Must-Read Memoirs by Women
A curated booklist by your favorite SPL librarians!
|Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang
In this heart-breaking memoir, author Qian Julie Wang describes her life as an undocumented Chinese immigrant in New York City. Removed from a happy childhood in China, she is forced into sweatshop labor with her mother in Chinatown, barely able to speak English, and too exhausted to keep up in school. This devastating memoir sheds light upon the often harsh reality of America’s immigration system.
|Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
Author and indie rocker Michelle Zauner is trying to sort out her life as she grieves the loss of her mother, who she loved, but also had a habit of butting heads with, to a painful battle with cancer. With humor, heart, and brutal honesty, Zauner skillfully cuts to the soul of issues like grief, the Korean-American identity, and adulting.
|Crying in the Bathroom by Erika L. Sánchez
Erika Sánchez, the New York Times bestselling author of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, strikes gold again in this equally hilarious and touching memoir. In Crying in the Bathroom, Sánchez brings her rousing and riotous voice to topics like sex, White feminism, depression, and more in this irreverent and fearless collection of essays.
|Easy Beauty by Chloé Cooper Jones
Chloé Cooper Jones is no stranger to physical pain and emotional trauma. Born with a rare condition called sacral agenesis, which affects both a person’s posture and gait, her life transforms when she becomes a mother. Breaking unwritten taboos concerning the disabled and the striving for a normal life, Jones embarks on a journey across the world in order to reclaim her life.
|Educated by Tara Westover
Winner of numerous literary awards, Educated details how author Tara Westover overcame her sheltered, abusive Morman upbringing in the Idaho mountains where she and her six siblings were homeschooled with a large emphasis on reading scripture, and went on to defy the academic odds and earn a PhD. from Harvard.
|I'm Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya
Artist and author Vivek Shraya details her experience with misogyny, sexual harassment, homophobia, transphobia, and bullying in her powerful and moving memoir about the damaging role of toxic masculinity in society. After years of men responding to her femininity with violence, Shraya continues to battle her fear of men in this honest and courageous personal expose.
|Love is an Ex-Country by Randa Jarrar
An unflinching and joyous memoir by queer, Muslim, “proudly fat” Arab American woman, Randa Jarrar. Narrating a cross-country road trip, Jarrar details daring moments from her journey, like destroying Confederate flags in the desert, and unpacks personal trauma like surviving domestic assault as a child and wife, all while holding onto hope and humor.
|Mother Noise by Cindy House
A candid and compelling collection of essays and graphic-narrative shorts exploring motherhood as a parent who’s sober from substance use disorder. Beginning with having to tell her son about her 10 year heroin dependency prior to his birth, House reflects on her difficult past as she marries the person she was to the woman and mother she’s become.
|The One You Want to Marry (And Other Identities I've Had) by Sophie Santos
Comedian and TV writer Sophie Santos pens an honest and hilarious memoir about finding your identity and letting your voice be heard. Not shying away from the awkward or cringeworthy, Santos is in on the joke as she relays stories about her army-brat childhood and Filipino-Spanish upbringing, eventually discovering herself, and her queerness, in her twenties.
|Please Don't Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes by Phoebe Robinson
Bestselling author, comedian, actress, and producer Phoebe Robinson delivers a thoughtful and engaging collection of personal essays on a range of topics like human connection, race, hair, travel, dating, Black excellence, and more. Topical, relatable, and witty, you won’t want this memoir to end!
|Somebody's Daughter by Ashley C. Ford
An unforgettable memoir of resilience and redemption. Growing up not knowing her incarcerated father well or why he was imprisoned allowed author Ashley C. Ford to romanticize him. But after being sexually assaulted by an ex-boyfriend as a preteen, Ford learns the true reason behind her father’s imprisonment and must come to terms with his impending release.
|Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me by Janet Mock
In the follow-up to her widely decorated debut novel, Redefining Realness, Janet Mock, executive producer of FX series Pose, delves into her life story post-transition. After growing apart from her first husband, who gave her the love and support to pursue higher education, Mock begins her career in New York, pioneering in magazine publishing as a trans woman of color.
|Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Moving, joyful, and poignant, Untamed is a call to arms for everyone to live their truth unapologetically and embrace their authentic self. Contemplating the emotional cost of ending her unhappy marriage, Doyle’s whole world is turned on its head when she falls in love at first sight with a woman she meets at a publishing event for her upcoming book.
|What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma by Stephanie Foo
Despite winning an Emmy for producing the radio show This American Life, Stephanie Foo’s battle with Complex PTSD immobilized her behind closed doors. Realizing her work to overcome childhood trauma had only scratched the surface, Foo sets out on a healing quest, finding the best path forward through reclaiming her agency with joy and grace.