“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
– Stephen King
Anyone who’s ever studied the art of writing knows that to be a good writer, you have to be a great reader. And, on that point, to be the best writer at your genre, you have to read books similar to the ones you write. However, when you’re a memoir writer that means that you read a lot about other people’s lives…and not the fictional kind.
The greatest part about memoir writers is the tendency we all have to want to teach others the craft of writing great memoirs. Our own healing and self-discovery makes us want to share that knowledge and help others on their path.
You can read more about my thoughts on writing as a form of healing here.
This is especially true of the memoirs I’ve come to read and love over the years. Each one has inspired or healed me in its own way. I want to share with you the ones that have had the greatest impact on my life and my own writing. I hope that you too find great success, or deep healing, by walking in the shoes of our fellow human beings.
Here are my top five memoirs you MUST read this year.
- The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr – If you want to know how a prize-winning, best-selling author writes memoirs, then this is the book for you. Using her own experiences as a memoirist, Karr outlines the steps she takes in her own writing to help others follow her lead.
- The Magic of Memoir by Linda Joy Meyers, PHD and Brooke Warner – The perfect memoir writing book for memoirists, by memoirists. A compilation of over 30 author’s tips, tricks, and tales of writing memoirs to help inspire and guide anyone interested in creating their own memoir.
- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – Another great memoir on the writing of memoirs, Lamott looks back to childhood lessons to teach step-by-step instructions on what you need to do to write the perfect memoir: take it “bird by bird”. Infused with lessons on life, this is more than just a writer’s guide. If you would like to read more about how this book has helped others, be sure to check out this post that goes into the life lessons learned.
- The Mistress’s Daughter by A.M. Homes – In a story relatable to those who’ve even been given up for adoption, or have given a child up for adoption, Homes gives an eye-opening account to the emotions and reactions to being adopted and then meeting your birth parents later in life. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll laugh again as you watch her story unfold.
- And, of course, my personal favorite memoir, Wild by Cheryl Strayed – Maybe you’ve seen the movie, but to get the full effect and to really feel what Strayed went through, you’ve got to read the book. A story of healing on the heels of tragedy and loss, Wild takes you on an emotional journey of healing coated in humor.
Take a moment this weekend and check out one of these books. And when you’re ready, write your own.
“The Shoebox Effect is more than a memoir…it’s a movement.”
What’s in YOUR shoebox?