Book list: memoirs you might like to read

This is my list of some of the memoirs I love. It’s not a complete list of memoirs, so please do not write to admonish me about the memoirs I left out. Do write to tell me what your favorites are.

Here it comes, right up front: You will notice some glaring omissions. The Glass Castle, for example, a favorite of millions but not of mine. Angela’s AshesThe Liar’s Club, and Just Kids, ditto. I’m sorry. We’re not going to agree on everything.

Also, I haven’t read all the memoirs I’ve meant to read, not by a long shot, and that makes for some glaring omissions too. Like Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov, Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen, and hundreds more.


  • Stop-Time, Frank Conroy
  • Plant Dreaming Deep, May Sarton
  • Heaven’s Coast, Mark Doty
  • Singing Family of the Cumberlands, Jean Ritchie
  • Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer
  • A Three Dog Life, Abigail Thomas
  • The Suicide Index, Joan Wickersham
  • Merle’s Door, Ted Kerasote
  • The Story of My Father, Sue Miller
  • Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy, Geralyn Lucas
  • Mourning Diary, Roland Barthes
  • Darkness Visible, William Styron
  • Daughters and Rebels, Jessica Mitford
  • The Duke of Deception, Geoffrey Wolff
  • This Boy’s Life, Tobias Wolff

BOOK FEAST: If you’d like to see a rather amazing reading list of “contemporary creative nonfiction,” compiled by writer Sue William Silverman, look for it here.


 FYI / Independent Bookstores from Coast to Coast

Vroman’s Bookstore, Pasadena CA

The Poisoned Pen Bookstore, Scottsdale AZ

Carmichael’s Bookstore, Louisville KY

Read 3 comments

  1. Ditto Betsy on Little Failure.

    Too Good To Be True, by Benjamin Anastas
    With or Without You, by Domenica Ruta
    Runaway Girl, by Carissa Phelps
    Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety, by Daniel B. Smith
    Lit, by Mary Karr
    Orange is The New Black, by Piper Kerman (long before the Netflix series!)

Leave a Reply