The best memoirs are the ones that make you feel like you're right there with the author, experiencing everything they're feeling.

Whether you are a reading enthusiast or not, you know what a good memoir does. The collection of the author’s memories regarding an event or a particular moment of their lives is very insightful. These catchy books will usually give you a first-hand perspective, will offer great lessons about experiences, places, and lifestyles about the writer that you may not be aware of.

With some other memoirs, you get to relate with the author and they can be a channel for you to draw inspiration.

Types of Memoirs & Biographies

Here, we give you some of the best memoirs we found.

What Are The Best Memoirs of All Time?

You Never Know, by Tom Selleck (2024)

Best memoir of a male actor

In You Never Know, contemporary actor Tom Selleck offers an engaging memoir that chronicles his remarkable journey from a university student to a celebrated television star. Selleck's narrative style is frank, funny, and deeply personal, inviting readers into the intimate details of his life and career.

He shares anecdotes from his early days in Hollywood, his rise to fame in “Magnum P.I.,” and his relationships with notable figures like James Garner. The memoir stands out for its unpretentious tone and Selleck's commitment to authenticity, both in his personal life and on-screen roles.

This book is not just a story of fame and success, it's a reflection of a man who navigated the complexities of Hollywood while remaining true to himself, offering readers a unique perspective on the life of an enduring American icon.

Finding Me, by Viola Davis (2022)

Best memoir of a female actor

Viola shares her life story, from early childhood in poor circumstances in Center Falls, Rhode Island, to discovering a passion for acting and recognizing that's what she wanted to do, to following her dream and accepting herself. She has five other siblings and a critically acclaimed abusive father who made life difficult for her mother. Her family usually went hungry and without hygiene.

After high school, Viola went to Rhode Island College, then went to Juilliard to study acting. She describes a very honest account on the entertainment business and how few actors and actresses make it in this industry.

In this book she also provides details about her personal life, discussing her health problems, getting to know her husband, and how they adopt their daughter.

Spare, Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex (2023)

Best memoir of the British royal family

The memoir, Spare, is the story of Prince Harry and the impact that grief had on his life following the death of his mother, Princess Diana. The author describes Prince Harry's journey from being the carefree prince to struggling with anger, loneliness, and post-traumatic stress following his military service. He also shares his journey of finding love with Meghan and how they had to flee the UK due to the media's relentless pursuit and abuse.

The book is a landmark publication that showcases Prince Harry's raw and unflinching honesty as he shares his story of self-examination and the power of love over grief.

I'm Glad My Mom Died, by Jennette McCurdy (2022)

Best women's memoir

Jennette McCurdy is an American actress and singer. She is best known for her role as Sam Puckett on the Nickelodeon sitcom iCarly and its spin-off series Sam & Cat. She has also starred in a number of films and television shows, including the Netflix series Between.

When Jennette McCurdy was six years old, she had her first acting audition. Her mother wanted her to become a star and Jennette wanted to make her happy, so she agreed to her mother's “calorie restriction” and ate little, weighing herself five times a day. She also underwent extensive at-home makeovers and was even showered by her mother until she was sixteen years old, during which time her mother also read her diary and emails and took her income.

I hope that others will also be able to read her story despite the high demand for the book. I believe that the book and its cover art are exceptional and the title is unorthodox but impressive however in a way I would say it's really inappropriate for so many people.

Becoming, by Michelle Obama (2018)

Best memoir of a famous person, celebrity memoir

Becoming is a memoir detailing Michelle Obama's remarkable journey. Recounts her entire life, from her childhood in the South Side of Chicago to the glory of the White House and life as the first African-American First Lady.

Michelle had heard of Barack before ever having met him. He made a fine impression for anyone he met. Also, the teachers at Harvard were calling him the most gifted student they had ever seen at the time. Not long after that, Michelle remained skeptical of this individual, Barack. Since her experience, professors seemed to believe any half-intelligent black man in a suit to be a genius.

Michelle's friends encouraged her not to worry about Barack's fame and she should go out and date with him. After their first kiss, there were no doubts they were meant to be together.

Michelle's autobiography is definitely one of the best memoir of our time.

Greenlights, by Matthew McConaughey (2020)

Best life lesson memoir

We wrote a longer article about Matthew's memoir.

Matthew McConaughey has never been one to shy away from sharing his thoughts and feelings, both on-screen and off. The actor is now opening up about his personal life in his memoir, Greenlights. The book brings in some interesting aspects from the actor's life. He talks about his childhood, life and career and surprisingly enough, he is not afraid to mention some things most people would not like to talk about. From losing his virginity in an unusual way to his father's death, this book is eye opening and likely to surprise the readers.

McConaughey reveals that he struggled with addiction early in his career, and that he turned to alcohol and drugs to help him cope with the stress of being a young actor. He also opens up about his high-profile relationship and breakup with actress Camila Alves, admitting that he was “selfish” during the relationship.

Now sober and happily married to Alves, McConaughey says that he's grateful for everything he's been through in his life. “I'm not saying all of it was great or fun or I'm glad it happened,” he writes. “But I am saying it made me who I am today.”

Wildflower, by Dr. Teresa Van Woy (2021)

Best memoir about poverty

When Teresa Van Woy was just young girl (7), her mentally unstable mother abducted her from her home and fled into the homelessness. Foraging for food and shelter, the young girl survived in the rough reality of San Francisco's Tenderloin district. Teresa never gave up her dreams about a better life her imagination helped her to find joy even on the worst days.

In the United States, one in five children lives in poverty. These children are fighting an uphill battle. This story is about overcoming difficulties against all the odds. Wildflower will help to understand why hope is the most valuable asset of people.

Extended Horizon Reflections, by Jeff Jackson (2021)

Best family memoir

Extended Horizon Reflections is an honest book about Jeff’s life that was packed with trials, afflictions, happiness, and much faith. This is a must-read for anyone who needs a little hope for their life. The story is combined with excellent storytelling, literal excellence, and provoking content.

Jeff was only fifteen when he saw a thirteen-year-old girl, Helen. Just a few months in, he asked her to go steady with him and she agreed. They were not aware of the incredible journey that this kind of commitment would bring in their lives to come. They got married when they were still teenagers and months after their wedding, they relocated to where Jeff was stationed as a U.S. Army member.

They gave birth to a son who had health issues that almost took his life. With the health issues, they were required to take a breath-taking journey with stops at the U.S. Air Force bases all over the Pacific. The shift back to civilian life led them to get spiritually transformed and he later became a pastor. He also served with the disabled and they set to live in Southeast Asia.

After some years, he was diagnosed with a terminal illness that brought about life trajectory changes; various health-related challenges, serving refugees from around the world in a Southwestern city, and also many chances to pass on the truths learnt about life and his identity in his journey.

Please, Don’t Send Me Flowers, by Lianne Saffer (2021)

Best cancer memoir

For those seeking a story about honest truths with nothing hidden, resilience, and the education needed to be a support system for those fighting tough battles, this one is a must-read. This is a story for people to bring up conversations regarding difficult topics such as sexuality, relationships, religion, and cancer. You will be filled with all sorts of emotions as you flip the pages surrounding this captivating story.

Having come out of divorce into cancer, Lianne Saffer gives a raw and humorous account of her last fifteen years. In this memoir, she details the often-agonizing discovery of her resilience and her journey into earning self-trust. Her engaging content is woven in the themes of religious upbringing, reexamining modern femininity, and the navigation of the complexities that come with life. Despite these profound and intense topics, her courageous reflections and lessons have been rooted in vulnerability and perfect humor. You will find yourself in an alteration of laughter and cries.

Reading this story will have you feeling recognized, challenged, and heard. It is a story for the lessons one learns from experience. The greatest lessons, happy and painful ones, and appreciation for some life situations only come after you have lived to see them. By the time you are done with this memoir, you will have seen humor and joy even in your darkest moments. You will have taken a deep look into yourself, felt less alone and more courageous, and the best part of it is that you may even end up cracking a smile.

Every Day is a Gift, by Tammy Duckworth (2021)

Best Iraq War memoir

For any caregiver out there, this is what you need to grab for inspiration. Every Day is a Gift will rock you and glue your soul as you turn a page to another. It is also some sort of rags to riches story. You will find yourself thinking about Tammy’s life to the fullest for some time.

This is an amazing story of a senator and an Iraq War Veteran. Most people would choose to give up after facing some of the most difficult challenges. Tammy didn’t. The story highlights her childhood through which she learned about perseverance and being phlegmatic. As a child, she was discriminated against, faced war horrors by dodging uncountable bullets as she and her family tried to flee Phnom Penh.

When she became a teenager, her family was challenged by homelessness and hunger and she had to sell flowers by the roadside to save them from these struggles. It is these experiences that led her to a PhD, pursuing and getting into a career as a military pilot at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. When an insurgent RPG blew through her chopper, her legs were destroyed and she injured her right arm. This was her turning point and was just the beginning.

She stayed in Walter Reed through her recovery, learned to walk on prosthetic legs, and had a plan to go back into the cockpit. She however met with Barack Obama and Dick Durbin and found a new mission. In 2016, Tammy won the U.S Senate election and eventually became the first sitting senator to bear children. Tammy talks about the experiences that influenced her perspective and later steered her into a political path; racism, poverty, food stamps, inadequate housing, and refugees.

Consent, by Vanessa Springora (2021)

Best journalist memoir

A single voice is all it takes at times to pull down the silence of complicity. Consent is a story of power, manipulation, past trauma, and a journey through recovery and resilience. This book makes known the cultural hypocrisy that has paved the way for the sexual abuse of minors and has remained unchecked.

Three decades ago, Vanessa was the teenage charm of one of the most influential and celebrated writers of the French literary world. Towards the end of 2019, when women started to speak out, she decided to recollect her story and offer a perspective of the events. Vanessa was a precocious girl stolen during her adolescent stages. She was a thirteen-year-old girl who became involved with a much older man of fifty years. All this was due to the cultural circumstances and attitudes that surrounded her world. She remembers the seduction by this older man and shows how this disturbing relationship eventually impacted and influenced her growth.

By depicting the parallelism between French History, fairy tales, and her overall life, she offers a personal and engrossing look at the meaning of love and consent, a ruinous trauma, and a woman’s strength in healing. She gives her strong disapproval of a chauvinistic literary world that society has accepted for too long and ultimately perpetuated gender inequality, child abuse, and exploitation.

Authentic, by Paul Van Doren (2021)

Best fashion business memoir

Everything that comes with life is a gamble and if anything is worth the risk, why not put in some effort?

Even if you do not own them, you know the famous Vans shoes. However, an even bigger question is, do you know the founder? Authentic is a memoir about the creator of this iconic shoe brand. The high school dropout shared his story before his death.

It is a story about how Van Doren built this favorite brand for skateboarders, creatives, and sneaker lovers. Having no retail experience, he had previously worked as a “service boy” for a local rubber plant. Over the years of his employment, he capitalized on numbers, became an efficiency genius, and learned how to excellently make a canvas shoe.

Vans has immensely grown from a family-owned business into a globally recognized brand. Paul, as an innovator, had to come up with confident experiments for the brand’s design, marketing, and distribution. Amidst all this hard work, the business was also faced with bankruptcy, family commotion, and customer shift.

See the details of Paul Van Doren’s personal life and also the gained business lessons learned in a shoe trade business of more than six unpredictable decades. Discover the need for deeply-rooted values, the value of improvisation, the essence of vision and revision, and the importance of valuing people beyond profits.

The Secret Life of Dorothy Soames, by Justine Cowan (2021)

Best history lesson in the form of a memoir

This is a story woven around a complicated mother-daughter relationship and accompanied by an eye-opening history. It is a heart-wrenching memoir about the daughter who wanted and needed to understand her mother’s character after the mother’s death.

Justine and her mother had a very troubled relationship for as long as she could recall. Thirty years after her mother’s death and as she got well into adulthood, she discovered the reason for their disastrous relationship. She had grown up in a highly privileged home and got all that she ever wanted. However, beneath all this wealth, she was unhappy and kept longing to leave as soon as she was of an appropriate age. Her mother had descendent from royalty with refined manners but Justine still had a very rigid childhood that lacked a mother’s warmth. It lacked affection and was filled with shame.

When her mother died, Justine opened an envelope given to her by her mother containing her mother’s memoir and particular clues of her past. Through the memoir, Justine found out about her mother’s origin and all that she had been robbed of in a World War II home. She had suffered emotional and physical abuse, felt worthless, and had been forcefully steered into becoming a servant. Inevitably, she became very cruel. Justine felt deep compassion for what her mother had undergone and it was now that she made room to forgive her.

Stories to Tell, by Richard Marx (2021)

Best musician memoir

A memoir by a legendary musician. You will enjoy reading how Richard began his business and the very many great songs he created. Get to see the person behind some of the best songs of the 80s and 90s. Reflect on the positive sides of a good life and the speed bumps too.

Read about how Richard was inspired by Kenny Rogers into writing one of his biggest hits. Get to know about the phenomenal story of how he ended up on Olivia Newton’s couch, his childhood crush. He gives a glimpse of the afflictions of working with every other female hair metal band Vixen and being featured in their videos. Even with these delightful celebrity experiences, Richard offers even more sobering details of being in the music business for more than four decades.

He analyzes the challenges of having to go through greedy executives and the strenuous tour schedules. In Stories to Tell, we also get to see the rewarding feeling Marx felt from the connections he made with the many fans at the sold-out shows. They made all this dramatic music life worthwhile. Richard provides insights into his songwriting process. Get to see a number of his highlighted music excerpts as you read along.

His career was greatly influenced by his personal life, he found love with Daisy Fuentes, and has been struck by a mystery disease that even the doctors have not yet diagnosed.

The Captain, by David Wright (2020)

Best sports memoir (baseball)

The Captain is a must-read for Mets fans and overall baseball lovers. Take a look into the life of the New York Mets’ captain, David Wright, and everybody else who was part of his life and career. This is a glimpse of a great baseball player and a good person, his professional life, and the early ending of his career. However, it also goes to show that life must go on.

Throughout his career, David played for the one team that he always dreamed of playing for. Since his childhood, he had been a Virginia fan who then acquired his stripes in the great city of New York. Coming back and forth from injuries and rehabilitation, he makes clear the power of being a hard worker, humility, totally committing to the game, and his unending love for baseball. He also gives a glimpse of the relationships he formed and developed.

David was a seven-time All Star, bagged two Gold Glove Awards, and also earned two Silver Slugger Awards. He also got to hold many of the Mets records. This is not all, the story highlights the walk-offs, the unknown World and Subway series home runs, The Barehand, and a lot more. You will appreciate the dedication and perfection of his craft.

We March at Midnight, by Ray McPadden (2021)

Best war memoir

For anyone who loves combat memoirs, We March at Midnight is a true masterpiece. Ray depicts modern combat in unapologetic and unromantic details. What makes this memoir even more insightful is that you get to experience Ray’s first-hand thoughts as a new officer up until when he attained the 75th Ranger Regiment, a position of an elite fighting force. Get engulfed in the life and death situations encountered by the author.

During the peak of the Iraq and Afghan wars, as a Ranger Officer, Ray led some of the most harmful missions. He had joined the army as proof that he was a true leader. His decisions and commands impacted the men he commanded. His unit was however praised with decorations for strength despite the almost fifty percent casualties. They accomplished a mission in Korengal, a land thought of as unwinnable.

With his rifle prowess, he earned an extremely rare position as a 75th Ranger Regiment during a combat-packed era. He spearheaded a war against foreign government agents. Returning to where his career had begun and leading one last raid, he was at war with himself, and this was, the greatest of all challenges.

Fullness, by Azure Moyna (2020)

Best eating disorder memoir

Your past, no matter how dark it may be, does not have to define where you are headed. Fullness is an inspirational book for anyone who has ever suffered abuse or had to struggle with the issues of weight, body, and food. It offers a lot of relatability with the author’s thoughts and personal struggles.

Azure struggled to survive as a child as she was brought up by a brilliant but sociopathic father. He often starved her and even in her adulthood, he still belittled her. She shares the essential role played by food and an eventual compulsive eating disorder in how she had to withstand things no child should have to deal with. She grew up in a fat-phobic society and also craved love and acceptance. She also had to struggle with her preoccupation with food to save her marriage. She details how societal prejudice further traumatized and secluded her.

It is when she relieved her past by nearly choking to death on her vomit that she was forced to look for professional help and face her origins of excessive dieting and compulsive eating. As you read along, you will see the ups and downs that came with her beginning and going through therapy for her healing.

Final thoughts on the Best memoirs

Memoirs are important and incredible book genres from which you can draw individual conclusions and lessons. The memoirs listed in this article are excellent reads with each one having something unique to offer you as a reader. If you have not had the chance to read them, now would be a great time!

If your are looking for historical stories, check out the best memoirs from the World War II era.

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