Empathy relies on a willingness to step into the shoes of another person and leave our own world behind. We do this when we read memoir. When we understand what moves another, we are taking a giant step towards felling barricades. Barricades of racism, poverty, mental illness, zenophobia and all the other phobias. Indeed, what a ‘giant step for mankind’, as Neil Armstrong said when he walked the moon, if we could all do this.
Read, read, read! If you want to write well, reading a lot is more important than writing a lot. In the bibliography of my book The Gift of Memoir I list sixty memoirs that I refer to in examples throughout the book. Most of these fifteen titles come from there, although a few I have read more recently, or decades ago. It was excruciating to select only fifteen.
Dare to be a moon walker! Read memoir, and enjoy the new view.
Small Wonder: Essays by Barbara Kingsolver
Ru, by Kim Thuy
I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey by Izzeldin Abuelaish
The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism by Kristine Barnett
They Left Us Everything by Plum Johnson
In My Mother’s House by Kim Chernin
Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy by Carlos Eire
One Native Life by Richard Wagamese
Walden or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
A Good Home by Cynthia Reyes
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating: A True Story by Elizabeth Bailey
Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co. by Jeremy Mercer
Wild: from Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Night by Elie Wiesel
The White Masai by Corinne Hofmann
Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal
by Conor Grennan
And I can’t resist adding one more, part memoir, part essay, part you tell me when
you read it. The Truth About Stories by Thomas King.
Memoirs bring light into the world.
What’s the best memoir you have read recently?
Written by Diane Taylor, author of The Gift of Memoir – a guide book for memoir writers.