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What are the best memoir books?

I am interested in reading about various cultures, but through a person's life, any ideas?

18 Answers

  • 2 decades ago
    Favorite Answer

    The suggestion of Memoir of a Geisha is interesting because it's fiction, not a memoir at all, but it is a great book you'd probably enjoy. I'm not sure if you mean non-American cultures, but if not, Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an excellent memoir of her youth and coming of age- her experiences and perseverance are at times almost unbelievable.

    He Died With a Felafel in His Hand by John Birmingham is a hilarious memoir of living with a ton of wacky and disturbing roommates in various flats throughout Australia.

    Everyone I know who's read it (including me) has been both shocked and inspired by Dave Peltzer's horrific story of his childhood of abuse in A Child Called It.

    Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher speaks for itself in terms of content, but the author goes way beyond the "typical" story of an eating disorder with her disturbing and touching story mixed with a great deal of research.

    All of David Sedaris's memoirs are hilarious (such as Me Talk Pretty One Day).

    If you like graphic novels check out the memoirs The Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner (growing up in 1970's San Francisco hippie drug culture) and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (an amazing look at growing up in Iran in the late 1970's/early 1980's).

    I also love Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy. This is her beautifully written account of being diagnosed with and treated for cancer in her jaw as a child and the following years of painful reconstruction and the scars, both physical and emotional, that developed along the way.

    Oh- and I just finished Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller. Her story of growing up as a white person in Africa is wild, funny, sad, and beautiful.

  • 2 decades ago

    There are some great Holocaust memoirs. I Have Lived A Thousand Years by Livia Bitton-Jackson is great. The Cage by Ruth Minsky Sender is excellent. In My Hands: The Memoirs of a Holocaust Rescuer by Irene Gut Opdyke is wonderful. And for a different perspective on World War II, try The Girl With The White Flag by Tomiko Higa. It's such a good book.

    Another memoir which was great was The Diary of Mah Yan by Mah Yan. It came out in 2005. It's an English translation of some of her diary entries for a two year period. Very good.

    Over A Thousand Years I Walk With You by Hanna Jansen was originally written in German and translated into English. The author adopted a young girl who was orphaned in the early nineties by the Rwandan conflict. Even though it's not written by the child herself, I think it does a good job in telling her story authentically.

  • 2 decades ago

    Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden and Night by Elie Wiesel are excellent. Two other excellent authors are David Sedaris and Bill Bryson. David Sedaris is an American and mainly talks about his childhood but also recounts some of his travels and they are definitely good for a laugh. Bill Bryson is British and most of his books can be found in the travel section or somewhere nearby. One of my personal favorites is A Walk in the Woods, although he does tend to go on tangents about the forestry department. It did however, bring my mom to tears while she was reading form laughing so hard.

  • 2 decades ago

    There's this book called The Unwanted by Ken Nyguyen, I have through word of mouth that it is good. It's about this half-American, half Vietnamese son trapped in Vietnam after the fall of the country to the Vietcong and Communists in 1975. I heard it's real sad. And although this isn't a real memoir, you can read Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. I have through word of mouth that that book is good. But please, don't get Bill Clinton's memoir. I beg of you, don't.

  • 2 decades ago

    Try The Bookseller of Kabul. It's not a memoir, but a journalists view. It's a fabulous book and gives good insight into a different world and culture.

  • 2 decades ago

    Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. Irish poverty.

    And Memoirs of a Geisha was fictional, so the person answering above is wrong.

    Source(s): Memoir reading/writing college course.
  • 2 decades ago

    Wonder as I Wander and The Big Sea by Langston Hughes

    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and several others by Maya Angelou

    Survival at Auschwitz by Primo Levi

    Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (you will laugh outloud)

  • 2 decades ago

    Always Running La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L. A.g by luis rodriguez

    Running, Luis J. Rodriguez's eloquent, impassioned, frighteningly vivid chronicle of his youth in Los Angeles in the late 60s and early 70s. Growing up in Watts and East L.A., Rodriguez joined his first gang at age 11 and was drawn into "la vida loca" - the crazy life. Gangs were "how we wove something out of the threads of nothing," he remembers. By age 18, he was a veteran of gang warfare, police killings, drug overdoses, and suicides that had claimed 25 of his friends and had driven him and so many others to despair. In part, Rodriguez survived the violence and desperation of his youth by writing down his experiences. They were only woven into this astonishing book years later, when his son, Ramiro, joined a gang in Chicago where they now live. Always Running is packed with episode after episode of high drama, but within this honest and powerful depiction of social devastation, there is a father's impassioned message of understanding and hope to his son, and to thousands like him. Rodriguez's inspiring story should be read by anyone who cares about the future of children in America.

  • 2 decades ago

    Well I'm going to have to agree with these guys - Night bye Elie Wiesel and Angela's Ashes are two really great memoirs.

    Source(s): I read them both
  • 2 decades ago

    Night by elie wiesel and diary of a young girl, by anne frank...those are definitely the best, they make you cry but definitely the best. If you like modern and more up to date than the holocaust, read soul surfer, its by and about Bethany Hamilton.

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