Unforgettable Memoirs and Biographies

You know that saying … truth is stranger than fiction? Well, true life stories are also often stranger, as well as more unforgettable, than fiction.  When I asked my wellness community and friends on The Good Stuff email list and our Clean Plate Club FB group for favorite books, you came back with a ton! This specific curated list delves our favorite memoirs and biographies. (If you haven’t seen the other book recommendation lists, go peek now at Fiction and Personal Growth.)

These powerful stories offer a glimpse into the lives of extraordinary individuals, sharing their triumphs, struggles, and profound experiences. Whether you’re seeking inspiration, insight, or simply a compelling read, this collection promises to take you on an emotional and enlightening journey through the remarkable lives of others.

An Unfinished Love Story by Doris Kearns Goodwin
A deeply personal memoir intertwining professional achievements with personal life and relationships. Showcases love, loss, and the enduring impact of human connections. Friends, the audiobook is narrated by Kearns-Goodwin and Bryan Cranston so I kind of feel like this one need to be heard. 

Educated by Tara Westover
You are bigger than your circumstances and Tara Westover proves it. This powerful memoir of Westover’s journey from an isolated childhood to earning a PhD from Cambridge is a testament to personal will and the transformative power of education.

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
I didn’t think I could love this man any more, but I do. The honesty! The unconventional wisdom! The voice! The only way to consume this book is by audiobook.Consider this your greenlight to go read Greenlights.

Into Thin Air by John Krakauer
A compelling memoir about the power of making good judgments, detailing the events of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. Note: there’s some controversy about Krakauer’s full disclosure of the support they received during this trip; Tanya recommends it strongly either way. I agree. 

Kiss Me in the Coral Lounge: Intimate Confessions from a Happy Marriage by Helen Ellis
If you’ve been married for a long time, I think this one is going to be a perfect summer beach read from humorist Helen Ellis. Angela says it’s a quick read and hilariously funny ❤️.

The Many Lives of Mama Love by Lara Love Hardin
This memoir recounts Lara Love Hardin’s journey from a privileged life to addiction and crime, followed by her remarkable redemption and reinvention as a successful ghostwriter and advocate. It offers a raw and inspiring look at the power of second chances and the resilience of the human spirit. Thank you to my sister Deb for this reco! 

“Uneducated” by Christopher Zara
Uneducated is a candid exploration of the author Christopher Zara’s challenging journey of navigating the professional world without a traditional education. From troubled beginnings in New Jersey to grappling with identity in the 1980s punk scene, and overcoming obstacles like addiction and imposter syndrome, Zara’s memoir sheds light on the the realities of the education gap. Thanks to Tamela and Erika for this reco.

Last but certainly not least, we are including Walter Isaacson’s greatest hits. Lauren is right – Isaacson is a master of this craft and you really can’t go wrong with any of his books. Here are a summary of some of his best:

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life covers the multifaceted life of one of our founding fathers, as well as his contributions as an inventor and diplomat. 

Einstein: His Life and Universe explores Einstein’s scientific achievements and personal life, highlighting his contributions to physics and human rights, using man of his personal letters.

Kissinger: A Biography: an in-depth look at Henry Kissinger’s role in U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War, exploring his strategic thinking and diplomacy.

Leonardo da Vinci explores the Renaissance man’s contributions to art, science, and technology, showcasing his cross-disciplinary curiosity. 

Steve Jobs: based on extensive interviews, this biography delves into the life of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, highlighting his intense personality and revolutionary impact. 

The Innovators chronicles the digital revolution through the lives of pioneers, emphasizing the collaborative nature of innovation. 

Thank you to all of you for contributing. Do you have more suggestions? Definitely let me know.