It's inspiring to learn about how real people have overcome obstacles in their lives, so we tend to always have an autobiography or memoir on our nightstands.
Ranging from an honest look at motherhood from a woman who had a baby before she was ready to a heart-wrenching coming-of-age portrayal on a reservation in the Pacific Northwest, these are the books currently stacked at the very top of our to-be-read pile. Find out which reviewer approved, life-altering autobiographies and memoirs we think everyone should read this year below.
And Now We Have Everything by Meaghan O'Connell
In her highly anticipated memoir, Meaghan O'Connell shares her experience of becoming a mother before she was ready. Even non-mothers will relate to O'Connell while reading this darkly humorous, completely honest, and compulsively readable book.
Tomorrow Will Be Different by Sarah McBride
One of the nation's most prominent transgender activists, Sarah McBride touches on what it means to be openly transgender in her memoir, complete with a forward by Joe Biden. She generously shares her decision to come out, her heartbreaking love story, and her fight for transgender equality.
"McBride's story is touching, thought-provoking, at times tear-jerking, and absolutely worth the read for all who care about equality," endorses Harper's Bazaar.
When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele
Patrisse Khan-Cullors, one of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter, writes about her experience as a Black woman in America in her must-read memoir.
"This remarkable book reveals what inspired Patrisse's visionary and courageous activism and forces us to face the consequence of the choices our nation made when we criminalized a generation," Michelle Alexander, New York Times best-selling author of The New Jim Crow, says.
Ask Me About My Uterus by Abby Norman
In Ask Me About My Uterus, Abby Norman describes what it was like to have her pain continually dismissed by doctors and being forced to take matters into her own hands in order to regain her health. For anyone battling chronic illness or pain, this book is your fight written down.
Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
Terese Marie Mailhot's Heart Berries is a coming-of-age memoir in the form of a collection of beautiful, honest, heartbreakingly poetic essays in which she writes about growing up on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. This story covers Mailhot's troubled childhood, early motherhood, and mental health diagnoses.
Educated by Tara Westover
In Educated, Tara Westover shares her journey to get an education after first setting foot in a classroom at 17. Growing up in Idaho and being raised by survivalist parents, Westover's story is a compelling and unique one. This book even made former President Barack Obama's 2018 summer reading list.
I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O'Farrell
Maggie O'Farrell weaves together the near-death experiences that have defined her life in this awe-inspiring memoir. From battling a childhood illness to encountering a disturbed man, O'Farrell shares 17 brushes with death that expose the preciousness of life.
Sick by Porochista Khakpour
In Sick, Porochista Khakpour writes about her firsthand experience as a lifelong sufferer of undiagnosed health problems. This story covers Khakpour's physical ailments, mental illness, and drug addiction while taking us through her life in NYC, LA, Santa Fe, and a small town in Germany.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
The life story of the first African American first lady of the U.S. is a must-read. Learn all about her personal stories and history before she became the woman she is today.
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
The Glass Castle spent more than seven years on the New York Times Bestseller list, so you know it's a can't-miss. It's the story of Jeannette Walls and her siblings' highly independent upbringing by an alcoholic father and a selfish mother. You can also catch the movie version, starring Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, and Naomi Watts.
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne Frank's diary is an uncomfortable look at humanity that all should read. As you know, Frank and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II—a story that's now immortalized in book form. You may have covered this in high school, but it's always worth a reread.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou's heartbreaking yet inspiring tale of growing up as a poor African American girl in the South will never leave you. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings explores the human experience, from racism, to sexual assault, to abandonment.
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
Don't miss the book that shot late chef Anthony Bourdain to stardom well before his No Reservations days. Kitchen Confidential is an insider look at the culinary world, filled with sex, drugs, and mouthwatering dishes.
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
Angela's Ashes is the story of Frank McCourt's miserable Irish Catholic childhood living in poverty and starvation with an alcoholic father. You'll be inspired by his resilience, strength, and ability to find humor in the worst of times.