The Most Inspiring Autobiographies & Memoirs of 2020
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It is probably safe to say that 2020 has been a crazy year for every single person on the planet. If there were ever a perfect time to dive into a hilariously relatable, beautifully moving, or perspective-changing true story, it would be now. If you are anything like me, you’ll come for the escapism and stay for the feels. Like any avid reader, I love a good novel.
However, there is something truly special about someone writing a life story and sharing it with the world. The experience is different when you know the people, places, thoughts, and stories in the book you’re reading are real. Whether you need a new virtual book club pick or you’re looking for some books to self-isolate with, here’s a brilliant selection of hot-off-the-press memoirs to choose from.
Life in Pieces by Dawn O’Porter
The best-selling author of So Lucky and The Cows brings us her timely thoughts on life in lockdown. Formatted as daily journal entries, Dawn’s musings on everything from motherhood and bad hair, to sleep and spirituality, to suicide and identity, are poignant and entertaining. Her raw honesty will leave you feeling seen and understood while making you laugh out loud.
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
Award-winning journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson’s ‘memoir manifesto’ is a beautiful exploration of identity and sexuality. While it will naturally appeal to the young adult audience, Johnson’s storytelling and frank emotional honesty will touch the hearts of anyone who reads it. He explores the joys and challenges Black queer boys face as he shares experiences from his own growing-up years. A testimony and love letter to those who identify with him, Johnson’s book will undoubtedly have a life-changing impact on its readership.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Is it a memoir? A self-help book? A call-to-action? It’s all that and more. Doyle isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but she resonates deeply with enough women that Untamed has basically spent the entire year on the New York Times Bestseller list. Beloved celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Oprah, Adele, Drew Barrymore, Kelly Clarkson and Kirsten Bell have raved about this book. Reese Witherspoon even picked it for her book club. This book covers so many aspects of life and the female experience, I’m convinced even the contrarians and haters probably highlighted a few things or shed a tear at least once. In what has been a universally difficult season of life, the “we can do hard things”-mantra of Untamed has captivated hearts and minds everywhere.
The Boy Between: A Mother and Son’s Journey From a World Gone Grey by Josiah Hartley & Amanda Prowse
Written by a mother and her son, this vulnerable, moving, much-needed memoir explores the way depression affects them individually and their relationship. Josh shares the story of his mental health rapidly declining into suicidal thoughts at university. His mother, an award-winning novelist, shares her story of grappling with ways to help him and the heart-wrenching pain of a mother watching her son suffering and fearing he may succeed in taking his life. Josh and Amanda amplify the voices of so many who feel shame and loneliness around the topic of mental health. Their message is clear: you are not alone and there is hope.
The Beauty in the Breaking by Michelle Harper
Working as a Black woman in a field dominated by white men, Harper takes us on a journey through her experiences as an ER physician. As she works to heal others, she ends up teaching herself how to heal. Each story she tells about a patient possesses a life lesson that points her towards self-compassion, learning how to reconcile her own pain and cope with broken and flawed systems. Harper’s thought-provoking, compelling writing will stick with readers long after they put down her words.
A Promised Land by Barak Obama
Intimate, riveting and introspective insight into the story of a man who made history as America’s first African American president. The man who inspired a nation to have hope in the power of democracy tells us the story of his presidency, from his earliest political aspirations to his last days in the Oval Office.
Conditional Citizens by Laila Lalami
Laila Lalami was born and raised in Morocco who pursued graduate studies in the U.S. where she eventually married an American and became a naturalized citizen. In a series of articulate essays she essentially explores the question “Does having citizenship as an immigrant ensure that society and the government treat you equally?” Lalami gives both well-researched answers and deeply personal accounts of what it means to belong in America when you possess the privileges of citizenship and all its ideals, but face the reality of being a female, Arab, Muslim in a country where white supremacy is ever-present.
Everything Beautiful in Its Time: Seasons of Love and Loss by Jenna Bush Hager
This sentimental, heart-warming collection of reminiscences is a tribute to the Bush family and the love and respect they share for each other. Bush-Hager writes with love, kindness, self-deprecating humor, faith, and gratitude. Covering the year she lost three grandparents, Bush-Hager reflects on the beauty of the little things in life and what truly matters. Nostalgic and uplifting, this memoir is a delight to curl up with.
Nala’s World: One Man, His Rescue Cat, a Bike Ride around the Globe by Dean Nicholson
If you’re an animal lover, you need to discover the heartwarming true story of a man and his cat. Dane Nicholson began a mission to cycle around the world. Three months into his journey he met an unlikely companion. Nicholson takes in an abandoned kitten and together they travel the world visiting refugee camps, rescuing other animals, and relishing in the kindness of strangers. With over 750,000 followers on Instagram, these two have a devoted fan-following and are finally sharing an in-depth look into their inspiring and adorable adventures together.