10 Memoirs For When You Want To Live Vicariously Through Someone Else


10 Memoirs For When You Want To Live Vicariously Through Someone Else

If you have school-aged kids, you know it’s no joke that Maycember is a real thing.

I have four kids in school, so there are approximately 18 million things on our calendar this May. Thanks to a supportive spouse, parents in town, and refusing to let our kids do more than one extracurricular activity each, I think we may survive.


My favorite way of escaping reality is by reading a good book. So whether you need that escape right now or just a good book to pop into your beach bag this summer, I’ve got you covered!

These memoirs will make you laugh, cry, smirk, cringe, and probably be glad you’re not famous enough to write a book.

Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard by Tom Felton

Does anyone love Harry Potter like Tom Felton loves Harry Potter? It always makes me giggle to see his posts come up on social media. He’s a little young for memoir-writing, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying his tale of growing up in a normal family, getting into child acting, and becoming the villain we all loved to hate.

This Is Not a Book about Benedict Cumberbatch: The Joy of Loving Something–Anything–Like Your Life Depends on It by Tabitha Carvan

I think this memoir from last year should have received a lot more attention than it did! Aussie Carvan tells us all about her unabashed love for Benedict Cumberbatch — and, along the way, convinces us why we shouldn’t be embarrassed about loving what we love. (Men aren’t. Ahem.) It made me cry and reflect on my Hanson-loving years.

The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green

Green’s first memoir convinced me he shouldn’t be writing anything else. His essays go from poignant to outright hilarious to tear-jerking in the best way. If you’re ready to read reflections on pandemic life and American life in general, read this one. (I’m going to all but insist you do it on audio, too, because there are extra essays that aren’t in the paper book.)

Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir by Natasha Trethewey

In this slim book, poet Trethewey reflects on the murder of her mother by her former stepfather when Natasha was just 19-years-old. It’s horrifying, eye-opening, but also beautiful.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Reflecting on her life as a therapist as well as her own therapy sessions, Gottlieb walks through grief, the end of a relationship, and shared humanity.

Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church by Megan Phelps-Roper

I was enthralled by Phelps-Roper’s 2019 book about growing up in Westboro Baptist Church, picketing and protesting military funerals at five-years-old. When Megan started Tweeting for the church, she found herself in conversation with others that began to change her mind on everything she’d known. It’s a testament to having open conversation, even online.

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less by Terry Ryan

This book was a national bestseller, but it was published over 20 years ago, so maybe you’ve never heard of it. It spins the tale of Ryan’s mother Evelyn, who, in the ’50s and ’60s, entered countless advertising slogan contests to support her family. Terry’s loving eye toward her mother while recounting some of the pain of her childhood is done so well. (It was also made into a movie with Julianne Moore, if you like to pair movies and books!)

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

If you don’t listen to this book, you are missing out. Period. Elwes’ voice still sounds exactly like he did as Westley, so there’s that. Plus many people from the cast and crew also voice the parts they wrote for this book. It’s utter perfection if you have seen The Princess Bride ten or thirty or three hundred times. (Hey, who’s counting?)

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro

This is one of those stories that seemed to happen to just the right person. Already a memoirist, Shapiro discovered through a DNA kit that her father wasn’t actually her biological father. With both parents deceased and no one to demand to know the story from, Shapiro must come to terms with this discovery and piece the truth together. A beautiful story of family and self-reflection.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

I’m not sure this really qualifies as a memoir, but it’s one of my favorite books so I am sticking it in here. Gawande is both a physician and an absolutely incredible writer, making any topic interesting. This book sees him exploring palliative care, why Americans are so afraid of even thinking about death, nursing and care homes, and asking our loved ones what they truly want. He intertwines the story of his own father’s cancer deftly throughout. It’s a book I think everyone should read.

Welllll….maybe these aren’t all beach bag reads, but I can guarantee you’ll find one to suit your mood or fancy.

Are you a memoir reader? What’s your favorite title?


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