n' Frequent)
The Writing Life (not a primer, but a reflection on what it means to write, what happens when you write. the way a life of writing can be)
• Dubus, Andre IIITownie ( the son of an eminent short story writer who sees him and his siblings Sundays writes about growing up the son of an overworked mother in a depressed Massachusetts mill town saturated with drugs and violence.
• Edise, Faith & Nina Sichel, Eds.. Unrooted Childhoods: Memoirs of Growing Up Global
• Eire, Carlos. Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy As one reader put it: "The author writes from his perspective as a small boy growing up under both the brutal and corrupt regime of Batista and under the backward, brutal and corrupt regime of Fidel Castro. Under Batista, they had stores, food, movies, fun, music, religion, and beauty and the middle/upper classes had "the good life" but under the Castro regime, everybody got poor, except for the elite in the regime.
• Ellroy, James. My Dark Places (crime writer explores mother’s murder)
• Fisher, Antwone Q. Finding Fish: A Memoir Born in prison, mistreated in foster homes, saved by the Navy.

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• Flynn, Laura M. Swallow the Ocean (a memoir of life in San Francisco in the 1970s, as two sisters learn their mother's paranoid schizophrenia explains her strange behavior)
• Forna, Aminatta. The Devil That Danced on the Water: A Daughter's Quest An idyllic childhood became the stuff of nightmare: " the upheavals of post-colonial Africa, danger, flight, the bitterness or exile in Britain and the terrible consequences of her dissident father’s stand against tyranny."
• Fowler, Connie May. When Katie Wakes: A Memoir
• Fox, Paula. Borrowed Finery: A Memoir Born in the 1920s to nomadic, bohemian parents, Paula Fox is left at birth in a Manhattan orphanage, then cared for by a poor yet cultivated minister in upstate New York. Her parents resurface. Never sharing more than a few moments with his daughter, Fox's father allows her to be shuttled from New York City to Cuba to Hollywood's seedy margins. Hence the "borrowed finery" of Fox's unusual beginnings.
• Fuller, Alexandra. Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood
• Gates, Henry Louis. Colored People: A Memoir
• Gildener, Catherine. Too Close to the Falls. This outstanding memoir, written from the child's viewpoint, tells of an unconventional childhood near Niagara Falls, NY--where, as an overactive 4-year-old, she is put to work in her father's pharmacy. Full of characters and charm.
• Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Wait Till Next Year (the historians 50s girlhood, bonding with her father over the Brooklyn Dodgers and her mother over books)
• Haack, Margie. The Exact Place (about growing up WAAAY north in Minnesota, in a three-room house with no running water, with a mother, a stepfather whose love and approval elude her, five siblings, and a dog--the exact place for a spiritual awakening.
• Hampl, Patricia. The Florist's Daughter. "Nothing is harder to grasp than the relentlessly modest life," writes Hampl, about her parents.
• Hart, Moss. Act One: An Autobiography “Moss Hart's Act One is not only the best book ever written about the American theater, but one of the great American autobiographies, by turns gripping, hilarious and searing.” ―Frank Rich
• Hemon, Aleksandar. The Book of My Lives (a memoir in essays, about boyhood in Sarajevo, then leaving for America -- on loss and displacement from his hometown)
• Hickam, Homer. Rocket Boys (luminous memoir of 14-year-old in late 1950s who saw building rockets as a way out of a West Virginia mining town--made into a movie)
• Holloway, Monica. Driving with Dead People
• hooks, bell. Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood
• Hotchner, A.E.. King of the Hill (St. Louis during the Depression)
• Huxley, Elspeth. The Flame Trees of Thika: Memories of an African Childhood
• Jefferson, Margo. Negroland (on growing up black and privileged--see Times review)
• Johnson, Diane.Flyover Lives. “Smart . . . perceptive . . . Flyover Lives is a memoir of the Midwest sure to charm readers . . . Johnson vividly reminds us that the country we’re all from is the unfamiliar one called the past.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR
• Jones, Sayee. How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir See NPR review (Gabino Iglesias) "...a story packed with elements that profoundly connect him to poetry, to every black person that came before him in this country, and to many of us who grew up dreaming of a chance at upward social mobility through education that we couldn't afford."
• Jordan, June. Soldier: A Poet’s Childhood
• Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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• Julien, Maude. The Only Girl in the World. For readers of Room and The Glass Castle, an astonishing memoir of one woman rising above an unimaginable childhood.
• Kalish, Mildred Armstrong. Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression
• Karr, Mary. The Liars' Club Karr’s “haunting memoir of growing up in East Texas in the early 1960s, virtually motherless, and fiercely seeking to understand her parents, their lives and their relationship to her sister and herself.” (NY Times review) With "characters as darkly hilarious as any of J. D. Salinger’s—a hard-drinking daddy, a sister who can talk down the sheriff at age twelve, and an oft-married mother whose accumulated secrets threaten to destroy them all." (USA Today)
• Keister, Douglas. Heart-Land: Growing Up in the Middle of Everything . On growing up in Lincoln, Nebraska, in the 1950s and 1960s.
• Kimmel, Haven. A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana (a funny, tender ode to childhood in a tiny town), followed by She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana
• Kingston, Maxine Hong. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts
• Kluger, Ruth. Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered "A book of breathtaking honesty and extraordinary insight."~Los Angeles Times
• Knopp, Lisa. Flight Dreams: A Life in the Midwestern Landscape
• Kusz, Natalie. Road Song (fascinating yet gentle account of a girl's -- and family's -- survival in rural Alaska, despite her life-threatening deformity after being mauled by a sled dog and despite the 'eccentric' world view of an unforgettable father)
• Lauck, Jennifer. Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found. Stunning memoir in the amazing, authentic-feeling voice of a child experiencing trauma. Available on CD: talks on memoir writing and to therapists who treat posttraumatic stress disorder (in which Lauck outlines the path she took to process, and transcend, the trauma).
• Livingston, Sonja. Ghostbread a "lyrical memoir on what it means to hunger, showing that poverty can strengthen the spirit just as surely as it can grind it down" (Goodreads review).
• Lorde, Audre. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
• Lyden, Jackie. Daughter of the Queen of Sheba (NPR journalist's memoir of her mother's manic-depressive episodes)
• Martinez, Domingo. The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir (about growing up as one of the "in-between people" (who could pass as white) in Brownsville, a neglected rural barrio just north of the Mexican border)
• Mathebane, Mark. Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa
• McCarthy, Mary. Memories of a Catholic Girlhood
• McCourt, Frank. Angela’s Ashes (Irish poverty)
• McLain, Paula. Like Family: Growing Up in Other People’s Houses (foster care)
• Moehringer, J.R. The Tender Bar. This journalist's tender memories are associated with Uncle Charlie, a dysfunctional family, and a gin mill in Manhasset, a "lovely evocation of an ordinary place filled with ordinary people."

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• Monette, Paul. Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story
• Moody, Anne. Coming of Age in Mississippi: (Growing Up Poor and Black in the Rural South in the 1940s and '50s)
• Murphy, Dervla. Wheels Within Wheels (as an only child living in rural Ireland, Murphy had an urgent desire to travel--and she wrote many books about her travels. Now, 35 pages into this beautifully written memoir set initially in Ireland, I am ready to put a deposit on a trip to Ireland, she describes it so enticingly.)
• Myers, Alyse. Who Do You Think YOu Are? (a dark and moving memoir of bad parenting in a working-class Jewish family in Queens in the 1960s)
• Nabokov, Vladimir. Speak Memory
• Ondaatje, MichaelRunning in the Family
• Pardlo, Gregory. Air Traffic: A Memoir of Ambition and Manhood in America. "“A remarkable achievement, Air Traffic is a mordantly charming, raw, comic and wise blend of intellectual sophistication and deeply honest storytelling. It is also a glorious addition to the father-son memoir genre..."
• Paulsen, Gary. Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood “A riveting, hopeful survival story about personal resilience amid trauma.” ―Publishers Weekly. Paulsen's stories for young adults include the popular Hatchet and My Life in Dog Years ("A master storyteller with a dry wit."~School Library Journal)
• Pelzer,David. The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family (about growing up in Sri Lanka)
• Rhodes-Courter, Ashley. Three Little Words (depicts the author's nine years in the foster care system with more than a dozen "so-called mothers")
• Rios, Alberto. Capirotadas: A Nogales Memoir (an Arizona border town with an interesting cultural mix)
• Robinson, Holly. The Gerbil Farmer's Daughter. The charming story of a military brat whose father abruptly and inexplicably takes up breeding then little-known gerbils in the 1960s, keeps his obsession a secret from the Navy, discovers that the gerbils are useful for research, and becomes a major supplier of gerbils bred for research (that Holly’s younger sister dies from cystic fibrosis is another thread to the story).
• Rodriguez, Richard. Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez
• Roth, Marco. The Scientists: A Family Romance (about growing up in a "rarefied corner of New York City Jewish society," in a family denying or hiding the truth: that his father, Eugene Roth, brother of Anne Roth Roiphe and the uncle of writer Katie Roiphe, was dying of AIDS. "A brave and honest examination of shifting cultural values, liberal hypocrisy, and privileged guilt" (The Coffin Factory and other reviewers)
• Russo, Richard. Elsewhere: A memoir (the novelist writes movingly and with humor of growing up the only child of a difficult single mother in an industrial white working class town that has seen better days)
• Ruta, Domenica. With or Without You. "A darkly hilarious chronicle of a misfit ’90s youth and the necessary and painful act of breaking away, and of overcoming her own addictions and demons in the process." "A bleaker, funnier, R-rated version of The Glass Castle."
• Ryan, Terry. The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less
• Safran, Joshua Free Spirit: Growing Up On the Road and Off the Grid . Listen to this interview on Interfaith Voices: A Prayer for Sanity in Congress, My Mother, the Witch, and More (click on and listen to "From Wiccan Love Child to Orthodox Jew")

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• Sartor, May. Miss American Pie: A Diary of Love, Secrets and Growing Up in the 1970s
• Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Satrapi’s graphic memoir of growing up in Tehran, Iran, from ages six to fourteen, during the Islamic Revolution -- in powerful black-and-white comic strip images. "Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family."
• Serotte, Brenda. The Fortune Teller's Kiss (growing up the youngest child in a clan of Sephardic (Turkish) Jews in the Bronx, as a child belly dancer who catches polio, as predicted by her fortune-telling grandma)
• Shteyngart, Gary. Little Failure: A Memoir. "It’s an immigrant story, a coming-of-age story, a becoming-a-writer story, and a becoming-a-mensch story, and in all these ways it is, unambivalently, a success.”—Meg Wolitzer, NPR
• Smith, Mary Tyrone. Girls of Tender Age: A Memoir (a bittersweet memoir of childhood in a blue-collar neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut, with an autistic older brother who couldn't bear sounds, combined with the mystery of a serial pedophile and the murder of a young girl.
• Simon, Kate. Bronx Primitive (growing up in a Jewish immigrant family)
• Sontag, Rachel. House Rules (a memoir about surviving and escaping life in a dysfunctional family ruled by a father who bullied and humiliated his children and his wife)
• Steinberg, Michael. Still Pitching. A memoir of growing up a Jewish male in the 1950s, when the Brooklyn Dodgers, resilient underdogs in the baseball world, reflected the author's own struggles--playing baseball under one coach who was an anti-Semite and another who was a Jew who pushed Jewish players harder.
• Stevens, lan. On Borrowed Words: A Memoir of Language (how language and literature shape identity)
• Sting. Broken Music "Most of us have an urge, maybe more as we age, to circle back to the past and touch the places and things of childhood. When Sting did this, his creativity was reborn. Songs exploded from his head."--David Brooks
• Strauss, Jean. Beneath a Tall Tree (about adoption)
• Stringer, Lee. Sleepaway School (about his years at Hawthorne Cedar Knolls, a school for kids at risk)
• Taitz, Sonia. The Watchmaker's Daughter: A Memoir (Born into a world in which the Holocaust is discussed constantly by her insular concentration camp-surviving parents, Taitz seeks to heal both her parents and herself through travel, achievement, and a daring love affair, independence combined with tender dutifulness.)
• Taras, Stephanie Kadel. Mountain Girls.. The story of two girls' friendship and a tribute to and remembrance of the mountains and people of West Virginia.
• Tran, Ly. House of Sticks (a young girl’s journey from war-torn Vietnam to Queens, New York)
• Walls, Jeannette. The Glass Castle Featuring "two people who were (to say the least) unsuited to raise children"...Readers “will marvel at the intelligence and resilience of the Walls kids” and “root for them when they escape, one by one, to New York City.” (Francine Prose, New York Times review)

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• Webber, Thomas. Flying Over 96th Street: Memoir of an East Harlem White Boy
• Westover, Tara. Educated: A Memoir Growing up in a survivalist family, going to school for the first time at 17, then leaving Idaho to get an education and a Cambridge PhD. “Riveting . . . Westover brings readers deep into this world, a milieu usually hidden from outsiders. . . . Her story is remarkable, as each extreme anecdote described in tidy prose attests.”—The Economist. Don't take this to bed as a falling-asleep read--it will keep you awake. “Living proof that some people are flat-out, boots-always-laced-up indomitable . . . a heartbreaking, heartwarming, best-in-years memoir about striding beyond the limitations of birth and environment into a better life.”—USA Today. See also the New Yorker review.
• Wilkins, Joe. The Mountain and the Fathers: Growing Up on The Big Dry (growing up in the unforgiving, harsh world north of the Bull Mountains of eastern Montana in a drought-afflicted area called the Big Dry, a land that chews up old and young alike)
• Wilsey, Sean. Oh the Glory of It All (Wilsey mines for humor his memoir of growing up lonely in the lap of luxury--his "confusing, bittersweet childhood is, like the book itself, just the right mixture of comic and tragic")
• Winterson, Jeanette. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? This is "a “testament to Winterson’s innate generosity, as well as her talent, that she can showcase the outsize humor her mother’s equally capacious craziness provides even as she reveals the cruelties Mrs. Winterson imposed on her in the name of rearing a God-fearing Christian.” (Times review)
• Wolff, Geoffrey. The Duke of Deception: The Memories of My Father (about his con-man father Duke Wolff)
• Wolff, Mishna. I'm Down: A Memoir (vignettes of growing up white, trying, like her father, to assimilate into Seattle's black culture)
• Wolff, Tobias. This Boy’s Life (growing up in a battle of wills with his abusive stepfather)
• Wright, Richard. Black Boy


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"So much happens to us all over the years. So much has happened within us and through us. We are to take time to remember what we can about it and what we dare. That's what taking the time to enter the room (called "Remember") means, I think. It means taking time to remember on purpose. It means not picking up a book for once or turning on the radio, but letting the mind journey gravely, deliberately, back through the years that have gone by but are not gone. It means a deeper, slower kind of remembering; it means remembering as a searching and finding. The room is there for all of us to enter if we choose."
~~ Frederick Buechner , “A Room Called Remember” from the book Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons


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After Visiting Friends: A Son's Memoir by Michael Hainey (the haunting and suspenseful story of a son’s quest to understand the mystery of his father’s death—a story about the secrets families keep and the role they play in making us who we are)
All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg, as well as Ava's Man and The Prince of Frogtown . Delightful reading from a born storyteller with a distinctively southern voice.
All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung. A powerful memoir of transracial adoption -- a Korean girl (born prematurely) adopted by loving white parents and raised in small-town Oregon, Chung never saw faces like hers or felt she belonged until she went to college and met other Asians. Then, married and pregnant, she looked for her birth family with the help of a "search angel." Explores “the quiet drama of the everyday adopted experience.”
Ancestors: A Family History by William Maxwell, author of So Long, See You Tomorrow. Ancestors: A Family History is "an astonishing evocation of a vanished world, as he retraces, branch by branch, the history of his family, taking readers into the lives of settlers, itinerant preachers, and small businessmen, examining the way they saw their world and how they imagined the world to come."
Are You Somebody?: The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman by Nuala O'Faolain. (One of 9 children in a "defeated Dublin household," with a reporter father who was seldom home and an alcoholic mother, and aspiring to write in a male-dominated literary culture, Irish journalist O'Faolain narrates her journey of self-discovery in the Dublin world in which "writing and drink mattered far more than women."
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson. "Her book is an elegant, powerful, deeply discursive examination of gender, sexuality, queerness, pregnancy and motherhood, all conveyed in language that is intellectually potent and poetically expressive.”―Michael Lindgren,  Washington Post

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Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You by Sue William Silverman
Being Flynn by Nick Flynn, movie tie-in edition of the award-winning Another Bullshit Night in Suck City: A Memoir , now a movie, "Being Flynn," the story of an estranged father and son reunited when the alcoholic, narcissistic father shows up at a homeless shelter where the son, now adult, is working. (Listen to Dave Davies interview on Fresh Air with Nick Flynn.
The Best Day the Worst Day: Life with Jane Kenyon by Donald Hall. A portrait of the inner moods of "the best marriage I know about," as Hall puts it, against the stark medical emergency of Jane's leukemia, which ended her life in fifteen months, at age 47. Not for the faint of heart: chapters about their loving marriage alternate with harrowing chapters about her illness.
Bettyville: A Memoir by George Hodgman. "A witty, tender memoir of a son’s journey home to care for his irascible mother...an indelible portrait of a family and an exquisitely told tale of a prodigal son’s return."
Big Russ and Me: Father and Son: Lessons of Life by Tim Russert. Growing up in South Buffalo as the son of Big Russ, a hard-working man who worked two jobs to provide for his family and educate his children.
Blue Nights by Joan Didion (about the loss of her beloved child, and a reflection on the complexity of being adopted, as her daughter, Quintana Roo, was). Here's Hawley Roddick's review.
Best Seat in the House: A Father, a Daughter, a Journey Through Sports by Christine Brennan (memoir of the popular sports columnist, whose father encouraged her love of sports and her belief that she could make it in the male-dominated niche of journalism). Read the Politics & Prose bookstore review.
Between Them: Remembering My Parents by Richard Ford. “Every page of this little remembrance teems with Ford’s luxuriant prose, his moving and tender longing for his parents, and his affecting and intimate portrait of two people simply living life as best they can.” --Publishers Weekly
The Bill from My Father: A Memoir by Bernard Cooper. A "humorous, wrenching, but never boring exploration of a frustrating father-son relationship. Bernard's deceased brothers had pleased their father by becoming lawyers or private investigators, joining Dad's firm, and being heterosexual. Bernard did none of that and has to come to terms with the philandering, curmudgeonly father he wishes would grant even token approval instead of the itemized, two-million-dollar bill he'd once sent Bernard for his upbringing."~Booklist
The Book of My Lives by Aleksandar Hemon (a memoir in essays, ranging from his childhood in pre-war Sarajevo and his teenage chess career to his new life as a writer in Chicago after fleeing Sarajevo and his daughter's death from a rare brain tumor)

Brothers (and Me): A Memoir of Loving and Giving by Donna Britt. She asks: It asks: Why, for so long, did she -- like millions of seemingly self-aware women -- rarely put herself first, unconsciously seeking to help her three brothers and her three sons (and other brothers).

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The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride
The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son by Pat Conroy (author of a great fictional account of his father, The Great Santini). In this interview and story for USA Today, , Conroy says, "But a strange thing happened after the novel became a movie starring Robert Duvall. My dad, always in denial, treated it all as fiction, like I had made it all up, not toned it down. To prove that, he reinvented himself. After my mother divorced him (in 1975) he had the best second act I ever saw. He became the best uncle, the best brother, the best grandfather, the best friend."
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris. See also two of his New Yorker stories:Let It Snow (12-22-03, about a rare snow day in North Carolina) and Now We Are Five (10-28-13, written ten years later, when his youngest sister had committed suicide).

Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp, author of Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs
The Duke of Deception: Memoirs of My Father by Geoffrey Wolff. "Geoffrey Wolff unravels the enigma of this Gatsbyesque figure, a bad man who somehow was also a very good father, an inveterate liar who falsified everything but love."

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The End of Eve: A Memoir by Ariel Gore. At age 39, Ariel Gore has everything she’s always wanted; then her crazy, difficult, dying mother comes to end her days. Sad, funny, and wise look at the mother-daughter relationship.
Elsewhere by Richard Russo. Powerful memoir of Russo's enmeshed life with his difficult mother, and his discovery after his mother's death that she had lived with undiagnosed and untreated obsessive compulsive disorder.

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The Family Nobody Wanted by Helen Doss (foreword by Mary Battenwell). Doss chronicles how each of her adopted children, representing white, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Mexican, and Native American backgrounds, came to her and husband Carl, a Methodist minister
Fathers, Sons, & Brothers: The Men in My Family by Bret Lott (autobiographical essays reviewed by Michael Harris ("Men Behaving Badly, Madly and Gladly," Los Angeles Times 7-21-97)
Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick. "Rarely is the barbed edge of mother love described with such scorching wit and raw emotion as it is in Vivian Gornick's reissued memoir" about the literary critic's volatile relationship with her mother.

The Girl from Human Street: Ghosts of Memory in a Jewish Family by Roger Cohen. A remarkable chronicle of the quest for belonging across generations. An intimate and profoundly moving Jewish family history—a story of displacement, prejudice, hope, despair, and love. Read this powerful piece from it: The Battle to Belong: Depression and an Immigrant’s Struggle to Assimilate
Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant by Jennifer Grant. As a father the notably private actor kept a thorough family archive for his only child, a treasurer for a memoirist. A chronicle of the life behind the legend and of parental love.
Growing Up Patton: Reflections on Heroes, History, and Family Wisdom by Benjamin Patton and Jennifer Scruby (the grandson of General George S. Patton Jr., particularly on the relationship between the general and his son)

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The Habit by Susan Morse. “Morse’s caustic, changeable, demanding, smarty-pants mother is a late-life Sharon Sedaris, had Sharon Sedaris lived and become an Orthodox Christian nun in her eighties, and Morse herself is a crackerjack guide.” ~Cynthia Kaplan
Hats & Eyeglasses: A Family Love Affair with Gambling by Martha Frankel
Her: A Memoir by Christa Parravani (the story of identical twins torn apart by rape, addiction, and the twin's death at 28--about the complex relationship of the twins while both were alive, and of Christa's growth and healing after Cara is gone)
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance. “[Hillbilly Elegy] is a beautiful memoir but it is equally a work of cultural criticism about white working-class America….[Vance] offers a compelling explanation for why it’s so hard for someone who grew up the way he did to make it…a riveting book.” (Wall Street Journal)
House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films by Kier-La Janisse. "In her brilliant and bizarre memoir, Kier-la Janisse reinvents film criticism as memoir, and tells the story of her life through the horror and exploitation films she enjoyed growing up and which later became her life’s passion." ~Molly Odintz
How I Came Into My Inheritance: And Other True Stories by Dorothy Gallagher, as well as Strangers in the House: Life Stories

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I'm Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers by Tim Madigan. The memoir of a newspaper writer whose chance meeting with children's television icon Fred Rogers blossoms into a life-altering friendship. A two-hankie story about male friendship and encouragement.
In the Darkroom by Susan Faludi. "When feminist writer Susan Faludi learned that her seventy-six-year-old father―long estranged and living in Hungary―had undergone sex reassignment surgery, the revelation would launch her on an extraordinary inquiry into the meaning of identity in the modern world and in her own haunted family saga. How was this new parent who identified as “a complete woman now” connected to the silent, explosive, and ultimately violent father she had known, the photographer who’d built his career on the alteration of images?"
In the Dream House: A Memoir by Carmen Maria Machado."Machado calls on a series of narrative traditions in recounting this story, one for which there is little to no existing narrative precedent, since abusive queer relationships have so rarely been addressed in popular culture; the result is a dizzying, monumental achievement."~Corinne Segal, Lit Hub
Just Kids by Patti Smith. A budding songwriter named Patti Smith and a young photographer named Robert Mapplethorpe met at the Hotel Chelsea in 1969; a period piece about starving artists in NYC.

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Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship by Gail Caldwell. Dogs brought them together; illness (and grief) deepened the friendship. Highly recommended.
Losing Mum and Pup by Christopher Buckley. "LOSING MUM AND PUP is a subtle, fond, and, above all, honest chronicle of his celebrated parents [the conservative columnist and the glamorous socialite]...Buckley has pulled off what eludes many writers: he has written candidly but not unkindly about people whose vices and virtues he sees clearly."―Newsweek
Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time by Rob Sheffield. Rolling Stone editor Rob Sheffield had nothing in common with the "hell-raising Appalachian punk-rock girl," Renee but their love of music. He was a "shy, skinny, Irish Catholic geek from Boston" and "she was warm and loud and impulsive." A "gentle, bittersweet reflection on love won and love irrevocably lost."-Booklist
The Low Road: A Scottish Family Memoir by Valerie Miner

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The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: A Jewish Family's Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World by Lucette Lagnado (see Times review)
The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy by Robert Leleux, in which he "describes his East Texas boyhood and coming of age under the tutelage of his eccentric, bewigged, flamboyant, and knowing mother."
A Memoir of Friendship: The Letters Between Carol Shields and Blanche Howard , ed. by Blanche and Allison Howard. See Goodreads quotes.
Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward. "Jesmyn Ward left her Gulf Coast home for education and experience, but it called her back. It called on her in most painful ways, to mourn. In Men We Reaped, Jesmyn unburies her dead, that they may live again. And through this emotional excavation, she forces us to see the problems of place and race that led these men to their early graves. Full of beauty, love, and dignity, Men We Reaped is a haunting and essential read." ~ Natasha Trethewey, US Poet Laureate
My Hijacking: A Personal History of Forgetting and Remembering by Martha Hodes
---Why Didn’t I Want My Beloved Father to Read My Memoir? (LitHub, 6-7-23) Martha Hodes on Diving Deep into the Trauma of Her Hijacking.

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Pull Me Up: A Memoir by Dan Barry. A "generational memoir about growing up Irish and Catholic in a blue-collar family pn Long Island in the late 1950s and '60s, which (along with small-town journalism) he brings to life. Also about surviving a deadly illness.
The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love, and Loss by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt
Replacement Child by Judy Mandel. (Here's A Circuitous Road to Memoir (Mandel on how she organized her material, ASJAWord, 2-6-13)
Run, Brother, Run: A Memoir of a Murder in My Family by David Berg. NY Times review: "He elegantly brings to life the rough-and-tumble boomtown that was 1960s-era Houston, and conveys with unflinching force the emotional damage his brother’s death did to his family."

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Saul Bellow's Heart: A Son's Memoir by Greg Bellow. (Read James Lansdun's interesting review in the Guardian (5-24-13)
Sleeping Arrangements by Laura Shaine Cunningham. Orphaned at 8, Laura was raised in the Bronx by two odd but memorable uncles.
Splitting the Difference: A Heart-Shaped Memoir by Tré Miller Rodriguez. At 18, Tré gave her newborn daughter up for adoption. At 19, her only sibling was killed in a car crash. At 34, her husband died of a sudden heart attack. But at 36, her teenage daughter found her on Facebook and began to reshape the course of Tré's life.

Things I Don't Want to Know: On Writing by Deborah Levy (blending personal history, gender politics, philosophy, and literary theory into a luminescent treatise on writing, love, and loss) and The Cost of Living: A Working Autobiography. See Deborah Levy's memoir asks: What if a woman is the main character in her own story? (Heller McAlpin, LA Times, 7-6-18)
The Truth About Luck: What I Learned on My Road Trip with Grandma by Iain Reid. (Read this Globe & Mail review by Kathryn Borel, Memoir of time spent with Grandma reveals old truths, young wisdom.)
This Boy's Life: A Memoir by Tobias Wolff (a remarkable account of growing up, and especially about his relationship with his abusive stepfather)
Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett, an excellent example of a "warts and all" memoir, about her friendship with Lucy Grealy, author of Autobiography of a Face

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Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala. When a devastating tsunami hit the coast of Sri Lanka, where economics professor Deraniyagala was vacationing in Sri Lanka when a devastating tsunami took the lives of her husband, parents and two young sons. Her story is about how she carried on when everything she loved was completely washed away.
What Becomes You by Aaron Raz Link and Hilda Raz. "Born ostensibly female, Sarah felt male, changed her name to Aaron, took testosterone injections, and survived life-threatening complications from a hysterectomy before undergoing a surgical sex change at 30. Raz writes of her child with rare and moving candor: "I'd given him a library card, braces, orthopedic shoes, glasses, but not what he needed, a sex change . . . now I felt useless in his life . . . I missed Sarah." Mother and son's poignant account becomes one of steadfast maternal love in the midst of changes only partly physical. Both knowingly return, always, to the terrain of the heart. As Link says, "If you want to survive, you must find a way to love what you are." ~Whitney Scott, Booklist
What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love by Carole Radziwill
What They Saved: Pieces of a Jewish Past by Nancy K. Miller. "After her father’s death, Nancy K. Miller discovered a minuscule family archive: a handful of photographs, an unexplained land deed, a postcard from Argentina, unidentified locks of hair. These items had been passed down again and again, but what did they mean? Miller follows their traces from one distant relative to the next, across the country, and across an ocean. Her story, unlike the many family memoirs focused on the Holocaust, takes us back earlier in history to the world of pogroms and mass emigrations at the turn of the twentieth century."
When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico, Maine by Monica Wood. A poor family in Maine suffers the kind of loss as the Kennedys did, at about the same time; a vivid portrait of life in a paper-mill town. "On her own terms, wry and empathetic, Wood locates the melodies in the aftershock of sudden loss...That a memory piece as pacific and unassuming as When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico, Maine should be allowed a seat in the hothouse society of tell-alls is a tribute to the welcoming sensibility of its author and the knowing faith of her publisher. " Boston Globe
Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me by Adrienne Brodeur. "A daughter's tale of living in the thrall of her magnetic, complicated mother, and the chilling consequences of her complicity....Only years later will she find the strength to embrace her life - and her mother - on her own terms. Wild Game is a brilliant, timeless memoir about how the people close to us can break our hearts simply because they have access to them, and the lies we tell in order to justify the choices we make. It's a remarkable story of resilience, a reminder that we need not be the parents our parents were to us."

Two books to read in tandem. Read Francine Prose's story The Brothers Wolff (NY Times Magazine 2-5-89) about Tobias Wolff and Geoffrey Wolff, and compare their memoirs:
This Boy's Life: A Memoir by Tobias Wolff (a remarkable account of growing up, and especially about his relationship with his abusive stepfather)
The Duke of Deception: Memoirs of My Father by Geoffrey Wolff. "Geoffrey Wolff unravels the enigma of this Gatsbyesque figure, a bad man who somehow was also a very good father, an inveterate liar who falsified everything but love."

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Memoirs of regular people
(and lives lived outside the limelight)

(See also recommended coming-of-age memoirs)
And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready by Meaghan O'Connell. "Smart, funny, and true in all the best ways, this book made me ache with recognition of what it felt like to be a new mom (and a human)."―Cheryl Strayed
Balsamroot by Mary Clearman Blew (while caring for a beloved aunt during her slide into dementia, wondering where Aunt Imogene goes when she falls "through the hole in her mind," Blew discovers a destructive but unstated family code of silence. About family ties and self-discovery.
A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana (Haven Kimmel's funny, tender ode to childhood in a tiny town, as she grows up in a state of benign neglect), followed by She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana, which features the transformation of Delonda, her downtrodden and greatly overweight mother, as she claims a life for herself.
Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl by Carol Bodensteiner. A charming, genuine account of rural life in middle America in the mid-1950s, when a family could make a living on 180 acres--a disappearing world.
Between Panic and Desire by Dinty W. Moore. Not so much a memoir as an unconventional essay-montage about a man and his culture--about "the disorienting experience of growing up in a postmodern world." "A curious meditation on family and bereavement, longing and fear, self-loathing and desire, 'Between Panic and Desire' unfolds in kaleidoscopic forms—a coroner’s report, a TV movie script, a Zen koan -- aptly reflecting the emergence of a fractured virtual America." Read review in Coal Hill Review.
The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers by Harry Bernstein. From Ed Pilkington's review in the Guardian: "Harry Bernstein grew up in a Lancashire street with Jews on one side and Christians on the other. Now, at the age of 96, he has written a memoir recalling the tensions that the split created." (If old age is keeping you from writing your memoirs, read this one.)
Miss American Pie: A Diary of Love, Secrets and Growing Up in the 1970s by Margaret Sartor. (Her diary, written from ages 13 to 18, captures changes going on in a teenager's life in rural Louisiana.
Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish
My Ruby Slippers: The Road Back to Kansas. "In this smart meditation on place, Seeley gives to Kansas the time she never afforded it in her youth."—Kirkus Reviews, and Terese Svoboda writes "An honest inquiry into who we are wherever we are, and a brave meditation on mortality." Check out her blog on her RV tour.
The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less, by Terry Ryan, with a foreword by Suze Orman. Married to a drinking man with violent tendencies, Mom kept food on the table by submitting rhymed jingles and advertising slogans of '25 words or less' to contests.
Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams (a naturalist from northern Utah, who writes of the deaths of her mother, grandmother, and other women from cancer, the result of the U.S. government's ongoing nuclear weapons tests in the nearby Nevada desert)
Safekeeping: Some True Stories from a Life by Abigail Thomas -- a memoir in which a life is conveyed through vignettes, not through an A-to-Z story line. An excellent example of an alternative to traditional narrative.
This Path We Share: Reflecting on 60 Years of Marriage by Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad
Walking Beans Wasn't Something You Did With Your Dog: Stories Of Growing Up In And Around Small Towns In The Midwest by edited by Jean Tennant (stories by authors from Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois and more -- thirty heartwarming, funny and dramatic stories about life in the Midwest, ranging from the days after the Depression to the more recent past.). Tennant did more such anthologies: Knee High by the Fourth of July: More Stories of Growing Up in and Around Small Towns in the Midwest and Amber Waves of Grain: Third in the Series of Stories About Growing Up in and Around Small Towns in the Midwest.
"Be Yourself; everyone else is already taken." ~Oscar Wilde

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Memoirs of Place

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All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg (about his hardscrabble childhood in the Deep South--Alabama--and an homage to his mother)

Ashcombe: The Story of a Fifteen-Year Lease by Cecil Beaton. "Above all he loved England and the English countryside, and central to that love was his discovery of Ashcombe, the mysterious house in the valley, which he leased for fifteen years. He never got over its loss, and this book celebrates his love for Ashcombe."
At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson. A fascinating history of the modern home, taking us on a room-by-room tour through his own house and using each room to explore the vast history of the domestic artifacts we take for granted.
Bearwallow: A Personal History of a Mountain Homeland by Jeremy B. Jones. Which I was led to by his essay, Obituary for a Quiet Life in Bitter Southerner (6-6-23) "A man passes away without a word in the mountains of North Carolina, and his grandson sets out to write about the importance of a seemingly unimportant life."
The Bee Cottage Story: How I Made a Muddle of Things and Decorated My Way Back to Happiness by Frances Schultz. (Read the comments.)
Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home a graphic novel by Nora Krug, who "wrestles with her family's ties to Nazi Germany and the weight of that history."
The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home by George Howe Colt
The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir by Domingo Martinez(about growing up as one of the "in-between people" (who could pass as white) in Brownsville, a neglected rural barrio just north of the Mexican border)
A Childhood: The Biography of a Place by Harry Crews (beautifully told story of growing up in "a one-room sharecropper's cabin at the end of a dirt road in rural south Georgia. If Bacon County was a place of grinding poverty, poor soil, and blood feuds, it was also a deeply mystical place, where snakes talked, birds could possess a small boy by spitting in his mouth, and faith healers and conjure women kept ghosts and devils at bay. At once shocking and elegiac, heartrending and comical, A Childhood not only recalls the transforming events of Crews's youth but conveys his growing sense of self in a world 'in which survival depended on raw courage, a courage born out of desperation and sustained by a lack of alternatives.'"
Coal Miner's Daughter by Loretta Lynn with George Vecsey. Born into deep poverty in Butcher Holler, Kentucky, married at thirteen, mother of six, and a grandmother by the time she was twenty-nine, Loretta Lynn went on to become one of the most prolific and influential songwriters and singers in modern country music. You CAN hear her voice.
Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas. "I didn't realize that I had spent 14 years of my life, from 16 to the age of 30, hiding from the government. I didn't realize what that actually meant — that I was actually hiding from myself, from the relationship I was having with people."
Detroit Hustle: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Home by Amy Haimerl (the compelling story of a couple who decide to "homestead" in Detroit, to rehab a historic home)
Dreaming of Lions: My Life in the Wild Places by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
Educated by Tara Westover. See Alexandra Schwartz's review in the New Yorker. Memoir of growing up "on a remote mountain in Idaho, the seventh child of Mormon survivalist parents who subscribed to a paranoid patchwork of beliefs well outside the mandates of their religion....Mainstream medicine was mistrusted, as were schools, which meant that Westover’s determination to leave home and get a formal education—the choice that drives her book, and changed her life—amounted to a rebellion against her parents’ world....If her book is an act of defiance, a way to set the record of her own life straight, it’s also an attempt to understand, even to respect, those whom she had to break away from in order to get free." A gripping read.
The Exact Place by Margie L. Haack (on growing up in three-room house in northern Minnesota with no running water can seem crowded with a mother, stepfather, five siblings, and a dog--on swampland barely claimed from wilderness, where temperatures of 40 below could freeze a chicken house full of hens)
The Forgotten Girls: A Memoir of Friendship and Lost Promise in Rural America by Monica Potts. See White women in rural America are dying. This memoir examines why (Linah Mohammad , Scott Detrow, Justine Kenin, South Carolina Public Radio, 4-19-23) Two best friends start with the same dream, but grow up to live very different lives. It's the story at the heart of a new memoir about getting out of a small town and the crushing pressures to stay in it.
A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel. When Haven Kimmel, aka Zippy, was born in 1965, Mooreland, Indiana, was a sleepy little hamlet of three hundred people. "In this witty and lovingly told memoir, Kimmel takes readers back to a time when small-town America was caught in the amber of the innocent postwar period–people helped their neighbors, went to church on Sunday, and kept barnyard animals in their backyards."
Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh. As one reviewer puts it, "She goes on to talk about how the conservative wing of American politics has been 'very clever in tapping into that real — and not at all sinister — authentic experience of feeling damn proud of the work that you do yourself.'
Home: A Short History of an Idea by Witold Rybczynski. "Home is serious, historically minded, and exquisitely readable. It is a triumph of intelligence." ~The New Yorker
The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham. Dating back to slavery, Edgefield County, South Carolina―a place “easy to pass by on the way somewhere else”―has been home to generations of Lanhams. In The Home Place, readers meet these extraordinary people, including Drew himself, who over the course of the 1970s falls in love with the natural world around him. As his passion takes flight, however, he begins to ask what it means to be “the rare bird, the oddity.”• House: A Memoir by Michael Ruhlman. "We are a country of itinerants in love with the idea of home, the truth and sentimentality of it intertwined so tightly they are almost indistinguishable from one another."
The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood by Helene Cooper. Born into a wealthy, powerful, dynastic Liberian family descended from freed American slaves, she came of age in the 1980s when her homeland slipped into civil war. A coming-of-age story and a story of her long voyage home.
House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East by Anthony Shadid
How I Got Cultured: A Nevada Memoir by Phyllis Barber (a Mormon girl growing up in Nevada in the 1940s and '50s, with a hunger for high-culture within the confines of Las Vegas)
Mountain Girls by Stephanie Kadel Taras (About the lifelong friendship of two girls from Elkins, West Virginia--a tribute to the mountains and people of W. Virginia). Stephanie resists Amazon, but you can buy it at the Green Woman Store.

The House in the Country by Nan Fairbrother (1965). "Among the remembered places are houses we have lived in, rooted in I suppose... There was one house especially, an old farmhouse where the children grew up in the country in a wartime world of our own, curiously remote and isolated."
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. About life in Paris in the 1920’s and 1930’s, and his relationships with a group of American expatriate artists and writers.
North Toward Home by Willie Morris. An unparalleled memoir of a country in transition and a Southern boy coming of age in a period of tumultuous cultural, social, and political change (roughly mid-1930s to mid-1960s). Willie followed this with New York Days (life in New York City in the 1960s, when Willie was the youngest ever editor-in-chief of Harper's, America's oldest magazine, flourishing at the center of the nation's cosmos of writing, publishing, politics, and the arts.
The Odd Woman and the City: A Memoir by Vivian Gornick. "...in the stubbornly candid, piercingly intelligent voice that informed her literary essays and criticism. . . . a ferocious intellectual inquisitiveness and a lifetime affair with a city where Gornick's aliveness, her alertness are rewarded daily.” ~ Misha Berson, The Seattle Times. Also the story of a friendship.
Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (her classic memoir of life on a plantation in Kenya in Africa's post-colonial days--which Modern Library designates "one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time." "She tells with classic simplicity of the ways of the country and the natives: of the beauty of the Ngong Hills and coffee trees in blossom: of her guests, from the Prince of Wales to Knudsen, the old charcoal burner, who visited her: of primitive festivals: of big game that were her near neighbors--lions, rhinos, elephants, zebras, buffaloes--and of Lulu, the little gazelle who came to live with her, unbelievably ladylike and beautiful.")
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard (essays on the natural world during a year spent in the Blue Ridge Mountains)
Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser, a compelling, prize-winning historical biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the beloved author of the Little House on the Prairie books--interesting as a biography of a writer for whom place was central to the life.
Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams. " In the spring of 1983 Terry Tempest Williams learned that her mother was dying of cancer. That same season, The Great Salt Lake began to rise to record heights, threatening the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and the herons, owls, and snowy egrets that Williams, a poet and naturalist, had come to gauge her life by. One event was nature at its most random, the other a by-product of rogue technology: Terry's mother, and Terry herself, had been exposed to the fallout of atomic bomb tests in the 1950s. As it interweaves these narratives of dying and accommodation, Refuge transforms tragedy into a document of renewal and spiritual grace, resulting in a work that has become a classic.
Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here by Angela Palm (how growing up on the wrong side of the Kankakee River bank in a poverty-stricken flood zone of rural Indiana shaped her in both good and painful ways, her first love later imprisoned for murder)
Road Song by Natalie Kusz (fascinating yet gentle account of a girl's -- and family's -- survival in rural Alaska, despite her life-threatening deformity after being mauled by a sled dog and despite the 'eccentric' world view of an unforgettable father)
A Romantic Educationby Patricia Hampl. "In beautiful flowing prose the author evokes her Catholic childhood in St Paul and her college years protesting the war in Vietnam. Along the way she becomes curious about her Czech grandmother's childhood in Prague, and decides to visit this city (still behind the iron curtain). In the process she grows up."~reader Richard Adair
Six Months in the Sandwich Islands: Among Hawaii's Palm Groves, Coral Reefs, and Volcanoes by Isabella L. Bird. A Victorian era travel book which sold out in England in 1875.
Slouching Towards Bethlehem, essays by Joan Didion (highly evocative period pieces on California in the mid-1960s, early in the journalist's career)
Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs: A True Story of Bad Breaks and Small Miracles by Heather Lende. Since her bestselling first book, If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name (dispatches from small-town Alaska), "a near-fatal bicycle accident has given Lende a few more reasons to consider matters both spiritual and temporal. Her idea of spirituality is rooted in community, and here she explores faith and forgiveness, loss and devotion-as well as raising totem poles, canning salmon, and other distinctly Alaskan adventures. Lende's irrepressible spirit, her wry humor, and her commitment to living a life on the edge of the world resonate on every page."
Under Magnolia, a Southern Memoir by Frances Mayes. “As gothic as anything Faulkner could have dreamed up, populated by characters straight out of a Flannery O’Connor story…a thorny memoir that strips away the polite Southern masks, sweet magnolias be damned. Unforgettable.” – Atlanta Journal Constitution• Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. "This beautifully written memoir about taking chances, living in Italy. loving a house and, always, the pleasures of food, would make a perfect gift for a loved one. But it's so delicious, read it first yourself." ~ USA Today
Volcano: A Memoir of Hawai'i by Garrett Hongo (Part memoir, part Japanese American family chronicle, part luminous work of natural history, Volcano tells what happened when as a young man Hongo returned to his birthplace, a small village named Volcano, in Hawai'i, to reclaim its dreamlike landscape and his own elusive past)
A Walker in the City by Alfred Kazin (memories of his first-generation American experience of growing up in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, in a working-class Jewish community in the decade before the Great Depression)
The Water Is Wide by Pat Conroy (his first book -- about his year teaching on a nearly deserted South Carolina island, whose fishing industry is threatened by industrial pollution)
Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs by Wallace Stegner. With subjects ranging from the writer’s own “migrant childhood” to the need to protect what remains of the great western wilderness (which Stegner dubs “the geography of hope”) to poignant profiles of western writers such as John Steinbeck and Norman Maclean, this collection is a riveting testament to the power of place.
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle, who realizes 'a long-cherished dream and actually moves into a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the remote country of the Lubéron with his wife and two large dogs. He transports us into all the earthy pleasures of Provençal life and lets us live vicariously at a tempo governed by seasons, not by days."
The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom. “The memoir from Louisiana native Broom tells the story of her mother’s beloved shotgun house in east New Orleans and the family she raised there. The house was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and Broom writes about the racial and economic inequality that has haunted New Orleans for decades. Author Heidi Julavits called the book “a masterpiece of history, politics, sociology and memory.”~ from a Los Angeles Times review

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Memoirs of celebrity, scandal,
gossip, and secrets

The Art of the Hollywood Memoir (Rachel Syme, New Yorker, 7-30-21) Accounts of life in Tinseltown reveal as much as they seek to hide. Syme writes about Lulu in Hollywood by Louise Brooks; Swanson on Swanson by Gloria Swanson, The Lonely Life by Bette Davis, Alone with Me by Eartha Kitt, By Myself and Then Some by Lauren Bacall, The Million Dollar Mermaid by Esther Williams, Rita Moreno: A Memoir by Rita Moreno, Shelley: Also Known As Shirley by Shelly Winters, Myself Among Others by Ruth Gordon; Foxy: My Life in Three Acts by Pam Grier, You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again by Julia Phillips, Cybill Disobedience by Cybill Shepherd, and Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher.
Bad Blood by Lorna Sage. "Nobody's unhappy family was ever quite like that of Lorna Sage, whose ruthlessly funny, excruciating, inspiring memoir Bad Blood won England's Whitbread Biography Award. She grew up in the '40s on the Welsh border, in the crossfire between her grandparents, a bitter, bibulous, bookish vicar resembling Jack Sprat and his short, "fat doll" of an ignorant wife. He preached earthy sermons about how one might prefer for a wife "Martha before dinner, Mary after dinner." His wife's "notion of marriage [was] that a man signed you up to have his wicked way with you and should spend the rest of his life paying through the nose." Grandma blackmailed the vicar with his diary of adultery, in which she scribbled vicious comments invaluable to the family historian."--from an Amazon review.
James Dickey: The World as a Lie by Henry Hart. Poet and novelist James Dickey "made lying both a literary strategy and a protective camouflage; even his family and closest friends failed to distinguish between the mythical James Dickey and the actual man. Henry Hart sees lying as the central theme to Dickey's life; and in this authoritative, immensely entertaining biography he delves deep behind Dickey's many masks."
Diana: Her True Story--in Her Own Words by Andrew Morton. Hugely popular version of the fairytale "real life" story.
Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward. See Times review: Bob Woodward Pulls Back the Curtain on President Trump’s ‘Crazytown’.
Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation by Ken Starr. Twenty years after the Starr Report and the Clinton impeachment, former special prosecutor Ken Starr finally shares his definitive account of one of the most divisive periods in American history.
The Boys Are Back by Simon Carr. "So there we are, a father and two sons in a household without role models, males together in a home different from anything I'd known—an idyllic Lost Boys' world with a house full of children and as few rules as possible."
I, Tina: My Life Story by Tina Turner with Kurt Loder, in which the legendary Tina Turner tells all about her life and career: from her humble beginnings in Nut Bush, TN; to her turbulent and volatile marriage to Ike Turner; and, finally, to her triumphant return and massive success. “Splendid...this is rock history with substance!” —Susan Brownmiller, Newsday
Leaving a Doll's House by Claire Bloom (her "avenging tome about her fraught marriage to Phillip Roth"). Even the reviews suck you in. See, for example, 'There's more to life than men' (The Telegraph, 3-18-02)
Must You Go?: My Life with Harold Pinter by Antonia Fraser. "It takes a daring biographer to turn her sharp eye on her own life as Antonia Fraser does so movingly and beautifully in her memoir Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter. It's a compelling diary of a passionate love affair, marriage, and 40-year conversation of two soul mates in the milieu of London's chattering classes."
—Tina Brown, The Daily Beast
My Ear at His Heart: Reading My Father by Hanif Kureishi. "It is family memoir, autobiography and cultural history combined. . . . With what feels like unmitigated honesty Kureishi successfully conveys the impression that in this book he has actually given us himself.” —The Sunday Times (London)
No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel by Janice Dickinson. Supermodel Dickinson's sex- and booze-soaked autobiography brings readers on a roller-coaster ride through the world of modeling, the emptiness of superficial relationships and the perils of drug addiction. Admitting that "terror is a great motivator," Dickinson fought like a tigress to establish her career. “Janice . . . speaks with the candor of Cher, the bite of Joan Rivers and the sexual bonhomie of Mae West.” (Liz Smith, New York Post)
Oh the Glory of It All by Sean Wilsey. "Wilsey's father was a distant, wealthy man who used a helicopter when a moped would do and whose mandates included squeegeeing the stall after every shower. Much of Wilsey's youth was spent as subservient to, or rebelling against this imposing man. But the maternal figures in Wilsey's childhood were no less affecting. His mother, a San Francisco society butterfly turned globe-trotting peace promoter, seemed to behave only in extremes--either trying to convince young Sean to commit suicide with her, or arranging impromptu meetings with the Pope and Mikhail Gorbachev. And Dede, his demon of a stepmother, would have made the Brothers Grimm shiver. " "It took the unlikely combination of the three of them--mother, father, stepmother--to make me who I am." It's a fairly basic conclusion after 479 pages of turning every stone, but it's also one that renders his story--more than shocking or glorious--human." --review by Brangien Davis
Oh the Hell of It All: A Life Beyond Imaginings by
Pat Montandon, Sean Wilsey's mother, in a sequel/response to his memoir. Reared in Oklahoma, the daughter of Nazarene ministers, she fled in the 1960s for the excitement and glamour of San Francisco, where she created a life as a newspaper columnist, television host, and writer. Her best friend married her husband, a multimillionaire who left her 'high and dry' after their divorce.
On the House: Washington Memoir by John Boehner. "A politician's honest accountings of repeated failures rather than self-inflated successes.” ~ NPR
Rage To Survive: The Etta James Story by Etta James and David Ritz. Born to a 14-year-old mother and raised by surrogate parents, blues and R&B star James started singing gospel in church at five, was discovered at 14 and had a rapid rise to fame. Nevertheless, her story is a disturbing saga of drug addiction, jail sentences for writing bad checks and stealing prescription drugs, involvements with the wrong men and anger at a disruptive and unstable mother who has refused to reveal who her daughter's father is. It's easy to see why James says she has been "raging through life." She claims it's the rage that keeps her going. Now, at the age of 56, she reports she has kicked the drug habit, reached an understanding with her mother and settled down with her husband and children, letting off steam by dirt biking.
Those who write memoirs know--the truth must be told (Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Independent, 1-18-10) The dishy tone of this piece, discovered belatedly 7 years after it was published, reminded me of a guilty secret: That many of us secretly read overrevelatory and gossipy memoirs that we don't admit we're enjoying. First, I'll link to the books she writes about (I get a tiny commission on any Amazon sales this link leads to) and then I'll add to the list, in no particular order. I paid for my own copies, but you can find most of them in the library.
Whatever...Love Is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves by Maria Bello. Actress and activist Maria Bello made waves with her essay, “Coming Out as a Modern Family,” in the New York Times popular “Modern Love” column, in which she recalled telling her son that she had fallen in love with her best friend, a woman—and her relief at his easy and immediate acceptance with the phrase “Whatever Mom, love is love.” She made a compelling argument about the fluidity of partnerships, and how families today come in a myriad of designs. In her first book, Bello broadens her insights as she examines the idea of partnership in every woman’s life, and her own. She examines the myths that so many of us believe about partnership—that the partnership begins when the sex begins, that partnerships are static, that you have to love yourself before you can be loved, and turns them on their heads.

•  "An actor is a group animal and a writer is a solitary animal. For a group person to isolate themselves and have just themselves to feed off is very complicated. Sometimes it goes well, but mostly it's a process of endless reworking and getting it wrong."~ Rupert Everett quoted in The Guardian


What have I left out? What do you recommend?

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Graphic memoirs

Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home by Nora Krug, who "wrestles with her family's ties to Nazi Germany and the weight of that history."
Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman (the story of a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe and his son, a cartoonist who tries to come to terms with his father's story and history itself). And there's more: Maus II: A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began (Part II moves us from the barracks of Auschwitz to the bungalows of the Catskills).
Stitches: A Memoir by David Small (" the story of a fourteen-year-old boy who awakes one day from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he has been transformed into a virtual mute—a vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot. From horror to hope, Small proceeds to graphically portray an almost unbelievable descent into adolescent hell and the difficult road to physical, emotional, and artistic recovery.")
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution)
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel (in which she charts her fraught relationship with her late father). Controversial in states like South Carolina (see story in "Christian Science Monitor" "because it graphically shows lesbian acts."
American Splendor and More American Splendor: The Life and Times of Harvey Pekar, stories by Harvey Pekor, illustrations by Kevin Brown, Gregory Budgett, Robert Crumb, and others.

and this one, which is ABOUT the subject.
Autobiographical Comics: Life Writing in Pictures by Elisabeth El Refaie

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Medical memoirs

• Awdish, Rana. In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope A riveting first-hand account of a physician who's suddenly a dying patient, In Shock "searches for a glimmer of hope in life’s darkest moments, and finds it.” —The Washington Post
• Bartelme, Tony. A Surgeon in the Village: An American Doctor Teaches Brain Surgery in Africa "Bartelme describes how a dedicated and caring mentor can transfer knowledge and neurosurgical skills to a Tanzanian clinician with little formal training so that the latter can perform simple neurosurgical procedures that save lives. This is a book that every student and practitioner of global surgery will find enjoyable and inspiring reading.”~Haile Debas, founding director of the University of California Global Health Institute
• Brown, Theresa. Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between
• Brown, Theresa. The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients' Lives. One nurse's eight-hour shift on a cancer ward. See also Terry Gross's interview (Fresh Air).
• Cahalan, Susannah. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness “The bizarre and confounding illness that beset the 24-year-old New York Post reporter in early 2009 so ravaged her mentally and physically that she became unrecognizable to coworkers, family, friends, and—most devastatingly—herself… She dedicates this miracle of a book to ‘those without a diagnosis’… [An] unforgettable memoir.” ― Elle It is a superb case study of a rare neurologic diagnosis, and the author “tells her story about developing a neurological disease that was treated with an apheresis blood procedure.”
• Campbell, Olivia. Women in White Coats: How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine Listen to discussion: Women in White Coats and the Path to Publishing a Nonfiction Book (YouTube video) Lynne Lamberg leads Johns Hopkins Science Writing Program's discussion with Olivia Campbell.  Not a memoir, but possibly of interest.
• Canning, Peter. Paramedic: On the Front Lines of Medicine
• Cousins, Norman. Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient When Norman Cousins was diagnosed with a crippling and irreversible disease, he forged an unusual collaboration with his physician, and together they were able to beat the odds. The doctor's genius was in helping his patient to use his own powers: laughter, courage, and tenacity. The patient's talent was in mobilizing his body's own natural resources, proving what an effective healing tool the mind can be.
• Gawande, Atul. Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science
• Gawande, Atul.Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance And be sure to read Gawande's wonderful Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
• Green, Philip Allen. Trauma Room Two (short fiction about the "unsung heroes in the ER" and "those whose lives are touched by going there," based on his 15 years as an ER physician)
• Grim, Pamela. Just Here Trying to Save a Few Lives: Tales of Life and Death in the ER
• Groopman, Jerome. Second Opinions: Stories of Intuition and Choice in the Changing World of Medicine
• Grubbs, Vanessa. Hundreds of Interlaced Fingers: A Kidney Doctor's Search for the Perfect Match
• Gutkind, Lee, editor. I Wasn't Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse (anthology of short pieces)
• Haynes, Jane. Who Is It That Can Tell Me Who I Am? ("an unflinching journal of her life as a psychotherapist, revealing as much about the author as her patients")
• Hazzard, Kevin. A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic's Wild Ride to the Edge and Back “A former paramedic's visceral, poignant, and mordantly funny account of a decade spent on Atlanta's mean streets saving lives and connecting with the drama and occasional beauty that lies inside catastrophe."
• Hudson, Janice. Trauma Junkie: Memoirs of an Emergency Flight Nurse
• Jamison, Kay Redfield. Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness Jamison "examines bipolar illness from the dual perspectives of the healer and the healed, revealing both its terrors and the cruel allure that at times prompted her to resist taking medication. A memoir of enormous candor, vividness, and wisdom—a deeply powerful book that has both transformed and saved lives." "A testament to how successful a person can be with stable treatment.”
• Jones, Sherry Lynn.Confessions of a Trauma Junkie: My Life as a Nurse Paramedic "It helped me to understand differently the work of our Emergency Services Personnel."
• Jordan, Justin. And Then I Cried: Stories of a Mortuary NCO (details life as an Air Force Mortuary Non Commissioned Officer, working at deployed locations and stateside)
• Juahar, Sandeep. Intern: A Doctor's Initiation
• Kalanithi, Paul. When Breath Becomes Air (foreword by Abraham Verghese) The posthumously published memoir of a remarkable physician who died of advanced lung cancer at a young age. This inspiring memoir finds hope and beauty in the face of insurmountable odds as an idealistic young neurosurgeon attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living? “Kalanithi is so likeable, so relatable, and so humble that you become immersed in his world and forget where it’s all heading.”
• Klass, Perri. A Not Entirely Benign Procedure: Four Years As A Medical Student A classic account of medical training by an NYU pediatrician
• Konner, Melvin. Becoming a Doctor: A Journey of Initiation in Medical School
• Levine, Adele. Run, Don't Walk: The Curious and Courageous Life Inside Walter Reed Army Medical Center A physical therapist's account of life in a major amputee rehabilitation center. "A master of understatement, she paints a picture of what it's like to work at this strange job, patching up broken soldiers only to be sent back to war— and tells her own story, setting her own sorrows and struggles beside the pain of her amputee patients.”
• Loxterkamp, David. What Matters in Medicine: Lessons from a Life in Primary Care A good read about the history of primary care. Describes in a personal way the plight of generalists in a specialist-centred model of medicine.
• Lynch, Thomas. The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade
• Manheimer, Eric. Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital (inspiration for the NBC drama "New Amsterdam," whose medical director also deals with his own throat cancer).
• Marion, Robert. The Intern Blues: The Timeless Classic About the Making of a Doctor
• Marsh, Henry. Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery "The self-lacerating retrospect of the British surgeon Henry Marsh’s “Do No Harm,” which broods on mistakes made during a long and outwardly illustrious career."~ Jerome Groopman. See also Marsh's Admissions: Life as a Brain Surgeon
• McCarthy, Matt. The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician's First Year. Candid memoir of McCarthy’s intern year at a New York hospital provides a scorchingly frank look at how doctors are made--a window on to hospital life and the black-comic paradox of becoming a doctor: How do you learn to save lives in a job where there is no practice? From near-peer mentoring and the immersion process of medical training -- internship as "drinking from the firehose."
• Melinek, Judy. Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner (on becoming a forensic pathologist, but with more reality than you get on CSI) "The CSI effect is a term coined by attorneys for the public's unrealistic expectations created by television crime shows."
• Mierlak, Daniel. Twelve Cases: A Psychiatrist’s True Stories of Mental Illness and Addiction
• Murphy, Jennifer. First Responder: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Love on New York City's Frontlines Life on the front lines as an emergency medical technician (EMT).
• Newman, Kurt. Healing Children: A Surgeon's Stories from the Frontiers of Pediatric Medicine
• Nuland, Sherwin B. Doctors the Biography of Medicine. Nuland is better known for How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter By becoming familiar with the common patterns of illness, he says, we'll be better prepared to make appropriate decisions about continuing treatment or calling it quits.
• Ofri, Danielle. Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue
• Przybylo, Henry Jay. Counting Backwards: A Doctor's Notes on Anesthesia. Listen to Terry Gross's Fresh Air interview "For Anesthesiologist, Easing Pain and Erasing Memories Is All in a Day’s Work" (the part about memories came as a surprise to me!)
• Rosenthal, Elisabeth. An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back. A memoir not of a medical profession but of what has gone wrong with the medical profession. Must reading.
• Ruhlman, Michael. Walk on Water: The Miracle of Saving Children's Lives Draws back the hospital curtain for a unique and captivating look at the extraordinary skill and dangerous politics of critical surgery in a pediatric heart center.
• Sachs, Oliver. On the Move "We may come to a book like this one for the medicine tales, but we stay for the stories of cross-country motorcycle rides, self-administered experiments with powerful drugs, struggles with addiction, bodily transformations, and affairs of the heart."~ Dwyer Murphy in  Best Memoirs of the Decade. If you love that, read about his formative years in Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood
• Salamon, Julie. Hospital: Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus, Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God and Diversity on Steroids
• Seltzer, Richard. Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery; Confessions of a Knife
• Shalof, Tilda. The Making of a Nurse. Shalof also wrote Opening My Heart: A Journey from Nurse to Patient and Back Again (about her own open heart surgery)
• Stern, Adam. Committed: Dispatches from a Psychiatrist in Training
• Stone, John. In the Country of Hearts: Journeys in the Art of Medicine
• Transue, Emily. On Call: A Doctor's Days and Nights in Residency
• Tweedy, Damon. Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor's Reflections on Race and Medicine “In this fascinating, heartbreaking memoir, Tweedy documents his experiences as an African American doctor in a medical system that can be 'just as sick as its patients.'” ―O, The Oprah Magazine
• Verghese, Abraham. My Own Country: A Doctor's Story of a Town and Its People in the Age of AIDS Indian physician Verghese recalls his experience practicing in the remote, conservative town of Johnson City, Tenn., when HIV first emerged there in 1985. “Verghese makes indelible narratives of his cases, and they read like wrenching short stories.” ~Time magazine
• Vertosick, Frank. When the Air Hits Your Brain: Tales from Neurosurgery Portraits of Vertosick's patients and unsparing, detailed descriptions of surgical procedures illuminate both the mysteries of the mind and the realities of the operating room. See also his Why We Hurt: The Natural History of PainBeginning with his own battle against severe migraines, and citing numerous case studies of his patients, Vertosick explains how pain evolved and, by highlighting the critical functions it serves, helps us to understand its value.
• Watkins, Melanie. Taking My Medicine: My Journey from Teenage Mother to Physician
• Weill, Davd. Exhale: Hope, Healing, and a Life in Transplant An inside look at the world of high-stakes medicine, complete with the decisions that are confronted, the mistakes that are made, and the story of a transplant doctor’s slow recognition that he needed to step away from the front lines.
• Wellons, Jay. All That Moves Us: A Pediatric Neurosurgeon, His Young Patients, and Their Stories of Grace and Resilience . "A vivid mid-career memoir."~Jerome Groopman, in Why Storytelling Is Part of Being a Good Doctor (New Yorker, 7-25-22). His book unfolds in a harrowing series of operating-room vignettes, explaining the work of his hands while also evoking the tension in his mind and his heart.Wellons writes unsparingly of his chosen specialty, and “the nearly unbearable pain that we must at times unleash upon our patients....Wellons’s healthy sense of his limitations includes an understanding that such limitations will never be easy to accept.”
• Westaby, Stephen. Open Heart: A Cardiac Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table
• Williams, William Carlos. The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams William Carlos Williams’s medical practice and his literary career formed an undivided life. For forty years he was a busy doctor in the town of Rutherford, New Jersey, and yet he was able to write more than thirty books. One of the finest chapters in the Autobiography tells how each of his two roles stimulated and supported the other. See also The Doctor Stories collects thirteen of Williams’s stories (direct accounts of his experiences as a doctor), six related poems, and a chapter from his autobiography that connects the world of medicine and writing, as well as a new preface by Atul Gawande, an introduction by Robert Coles (who put the book together), and a final note by Williams’s son (also a doctor), about his famous father. <

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Short pieces of memoir writing

The Art of Dying (Peter Schjeldahl, New Yorker, 12-23-19) Terminal illness gives New Yorker art critic a true deadline. Everyone should try writing as succinct, insightful, and wide-ranging a memoir as this one is.
Around the House and In the Garden: A Memoir of Heartbreak, Healing, and Home Improvement by Dominique Browning. A comforting collection of essays about recreating your home and garden when you have been uprooted, displaced, or divorced. By the same author: Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put On My Pajamas & Found Happiness (a humorous and moving book about losing a job and winning a life)
My Absent Father (Jane Smiley, The New Yorker, 10-3-14) Her father's gift of absence helped provide her with a childhood of freedom.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti: From Lost Boy to Poet (the poet looking back, at age 96, in Wall Street Journal, 9-9-15) The beat poet endures a childhood of frequent abandonment—then helps create a literary community in San Francisco with City Lights bookstore.
Filter Fish (Oliver Sacks, New Yorker, 9-14-15) At life’s end, rediscovering the joys of a childhood favorite, gefilte fish.
American Lives: A Reader, ed. by Alicia Christensen, intro. by Tobias Wolff (with contributions by Laurie Alberts, Marvin V. Arnett, Charles Barber, Mary Felstiner, Eli Hastings, Sonya Huber, Jonathan Johnson, Ted Kooser, Dinah Lenney, Aaron Raz Link, Lee Martin, Dinty W. Moore, Hilda Raz, Mimi Schwartz, Brenda Serotte, Fan Shen, Peggy Shumaker, Natalia Rachel Singer, Floyd Skloot, John Skoyles, and Janet Sternburg_
The Bishop's Daughter (a father, a faith, a secret) by Honor Moore (The New Yorker, 3-3-08)
The Daily Miracle: Life with the mavericks and oddballs at the Herald Tribune, by William Zinsser (American Scholar, Winter 2008)
Growing Up Buckley (Christopher Buckley, "Mum and Pup and Me," New York Times Magazine, 4-22-09)
Held Hostage by History by Sandy M. Fernandez (Washington Post Magazine, 1-29-06), an adult child reconciles her memories of immigrating to the U.S. from war-torn Nicaragua with what she is discovering about her parents' experience of the same period
Bumping into Mr. Ravioli (Adam Gopnik, New Yorker, 9-30-02)
Jewish Like Me by Amy Fine Collins (Vanity Fair 5-30-08).The author reflects on her lifelong role—above and below the Mason-Dixon Line—of being the only Jew in the room, and how an unexpected declaration by her daughter helped her reconstitute her identity.
The Oxford Project (photo project gives "voice" to backbone of America)
Paradise of Lies by Staceyann Chin (Lives, The New York Times Magazine, 2-17-08). "My mother ran away to Montreal shortly after my birth and left me behind in Jamaica. And the wealthy Chinese man from Montego Bay — whose name she gave me — denied he ever had any relations with her."
Soaps of Our Lives . Soap operas as her mother knew (and acted in) them. (Liz Welch, NY Times Op-Ed, 12-12-09)
Still Here Thinking of You: A Second Chance with Our Mothers (Joan Potter, Susan Hodara, Vicki Addesso, and Lori Toppe). Months after forming a writers group, four women from very different backgrounds found themselves unexpectedly writing about their mothers. In the process, not only did their understanding of one another deepen, but their perceptions of their mothers were transformed.
This Old Man. Life in the nineties. (Roger Angell's powerful New Yorker essay on life in his nineties.) "Recent and not so recent surveys (including the six-decades-long Grant Study of the lives of some nineteen-forties Harvard graduates) confirm that a majority of us people over seventy-five keep surprising ourselves with happiness. Put me on that list."

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In other words, Work
See also Memoirs of lives in medicine and related fields

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• Abbott, Shirley. The Bookmaker’s Daughter: A Memory Unbound
• Addario, Lynsey It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War. CJR story, Why it pays to work the fringes,calls it a photojournalist's "story of guts, professional ambition, and personal growth that will be familiar to a generation of journalists who came of age on the battlefields of America’s war on terror after the attacks of September 11, 2001."
• Allison, Peter. Whatever You Do, Don't Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide
• Anner, Zach. If at Birth You Don't Succeed: My Adventures with Disaster and Destiny A "frank and devilishly funny" book about an award-winning comedian who "recounts his journey from being what he calls a 'crappy baby' [with cerebral palsy. 'the sexiest of the palsies,' to] the host of his own travel show and an improbable workout guru."
• Armstrong, Karen. The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness. Anderson's memoir of leaving the life of a Roman Catholic nun in 1969 to join the secular world, "a stunningly poignant account about the nature of spiritual growth."
• Assad, Michele Rigby. Breaking Cover: My Secret Life in the CIA and What It Taught Me about What's Worth Fighting For
• Ashton-Warner, Sylvia. Teacher (most memorable scenes: teaching children how to read)
• Athill, Diana. Stet: An Editor's Life "A beautifully written, hardheaded, and generally insightful look back at the heyday of postwar London publishing by a woman who was at its center for nearly half a century." One of a remarkable series of candid memoirs by the late Ms Athill.
• Axelrod, David. Believer: My Forty Years in Politics
• Bair, Julene. The Ogallala Road: A Memoir of Love and Reckoning . Bair has inherited part of a farming empire, and her family's role in depletion of a rapidly disappearing aquifer on the vast western plains haunts her. As traditional ways of life collide with industrial realities, Bair must dramatically change course.
• Baryshnikov, Mikhail. Baryshnikov at Work (in his own words, what it was like to dance his most popular productions)
• Bass, Alison. Brassy Broad: How One Journalist Helped Pave the Way to #MeToo by Allison Bass. In 1989, Alison Bass reported for The Boston Globe on psychiatrists who had sex with their patients. In 1992, Bass reported for The Globe on pedophile priests, a decade before The Globe launched its Spotlight investigation. Later, at the Miami Herald, Bass documented sex workers' lives, a topic she expanded into her memoir Brassy Broad: How one woman helped pave the way to #MeToo (2021).
• Beaton, Kate. Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands . “Epic. Kate Beaton headed west [to] one of the world’s most environmentally destructive oil operations, where workers lived in barracks-like camps and men vastly outnumbered women. Her experience there… gave her an insider’s view into a place and piece of Canadian history few outsiders ever see.”―Robert Ito, New York Times
• Bochco, Steven. Truth Is a Total Defense: My Fifty Years in Television. By the man who brought us “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law,” “Doogie Howser, M.D.,” “NYPD Blue,” and “Murder in the First."
• Bourdain, Anthony. Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
• Bouton, Jim. Ball Four: My Life and Hard Times Throwing the Knuckleball In the Big League. Bouton writes frankly and with humor in this tell-all about his season playing with the Seattle Pilots (after blowing his pitching arm playing for the Yankees). In 1970, when the book came out, he was considered a traitor for exposing the dark side of players' lives (alcohol, drugs, gambling, looking up women's skirts) and the dark underside of baseball economics (with players making less than $20,000 a year, before baseball players became agents in a free market). One of the best sports books ever, now available with new material.
• Branson, Richard. Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way
• Brennan, Christine Brennan. Best Seat in the House: A Father, a Daughter, a Journey Through Sports (memoir of the popular columnist, one of the first women to make it in the male-dominated world of sports journalism).
• Bullock-Prado, Gesine. Confections of a Closet Master Baker: One Woman's Sweet Journey from Unhappy Hollywood Executive to Contented Country Baker. A former Hollywood film developer and sister to actress Sandra Bullock recounts the joys and heartbreaks of running her own patisserie in Montpelier, Vermont.
• Bythell, Shaun. The Diary of a Bookseller. As reviewed on Quartzy.
• Cantú, Francisco. The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border Haunted by the landscape of his youth, the scrublands of the Southwest, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. He and his partners are posted to remote regions crisscrossed by drug routes and smuggling corridors, where they learn to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights.
“Every single person in this country — near borderlands or not — should read this book, and realize that immigration cannot be solved with a single policy.” –Chicago Review of Books. See Varun Navar's review (Pacific Standard, 3-8-18) and a report about strong reactions to the book.
• Camuti, Louis J. All My Patients Are Under the Bed: Memoirs of a Cat Doctor (popular because of the cat stories)
• Carson, D.A. Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson
• Cheever, Ben. Selling Ben Cheever: Back to Square One in a Service Economy (aware of his failure as the writing child of a famous novelist father, Cheever takes on a series of jobs in retail America, planning to write about them).
• Cherry, Mike. On High Steel: The Education of an Ironworker (a great book about construction workers on very tall structures)
• Clark, Mary Higgins. Kitchen Privileges: A Memoir. Memoir of the suspense novelist's Depression-era childhood in the Bronx "lacking in money but rich with love," the difficulty she had getting started as a writer, the many rejections she experienced before becoming a hugely popular novelist, and what she learned about how to write good fiction.
• Conover, Ted. Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing A first-hand account of life inside the penal system.
• Conroy, Pat. The Water Is Wide Conroy's early memoir about teaching poor, isolated, uneducated Gullah children on Yamacraw Island, South Carolina, how to read. In 2016 he was buried in a Gullah cemetery on a back road of St. Helena Island.
• Cowser, Robert. Dream Season: A Professor Joins America’s Oldest Semi-Pro Football Team

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• Cranston, Bryan. A Life in Parts. The star of "Breaking Bad" gives us both the coming-of-age story of an abandoned son and stories that convey how he became the actor who could so successfully play the dark and gritty role on cable TV that made him famous.
• Crawford, Arlo. A Farm Dies Once a Year: A Memoir
• Cunningham, Bill. Fashion Climbing: A Memoir with Photographs. Read excerpt (The Gothamist)
• Dana, Richard Henry. Two Years Before the Mast (published in 1840). Dana's classic tale of a two-year sea voyage around Cape Horn, South America.
• Daniels, Stormy. Full Disclosure, tell-all about the life of a porn star and director. See Stormy Daniels’s Memoir Is Less About Trump Than the “Forgotten America” He Claimed He’d Save (Erin Vanderhoof, Vanity Fair, 10-2-18)
• Danler, Stephanie. Sweetbitter, life in the high-adrenaline world of glitzy, grimy, elite New York restaurants.
• Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickled and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (a journalist’s account of trying to live on what she makes as a waitress, a cleaning woman, a nursing home aide, and a Wal-Mart employee)
• Emmins, Alan. Mop Men: Inside the World of Crime Scene Cleaners. The side of his van reads “Crime Scene Cleaners: Homicides, Suicides and Accidental Death.”
• Evans, Robert. The Kid Stays in the Picture. His 30 years in Hollywood and the film business.
• Fair, Eric. Consequence: A Memoir. Matter-of-factly chronicles his experiences as an interrogator in prisons, including the infamous Abu Ghraib, as a civilian contractor for the secretive yet notorious CACI (Consolidated Analysis Center, Incorporated). Repulsed at first by methods he saw clearly as torture, he then gets on with the job, which then haunts him.
• Flair, Ric and Charlotte. Second Nature: The Legacy of Ric Flair and the Rise of Charlotte (father-and daughter wrestlers). Michael Schaub's enticing review: Wooooo! 'Second Nature' Is a Winningly Unadorned Memoir of the Wrestling Life (NPR, 9-19-17)
• Fox, Amaryllis. Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA
• Franken, Al. Al Franken, Giant of the Senate. See Al Franken’s Memoir Is the Best Political Book of 2017 (Alex Shephard, New Republic, 5-31-17)
• Gandhi, Mahatma. Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth
• Garson, Barbara. All the Livelong Day: The Meaning and Demeaning of Routine Work Garson hung around outside factory gates across the US in the 1970s to talk to the workers who stacked ping pong paddles, canned tuna and bottled lipgloss.
• Gawande, Atul. Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science
• Gawande, Atul. Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
• Gottlieb, Lori. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed. This memoir alternates between her patients' sessions and her own, providing a glimpse into the process from the therapist's viewpoint.
• Gottlieb, Robert. Avid Reader: A Life. One of the few book editors with name recognition tells stories about his authors and editing experiences, and in the process also describes major changes in the book publishing industry over the years (as well as some pastimes that may surprise you). A good read, highlighting his successes.
• Gottlieb, Robert. Anatomy of a Publisher: The story of Farrar,, Straus, & Giroux (New Yorker, 8-12-13), a fascinating and informative review of Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America's Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux by Boris Kachk.

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• Graham, Katharine. Personal History "Disarmingly candid and immensely readable" (Time) memoir of the woman who led the Washington Post through a turbulent period in the history of American media.
• Griffin, Gail. Calling: Essays on Teaching in the Mother Tongue
• Grim, Pamela. Just Here Trying to Save a Few Lives: Tales of Life and Death in the ER
• Groopman, Jerome. Second Opinions: Stories of Intuition and Choice in the Changing World of Medicine
• Hamper, Ben. Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line (a shoprat’s life on the General Motors assembly line)
• Hayes, Helen with Sanford Dody. On Reflection: An Autobiography. The sequel: A Gift of Joy.. Life in the theater, from an actress who kept her private life private.
• Haynes, Jane. Who Is It That Can Tell Me Who I Am? ("an unflinching journal of her life as a psychotherapist, revealing as much about the author as her patients")
• Hazzard, Kevin. A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic's Wild Ride to the Edge and Back “A former paramedic's visceral, poignant, and mordantly funny account of a decade spent on Atlanta's mean streets saving lives and connecting with the drama and occasional beauty that lies inside catastrophe."
• Hertzel, Laurie. News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist (how a talented journalist working for a small-city--Duluth--newspaper on the cusp of transformation stumbled on the story of her career, captured in They Took My Father: Finnish Americans in Stalin's Russia by Mayme Sevander with Laurie Hertzel
• Hoover, Dwight W. A Good Day's Work: An Iowa Farm in the Great Depression
• Howard, Ron and Clint Howard The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family "A delightful, warm and fascinating story of a good life in show business.” -- Malcolm Gladwell
• Iacocca, Lee and William Novak. Iacocca: An Autobiography
• Ibrahimovic, Zlatan. I Am Zlatan: My Story On and Off the Field. The Swedish soccer star’s "prickly and strange 2011 autobiography, is one of the best things I’ve ever read. (As a boy, Ibrahimovic celebrates personal milestones by stealing bicycles.)...a bona fide literary achievement..."~ Amos Barshad, What Happens When Athletes Do the Sportswriting? (NY Times Magazine, 2-21-18)
• Idle, Eric. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography. From his easygoing British childhood and education at Cambridge, Idle segues to how he met the future Monty Python members during TV writing stints, writing lightly about how comedy writing played second fiddle to comic acting for the troupe, what went on behind the scenes, and the essence of comedy.
• Jahren, Hope. Lab Girl Warm, witty, illuminating memoir of a geobiologist, a fascinating look at plants, and a moving portrait of a friendship. "Science has taught me that everything is more complicated than we first assume, and that being able to derive happiness from discovery is a recipe for a beautiful life." See NY Times review. (Melissa Hobrook Pierson, 4-8-16)
• Jordan, Justin. And Then I Cried: Stories of a Mortuary NCO (details life as an Air Force Mortuary Non Commissioned Officer, working at deployed locations and stateside)
• Juahar, Sandeep. Intern: A Doctor's Initiation
• Kennedy, Harold J. No pickle, no performance: An irreverent theatrical excursion from Tallulah to Travolta "Hands down the most entertaining theatrical memoir," full of back-stage tales from Broadway and touring companies--Steve Taravella.
• Kimes, Martha. Ivy Briefs: True Tales of a Neurotic Law Student
• King, Gilbert. Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America. Not a memoir, but a vivid story about civil rights lawyers who, when they went to argue cases in the South, didn't know if they would live to come home. “Devil in the Grove is a compelling look at the case that forged Thurgood Marshall’s perception of himself as a crusader for civil rights. . . . King’s style [is] at once suspenseful and historically meticulous” (Christian Science Monitor )
• Kirkland, Gelsey. Dancing on My Grave (about her life as a ballerina and her struggles with eating disorders and drug addiction)
• Kirkland, Gelsey. The Shape of Love: The Story of 'Dancing on My Grave' (about her return to dancing, after a battle with drug addiction--you can find used copies)

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• Klass, Perri. A Not Entirely Benign Procedure: Four Years As A Medical Student
• Kopp, Wendy. One Day, All Children...: The Unlikely Triumph of Teach for America And What I Learned Along the Way
• Korda, Michael Another Life: A Memoir of Other People (An "idiosyncratic history of book publishing’s shift from small, founder-driven houses into a junior wing of the entertainment industry," writes Michael Agger in this entertaining New Yorker review "...the book is overlong in the way that long, boozy publishing lunches are overlong, but the stories are entertaining and even instructive." A deliciously gossipy and often bitchy book, well-written and revealing.
• Land, Stephanie. Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive (foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich) ""What this book does well is illuminate the struggles of poverty and single-motherhood, the unrelenting frustration of having no safety net, the ways in which our society is systemically designed to keep impoverished people mired in poverty, the indignity of poverty by way of unmovable bureaucracy, and people's lousy attitudes toward poor people... Land's prose is vivid and engaging... [A] tightly-focused, well-written memoir... an incredibly worthwhile read."~ Roxanne Gay, New York Times. See also Land's article, Writing ‘Maid’: a book for my daughter that I haven’t let her read (WaPo, 1-22-19).
• Larson, Jayne Amelia. Driving the Saudis: A Chauffeur's Tale of the World's Richest Princesses (plus their servants, nannies, and one royal hairdresser) Lende, Heather.
Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small-Town Obituary Writer “A wise, witty memoir that combines anecdotes about Lende’s work and family with plainspoken wisdom gleaned from her years of living in a small community.” —Shelf Awareness for Readers
• Lewis, Michael. Liar’s Poker Investment banking in the 1980s: how he started his career as a trainee in the investment banking firm Salomon Brothers, later becoming a bond trader based in the Salomons London office, until he left in 1988.
• Lipsky, David. Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point. Lipsky follows a future generation of army officers from their proving grounds to their barracks. Though initially ill-disposed toward the military, Lipsky eventually found that "of all the young people I'd met, the West Point cadets—although they are grand, epic complainers—were the happiest."
• Lynch, Thomas. The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade
• Lynn, Loretta, with George Vecsey. Coal Miner’s Daughter (from her childhood in Butcher Holler to a life in country music)
• Lyons, Dan. Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble "Dan 'Fake Steve' Lyons runs such a savage burn on his ex-employer, HubSpot, that the smoke can be seen clear across the country in Silicon Valley."~Brad Stone
• MacLaughlin, Nina. Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter
• Mann, Sally. Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs A memoir and family history from the acclaimed photographer, with photographs.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X (as told to Alex Haley)
• Markham, Beryl. West with the Night. Raised in East Africa, where she apprenticed with her father as a trainer and breeder of racehorses, she became a bush pilot in the 1930s and was the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west. A classic memoir, beautifully written.
• Martin, Steve. Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
• McDonell, Terry. The Accidental Life: An Editor's Notes on Writing and Writers Informative, (good) gossipy, and informative notes on magazine writers prominent in the 1970s and 1980s (such as Hunter Thompson, George Plimpton, Tom Robbins, Margot Kidder, Helen Gurley Brown, Liz Tilberis, Richard Price, David Carr), and inside stories about magazines he edited (Outside, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and Sports Illustrated).
• Melinek, Judy. Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner (on becoming a forensic pathologist, but with more reality than you get on CSI)
• Menaker, Daniel.My Mistake "A wry, witty, often tender memoir by a former New Yorker editor, magazine writer, and book publisher who offers great tales of a life in words"
• Metz, Don. Confessions of a Country Architect
• Moody, Ralph. Little Britches, Man of the Family
• Moody, Ralph. Horse of a Different Color: Reminiscences of a Kansas Drover (ranching in the early 20th century)
• Mundy, Liza. Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II (draws on interviews with the women, who were finally allowed to talk about their work). Read this excerpt in Slate.
• Negrete, Freddy and Steve Jones.Smile Now, Cry Later: Guns, Gangs, and Tattoos--My Life in Black and Gray. Read the NY Times story and click on links to see fabulous tattoo art: A Tragedy in the Tattoo Parlor(Jacob Bernstein, 10-4-18) The story of Freddy Negrete and his sons.
• Neville, Susan. Iconography: A Writer’s Meditation

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• Osborne, Steve. The Job: True Tales from the Life of a New York City Cop. What caught my attention was his storytelling on The Moth. Listen online.
• Ovitz, Michael. Who Is Michael Ovitz? See review: A New Memoir from the Master of Confession and Concealment (Michael Cieply, Deadline Hollywood, 10-1-18) The manwho launched Creative Artists Agency and modeled for the stereotype of the manipulative Hollywood agent.
• Peterson, Eugene H. The Pastor: A Memoir
• Pouillon, Nora. My Organic Life: How a Pioneering Chef Helped Shape the Way We Eat Today. An interesting account of how one woman with "no credentials" who loved cooking turned that love into a powerful career--indeed, a mission. You won't shop the same after you read it. See Liza Mundy's Washingtonian review, Nora Pouillon’s Memoir Reminds Us How Rotten DC Food Used to Be .
• Rafkin, Louise. Other People’s Dirt: A Housecleaner’s Curious Adventures
• Rakoff, Joanna.My Salinger Year. Writing about her year working for the then-eccentric Harold Ober literary agency, which in the late '90s resisted computers, Rakoff captures life as a low-paid novice in book publishing--also, at an angle, about the reclusive author J.D. Salinger. Very readable. See review in The Millions.
• Reichl, Ruth. Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table A noted food critic's memoirs.
• Reichl, Ruth. Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise (memoirs of the New York Times food critic)
• Reynolds, Burt, with Jon Winokur. But Enough About Me: A Memoir
• Mary Roach. Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
• Robinson, Holly. The Gerbil Farmer's Daughter. The charming story of a military brat whose father abruptly and inexplicably takes up breeding then little-known gerbils in the 1960s, keeps his obsession a secret from the Navy, discovers that the gerbils are useful for research, and becomes a major supplier of gerbils bred for research (that Holly’s younger sister dies from cystic fibrosis is another thread to the story).
• Rothstein, Josef. As the Matzo Ball Turns.Ten years in the dark heart of the entertainment and restaurant business, seen through the jaundiced eyes of an aspiring actor turned waiter.
• Ruhlman, Michael. The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America and The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection (about cooking as an art form); and The Reach of a Chef: Professional Cooks in the Age of Celebrity (a journalist-chef's exploration of the world of the chef).
• Sacks, Oliver. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales (a famed neurologist's case studies of patients with strange neurological disorders)
• Seltzer, Richard. Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery; Confessions of a Knife
• Shetterly, Margot Lee. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race
• Shute, Nevil. Slide Rule: The Autobiography of an Engineer “Mathematics produced a satisfaction almost amounting to a religious experience. The truth stood revealed, real, and perfect.’’
• Simpson, John. The Word Detective: Searching for the Meaning of It All at the Oxford English Dictionary. See Barton Swaim's review: Democratizing the Oxford English Dictionary (WSJ, 11-4-16). The longtime editor of the OED takes readers inside the lexicographical revolution.
• Skaife, Christopher.The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London Legend has it that if the ravens left, the tower would fall. Yeoman Skaife is the man who officially cares for and tells fascinating stories about the birds.
• Sklar, Zachary. The Work: A Jigsaw Memoir "Across seven essays, Sklar's plainspoken voice educates, entertains, and never condescends. His descriptions of life-altering blacklists, homespun island funeral ceremonies, and a dog in distress in Mexico ... are powerful and true. He guides the reader through a fascinating journey marked by a primary inner conflict: to loudly proclaim one's beliefs and potentially lose a livelihood, or suffer in silence?"~Kirkus review
• Sloan, William. My Years with General Motors
• Smith, Dennis. Firefighters: Their Lives in Their Own Words
• Sperber, Stanley. Between The Lines: My Stories as a Conductor and Tennis Umpire In a dual career he conducts the London Symphony Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and also umpires at the U.S. Open and Davis Cup matches.
• Sterling, Joy. A Cultivated Life: A Year in a California Vineyard

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• Stevenson, Bryan. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice.
• Stone, John. In the Country of Hearts: Journeys in the Art of Medicine
• Sundaram, Anjan. The Stringer PW review: "The author skillfully captures the smallest details of life in a destitute land, blending the sordid history of Congo with his battle to forge a career in a troubled and forsaken country."
• Melissa Sweet. Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade (Bank Street College of Education Flora Stieglitz Straus Award
• Terkel, Studs. Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. Brilliantly edited oral histories by the master interviewer, talking to people unlikely to write their memoirs!
• Teresa of Avila. The Way of Perfection
• Tinniswood, Adrian.Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the British Royal Household History, not memoir, but interwoven with personal stories.
• Tomsky, Jacob. Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality Life spent (and misspent) in the hotel industry.
• Transue, Emily. On Call: A Doctor's Days and Nights in Residency
• Turow, Scott. One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School. He is best known, of course, for writing legal thrillers.
• Tyson, Neil deGrasse. The Sky Is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist . Read excerpt here.. "His description of his own shock at seeing himself on television--a black man sought as an expert on something other than being black--is powerfully moving."
• Unger, Zak. Working Fire: The Making of a Fireman (a rookie’s year in the Oakland Fire Department)
• Varty, Boyd. Cathedral of the Wild: An African Journey Home, a memoir of "one family’s passion to restore our broken connection to nature," by creating and sustaining a sanctuary for wild animals and people in the African bush (e.g., Mandela went there to recover, after released from prison).
• Vertosick, Frank. When the Air Hits Your Brain: Tales from Neurosurgery and Why We Hurt: The Natural History of Pain
• Walton, Sam. Sam Walton: Made In America
• Wiener, Anna Uncanny Valley: A Memoir  About internet start-ups in the 2010s. "What makes Uncanny Valley so valuable is the way it humanizes the tech industry without letting it off the hook. The book allows us to see the way that flawed technology is made and marketed." --Charlie Warzel, The New York Times Privacy Project
• Young, Ginny Carson. Peregrina: Unexpected Adventures of an American Consul
• Graeber, David. Bullshit Jobs: A Theory

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A History of the Comedian Memoir in Nine Books (Jason Zinoman, NY Times, 2-19-21) A syllabus of sorts for exploring some of the funniest books of all time by the funniest people.
--- ‘Treadmill to Oblivion,’ by Fred Allen (1954)
--- ‘Harpo Speaks,’ by Harpo Marx (1961)
--- ‘How to Talk Dirty and Influence People,’ by Lenny Bruce (1965)
--- ‘Enter Talking,’ by Joan Rivers (1986)
--- ‘Pryor Convictions,’ by Richard Pryor (1995)
--- ‘I Feel Bad About My Neck,’ by Nora Ephron (2006)
--- ‘Born Standing Up,’ by Steve Martin (2007)
--- ‘Bossypants,’ by Tina Fey (2011)
--- ‘Born a Crime,’ by Trevor Noah (2016)
Memoirs about Women, Girls, Code-breaking, Spycraft, Bombs, Technology, and Science
Payday (a bibliography of North American Working Class Autobiographies, compiled by Cheryl Cline)
Crime Pays Royalties: the Autobiographies of Thieves (The Neglected Books Page)
Top 10 books about working life (Joanna Biggs, The Guardian, 4-29-15)

And on the same theme, different genres

Fiction focused on specific kinds of work

(often recommended on the National Book Critics Circle blog Critical Mass):
• Ferris, Joshua. Then We Came to the End. This funny, award-winning debut novel(written in first-person plural) has been called "The Office meets Kafka": a group of writers and designers at a Chicago ad agency face layoffs during the dot.com bust. Another novel filled with firings: Personal Days by Ed Park.
• Heller, Joseph. Something Happened (working in an ad agency, circa the period of the TV series Mad Men

• Herriot, James. All Creatures Great and Small (Book 1 of 5). See also ; All Things Bright and Beautiful (Book 2) Based on the experiences of James Alfred “Alf” Wight, an English veterinarian whose tales of veterinary practice and country life have delighted generations.
• Levine, Philip. What Work Is (a poet's "hymn of praise for all the workers of America," winner of the National Book Award in 1991. (Reviewed by Jane Ciabattari, NBCC blog)
• Rachman, Tom. The Imperfectionists (follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters and editors of an English-language newspaper in Rome), comment by Ben Griffin
• Rivka Galchen, part 2 of What’s the Best Book About Work? (Bookends, NY Times Sunday Book review, 9-8-15) "Literature has given us especially brilliant stories about office work:

   Bartleby the Scrivener by Melville

   Something Happened by Joseph Heller;

   Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris — and, also, oddly enough, about working in hotels:

   An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser;

   I Served the King of England by Bohumil Hrabal;

   Confessions of Felix Krull by Thomas Mann.


"Another through-line, of work that is miserable to do, can be traced from Émile Zola to Upton Sinclair to Barbara Ehrenreich. But then there are books that are about work not by having some kind of work as their subject matter, but instead by being incarnations of an extraordinary amount of work: a luxurious, wonderful kind of work, the elective work of learning."

Food memoirs and biographies

• Abu-Jaber, Diana. The Language of Baklava (growing up with a food-obsessed Jordanian father, an immigrant who "cooked to remember where he came from and pass that connection on to his children."
• Achatz, Grant. Life, on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat (a great chef's account of "how his drive to cook immaculate food fueled his miraculous triumph over tongue cancer."
• Apple, Jr., R.W.. Far Flung and Well Fed
• Bienvenu, Marcelle. Who's Your Mama, Are You Catholic, and Can You Make A Roux? A Cajun/Creole Family Album Cookbook (more cookbook than memoir, and apparently the recipes are great--but there's also a lot about the Cajun/Creole family traditions)
• Bemelmans, Ludwig. Hotel Bemelmans (behind-the-scenes account of a great hotel by a writer who worked at the Ritz and who wrote the Madeline books)
• Bijan, Donia. • Maman's Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen. “Chapter by chapter, Bijan recreates the memory-menu of her life, incorporating recipes for the dishes that most poignantly capture the past for her. By its heart-plucking end, this literary feast accomplishes what only the best meals do, bestowing not only a satisfying culinary experience but also a larger appreciation of life’s precious table.”~National Geographic Traveler
• Birnbaum, Molly. Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way. At 22, a head injury obliterated her sense of smell, destroying her dream of becoming a chef. The moving story of a pilgrimage (with no recipes!).
• Bociurkiw, Marusya. Comfort Food for Breakups: The Memoir of a Hungry Girl
• Bourdain, Anthony. Kitchen Confidential Updated Ed: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (P.S.)
• Boyle, T.C.. Talk Talk (a novel about identity theft that some criticize for too much food writing--not a problem for foodies!)
• Buford, Bill. Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
• Chang, T. Susan. A Spoonful of Promises: Stories & Recipes from a Well-Tempered Table. A heartfelt, poignant, often funny collection of stories about food, family, intimacy, and the ties that bind.
• Child, Julia. My Life in France (delicious!)
• Child, Julia about: Noel Riley Fitch, Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child; Nancy Verdi Barr, Backstage with Julia: My Years with Julia Child; and Julie Powell, Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen
• Claiborne, Craig. A Feast Made for Laughter
• Colwin, Laurie. Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
• Ehrlich, Elizabeth. Miriam's Kitchen: A Memoir
• Ephron, Nora. Heartburn (Memoir, disguised as novel, with recipes and outrage)
• Epstein, Jason. Eating: A Memoir
• Ferrary, Jeannette. Out of the Kitchen: Adventures of a Food Writer
• Fisher, M.F.K.. The Art of Eating (brings together the wonderful Fisher’s Serve it Forth, Consider the Oyster, How to Cook a Wolf, The Gastronomical Me, and An Alphabet for Gourmets)
• Fussell, Betty. My Kitchen Wars
• Greene, Gael. Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess
• Guinta, Edvige. The Milk of Almonds: Italian American Women Writers on Food and Culture
• Hamilton, Gabrielle. Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef
• Haney, John. Fair Shares for All: A Memoir of Family and Food (growing up hungry in London’s East End)
• Hesser, Amanda, ed. Eat, Memory: Great Writers at the Table (essays from the New York Times)
• Jaffrey, Madhur. Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India
• Jones, Judith. The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food (Knopf’s legendary cookbook editor)
• Kingsolver, Kingsolver. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (about the year they lived without processed foods)
• Liebling, A.J.. Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris
• Maisto, Michele. The Gastronomy of Marriage
• Mayle, Peter. A Year in Provence; French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew
• McNamee, Peter. Alice Waters and Chez Panisse
• Miller, Leslie, ed. Women Who Eat: A New Generation on the Glory of Food
• Mitchell, Joseph. Up in the Old Hotel (especially “All You Can Hold for Five Bucks”)
• Mones, Nicole. The Last Chinese Chef: A Novel (a novel, but a great gift for foodies)
• Murray, Erin Byers. Shucked: Life on a New England Oyster Farm. Murray quit her unfulfilling job, looking for more fulfilling work -- and provides in this memoir a "behind-the-scenes tour of the oyster world."
• Orwell, Joseph. Down and Out in Paris and London (you will never feel the same about a restaurant meal again)
• O’Neill, Molly. Mostly True: A Memoir of Family, Food, and Baseball
• Pepin, Jacques. The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen
• Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (this is bigger than a memoir) and The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World
• Reichl, Ruth. Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table (the early years); Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table, and Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise
• Richman, Alan. Fork It Over: The Intrepid Adventures of a Professional Eater
• Roberts, Doris. Are You Hungry, Dear? Life, Laughs, and Lasagna
• Samuelson, Marcus. Yes, Chef (life story of the celebrity chef born in Ethiopia, who survived TB, was adopted by a Swedish family and grew up in Sweden, then came to America and became the youngest chef ever to get the NY Times three-star rating. Listen to interview on Fresh Air radio.
• Sedaris, David. Me Talk Pretty One Day (he’s funny, and there’s a food story)
• Sheraton, Mimi. Eating My Words: An Appetite for Life
• Slater, Nigel. The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater and Toast
• Steingarten, Jeffrey. The Man Who Ate Everything
• Trillin, Calvin. The Tummy Trilogy (or any of his books)
• Villas, James. Between Bites: Memoirs of a Hungry Hedonist
• Volk, Patricia. Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family Volk's memoir about her relationship with her mother, Shocked: My Mother, Schiaparelli, and Me, was inspired by Elsa Schiaparelli's memoir, Shocking Life
• West, Michael Lee. Consuming Passions: A Food-Obsessed Life
• White, Marco Pierre. The Devil in the Kitchen: Sex, Pain, Madness, and the Making of a Great Chef .

Memoirs of food addiction

The Elephant in the Room: One Fat Man's Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America by Tommy Tomlinson (coming in January 2019). Read about it in A conversation with Tommy Tomlinson: Getting naked in print and public (in which Chip Scanlon interviews Tomlinson for a piece in Nieman Storyboard, 10-9-18) "A writer who tells intimate stories of others turns his notebook on himself in a searing memoir that undresses his own and America's obesity." Asked "Were there any memoirs that prepared you to tell the story of your addiction to food?" Tomlinson responds with the following titles:
---Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay (a searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself).
---Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing by Jennifer Weiner
---703: How I Lost More Than a Quarter Ton and Gained a Life by Nancy Makin ("A moving, funny, tongue-in-cheek, and deadly serious story about how one woman lost and found herself by going online").
---Curbing It by Jeff Garlin
---Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon (in which he explores "what the weight of a lifetime of secrets, lies, and deception does to a black body, a black family, and a nation teetering on the brink of moral collapse").
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Anthologies of food writing

• Berkeley, Ellen Perry, ed. At Grandmother's Table: Women Write about Food, Life and the Enduring Bond between Grandmothers and Granddaughters (68 women share stories of their grandmothers, and a recipe)
• Bodger, Lorraine. Eater's Digest: 400 Delectable Readings about Food and Drink
• Hesser, Amanda. Eat, Memory: Great Writers at the Table (essays from the New York Times, with recipes)
• Hughes, Holly. Best Food Writing 2008
In My Mother's Kitchen: 25 Writers on Love, Cooking, and Family (contributions by Maya Angelou, Jennifer Appel, Holly Clegg, M. F. K. Fisher, Rosemary Gong, Tina Miller, Kitty Morse, Michel Nishan, - Christina Orchid, Ruth Reichl, Julie Sahni, Nigel Slate, Walter Staib, James Villas, Joyce White
• Miller, Leslie. Women Who Eat: A New Generation on the Glory of Food
• Ruhlman, The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America. If you like that you may want to read his The Reach of a Chef: Professional Cooks in the Age of Celebrity
• Witherspoon, Kimberly and Andrew Freidman. Don't Try This At Home: Culinary Catastrophes from the World's Greatest Chefs

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Memoir- and life-story-related sites and articles

Books to help you get started writing your life story (a recommended reading list)
Compelling Stories, if Not Literature (Abigail Zuger, MD, NYTimes, 6-28-10, on the nature, benefits, uses, limits, and appeal of personal health-or illness-related memoirs, including tales of survival)
Confessing for Voyeurs: The Age of the Literary Memoir Is Now, by James Atlas (New York Times, 5-12-96)
Dawn Thurston's advice on memoir writing
How to Write Your Memoir (an excellent piece by Joe Kita, Reader's Digest, January 2009)
James Frey's Morning After, by Evgenia Peretz (Vanity Fair June 2008)
Links to useful sites and resources about memoir writing (Pat McNees, Writers and Editors)
13 Beautifully Written Memoirs You'll Think Are Actually Novels (E Ce Miller, Bustle, 5-28-15), She writes briefly about Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller, Dreams of Trespass by Fatima Mernissi, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, The Liars Club by Mary Karr, False Papers by André Aciman, Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick, Island of Bones by Joy Castro, Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang, The Caliph’s House by Tahir Shah, An American Childhood by Annie Dillard, West with the Night by Beryl Markham
Memoirs of illness, crisis,disability, differentness, and survival (a reading list)
Michael Greenberg's breakdown lowdown (Joyce Carol Oates' review in TLS of a memoir of Greenberg's daughter's mental illness, and an interesting piece on the genre)
My Father's Voice (Taylor Plimpton on George Plimpton, New Yorker, 6-17-12)
Ghostwriting and collaboration (Writers and Editors). You'll find several stories about memoirs.
The Proust Questionnaire (Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair, 5-6-10)
"The Red Leather Diary," by Lily Koppel. Lori Rotskoff (Chicago Tribune 5-17-08) On how a 22-year-old reporter came to revive a 90-year-old woman's teen years.
Telling Your Story. Resources for writing your memoir, telling your family story, capturing a personal history (Pat McNees site)
Types of Autobiographic Writing (Tristine Rainer's site) "A MEMOIR puts a frame onto life by limiting what is included."


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