The best memoirs from tickling your funny bone to breaking your heart

Who am I?

I was born in South Korea and moved to The United States when I was three years old. I grew up in Detroit where I was often the only yellow face in school. The trauma of trying to fit in played a significant role in my adult life. I have thought about writing a memoir for years. Several family members asked me not to name them. I decided to tell my truth through brief snapshots of a feeling or event. This way, I could show my journey from my perspective as I learned to walk between two opposing cultures. Observations Through Yellow Glasses: A Memoir Through Poems is the result.

I wrote...

Observations Through Yellow Glasses: A Memoir Through Poems

By Yong Takahashi,

Book cover of Observations Through Yellow Glasses: A Memoir Through Poems

What is my book about?

Yong Takahashi moved to The United States with her parents when she was three years old. She grew up in a traditional household where her Korean and American worlds pulled her in opposite directions. Shortlisted for The Sexton Prize for Poetry, Observations Through Yellow Glasses invites you to follow her journey as she learns life’s bitter lessons, longs for love, and attempts to heal the wounds she collects along the way.

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The books I picked & why

Educated: A Memoir

By Tara Westover,

Book cover of Educated: A Memoir

Why did I love this book?

Tara Westover grew up in a survivalist family where her parents were suspicious of the outside world. She didn’t attend school until she was seventeen. Learning algebra and other subjects on her own, she did well on her college entrance exams and was accepted into Brigham Young University. She went on to attend Harvard and Cambridge Universities. Westover tries to hold together family ties while some relatives constantly planted doubts in her mind. As she succeeded academically, they tried to pull her back into their world at every turn. This story gives us all hope. Her grit inspires us to move forward to reach our dreams. 

By Tara Westover,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?



'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 Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related: A Memoir

Why did I love this book?

Jenny Heijun Wills was born in South Korea and adopted by a white Canadian family. She not only had to navigate being Asian in a white world, but she also struggled to find her place within a family that sought to give her a safe home. In her twenties, she returned to Korea to meet her birth family. Told in diary form, Wills navigates her journey to find home while fighting language and cultural barriers. It is a raw and emotional story. It makes me think of my own struggles growing up in Detroit. The faces I saw at home were like my own but that also had its own set of problems.

By Jenny Heijun Wills,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2019 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction

A beautiful and haunting memoir of kinship and culture rediscovered.

Jenny Heijun Wills was born in Korea and adopted as an infant into a white family in small-town Canada. In her late twenties, she reconnected with her first family and returned to Seoul where she spent four months getting to know other adoptees, as well as her Korean mother, father, siblings, and extended family. At the guesthouse for transnational adoptees where she lived, alliances were troubled by violence and fraught with the trauma of separation and of cultural illiteracy.…

Book cover of Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)

Why did I love this book?

For forty years, David Sedaris kept a diary filled with his successes, failures, overheard conversations, and secrets confessed by strangers. He adds humor to his memories which is a wonderful change from the traditional memoir. Even a boring day can make us laugh. This is the first of two volumes and is the better of the two.

By David Sedaris,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Theft by Finding as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most anticipated books of 2017: Boston Globe, New York Times Book Review, New York's "Vulture", The Week, Bustle, BookRiot

An NPR Best Book of 2017

An AV Club Favorite Book of 2017
A Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2017

A Goodreads Choice Awards nominee

David Sedaris tells all in a book that is, literally, a lifetime in the making.

For forty years, David Sedaris has kept a diary in which he records everything that captures his attention-overheard comments, salacious gossip, soap opera plot twists, secrets confided by total strangers. These observations are the source code for…


By Elie Wiesel, Marion Wiesel (translator),

Book cover of Night

Why did I love this book?

Night is about Elie Wiesel’s survival of the Nazi death camps and his loss of religious faith. In one of the most famous accounts of The Holocaust, he relays his observations of starvation, abuse, and death. He tells of burning babies, grotesque beatings, and never-ending humiliations. It is a tough read but necessary so that we do not repeat such atrocities.

By Elie Wiesel, Marion Wiesel (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Born into a Jewish ghetto in Hungary, as a child, Elie Wiesel was sent to the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. This is his account of that atrocity: the ever-increasing horrors he endured, the loss of his family and his struggle to survive in a world that stripped him of humanity, dignity and faith. Describing in simple terms the tragic murder of a people from a survivor's perspective, Night is among the most personal, intimate and poignant of all accounts of the Holocaust. A compelling consideration of the darkest side of human nature and the enduring power of…

Running with Scissors

By Augusten Burroughs,

Book cover of Running with Scissors

Why did I love this book?

All of Augusten Burrough’s books are fantastic. He brings a frank, hilarious, and often dark take on his life. In Running with Scissors, he recounts his bizarre childhood. His mother sends him to live with a psychiatrist where he lives without boundaries. Several characters in the book have challenged Burrough’s recollection of their lives, though the author claims the memoir is accurate. 

By Augusten Burroughs,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Running with Scissors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times Bestseller

An Entertainment Weekly Top Ten Book of the Year

Now a Major Motion Picture

This is the true story of a boy who wanted to grow up with the Brady Bunch, but ended up living with the Addams Family. Augusten Burroughs's mother gave him away to be raised by her psychiatrist, a dead ringer for Santa Claus and a certifiable lunatic into the bargain. The doctor's bizarre family, a few patients and a sinister man living in the garden shed completed the tableau. The perfect squalor of their dilapidated Victorian house, there were no…

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