I love a good memoir.

mem·oir
ˈmemˌwär,-ˌwôr/
noun
(1) a historical account or biography written from personal knowledge or special sources.
(2) An essay on a learned subject.

Well-written, page-turning stories of real people doing real life. I’ve always been a fiction reader. Novels comprise 75% of my reading material. But memoir (when done well) is NON-FICTION fiction. Compelling slivers of honest life written in the form and shape of a gripping novel. A story delivered via the medium of truth. Powerful.

Often—especially during the summer months— I hear from readers who want book recommends. So, in the event you might be a memoir-lover too, I compiled this list in 2012 and updated it this week. Many I’ve already read (I *starred* those). Other still occupy my lengthy to-be-read list. Although I can’t vouch for each one, and memoir style and taste can vary as much as an individual’s dinner palate, I can say each came at the recommend of someone I know and respect.

Thought of one I missed? Leave the title it in the comments. I’ll keep the list growing.

Happy reading!

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  1. *A Child Called “It”, by Dave Pelzer
  2. *A Circle of Quiet, by Madeleine L’Engle
  3. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, by Ishmael Beah
  4. *A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller
  5. Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt
  6. *Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
  7. *A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance, by Marlena de Blasi
  8. *Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas (more biography than memoir, but I included it since much of Bonhoeffer’s writings were included)
  9. *Born Standing Up, by Steve Martin
  10. Cherry, by Mary Karr
  11. *Chosen by a Horse: a Memoir, by Susan Richards
  12. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, by David Sedaris
  13. *Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert
  14. *Evidence Not Seen, by Darlene Diebler Rose
  15. *Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  16. *Girl Meets God: On the Path to a Spiritual Life, by Lauren F. Winner
  17. Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kaysen
  18. Half Broke Horses, by Jeanette Walls
  19. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
  20. It Worked for Me: In Life & Leadership, by Colin Powell
  21. *Jesus, My Father, the CIA and Me: A Memoir … of Sorts, by Ian Morgan Cron
  22. *Keeping the Feast, by Paula Butturini
  23. Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith, by Barbara Brown Taylor
  24. Leaving the Saints, by Martha Beck
  25. *Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, by Immaculee Ilibagiza
  26. Liar’s Club, by Mary Karr
  27. *Life, On the Line: A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat, by Grant Achatz & Nick Kokonus
  28. *Lit, by Mary Karr
  29. *On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Steven King
  30. Running with Scissors, by Augusten Burroughs
  31. *Same Kind of Different As Me, by Ron Hall, Denver Moore, Lynn Vincent
  32. *Still: Notes on a Mid-faith Crisis, by Lauren F. Winner
  33. *Surprised by Oxford, by Carolyn Weber
  34. Tattoos on the Heart: the Power of Boundless Compassion, by Father Gregory Boyle
  35. *The Artist’s Daughter, by Alexandra Kuykendall
  36. *The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
  37. *The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom
  38. *The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun, by Gretchen Rubin
  39. *The In-between, by Jeff Goins
  40. *The Long Awakening, by Lindsey O’Connor
  41. The Longest Trip Home, by John Grogan
  42. The Reluctant Tuscan, by Phil Doran
  43. The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister, by Denise George, Carolyn Ross Tomlin, Nonna Bannister
  44. The Tender Bar, by J.R. Moehringer
  45. *Thin Places, by Mary DeMuth
  46. To Hell and Back, by Audie Murphy
  47. Too Small To Ignore, by Wess Stafford
  48. *Traveling Mercies, by Anne Lamott
  49. Tuesdays With Morrie: An Old Man, A Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson, by Mitch Album
  50. *Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand
  51. *We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook, by Becky Johnson & Rachel Randolph
  52. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail, by Cheryl Strayed

Have you read an excellent memoir that’s not included on this list? Leave it in the comments. 

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