6 Memoirs That Will Make You Feel Less Alone
As an only child, I have found companionship in books from a young age. Regardless of whether a story is fictional or not, its characters and world can offer readers shelter and reassurance that we are not alone in the world.
As an adult I have come to appreciate memoir for the courage of authors who reveal themselves completely on the page in order to share their stories, to expose their errors, and lessons learned.
Then as a writer, I have been drawn to memoir for that same reason: I want to share my pain and triumphs with others so they can see they are not alone.
Here are just a few of the memoirs I’ve encountered which have a reputation for connecting with readers in a powerful way!
6 Memoirs That Will Make You Feel Less Alone
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
With her trademark dark wit and curiosity, Jenny Lawson explores her own experience with severe depression (along with other conditions, and shows how it has led her to live life to the fullest. From Goodreads: Jenny’s readings are standing room only, with fans lining up to have Jenny sign their bottles of Xanax or Prozac as often as they are to have her sign their books. Furiously Happy appeals to Jenny’s core fan base but also transcends it. There are so many people out there struggling with depression and mental illness, either themselves or someone in their family—and in Furiously Happy they will find a member of their tribe offering up an uplifting message (via a taxidermied roadkill raccoon). Let’s Pretend This Never Happened ostensibly was about embracing your own weirdness, but deep down it was about family. Furiously Happy is about depression and mental illness, but deep down it’s about joy—and who doesn’t want a bit more of that?
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
I haven’t read this one yet, though it’s been recommended to me several times. From Goodreads: Kendrick invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”
Failure is an Option by H. Jon Benjamin
With his trademark apathy and sarcasm, Benjamin tells stories of times throughout his life where he failed, sometimes fantastically at whatever he was attempting. Topics range from mildly crude to outright vulgar, crossing the blurry comedic line causing the reader to ask “He really can’t be serious here, right?” I laughed out at some point in almost every chapter, and in more than one instance I had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard. What I appreciate most, besides the laughs, is Benajamin’s spin on failure. Sure, he’s making fun of himself, but he makes a good point: So much emphasis is placed on success in our society, we forget that failure is often “a springboard towards something better.”
Hunger by Roxane Gay
This is more like a collection of essays than a typical linear memoir. Going back and forth between the past, present, Roxane lets us into her life from every angle. This book absolutely knocked my socks off with raw honest writing and a powerful vulnerability. Any woman will find this book speaking to her utter core, regardless of what her personal weight struggles have been. I am inspired to look at my body differently than ever before and to explore the ways my life experiences manifest in my body (and my own memoir writing.)
Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett
This memoir of a friendship is unique and thoroughly moving. It is an extraordinary look into female friendships, what it means to create one’s own family that isn’t by blood, and what it is to lose someone you love.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Any of Sedaris’ essay collections is fitting for this category because he’s a master of making his experiences hilariously relatable. My favorite of all his pieces is in this collection, titled The Youth in Asia. It’s a perfect example of how he can find humor in even the darkest moments and is not afraid to admit to his less than admirable quirks.
Is there a memoir you would add to my list? Or a different genre you find comforting?