Goodreads memoir

Goodreads memoir DEFAULT

As a literary genre, a memoir (from the French: mémoire from the Latin memoria, meaning "memory", or a reminiscence), forms a subclass of autobiography – although the terms 'memoir' and 'autobiography' are almost interchangeable in modern parlance. Memoir is autobiographical writing, but not all autobiographical writing follows the criteria for memoir.

Memoirs are structured differently from formal autobiographies which tend to encompass the writer's entire life span, focusing on the development of his/her personality. The chronological scope of memoir is determined by the work's context and isAs a literary genre, a memoir (from the French: mémoire from the Latin memoria, meaning "memory", or a reminiscence), forms a subclass of autobiography – although the terms 'memoir' and 'autobiography' are almost interchangeable in modern parlance. Memoir is autobiographical writing, but not all autobiographical writing follows the criteria for memoir.

Memoirs are structured differently from formal autobiographies which tend to encompass the writer's entire life span, focusing on the development of his/her personality. The chronological scope of memoir is determined by the work's context and is therefore more focused and flexible than the traditional arc of birth to childhood to old age as found in an autobiography.

Memoirs tended to be written by politicians or people in court society, later joined by military leaders and businessmen, and often dealt exclusively with the writer's careers rather than their private life. Historically, memoirs have dealt with public matters, rather than personal. Many older memoirs contain little or no information about the writer, and are almost entirely concerned with other people. Modern expectations have changed this, even for heads of government. Like most autobiographies, memoirs are generally written from the first person point of view.

Gore Vidal, in his own memoir Palimpsest, gave a personal definition: "a memoir is how one remembers one's own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked." It is more about what can be gleaned from a section of one's life than about the outcome of the life as a whole.

Humorist Will Rogers put it a little more pithily: "Memoirs means when you put down the good things you ought to have done and leave out the bad ones you did do."...more


While all of the best books give readers a chance to walk in another's shoes for awhile, the best memoirs enable us to live another person's real life for the length of those pages. While many people who aren't familiar with the genre might think of memoir as akin to autobiography, they can actually range much more widely than that. Some memoirs, especially those about celebrities or public figures, do take readers through a wide swath of a person's life to show us how they came to be where they are. But others delve into a particular formative moment in time, sometimes spanning just a few weeks or even a single day.

Memoirs don't have to follow a traditional narrative arc, either. They can be essay collections, include snippets of poetry, photos, drawings or take the form of a graphic novel. And while a lot of memoirs do deal with an emotional time in a person's life, many of them are funny, poignant, historically significant or all of the above. Some of the best feel like listening to a friend tell you about their life, often in beautiful prose. Just like fiction, there are as many flavors of memoirs as there are human experiences, so we've rounded up some of our favorites to broaden your TBR list.

Psst: We have a book club now! Join the GH Book Club community to read one feel-good book every month.

In the Dream House: A Memoir

Carmen Maria


In this genre-bending book that plays with time, place and form to depict the unique horrors of an abusive relationship, Carmen Maria Machado reimagines what a memoir can be. It will break your brain and heart open, in the best way.




Get to know Tara Westover as she leaves her survivalist family in Idaho and sets off on a journey that leads her to earn a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. The reception to the book, and what it says about the gulf between educated and uneducated people in the United States, earned Westover a spot on Times list of the Most Influential People of 2019. 

Men We Reaped



National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward grapples with losing five men in her life in the span of five years, and with it, the way racism and poverty put a target on their backs. This book reveals the intersection of class and race in an unblinking story that's lyrical, richly visual and hugely important.  

RELATED: 25 Books By Black Authors to Add to Your Reading List




The Liars' Club



With a volatile mother, distant and hard-drinking father, and scrappy sister, Mary Karr's childhood in a small Texas oil town is by turns funny, sad and terribly poignant. It's as frank as it is moving in vivid prose that almost singlehandedly revived the memoir trend in the early 2000s. 

When Breath Becomes Air



Paul Kalanithi didn't set out to become a writer — in fact, he was a doctor with more than a decade of training as a neurosurgeon, until he was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. After switching from doctor to patient, he wrote a memoir to examine what makes life worth living. 

I Am Malala




When she was 15, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school because she spoke out about Taliban rule. Not only did she survive, she went on to become one of the leading voices of our time, and a symbol of how one person can change the world. 

Heavy: An American Memoir



In a book that explores his relationship with his family, body, sexuality, gambling and American culture as a whole, Kiese Laymon exposes the underbelly of our society and doesn't flinch. It asks us to consider who among us is really free and why we're all so afraid of it.




What happens when you cast off the person the world has always told you to be and start living life on your own terms? That's what this empowering, inspiring memoir explores. It will awaken that little voice inside all of us that asks, "Is this it?" 

Yes Please



This collection of essays about the comedian's life as a former star of The Upright Citizens BrigadeSaturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation also contains lots of useful real-world wisdom. It's as funny as you would expect, and far more practical than you might think. 

The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays

Esmé Weijun


In this intimate and direct collection, we learn what it's like to live with mental and physical illness in an entirely new way. Wang writes about her experience with a clear, analytical eye that ranges from her deeply personal journey of psychosis to the institutional failures of the education and hospital system. 




Before it became a movie starring Reese Witherspoon, Cheryl Strayed's memoir made bestseller lists for its deeply emotive portrayal of a woman who had lost herself to grief, but found herself again on a grueling solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. Some parts are not for the squeamish, but it's all worth a read.




Every woman who's been told she can't rise to the top should read this laugh-out-loud, unexpectedly instructive memoir from 30 Rock creator Tina Fey. Her series of essays about her journey from her nerdy beginnings to her time leading the Saturday Night Live writing staff (and beyond)  give hope to all of us nerdy folk. 

Eat, Pray, Love



This memoir is so popular, it's basically a meme. You may already know the basics of Elizabeth Gilbert's journey through Italy, India and Indonesia to recover her sense of self, but this book that more or less introduced us to the idea of self-care trend is still worth your time. 

RELATED: What Is Self-Care?

The Glass Castle



In gorgeous language and storytelling that won't let you go, Jeannette Walls brings readers along on her unconventional and nomadic upbringing being raised by nonconformist and often neglectful parents. It's not an easy read at times, but will stay with you for a long time.

Marley & Me




Grab the tissues and your pup before you crack open this book about a naughty dog who wriggled his way into his owner's heart. This book will take you through an emotional journey that will make you want to snuggle your own furry friend all the way through. 

RELATED: These Are the Top 10 Smartest Dog Breeds, According to Experts

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth



Anyone who really believes that all you have to do to get ahead is to work hard and pull yourself up by your bootstraps needs to read this seminal memoir ASAP. It's an eye-opening story of a single mom who's doing her best and still falling short, thanks to social forces beyond her control. 

Me Talk Pretty One Day



David Sedaris's stories about living in Europe, trying to learn a new language, and the general shenanigans he gets into are so funny, you might not want to read it in public. Tip: Check it out on audiobook, and you can hear recordings of Sedaris reading to an audience in his distinctive style. 

RELATED: The Best Audiobooks to Break Out During Your Next Long Trip

Tuesdays with Morrie

Tuesdays with


Writer Mitch Albom's recounting of his weekly visits to an old college professor in the last months of the teacher's life drive home the importance of listening to the wisdom of our elders. Give this one to your high schoolers for a lesson that will stick with them forever. 

Angela's Ashes



Frank McCourt borrows from Tolstoy when he says he had, "of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while." His memoir takes readers from from Depression-era Brooklyn to the slums of Limerick, Ireland, in a gut-wrenching story of survival that still manages to convey glimmers of humor and hope. 

Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations




This gorgeous graphic memoir asks the difficult questions about race, sexuality, politics and of course, love. But it's not all heavy. When you've got a six-year-old's questions as your basis, there's also some zingers. 

A Child Called It



Dave Pelzer's autobiography details the horrific abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother from age 4 to age 12, when he was put in the foster-care system. It's a sickening account of the horrors people can inflict on one another, as well as a treatise on resilience and love. If you couldn't put this one down, follow it up with his twosequels. 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings




There's a reason Maya Angelou's autobiography is a classic: she beautifully captures the struggles and joys of her childhood growing up under the shadow of racism, what it's like to be treated as less than human, and how she persevered with her own strength of spirit and the help of literature. 




Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wisel earned a Nobel Peace Prize for speaking out against violence, racism and oppression — work that started when he published this stirring memoir about the horrific experience of surviving a Nazi concentration camp in World War II.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl



Even though it was first published more than seven decades ago, Anne Frank's account of living in hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam still resonates today. Her childlike observations of the world, the petty annoyances that come of living in close quarters and hope even against the worst of circumstances make it a must-read for us all. 

Lizz SchumerSenior editorLizz Schumer is the senior editor for Good Housekeeping, and also contributes to Woman's Day, and Prevention, covering pets, culture, lifestyle, books, and entertainment.

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Best books 2020: Winners of the Goodreads Choice Awards

This year's Goodreads Choice Awards saw more votes than ever before, beating last year's total by roughly 1 million. In all, 5,674,480 votes were cast for the most popular books across 20 categories during the annual populist literary spectacle, in which Goodreads users are invited to vote for their favorites among finalists.

According to a spokesperson, the Goodreads editorial team curated 15 books per category, each having been published between Nov. 16, 2019 and Nov. 17, 2020 and each sporting at least a 3.5-star average rating. That was followed by several voting rounds and culminated in the Dec. 8 announcement of the winners below. To give you an idea of both winner and runners up, we include below the top voted as well as the three next-in-line books per category. Happy reading.



1. "The Midnight Library" by Matt Haig

  • 4.25-star average rating, more than 41,200 ratings

From Goodreads: This year’s Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction was the closest contest in the history of the awards. Your winner — by five votes — is The Midnight Library, author Matt Haig’s wildly inventive blend of literary and speculative fiction. The quick gist: Imagine a library in which each book represents a different path your life could have taken. Now imagine spending eternity in that library. It’s a Goodreads kind of dream…

Next three fiction finalists:

Mystery & Thriller

2. "The Guest List" by Lucy Foley

  • 3.86-star average rating, over 152,000 ratings

From Goodreads: Lucy Foley ran away with this year’s Mystery & Thriller award by inviting us to the best wedding ever! And by “best” we mean “most terrifying.” Jules and Will have chosen to hold their wedding on a remote island off the coast of Ireland. Then the storm hits. Then the body is found. It’s like the old Irish adage: It’s not a party until somebody ends up dead.

Next three mystery & thriller finalists:

Historical Fiction

3. "The Vanishing Half" by Brit Bennett

  • 4.29 star-average rating, more than 156,600 ratings

From Goodreads: Longlisted for the National Book Award, Brit Bennett’s ambitious novel follows two identical twin sisters from a small Southern town. One stays home in her Black community; the other passes for white in the wider world. Provocative and compassionate, Bennett’s book traces fascinating threads of American identity and is our hands-down winner for the 2020 Historical Fiction award.


Next three historical fiction finalists:


4. "House of Earth and Blood" by Sarah J. Maas

  • 4.43 star-average rating, more than 88,900 ratings

From Goodreads: Goodreads voters in the Fantasy category tended toward the dark and sticky side this year, and the 2020 win goes to House of Earth and Blood, author Sarah J. Maas’ introduction to her new Crescent City series. Stitched through with threads of romance and suspense, the novel follows complex heroine Bryce Quinlan and fallen angel Hunt Athalar as they track a lethal demon through the city.

Next three fantasy finalists:


5. "From Blood and Ash" by Jennifer L. Armentrout

  • 4.43 star-average rating, over 37,900 ratings

From Goodreads: This year’s Goodreads Choice Award for Romance comes from the exhilarating perimeters of the genre, where romance intersects with dark fantasy and paranormal intrigue. Veteran author Jennifer L. Armentrout tells the story of Poppy, a.k.a. The Maiden, a warrior destined by the gods to live a life of solitude, never to be touched. But then there’s Hawke, her fellow Guard. Forbidden passion is the best way to bust up destiny.

Next three romance finalists:

Science Fiction

6. "To Sleep in a Sea of Stars" by Christopher Paolini

  • 3.91 star-average rating, over 6,300 ratings

From Goodreads: Author Christopher Paolini earns his first Goodreads Choice Award with this sustained gaze into the future of humankind. While scouting an as-yet-uncolonized planet, scientist Kira Navárez discovers an alien relic that will change the fate of Earth and its colonies. A resounding critical and commercial success, Paolini’s innovative story brings delightful new twists to the venerable “first contact” sci-fi template.


Next three science fiction finalists:


7. "Mexican Gothic" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

  • 3.75 star-average rating, more than 65,000 ratings

From Goodreads: If it seemed like everyone you knew was reading Mexican Gothic this year, that’s because they were. Author Silvia Moreno-Garcia (“Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination”) collects the Horror prize for 2020 with a pitch-perfect Gothic horror story in the old-school mode, but with contemporary perspectives on race and colonialism. Spooky mansions! Opulent decay! Bumps in the night!

Next three horror finalists:


8. "Strange Planet" by Nathan W. Pyle

  • 4.33 star-average rating, over 22,600 ratings

From Goodreads: Writer and cartoonist Nathan W. Pyle found mad success online with his Instagram series Strange Planet. Now anthologized into a series of books, Pyle’s delightful creation has a Goodreads Choice Award, too. Strange Planet features blue aliens who think and act just like us humans, but with a hilarious kind of specificity (and emotional intelligence). It’s deceptively simple and really quite brilliant.

Next three humor finalists:


9. "Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You" by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

  • 4.59 star-average rating, more than 23,300 ratings

From Goodreads: This year’s winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Nonfiction, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You is an adaptation for middle grade readers of Ibram X. Kendi’s 2016 National Book Award–winning Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. An exhaustively researched and passionately argued statement on the history of racism, it’s good nutrition for young minds.


Next three nonfiction finalists:

Memoir & Autobiography

10. "A Promised Land" by Barack Obama

  • 4.49 star-average rating, over 6,300 ratings

From Goodreads: Former president Barack Obama has led a rather accomplished life, it can be said, and now he’s got a Goodreads Choice Award to add to the shelf. Hugely anticipated around the globe, A Promised Land delivers with a surprisingly intimate look back at Obama’s historic journey from young community organizer to 44th president of the United States—the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office. Hail to the chief.

Next three memoir & autobiography finalists:

History & Biography

11. "Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents" by Isabel Wilkerson

  • 4.63 star-average rating, more than 19,000 ratings

From Goodreads: From Isabel Wilkerson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in journalism, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents continues a discernible theme in this year’s awards: books that take a long, hard look at America itself. Wilkerson argues, persuasively, that Americans are mired in an outdated and dangerous hierarchy system that goes even deeper than race and class. The silver lining: It’s not too late for meaningful change.

Next three history & biography finalists:

Science & Technology

12. "A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future" by David Attenborough

  • 4.62 star-average rating, over 1,500 ratings

From Goodreads: With his definitive witness statement of life on planet Earth, naturalist, journalist, and planetary defender David Attenborough wins this year’s Goodreads Choice Award in Science & Technology. Sir Attenborough’s book is part testimony, part memoir, and part urgent call to arms. It provides a vision for the future in which, through collective action, we can still save Earth’s wild places. But we’ll have to act fast.


Next three science & technology finalists:

Food & Cookbooks

13. "Modern Comfort Food: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook" by Ina Garten

  • 4.38 star-average rating, 580 ratings

From Goodreads: Author and alpha foodie Ina Garten takes the Food & Cookbooks prize with a collection of recipes perfect for the quarantined lifestyle of 2020. The 85 dishes featured here—many of them childhood favorites—are easy to make and meant to provide culinary comfort in this strangest of times. Cheddar and Chutney Grilled Cheese! Creamy Tomato Bisque! Banana Rum Trifle! We’re feeling better already.

Next three food & cookbooks finalists:

Graphic Novels & Comics

14. "Heartstopper: Volume Three" by Alice Oseman

  • 4.65 star-average rating, more than 26,400 ratings

From Goodreads: Winner of the 2020 Goodreads Choice Award for Graphic Novel & Comics, Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper: Volume Three continues the love story of Charlie and Nick, now open and out and ready to meet the world. Oseman’s ongoing serialized webcomic has won universal praise for its insightful exploration of LGBTQ+ themes and its quiet celebration of those universal mysteries: love, friendship, and loyalty.

Next three graphic novels & comics finalists:


15. "Dearly: New Poems" by Margaret Atwood

  • 3.89 star-average rating, more than 995 ratings

From Goodreads: This year’s Goodreads Choice Award for Poetry goes to the indefatigable Margaret Atwood, who is surely one of our planet’s most priceless commodities. Her first collection of poetry in more than a decade, Dearly is like a sustained twinkle in Atwood’s ever-observant eye. The poems carom about inside Atwood’s fertile imagination, bouncing from the personal to political to genuinely funny.


Next three poetry finalists:

Debut Novel

16. "Such a Fun Age" by Kiley Reid

  • 3.85 star-average rating, more than 188,000 ratings

From Goodreads: Author Kiley Reid’s fascinating debut brings dry and sometimes dark humor to a story about the “everyday domestic biases that we don’t even know we have.” African American babysitter Emira encounters escalating weirdness when her upper-crust white employer finds disastrous new ways to deploy her good intentions. Reid’s assured debut has won her rave reviews, chart-topping sales, and now a coveted Goodreads Choice Award.

Next three debut novel finalists:

Young Adult Fiction

17. "Clap When You Land" by Elizabeth Acevedo

  • 4.37 star-average rating, more than 31,500 ratings

From Goodreads: Elizabeth Acevedo wins this year’s Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult Fiction with a powerful novel-in-verse about love, loss, and family. Camino and Yahaira Rios didn’t even know they were sisters until their father died in a plane crash. Now they’re learning more than they want to know about the ties (and knots) that bind families together. Bonus trivia: Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam champion, too.

Next three young adult fiction finalists:

Young Adult Fantasy

18. "The Queen of Nothing" by Holly Black

  • 4.35 star-average rating, more than 115,500 ratings

From Goodreads: Author Holly Black celebrates back-to-back wins in the YA Fiction category with The Queen of Nothing, her follow-up to last year’s winner The Wicked King. This final installment in Black’s wildly popular series reveals the ultimate fate of Jude, exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, and a girl with extremely interesting problems. Shakespeare can tell you: Politics is lethal in the world of the Fae.

Next three young adult fantasy finalists:

Middle Grade & Children's

19. "The Tower of Nero" by Rick Riordan

  • 4.58 star-average rating, more than 10,770 ratings

From Goodreads: Category godfather Rick Riordan once again takes the prize for Middle Grade and Children’s Books with the final installment of The Trials of Apollo series. Inspired by Greco-Roman mythology, The Tower of Nero chronicles the final adventures of the Greek god Apollo, incarnated on Earth as hapless teenager Lester Papadopoulos. For those keeping score at home, this is Riordan’s 10th consecutive victory in the Goodreads Choice Awards.

Next three Middle Grade & Children's finalists:

Picture Books

20. "Antiracist Baby" by Ibram X. Kendi

  • 4.24 star-average rating, more than 2,290 ratings

From Goodreads: Author Ibram X. Kendi reaches out to the youngest of readers—and the grown-ups in their lives—with this innovative picture book dedicated to creating a more equitable future for everyone. This is Kendi’s second 2020 Goodreads Choice Award; he also picked up the Nonfiction prize for his similarly themed book for middle grade readers. Illustrator Ashley Lukashevsky provides the bold and lovely art. Hey, babies! Check this out!

Next three Picture Books finalists:


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6 Goodreads Tips \u0026 Hidden Features

Are Priyanka Chopra's Positive Memoir Ratings On Goodreads Inflated?

Priyanka Chopra's memoir Unfinished is already a hit on the book bible app Goodreads. The book is a, "collection of personal essays, stories, and observations by actor, producer, activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Priyanka Chopra."

Fans and avid readers are warming up to the actor and producer's first published book, but only time will tell if it maintains that positive rating.

Goodreads Dynamic

For those who don't already use Goodreads, it's a popular app that acts as a watering hole for readers to rate any book one can imagine. Stars are ranked on a five-star basis, and anything over four stars is often considered a guaranteed engaging story.

One of Unfinished's 66 critics described it as a championed tale of a woman and gave it five stars, "Priyanka Chopra is a woman that faced racism, sexism, patriarchy, rejection, got robbed by favoritism and even get death threats during her 20years of career. She came out each time even stronger cause she is unstoppable and she loves to conquer. This woman is a golden icon and so this Memoir will be worth reading."

Related: Priyanka Chopra Looks Unrecognizable In Rare Photo Of When She Was 17

Many of the reviews, however, are already rating the memoir before reading it. That's not typical Goodreads protocol. More and more of the app's members are handing out five-star ratings and saying things like, "I’m so excited to read this wonderful memoir. She’s such an inspiration to me and I can’t wait for her to share her story."

Anyone who uses Goodreads regularly knows that five stars are reserved for spectacular reads, not books you have yet to crack open. Are these reviews and the overall publicity-approved stature fair to other authors?

Who Are The Readers?

Maybe these new readers may not use Goodreads regularly and are excited, loyal fans of Chopra. They might have reignited their reading flame thanks to their favorite actor's book.

Related: Priyanka Chopra Jonas Just Proved She Is The Ultimate Dog Mom

Chopra has lived a life obviously worthy of putting down on paper and sharing with her supporters. We're not discrediting that. However, those gifted an early copy of the book may be inflating the stars to 4.53.

A lot of these elated readers waiting on the edge of their seats to dog-ear Unfinished's pages also have it as their only saved book. This is also uncommon. Possible, but uncommon for how it occurs for this book's comments.

Next: Fans Get A First Look At Priyanka Chopra In Netflix's 'The White Tiger'


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Goodreads Choice Awards

Category 2009[2]2010[3]2011[4]2012[5]2013[6]2014[7]2015[8]2016[9]2017[10][11]2018[12]2019[13][14]2020[15][16]Best of the Best Angie Thomas (Best Debut Author 2017 for The Hate U Give)Best Fiction The Help
by Kathryn StockettRoom
by Emma Donoghue1Q84
by Haruki MurakamiThe Casual Vacancy
by J. K. RowlingAnd the Mountains Echoed
by Khaled HosseiniLandline
by Rainbow RowellGo Set a Watchman
by Harper LeeTruly Madly Guilty
by Liane MoriartyLittle Fires Everywhere
by Celeste NgStill Me by Jojo MoyesThe Testaments by Margaret AtwoodThe Midnight Library by Matt Haig[17]Best non-fiction Columbine
by Dave CullenThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca SklootThe Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth
by Alexandra RobbinsQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
by Susan CainThe Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum
by Temple Grandin & Richard PanekThe Opposite of Loneliness
by Marina KeeganModern Romance: An Investigation
by Aziz Ansari & Eric KlinenbergHamilton: The Revolution
by Lin-Manuel Miranda & Jeremy McCarter How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life
by Lilly SinghI'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamaraGirl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel HollisStamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. KendiBest Mystery & Thriller The Girl Who Played with Fire
by Stieg LarssonThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest
by Stieg LarssonSmokin' Seventeen
by Janet EvanovichGone Girl
by Gillian FlynnInferno
by Dan BrownMr. Mercedes
by Stephen KingThe Girl on the Train
by Paula HawkinsEnd of Watch
by Stephen KingInto the Water
by Paula HawkinsThe Outsider by Stephen KingThe Silent Patient by Alex MichaelidesThe Guest List by Lucy Foley Best Fantasy Dead and Gone
by Charlaine HarrisTowers of Midnight
by Robert Jordan and Brandon SandersonA Dance with Dragons
by George R. R. MartinThe Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole
by Stephen KingThe Ocean at the End of the Lane
by Neil GaimanThe Book of Life
by Deborah HarknessTrigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances
by Neil GaimanHarry Potter and the Cursed Child
by J. K. RowlingFantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay
by J. K. RowlingCirce by Madeline MillerNinth House by Leigh BardugoHouse of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. MaasBest Science Fiction Leviathan
by Scott WesterfeldFeed
by Mira Grant11/22/63
by Stephen KingThe Long Earth
by Terry Pratchett & Stephen BaxterMaddAddam
by Margaret AtwoodThe Martian
by Andy WeirGolden Son
by Pierce BrownMorning Star
by Pierce BrownArtemis
by Andy WeirVengeful by VE SchwabRecursion by Blake CrouchTo Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher PaoliniBest Chick Lit The Last Song
by Nicholas SparksBest Romance An Echo in the Bone
by Diana GabaldonLover Mine
by J. R. WardLover Unleashed
by J. R. WardFifty Shades Freed
by E. L. JamesLover at Last
by J. R. WardWritten in My Own Heart's Blood
by Diana GabaldonConfess
by Colleen HooverIt Ends With Us
by Colleen HooverWithout Merit
by Colleen HooverThe Kiss Quotient by Helen HoangRed, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuistonFrom Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout Best Young Adult Fiction Along for the Ride
by Sarah DessenBefore I Fall
by Lauren OliverWhere She Went
by Gayle FormanThe Fault in Our Stars
by John GreenEleanor & Park
by Rainbow RowellWe Were Liars
by E. LockhartAll the Bright Places
by Jennifer NivenSalt to the Sea
by Ruta SepetysThe Hate U Give
by Angie ThomasLeah on the Offbeat by Becky AlbertalliFive Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott Clap When You Land by Elizabeth AcevedoBest Young Adult Series Catching Fire
by Suzanne CollinsBest Graphic Novel (& Comics from 2011) Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?
by Neil GaimanTwilight: The Graphic Novel
by Stephenie MeyerVampire Academy: The Graphic Novel
by Richelle MeadThe Walking Dead Vol. 16: A Larger World
by Robert KirkmanBeautiful Creatures
by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl and artist Cassandra JeanSerenity: Leaves on the Wind
by Zack Whedon, Fábio Moon and Daniel Dos SantosSaga – Volume Four
by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona StaplesAdulthood is a Myth
by Sarah AndersenBig Mushy Happy Lump
by Sarah AndersenHerding Cats by Sarah AndersenPumpkin Heads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin HicksHeartstopper: Volume Three by Alice OsemanBest Children's (& Middle Grade from 2010) Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
by Jeff KinneyDiary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth
by Jeff KinneyThe Son of Neptune
by Rick RiordanThe Mark of Athena
by Rick RiordanThe House of Hades
by Rick RiordanThe Blood of Olympus
by Rick RiordanThe Sword of Summer
by Rick RiordanThe Trials of Apollo
by Rick RiordanThe Ship of the Dead
by Rick RiordanThe Burning Maze by Rick RiordanThe Tyrant's Tomb by Rick RiordanThe Tower of Nero by Rick RiordanBest Picture Book Blueberry Girl
by Neil GaimanIt's a Book
by Lane SmithWhen I Grow Up
by "Weird Al" YankovicOlivia and the Fairy Princesses
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13 of the most popular memoirs by women around the world, according to Goodreads

International Women’s Day is a holiday for commemorating the remarkable cultural, political and socioeconomic contributions and achievements made everyday by women everywhere.

To celebrate, we asked Goodreads for the most popular recent memoirs by women from around the world, determined by the number of user ratings, the average rating and how many people have it on their to-read shelf.

In these books, you’ll find thoughtful recollections on relationships between mothers and daughters, harrowing stories of surviving civil war and triumphant accounts of persevering in an unwelcoming world.

Keep scrolling to find your next read.

"The Soul of a Woman," by Isabel Allende

In her new memoir, accomplished writer Isabel Allende looks back at her life and career to better understand what feeds the souls of feminists. She takes the wisdom gained from her time as a journalist during feminism’s second wave, her three marriages and the rest of her lifetime of experience and packages it for readers in "The Soul of a Woman."

"The Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir," by Wayetu Moore

Wayetu Moore’s memoir "The Dragons, the Giant, the Women" follows her life from her childhood in Liberia spent missing her mother, who was studying in New York; to having to abruptly flee after the break out of the Liberian Civil War; to struggling to adjust to her new life in Texas. It’s a moving story of the search for and creation of a home.

"Unfinished," by Priyanka Chopra Jonas

Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s memoir "Unfinished" is a wonderful window into the life of the "Quantico" star. She shares stories of her childhood in India, her time working as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, her relationship with musician Nick Jonas and more.

"Consent: A Memoir," by Vanessa Springora

As a teenager, Vanessa Springora was the “muse” of one of France’s most popular and influential writers. Now in her forties and working as the head of a major publishing house, Springora is reclaiming the story for herself, describing in "Consent" the manipulation and indifference that made what happened to her possible.

"Love Is an Ex-Country," by Randa Jarrar

"Love is an Ex-Country" is a memoir-in-essays by acclaimed writer Randa Jarrar. Structured around her road trip from her home in California to her parents’ home in Connecticut, she recalls the violence and harassment that has beset her throughout her life. In opposition to a world that seeks to harm her, she asserts: “I am here, I am joyful.”


"Anger Is My Middle Name: A Memoir," by Lisbeth Zoring Andersen

"Anger is My Middle Name" details Lisbeth Zoring Andersen’s painful childhood moving between the foster care system in Denmark and her violent, dysfunctional parents. The memoir, translated by Mark Mussari, is told in two voices: a defiant child’s and a passionate woman’s.

"The Book of Rosy," by Rosayra Pablo Cruz and Julie Schwietert

In "The Book of Rosy," Rosayra Pablo Cruz tells the story of her decision to seek asylum with two of her children in the United States from violence she feared in Guatemala. When they arrived at the Arizona border, they were separated and she had to fight to reunite her family. Written with Julie Schwietert, founder of Immigrant Families Together, an organization which works to reunite mothers and their children, they reveal the cruelty of the detention centers and the faith and effort required to make it through the cruel bureaucracy.

"Aftershocks," by Nadia Owusu

As the daughter of a United Nations official, Nadia Owusu’s childhood was characterized by upheaval. On top of constantly moving, her mother left when was two and reappeared only intermittently and her father died when she was 13. These difficult experiences were compounded by hurtful information her stepmother revealed after he died, which she didn’t know whether to believe or not. "Aftershocks" is a bracing memoir of upheaval and perseverance.

"Girl Decoded," by Rana El Kaliouby

In "Girl Decoded," named one of the best books of 2020 by Parade, Rana El Kaliouby recounts her efforts to humanize the technology we use so that we might build a more empathetic, understanding world. She weaves in her own journey, unlearning the repressive lessons imbued on her during her childhood in Egypt. The narratives combine for a hopeful story about how, within ourselves and within society, we can change for the better.


"Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land," by Toni Jensen

In "Carry," Toni Jensen, a Métis woman, works through the intertwined stories of gun violence and racism alongside her personal history struggling against these destructive forces. Kirkus says it is “sure to interest those opposed to a world of angry men and their guns, bulldozers, and writs.”

"The Magical Language of Others," by E.J. Koh

When E.J. Koh was 15, her parents had to move back to South Korea for work, leaving her and her brother behind in California. Her mother wrote her letters in Korean, which Koh couldn’t fully understand until she rediscovered them. As she translates the letters, she reconsiders the lives of her mother and grandmothers, the hardships they endured, and her relationships to them.

"Two Trees Make a Forest," by Jessica J. Lee

When Jessica J. Lee happens upon a cache of letters written by her immigrant grandfather, she’s motivated to travel to her ancestral home of Taiwan. There, she explores its natural wonders and grapples with the marks colonialists left on the country in the past. The Los Angeles Review of Books calls it “a stunning reconnaissance effort to uncover and connect with family history through language and landscape.”

"The House of Yan," by Lan Yan

Lan Yan’s memoir "The House of Yan," translated by Sam Taylor, tells the story of modern China through her remarkable life. From her young life as the daughter of diplomats to her world turning upside down in 1967, when both her father and grandfather were arrested and she and her mother were sent to a reeducation camp, to now, when she’s recognized as one of China’s most active businesswomen, this book serves as an evocative personal history.

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The best memoirs of all time, as chosen by our readers

When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bendele (2018)

We say: When They Call You A Terrorist is a poetic reflection on humanity by one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, writing with Asha Bandele. An empowering and essential read, this is a call to action to change the culture that declares innocent Black life expendable.

You say: I learnt so much about things I had no clue about.


Over the Top by Jonathan van Ness (2019)

We say: The exuberant, loveable star of Netflix's recent Queer Eye reboot tackles gender identity, sexuality, addiction, and a HIV+ diagnosis in their frank, revelatory memoir, Over the Top. Laced with vulnerability, humour and ice-skating trivia, this is an essential read for anyone struggling on the path to self-love. 

You say: It gives me hope that, even though we go through dark times, we can overcome.


I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (1969)

We say: The first volume of Maya Angelou's autobiography is an important and lyrical look at racial prejudice and misogyny in the United States in the 1930s and 40s. Growing up in rural Arkansas, Angelou navigates everything from sexual abuse to academic excellence, in the most sublime, poetic prose.

You say: I don’t think anyone will ever beat I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings. I remember feeling awed while reading, just excited by how wonderfully she was using language.



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