THE MUST READ MEMOIRS OF THE MOMENT

 

Some call it navel-gazing. We call it too good to put down. As much as we adore fiction, a good memoir really has a huge emotional impact on the reader, because it has the benefit of being true (unless it's by James Frey, in which case, never mind). Whether it's Maya Angelou or Tina Fey or Barack Obama, everyone has a story to tell, and it's just a pleasure to be invited in.

The memoirists featured range from acclaimed poets to former slaves to humorists to rock stars. Their stories are engrossing, heartbreaking, unbelievable at times, and often hilarious. They're honest and raw, inviting you to chew on their own highly personal experiences as you meditate on your own. They're just filled with life.

There'll never be a more appropriate time to delve into, and learn from, the life experiences of another. Ahead we’ve gathered our favorite memoirs and autobiographies. Book reports are due next week, okay?

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Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat, Patricia Williams (2017)
Themes: addiction, single motherhood, comedy

Now, Patricia Williams has a thriving comedy career, and goes by the stage name Ms. Pat. It's miraculous, considering how astoundingly difficult her childhood was. Williams was born during the height of the crack epidemic in Atlanta. The child of an alcoholic, she had to grow up fast. By seven, she was involved in the drug trade. When she was 13, she had her first child. At 15, she had her second. Williams tells her story with humor, wisdom, and honesty.

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Yes, Chef, Marcus Samuelsson (2015)

Every week, a young boy learns to cook in his grandmother's kitchen. The grandmother is Swedish; the boy is adopted from Ethiopia, and will go on to become a renowned chef. In this love story to food and family, Samuelsson tracks his path from grandma's kitchen to his acclaimed restaurant, Red Rooster, in Harlem.

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Bossypants, Tina Fey (2011)
Themes: Comedy, work, womanhood

Fey charts her rise from geeky student to Saturday Night Live standout and the queen of 30 Rock. Like all the best books, it's both hilarious and wise.

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Black Boy, Richard Wright (1945)
Themes: Race, religion, poverty, communism

Wright's autobiography of growing up in the Jim Crow South is a classic for good reason. Expect tales of extreme poverty and racism, as well as Wright's eventual interest in the arts and Communism.