100 books like How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

By Alexander Chee,

Here are 100 books that How to Write an Autobiographical Novel fans have personally recommended if you like How to Write an Autobiographical Novel. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations

Haley Weaver Author Of Give Me Space but Don't Go Far: My Unlikely Friendship with Anxiety

From my list on graphic memoirs to make you feel seen.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I was always drawn to stories told through both words and illustrations. Why should that have to end in adulthood? Spoiler: it doesn’t, because there are SO many incredible graphic memoirs and novels written with adult audiences in mind. As a graphic memoirist myself, I love to see how other artists explore the form. I share recommendations in this genre every month in my newsletter, Haley Wrote This

Haley's book list on graphic memoirs to make you feel seen

Haley Weaver Why did Haley love this book?

This is one of those books I am just WAITING to give my niece and nephews when they’re old enough to read it. It is such a great guide for how to have conversations born out of curiosity rather than fear.

I also think the formatting of the story and illustrations is inventive, fun, and informative. I consider this graphic memoir a must-read for anyone interested in dipping a toe in the genre. 

By Mira Jacob,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Good Talk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, TIME, BUZZFEED, ESQUIRE, LIBRARY JOURNAL AND KIRKUS REVIEWS LONGLISTED FOR THE PEN/OPEN BOOK AWARD 'Hilarious and heart-rending' Celeste Ng 'Heartbreaking, but also infused with levity and humour. What stands out most is the fierce compassion with which she parses the complexities of family and love' Time How brown is too brown? Can Indians be racist? What does real love between really different people look like? Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob's half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything - and as tensions from the…


Book cover of I Know I Am, But What Are You?

Winter Miller Author Of Not a Cat: A Memoir

From my list on memoirs by very sexy writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Raised by activist feminist parents and schooled by Quakers, I am surprisingly amusing. Eartha Kitt once held my left hand for five minutes. I work primarily as a playwright; Not a Cat is my first children’s book! Now when I show up at a little kid’s birthday instead of bringing a play I wrote, I can give the tot age-appropriate reading material. For me, reading a memoir is this intimate exchange with a writer where they’ve shared everything, and I’ve revealed nothing. What’s better than a good story beautifully curated? Okay, a cookie, but that’s it. I hope my book reaches all the kids out there who are told: be less this and more that

Winter's book list on memoirs by very sexy writers

Winter Miller Why did Winter love this book?

First thing, even if she weren’t my best friend, I would choose Samantha Bee’s memoir. I read it years ago and I still have flashes of it come to me when I’m watering plants or whatever, descriptions of her life with her grandmother, like how she made Sam wear a one-piece cashmere sweat suit with a patent-leather belt to gym class and tell Sam she shouldn’t sweat in it because it was dry-clean only. As an atheist, I loved her fealty to Jesus Christ, and her vision that they would of course “listen to my disco records and eat Tang straight from the package, just like lovers did.” Yes obviously I’m her friend because I think she’s gorgeous. That’s the theme here, pure aesthetics and good with wordings. 

By Samantha Bee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Know I Am, But What Are You? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Candid, outspoken, laugh-out-loud funny essays from much-loved Samantha Bee, host of TBS's uproarious late-night show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, executive producer and writer of TBS's comedy television series The Detour, and former The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’s Most Senior Correspondent.

In I Know I Am, But What Are You? she shares her unique and irreverent viewpoint on subjects as wide-ranging as:

BARBIE’S DREAM HOUSE
There were six main players in my coterie: G.I. Joe (macho, good-looking), Wonder Woman (hot, carpet-munching neighbor, busy with athletics), Marie Osmond (career gal, smart), Ken (gay, obviously), regular Barbie (slutty, dumb, eternally single),…


Book cover of Punch Me Up to the Gods: A Memoir

Winter Miller Author Of Not a Cat: A Memoir

From my list on memoirs by very sexy writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Raised by activist feminist parents and schooled by Quakers, I am surprisingly amusing. Eartha Kitt once held my left hand for five minutes. I work primarily as a playwright; Not a Cat is my first children’s book! Now when I show up at a little kid’s birthday instead of bringing a play I wrote, I can give the tot age-appropriate reading material. For me, reading a memoir is this intimate exchange with a writer where they’ve shared everything, and I’ve revealed nothing. What’s better than a good story beautifully curated? Okay, a cookie, but that’s it. I hope my book reaches all the kids out there who are told: be less this and more that

Winter's book list on memoirs by very sexy writers

Winter Miller Why did Winter love this book?

This one is a true outlier, because I don’t know Brian Broome, but after reading his incredible memoir, I wish I did because he’s an amazing human and a wonderful storyteller. His book is dealing with blackness, queerness and the expectations surrounding black manhood and his struggle to reject violence in favor of love and ultimately, of self-love as well. I haven’t seen him up close, but in photos, he totally looks super pretty, so he has that in common with every one of these authors. I loved his book and can’t wait for his next.  

By Brian Broome,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Punch Me Up to the Gods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE KIRKUS PRIZE • A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK •  A NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS' PICK • NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, KIRKUS REVIEWS, LIBRARY JOURNAL, AMAZON AND APPLE BOOKS • A TODAY SUMMER READING LIST PICK • AN ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY BEST DEBUT OF SUMMER PICK • A PEOPLE BEST BOOK OF SUMMER PICK


A raw, poetic, coming-of-age “masterwork” (The New York Times) about Blackness, masculinity and addiction


“Punch Me Up to the Gods obliterates what we thought were the limitations of not just the American memoir, but the possibilities of the…


Book cover of Not My Idea: A Book about Whiteness

Winter Miller Author Of Not a Cat: A Memoir

From my list on memoirs by very sexy writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Raised by activist feminist parents and schooled by Quakers, I am surprisingly amusing. Eartha Kitt once held my left hand for five minutes. I work primarily as a playwright; Not a Cat is my first children’s book! Now when I show up at a little kid’s birthday instead of bringing a play I wrote, I can give the tot age-appropriate reading material. For me, reading a memoir is this intimate exchange with a writer where they’ve shared everything, and I’ve revealed nothing. What’s better than a good story beautifully curated? Okay, a cookie, but that’s it. I hope my book reaches all the kids out there who are told: be less this and more that

Winter's book list on memoirs by very sexy writers

Winter Miller Why did Winter love this book?

This is sort of a cheat of the assignment, because it’s not Anastasia Higginbotham’s actual lived experience, but it is not one unfamiliar to her, about growing up in a country in which white parents cover up racism even unintentionally. I’ve known Anastasia for 30 years and no less than six children’s books she’s published. Her book series, Ordinary Terrible Things, published by dottir press is among my favorites because the illustrations are collaged and stunning and she creates indelible characters. Her other kid’s books deal with divorce (Divorce is Stupid), sex (Talk to Me about Sex, Grandma), incest (You Ruined It), so you can see, she’s doesn’t pull punches. Book by book, Anastasia is building a more just and beautiful world. Like the others, on this list, she’s also hot. 

By Anastasia Higginbotham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Not My Idea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An honest explanation about how power and privilege factor into the lives of white children, at the expense of other groups, and how they can help seek justice. -THE NEW YORK TIMES

ONE OF HUFFPOST'S RECOMMENDED "ANTI-RACIST BOOKS FOR KIDS AND TEENS"

**A WHITE RAVEN 2019 SELECTION**

NAMED ONE OF SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL'S BEST BOOKS OF 2018

Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness is a picture book about racism and racial justice, inviting white children and parents to become curious about racism, accept that it's real, and cultivate justice.

This book does a phenomenal job of explaining how power…


Book cover of Arkansas

Clark T. Carlton Author Of A Bitch for God

From my list on full of intimate self-revelations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been drawn to artists who expose their lives in a way that makes you feel you know them. The best of them have a raw honesty that shows their flaws, their wounds and struggles and hopefully the lessons they learned. Nobody likes bragging, but we’re captivated by accounts that echo our own secrets, embarrassments, and darker emotions, especially if told with a sense of humor. For decades, I’ve been addicted to the confessional lyrics of Joni Mitchell and have always been drawn to the unguarded openness of certain memoirs and the roman-à-clef or thinly disguised autobiography. In showing us their vulnerabilities, these authors have been heroic.  

Clark's book list on full of intimate self-revelations

Clark T. Carlton Why did Clark love this book?

If I have to pick one of David’s books, it’s Arkansas - Three Novellas.

The first of them, Saturn Street, came out of the time he volunteered at Project Angel Food, a nonprofit where I worked as a chef. David described us chefs as “fussy” (we were) in his intimate account of a driver who delivers meals to a client homebound with AIDS, a man the driver falls in love with. David also alludes to one of my favorite episodes of Star Trek.  

In The Term-Paper Artist, we get an even more confessional novella in which a writer by the name of David Leavitt trades the writing of term papers for the sexual favors of attractive college boys. Whether a true story or a fictionalized one, it doesn’t get more emotionally honest than this and it’s a novella as funny as it is outrageous. 

By David Leavitt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Arkansas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here are three novellas of escape and exile, touching and funny and at times calculatedly outrageous. In "Saturn Street," a disaffected L.A. screenwriter delivers lunches to homebound AIDS patients, only to find himself falling in love with one of them. In "The Wooden Anniversary," Nathan and Celia - familiar characters from Leavitt's story collections - reunite after a five-year separation. And in "The Term-Paper Artist," a writer named David Leavitt, hiding out at his father's house in the aftermath of a publishing scandal, experiences literary rejuvenation when he agrees to write term papers for UCLA undergraduates in exchange for sex.


Book cover of Love from the Pink Palace: Memories of Love, Loss and Cabaret through the AIDS Crisis

David C. Dawson Author Of A Death in Berlin

From my list on historical gay heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve read a lot of books that feature gay characters. These characters often partition into two main groups: angsty men who are victims of oppression or illness, or camp stereotypes who provide the light relief. I prefer to read about heroes who happen to be gay. That’s why I started writing novels. My recent books are historical novels inspired by real gay heroes. The feedback I get from readers indicates that there are a lot of people who want the same as I do.

David's book list on historical gay heroes

David C. Dawson Why did David love this book?

Jill Nalder is one of the great heroes of the AIDS crisis in eighties Britain. Her story features in the TV series It’s A Sin. This is her memoir and it’s an uplifting and heartbreaking read. Jill is one of those miraculous allies for gay men who fought to get more information about AIDS distributed more widely. It’s thanks to people like her that AIDS is no longer a death sentence.

By Jill Nalder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Love from the Pink Palace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I read the book in one go. I laughed and cried like a baby, and was transported back to a time of innocence, clouded by the enormity of the harsh reality . . . Just amazing' CATHERINE ZETA JONES

'As it happens, I was also a Jill in the eighties - but not half as good a Jill as real Jill' DAWN FRENCH

'Jill met the crisis head on . . . She held the hands of so many men. She lost them, and remembered them, and somehow kept going' RUSSELL T DAVIES

A heartbreaking, life-affirming memoir of love, loss…


Book cover of The Line of Beauty

David C. Dawson Author Of A Death in Berlin

From my list on historical gay heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve read a lot of books that feature gay characters. These characters often partition into two main groups: angsty men who are victims of oppression or illness, or camp stereotypes who provide the light relief. I prefer to read about heroes who happen to be gay. That’s why I started writing novels. My recent books are historical novels inspired by real gay heroes. The feedback I get from readers indicates that there are a lot of people who want the same as I do.

David's book list on historical gay heroes

David C. Dawson Why did David love this book?

This book affected me very deeply because it’s set in the 80s and 90s when I was in my twenties and thirties. It describes with astonishing accuracy the political cruelty that abounded at that time. For me, the real hero of the book is Leo. He’s not only gay but also Black which makes him a double target for the prejudice of the time. The way he tackles it head on in the book is breathtaking.

By Alan Hollinghurst,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Line of Beauty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1983, 20-year-old Nick Guest moves into an attic room in the Notting Hill home of the Feddens: Tory MP Gerald, his wealthy wife Rachel, and their two children, Toby - whom Nick had idolized at Oxford - and Catherine, always standing at a critical angle to the family and its assumptions and ambitions.

As the Thatcher boom-years unfold, Nick, an innocent in the worlds of politics and money, finds his life altered by the rising fortunes of the glamorous family he is entangled with. Two vividly contrasting love-affairs, with a young black clerk and a Lebanese…


Book cover of Simple Justice

Gregory Ashe Author Of The Same Breath

From my list on gay mysteries (from a gay mystery writer).

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer of gay mystery, I try to read as widely as I can—both to learn from writers who have gone before me and for the pleasure of the books themselves. I’m always thrilled when I find writers like the ones I’ve shared in this list: people who think deeply and carefully about the complexities (and, occasionally, the agonies) of being a gay man, while, at the same time, weaving in the suspense and puzzles inherent in mysteries.

Gregory's book list on gay mysteries (from a gay mystery writer)

Gregory Ashe Why did Gregory love this book?

Benjamin Justice is a broken man—a former prize-winning journalist whose career (and life) has been shattered by the death of his lover and a scandal surrounding his best-known writing. Recruited by his former boss to assist an up-and-coming journalist, Ben finds himself investigating a murder that occurred outside a gay bar. The series is tightly written and casts a dark glamor across gay life in ’90s California.

By John Morgan Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Simple Justice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It’s 1994, an election year when violent crime is rampant, voters want action, and politicians smell blood. When a Latino teenager confesses to the murder of a pretty-boy cokehead outside a gay bar in L.A., the cops consider the case closed. But Benjamin Justice, a disgraced former reporter for the Los Angeles Times, sees something in the jailed boy others don’t. His former editor, Harry Brofsky, now toiling at the rival Los Angeles Sun, pries Justice from his alcoholic seclusion to help neophyte reporter Alexandra Templeton dig deeper into the story. But why would a seemingly decent kid confess to…


Book cover of Mistreated: The Political Consequences of the Fight Against AIDS in Lesotho

Marc Epprecht Author Of Hungochani: The History of a Dissident Sexuality in Southern Africa

From my list on social justice in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first travelled to Zimbabwe in 1984, eager both to “build scientific socialism” but also to answer two big questions. How can people proclaim rage at certain injustices yet at the same time perpetuate them against certain other people? And, could I learn to be a better (more empathetic) man than my upbringing inclined me towards? Years of teaching in the rural areas, and then becoming a father taught me “yes” to the second question but for the first, I needed to continue to pursue that knowledge with colleagues, students, mentors, friends and family. Today, my big question is, how can we push together to get these monsters of capitalism, patriarchy, homophobia, racism, and ecocide off our backs?

Marc's book list on social justice in Africa

Marc Epprecht Why did Marc love this book?

A big mistake in much radical analysis is to characterize problems in dualistic terms that externalize responsibility from Africa (Rodney, of course, is wide open to that critique). Thus, colonialism is not just irredeemably bad but simple to identify and directly related to white skin. The end of formal colonialism provided new targets in sometimes caricature form: black-skin-white-mask neocolonialism and neoliberalism, notably. Such things undoubtedly exist. However, Kenworthy’s brilliant, gob-smacking analysis of the unintended consequences of life-saving technologies reveals levels of complexity and complicity that belie easy dualisms. How does something that promises liberation from mass suffering and death (anti-retroviral drugs) become a machine to entrench corrupt elites and opportunistic NGOs, to sell cheap textiles in America, and to exploit poor women’s unremunerated care work? Read, weep, and lose your illusions about corporate social responsibility.

By Nora Kenworthy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mistreated as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As global health institutions and aid donors expanded HIV treatment throughout Africa, they rapidly ""scaled up"" programs, projects, and organizations meant to address HIV and AIDS. Yet these efforts did not simply have biological effects: in addition to extending lives and preventing further infections, treatment scale-up initiated remarkable political and social shifts.

In Lesotho, which has the world's second highest HIV prevalence, HIV treatment has had unintentional but pervasive political costs, distancing citizens from the government, fostering distrust of health programs, and disrupting the social contract. Based on ethnographic observation between 2008 and 2014, this book chillingly anticipates the political…


Book cover of Was

Jeffrey Richards Author Of We Are Only Ghosts

From my list on LGBT+ novels that haunt me (in a good way).

Why am I passionate about this?

I came of age in Oklahoma as a gay youth in the late 1970s and early 1980s, keeping myself hidden out of safety and shame. Once I was old enough to leave my small-minded town and be myself, I crashed headlong into the oncoming AIDS epidemic. It set me on a path to understanding the world and my place in it as a homosexual. I turned to reading about the lives and histories of those who came before me, to learn about their deaths and survivals in what could be an ugly, brutal world. These works continue to draw me, haunt me, and inspire me to share my story through my writing. 

Jeffrey's book list on LGBT+ novels that haunt me (in a good way)

Jeffrey Richards Why did Jeffrey love this book?

Oh, Was, how I love your relentlessly bleak, depressing sadness.

This is a strangely inventive novel that twines reality and fantasy into a brutal, desolate, yet gorgeous story of pain and survival. Told from the points of view of numerous characters, each story is tethered in some way to The Wizard of Oz, that venerable fable about good versus evil in the search for home.

Ryman introduces us to a main trio of characters whose lives are all equally harrowing–Dorothy Gael (the imagined inspiration for The Wizard of Oz heroine and the victim of familial sexual abuse), Frances Gumm (who becomes the tragic Judy Garland), and Jonathan (an actor experiencing AIDS-related dementia)–whose stories he intricately weaves together like a master craftsman. And while the novel is not a “happy” read by any stretch of the imagination, what has stayed with me throughout the past thirty years is its…

By Geoff Ryman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Dorothy, orphaned in the 1870s, goes to live with her Aunty Em and Uncle Henry. Baby Frances sings with her family on stage in the 1920s. From the settling of the West and the heyday of the studios, to the metropolis of modern Los Angeles, this book follows the development of the USA.


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