The best memoirs to expand your perspectives and empathy for others

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Full Professor of Leadership within the Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa, Canada. I am the recipient of the 2020 Research Excellence Award. My research, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Ontario Ministry of Education, Canada, is international in scope. I am also the founder of the Equitable Leadership Network at the University of Ottawa. 


I wrote...

Keep My Memory Safe: Fook Soo Am, The Pagoda

By Stephanie Chitpin,

Book cover of Keep My Memory Safe: Fook Soo Am, The Pagoda

What is my book about?

Keep My Memory Safe poetically chronicles life in the temple and in Mauritius, and Stephanie’s eventual move to Canada. Hers is a unique immigration story of an orphaned temple nun who has gone on to acquire a top-notch education and become an academic.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of My Grandfather's Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging

Stephanie Chitpin Why did I love this book?

I love the stories presented in Dr. Remen’s book. They are simple yet profound.

Her stories are centered on the concepts of healing, kindness, compassion, love, and living which she learned from her grandfather. She emphasizes the value of helping others as a way to help ourselves and find meaning in the world.

By Rachel Naomi Remen,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked My Grandfather's Blessings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In My Grandfather's Blessings, Rachel Naomi Remen, a cancer physician and master storyteller, uses her luminous stories to remind us of the power of our kindness and the joy of being alive.

Dr. Remen's grandfather, an orthodox rabbi and scholar of the Kabbalah, saw life as a web of connection and knew that everyone belonged to him, and that he belonged to everyone. He taught her that blessing one another is what fills our emptiness, heals our loneliness, and connects us more deeply to life.

Life has given us many more blessings than we have allowed ourselves to receive. My…


Book cover of Good in a Crisis: A Memoir of Divorce, Dating, and Other Near-Death Experiences

Stephanie Chitpin Why did I love this book?

I can relate to anaesthesiologist Overton’s skillfulness in a crisis, her inaptitude in identifying and selecting good male companionship, and her accepting that no one can be good at everything. She presents her stories with a refreshing sense of humour while emphasizing the need to enjoy life and empowering her readers to come to terms with our own experiences of loss of life and love.

By Margaret Overton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Good in a Crisis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Hilarious ... This memoir of how grieving makes us behave like lunatics is wonderful on friendship and motherhood and brutally honest about the rest' Psychologies '[A] grimly hilarious journey ... brutally funny reading about midlife coming of age' Kirkus My story begins with a divorce. During the four years of physician Margaret Overton's acrimonious divorce, she dated widely and sometimes indiscriminately, determined to find her soulmate and live happily ever after. But then she discovered she had a brain aneurysm. She discovered it at a particularly awkward moment on a date with one of many Mr Wrongs. Overton, an anaesthetist,…


Book cover of Educated: A Memoir

Stephanie Chitpin Why did I love this book?

I can relate to the stories presented by Westover when it comes to overcoming the many challenges she faced as a Mormon. Her memoir underlines her determination to receive an education and her emphasis on the importance of having an education. Her journey towards obtaining her PhD is empowering and heartwarming. 

By Tara Westover,

Why should I read it?

24 authors picked Educated as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE MULTI-MILLION COPY BESTSELLER

Selected as a book of the year by AMAZON, THE TIMES, SUNDAY TIMES, GUARDIAN, NEW YORK TIMES, ECONOMIST, NEW STATESMAN, VOGUE, IRISH TIMES, IRISH EXAMINER and RED MAGAZINE

'One of the best books I have ever read . . . unbelievably moving' Elizabeth Day
'An extraordinary story, beautifully told' Louise O'Neill
'A memoir to stand alongside the classics . . . compelling and joyous' Sunday Times

Tara Westover grew up preparing for the end of the world. She was never put in school, never taken to the doctor. She did not even have a birth certificate…


Book cover of Under an Afghan Sky

Stephanie Chitpin Why did I love this book?

Fung writes a powerful story about survival, her captivity, and her indomitable spirit under the most perilous of circumstances that she lived through in Kabul, Afghanistan after being grabbed by the Taliban. As the Canadian reporter describes her bone-chilling account of the horrific twenty-eight days, I am left in awe of her strength and courage. 

By Mellissa Fung,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Under an Afghan Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In October 2008, Mellissa Fung, a reporter for CBC’s The National, was leaving a refugee camp outside of Kabul when she was kidnapped by armed men. She was forced to hike for several hours through the mountains until they reached a village; there, the kidnappers pushed her towards a hole in the ground. “No,” she said. “I am not going down there.”

For more than a month, Fung lived in that hole, which was barely tall enough to stand up in, nursing her injuries, praying and writing in a notebook. Under an Afghan Sky is the gripping tale of Fung’s…


Book cover of Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson

Stephanie Chitpin Why did I love this book?

The memoir written by Albom emphasizes the value of mentorship and the importance of nurturing such relationships. The book reminds me of my undergraduate professors, Adams and Frejer, who helped me understand the world from multiple perspectives, as well as giving me some sound advice to help me make my way through the world.

By Mitch Albom,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Tuesdays with Morrie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE GLOBAL PHENOMENON THAT HAS TOUCHED THE HEARTS OF OVER 9 MILLION READERS

'Mitch Albom sees the magical in the ordinary' Cecelia Ahern
__________

Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher or a colleague? Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, and gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it? For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago.

Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded. Wouldn't you like to…


You might also like...

Book cover of Benghazi! A New History of the Fiasco that Pushed America and its World to the Brink

Ethan Chorin Author Of Benghazi! A New History of the Fiasco that Pushed America and its World to the Brink

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Story-lover Middle East expert Curious Iconoclast Optimist

Ethan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Benghazi: A New History is a look back at the enigmatic 2012 attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya, its long-tail causes, and devastating (and largely unexamined) consequences for US domestic politics and foreign policy. It contains information not found elsewhere, and is backed up by 40 pages of citations and interviews with more than 250 key protagonists, experts, and witnesses.

So far, the book is the main -- and only -- antidote to a slew of early partisan “Benghazi” polemics, and the first to put the attack in its longer term historical, political, and social context. If you want to understand some of the events that have shaped present-day America, from political polarization and the election of Donald Trump, to January 6, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Russian expansionism, and the current Israel-Hamas war, I argue, you need to understand some of the twists and turns of America's most infamous "non-scandal, scandal.”

I was in Benghazi well before, during, and after the attack as a US diplomat and co-director of a medical NGO. I have written three books, and have been a contributor to The NYT, Foreign Affairs, Forbes, Salon, The Financial Times, Newsweek, and others.

By Ethan Chorin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Benghazi! A New History of the Fiasco that Pushed America and its World to the Brink as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On September 11, 2012, Al Qaeda proxies attacked and set fire to the US mission in Benghazi, Libya, killing a US Ambassador and three other Americans.  The attack launched one of the longest and most consequential 'scandals' in US history, only to disappear from public view once its political value was spent. 

Written in a highly engaging narrative style by one of a few Western experts on Libya, and decidely non-partisan, Benghazi!: A New History is the first to provide the full context for an event that divided, incited, and baffled most of America for more than three years, while silently reshaping…


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