Books

5 Unforgettable Memoirs That Are Sure to Inspire Every Reader


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Many of us look to books for a source of inspiration — and not just the creative type of inspiration. We see ourselves in our most beloved characters, feeling their triumphs as our own. When a book’s theme preaches strength through adversity, we’re compelled by that calling.

But while these emotions can be found in every genre, from fantasy and sci-fi to literary fiction, there’s something special about memoirs. The knowledge that these authors speak the truth of their life journeys, that they’ve overcome the obstacles in their way to achieve a sense of peace and accomplishment — it’s a powerful source of inspiration to us all. Here are 5 memoirs that provide that uplifting and motivational message, encouraging us to follow in the authors’ footsteps and meet life’s challenges head-on.

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

One of the most ubiquitous memoirs about tenacity, Tara Westover’s Educated is an incredible story of a young woman determined to seek out a better future for herself, even at the cost of leaving the only life she’s ever known. Raised in the mountains of Idaho by survivalist parents, Tara grew up so far away from society that the Department of Education didn’t know she or her siblings existed — and was thus unable to ensure the children had an education. Cut off from mainstream civilization and information, it took a huge leap of faith for Tara to part from the world she had always known, in hopes of finding something better out there. Educated demonstrates Tara’s difficulty in wrestling through her love for her family, and her simultaneous grief over the liberties she and her siblings were deprived of. Make sure to check content warnings, because this stirring memoir pulls no punches.

Born to Rise by Lorna Blake

Born to Rise by Lorna Blake

Lorna Blake’s incredible tale of courage and fortitude starts not just with her, but with her mother, Ethlyn. A woman with the ability to “know things” beyond logical explanation, Ethlyn used her abilities to protect her family — and she passed that talent on to her daughter. With the strength of her mother behind her, Lorna was able to rise beyond her upbringing in rural Jamaica and through a life of poverty, abandonment and abuse. She somehow defied the odds and made a life for herself, and through her candid writing, provides guidance for others to follow her lead. Readers will learn of her family’s impact, share her many anecdotes, marvel in her life events and take energy from the hope it provides for all people, regardless of the cards they were dealt. She sprinkles her book with valuable testimonials and lessons learned, showing all that she was able to overcome and how her readers have the ability to do the same.

For more information about Born to Rise, check out our full review here.

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

As a New York Times bestseller and winner of the Lambda Literary Award, it should be no surprise that Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body is considered a truly astounding read. Roxane Gay bares her soul in this raw memoir of her own body image, while masterfully dissecting society’s expectations of our appearances at large. Through the lens of her own personal experience, Gay discusses weight, appearance and the disenfranchisement of those overlooked by our image-obsessed society. Hunger is an ode to our physical selves, and an urging to respect and value our bodies despite what society may tell us. Roxane Gay doesn’t flinch away from heavy topics — from eating disorders to sexual assault — but through these difficult conversations, she compels readers to have a deeper understanding of themselves and the way they view their bodies. Intense and searing, this memoir is not to be missed.

No Stone Unturned: A Remarkable Journey to identity by Nadean Stone

No Stone Unturned: A Remarkable Journey to identity by Nadean Stone

Even with her adoption papers in the hands of the hospital administrator in front of her, Nadean Stone wasn’t allowed to look. That was the reality of her situation: that despite the fact that these records documented her own birth and adoption, under Canadian law she was banned from accessing them. “Many illegitimate newborns in Canada were sold or illegally given away by the Catholic Church and other institutions in the 1950s,” Nadean explains in her memoir. “On December 18, 1952, I became one of those babies.”

No Stone Unturned tells of the author’s 44-year search for her birth mother, using everything from DNA technology to her own personal investigation. Her memoir tells a compelling story of the lengths we’ll go to for family, and what it means to be constantly searching for a piece of yourself. It’s unquestionable that readers will be inspired by Nadean’s determination and strength in the face of the many hurdles in her way.

Read more about No Stone Unturned here.

A Place to Stand: The Making of a Poet by Jimmy Santiago Baca

A Place to Stand: The Making of a Poet by Jimmy Santiago Baca

Incarcerated at New Mexico’s Florence State Prison in 1973, 21-year-old Jimmy Santiago Baca was already a troublemaker in the eyes of the law. From a childhood riddled with run-ins with the law to his federal drug charges, neither Jimmy nor his prison guards had much hope in his rehabilitation. But an unlikely introduction to writing awakened something in Jimmy; immediately he dove head-first into the world of poetry. Armed with a dictionary and a desperate drive to find something more for him out there, Jimmy transformed himself from one of the disenfranchised inmates at Florence State Prison into the man who would become one of America’s leading poets.

An unyielding look at life behind prison walls, A Place to Stand blends the stark recollection of the past with poetic musings on the future. Readers will be inspired by the author’s resolve to find a way out of his misfortune, trading it for a medium that brought him fulfillment and inner peace.

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