memoirs 2/18

‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama

Political insights 

Published in 2018 and spending 60 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, this memoir by the former first lady is described as a deeply personal experience by Michelle Obama herself. The book, told in three different parts, follows Obama’s entire life starting in her early years on the South Side Chicago, and following through to her time as first lady. This memoir gives a more personal look at what it takes to balance living in the world’s most famous house, being a mother to two young girls, acting as an advocate for people everywhere and serving as the first African-American first lady. If you’re looking for some insight about the personal lives of your favorite political leaders, this memoir is the perfect book for you.

‘Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love’ by Jonathan Van Ness 


The first book published by “Queer Eye” star Jonathan Van Ness outlines everything that went into making him the shining optimist that he is today. Starting in his early years growing up in rural Illinois, Van Ness details what it was like being a pudgy gymnastic-obsessed boy who didn’t quite fit in. As he grows up, Van Ness details his struggles with accepting who he is as a queer person, dealing with addiction and trying to love himself. Giving the audience a raw look into his personal life and struggles, Van Ness is able to create a detailed story of everything it takes to learn to love oneself. This book is the perfect read if you are in need of an inspirational pick-me-up to remind you of all the hard work that goes into accepting and loving yourself.

‘Educated’ by Tara Westover


Debuting at #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers List in 2018, it’s safe to say that this book immediately captivated audiences everywhere. Tara Westover did not grow up the way one might imagine a person with a doctorate from Cambridge University would. As the daughter of a paranoid survivalist, Westover was homeschooled with the rest of her siblings and mainly taught the scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Westover had never attended a formal school, been treated by a medical doctor or been allowed to receive her birth certificate. Despite this unconventional way of growing up, Westover went on to receive an impressive education from very prestigious universities. While educating herself, Westover came to realize the deep psychological damage inflicted on her by her various family members that has caused a deep rift between her and her immediate family. This captivating memoir details what it is like to grow up in a less than ideal home, and is the perfect read for anyone wanting a little inspiration for the rest of the semester.

‘Know My Name’ by Chanel Miller


She was referred to as Emily Doe in the case that shocked so many people, and in this memoir, she is finally able to reclaim her story. In 2015, Chanel Miller was raped by Brock Turner on Stanford’s campus. Months later, Turner was found guilty but only given a mere six-month sentence. Despite public outcry and the release of testimony from Miller herself, Turner was never given more jail time. This memoir illuminates the isolation felt by Miller during the trial and reminds the readers of the fact that our judicial system is biased toward perpetrators, especially in cases of sexual assault. For those who feel unheard and isolated, this is the perfect memoir to remind you that you are not alone.

‘Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail’ by Cheryl Strayed


I would be remiss if I did not include this book on my list of essential memoirs. This memoir is a captivating story of one woman’s journey of overcoming addiction and personal loss by hiking over 1,000 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. Told through a series of flashbacks, Strayed is able to give raw insight to the physical and emotional pain that came from her hike on the trail and her life outside of the trail. A truly entertaining piece of literature, this memoir is a must-read for anyone who feels stuck in one place and needs to escape.

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