In 2015 (I think) I decided I wanted to read more non-fiction. So, I pre-ordered a bunch of books that had recently made various “best of non-fiction” lists and read through them. I had to start somewhere – and non-fiction is a varied genre and I did not know what I would like best. I have found out three things:
- I LOVE non-fiction,
- I prefer memoirs to other forms of non-fiction,
- Especially memoirs written by women.
Recently I have read a few blog posts by young bloggers complaining about the lack of books mirroring their experiences with being a young adult and navigating this weird world; Young Adult novels are usually for younger readers, New Adult novels often focus on relationships (steamy ones from what I can gather – it’s a genre I haven’t read much of) and General Fiction does not quite fit either. But, and this is how this fits into this post: there ARE books that deal with this experience in varied and wonderful ways: memoirs. I think this is one of the reasons why I enjoy them so: I can read about lives similar to mine and lives very different and I can see many things I deal with and how others dealt with them, it puts my (very privileged life) into perspective and simultaneously shows me that I am not alone. Also, with a memoir you can be reasonably sure that the person made it out whatever situation she found herself in, at least enough to be able to write about the experience. There is something soothing in that.
This year, three of my favourite books were memoirs:
All three of them deal with growing up, with loss, with finding themselves, and with the ultimate power of art. Megan Stielstra writes about academia and fear and having children and buying and losing houses; Roxane Gay talks about her body and rape culture and finding herself; Lidia Yuknavitch writes about loss and trauma and art. All three books are honest and raw and unbelievably beautifully written.
Here are some other memoirs I have enjoyed, in no particular order (I have linked my reviews whenever possible; clicking on the covers will lead to the Goodreads pages):
Nine Continents by Xiaolu Guo about growing up in China, family and family issues, art and cinema, moving abroad and feeling like an outsider.
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson about mental illness and chronic pain, about finding your place, about being different and being ok with it.
We are never meeting in real life by Samantha Irby about being queer and black and introverted.
Do you read memoirs at all? I sometimes feel like this is genre many neglect (maybe it’s uncool? I don’t know what’s cool).
Do you have any recommendations for me? I would love to read even more memoirs in 2018.