The first memoir I have ever read was The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I was around 13—the same age as her when she wrote that. Without a doubt, I would say it has completely changed my life. Aside from contemplating life and the good in people, among the things it did for me, was it started my love for biographies and autobiographies. Books have always been a great source of joy for me, and I have learned so much from reading those treasures. Of course, fiction has its charm, but there’s something about holding such an intimate piece of work, and knowing you’re reading real accounts by real people.
So in celebration of International Book Day, I have decided to list down memoirs by other remarkable women. May these literary pieces inspire you, too.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
The biggest mistake you can say about Michelle Obama is that she’s nothing but the former first lady. Beyond her stay at the White House, she has become a true inspiration to women everywhere. And before that? Well, this book chronicles the journey. From her childhood on the South Side of Chicago, to her years as a lawyer struggling with the demands of being a working mom, Becoming is an insightful look at the most important event that shaped the 21st century icon.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Joan Didion’s charm is her “coolness.” Even when her husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne, died of a heart attack in 2004, just after they had returned from the hospital where their only child, Quintana, was lying in a coma, one hospital worker described her as “a pretty cool customer.” While the rest of us sees her as this woman who seems chill and has got life all figured out, in that particular period in her life, Joan felt anything but. This book is an account of how she dealt with grief, and tried to make sense of that painful time, as well as a poignant ode to her amazing husband.
Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes
Natural disasters are something we are more than familiar with. Cinelle Barnes, who hails from the Philippines, tackles the true meaning of the concept in her memoir. Her riches-to-rags story starts with a Monsoon, which hit and destroyed their home, the Mansion Royale—along with their lavish lifestyle. Her father soon leaves them, and she’s left to be raised by an abusive step-father. Like all of us who have gone through it, she eventually learns to survive the “disaster.”
Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
The late Carrie Fisher may always be known as “Princess Leia,” that wise galactic warrior-princess who’s got her sh*t together. But behind the scenes, Carrie is just as clueless as all of us. The daughter of famous parents Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, Carrie recalls in this memoir her wild, drug-fueled teenage years, as well as her adventures during and after her time as the most famous sci-fi female royalty—all, in a hilariously, self-deprecating manner.
Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
Steve Jobs has always been a mysterious figure in history. Many see him as this stoic genius behind tech giant, Apple. But for Lisa Brennan-Jobs, the man was, and always will be, her father—at least in the most basic sense of the word. See, the two has an extremely complicated relationship. Steve has never been a regular presence in her early childhood. But when her relationship with her mother grew strained in high school, Lisa decided to move in with her father. At the heart of the heart of this memoir is the story of a daughter trying to navigate life between two very different households.
Educated by Tara Westover
Tara Westover never had a “normal” childhood. Raised a survivalist, she was taught to prepare for the end of the world at a young age. What she lacked was a formal education. Taking matters to her own hands, she began to educate herself. By 17, she had learned enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University—and for the first time, interact and fully understand the world. Needless to say, her time there changed everything. More than just highlighting the importance of education, Tara’s memoir is about coping with changes, and losing people closest to you.
Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock
Understanding trans people is something most people struggle with. Which is why this is such an important book. With this literary masterpiece, Janet Mock candidly shares her experiences of growing up in the US as a poor, multiracial transwoman. Here, Janet shows the journey of discovering and embracing one’s identity is a harder battle for some—but ultimately worth fighting for. Redefining Realness is a powerful read which certainly deserves a space in your bookshelf.
Art by Tricia Guevara
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