Readers’ Picks Memoirs

I was thrilled that my last post, Must-Read Memoirs, was Freshly Pressed and that so many folks piped up with kind and insightful comments–especially because the post was an easy one for me to write; who doesn’t like to talk about their favorite books? That, of course, is what this blog is all about: bits and pieces about all things literary. If you’re a parent or just like to read ruminations on parenting, you can also check me out at Momming.

The best thing about my last post, though, was the incredible list of memoirs generated by YOU, readers. What a list–cut and pasted into a Word document, it’s four pages long. Suggestions included rock n’ roll memoirs, travel memoirs, memoirs about marriage, love, and commitment, memoirs of childhoods difficult, eccentric, and charmed, memoirs of addiction and recovery, memoirs of political and personal persecution, Holocaust memoirs, spiritual memoirs–even one or two written by readers. So without further ado, here is the list of your memoir suggestions, condensed, at random, into one easy-to-read (and long–92, to be exact) list.

Readers’ Picks:

Just As I Am, Rev. Billy Graham

Please Stop Laughing at Me, Jodee Blanco

Running with Scissors, Augusten Burroughs

Finding Ma?ana, Mirta Ojito

In the Shadow of Freedom, Tchicaya Missamou

Some Girls: My Life in a Harem, Jillian Lauren

A Mighty Long Way, Carlotta Walls LaNier

Don?t Lets Go To The Dogs Tonight and Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, Alexandra Fuller

When a Crocodile Eats the Sun, Peter Godwin

Malled: My Unintentional Career In Retail, Caitlin Kelly (thanks for reading, Caitlin!)

Scar Tissue, Anthony Keidis

On Writing, Stephen King

My Life, Marlene Dietrich

The Importance Of Music To Girls, Lavinia Greenlaw

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, Bronnie Wares

Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom

Mao?s Last Dancer, Li Cunxin

Babylon?s Ark, Lawrence Anthony

Postcards from the Edge, Carrie Fisher

Born Standing Up, Steve Martin

Lit, Cherry, and Liar’s Club, Mary Karr

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Nick Flynn

Let?s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, Jeanette Winterson

Signs of Life, Natalie Taylor

Bossypants, Tina Fey

Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put On My Pajamas & Found Happiness, Dominique Browning

51/50: The Magical Adventures of a Single Life, Kristen McGuiness

Traveling With Pomegranates, Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor

A Girl Named Zippy, Haven Kimmel

Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy

Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl

An Autobiography, Agatha Christie

Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter and The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir

Mircea Eliade?s autobiography

Olga: A Daughter?s Tale, Marie Campbell (thanks for reading, Marie!)

Somewhere Toward the End, Diana Athill

?When I Fell From The Sky, Juliane Koepcke

?Geisha, a Life/Geisha of Gion, Mineko Iwasaki

Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela

Piece of Cake, Cupcake Brown

A Thousand Farewells, Nahlah Ayed

‘Tis and Teacher Man, Frank McCourt

A Three Dog Life, Abigail Thomas

The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank

My Maasai Life, Robin Wiszowaty

The Boy in the Moon, Ian Brown

The Color of Water, James McBride

Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert

One More Time: A Memoir, Carol Burnett

The White Masai, Corinne Hoffman

My Lobotomy, Howard Dully

Between A Rock and A Hard Place, Aron Ralston

Life, On The Line: A Chef?s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat, Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas

White Heat, Marco Pierre White

The Rings of Saturn, W.G. Sebald

The Color of Water: A Black Man?s Tribute to his White Mother, James McBride

Let?s Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship, Gail Caldwell

Swinging on the Garden Gate, Elizabeth J Andrew

A Stolen Life, Jaycee Lee Dugard

Night, Elie Wiesel

The Sunflower, Simon Weisenthal

A Moveable Feast, Ernest?Hemingway

Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell

The diaries of Ana?s Nin

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

Why I?m Like This, Cynthia Kaplan

For Your Eye Alone: The Letters of Robertson Davies

I Am Ozzy, Ozzy Osborne

Chronicles, Bob Dylan

Light My Fire, Ray Manzarek

Lakota Woman, Mary Crow Dog

Where White Men Fear to Tread, Russell Means

Black Elk: Sacred Ways of a Lakota, Wallace Black Elk

Songs My Mother Taught Me, Marlon Brando

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, Rhoda Janzen

Holy Ghost Girl, Donna Johnson

Letters to Sam: A Grandfather’s Lessons on Love, Loss, and the Gifts of Life, Daniel Gottlieb

Tell Me Never, Janine Shepherd

Don’t Ever Tell: Kathy’s Story: A True Tale of a Childhood Destroyed by Neglect and Fear, Kathy O’Beirne

Shame, Jasvinder Sanghera

Orphan of Islam, Alexander Khan

Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris

Boy, Roald Dahl

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver

Maiden Voyage, Tania Aebi

Other author recommendations: Haven Kimmel, Samantha Bee, Michael Perry.

And my favorite comment came from this reader:

“Not just memoirs, but diaries. I have shelves of ?em, not just Pepys and Evelyn and Anne Frank, but Frances Partridge, the last of the Bloomsberries, Alan Clark, philandering British MP, Klemperer in Nazi Germany, and so many other irresistible windows into real lives as they happen?”

Thanks for reading, everyone!




Readers! I made a bit of a tactical error way back when, by creating a mailing list AND a blog with its own separate...


  1. An Honest Mom

    woot woot! what a thrill to get all these great responses. i hardly know where to start…since i totally trust your taste, which from this list will show up on your nightstand?

    • Susie Meserve

      Oh, An Honest Mom…you always ask the tough questions. : ) I am intrigued by the Mary Karr memoirs for sure, Tuesdays with Morrie, My Maasai Life, James McBride’s book, Autobiography of a Face, and I am thinking of rereading Running with Scissors. That’s my short list. Imagine working through all of them? How long might it take?

  2. Jess Witkins

    Ooh, more titles to add to my goodreads queue. Thanks for compiling the list for us. I’m tossing out another one, just finished reading A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain, his first hand telling of searching for the perfect meal. I loved it! Both troubling and eye opening and “ballsy”, which is just the fitting word, not me being coy. ha!

    Looking forward to more posts and book recommendations!

    • Susie Meserve

      I have not read A Cook’s Tour, but his book of essays–what’s it called? Has one or two that are riotously funny!

  3. Anvita

    wow…92 books…that’s quite a bit! Time to buy a new bookshelf!

    • Susie Meserve

      I know it! Or visit your local library every week or so, depending how fast you read.

  4. Mary Macdarmada-Yarnall

    Fiction Ruined My Family by Jeanne Darst is a wonderful memoir. It will end up on your favorites list. I first heard her read a story on the NPR This American Life and preordered her book. I was not disappointed. The author describes her unconventional childhood growing up with her off-beat parents and three sisters in bronxville. Parents are from old wealth. Her father aspires to write fiction and not much else.



  1. Top Ten Memoirs I Have Read | Random Thoughts - [...] me, added their own favorites to the list, which has now been listed under a separate blog post, Readers’…

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