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5 Amazing Memoirs to Add to the Top of Your TBR List

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Looking for your next read? Why not pick up a memoir! Memoirs are great opportunities to learn more about another person’s experience and expand your own understanding of the world. Here are some excellent memoirs to add to your rotation: 

Just Kids by Patti Smith 

Just Kids is a love letter to NYC and all of its scrappy hopefulness. This memoir focuses on musician and poet Patti Smith’s journey as a young person trying to make a life for herself in New York City in the late ‘60s and ‘70s. Centred primarily around her relationship with provocative photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, Just Kids is an eloquent exploration of young love, self-discovery and artistic development. Smith’s memoir is littered with familiar faces of the New York City arts scene, from Andy Warhol to Jimi Hendrix, and is the perfect read for fans of rock ‘n’ roll literature. 

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

Carmen Maria Machado’s memoir focuses on a psychologically abusive relationship from start to finish, and how the relationship left an impression on Machado’s life and identity. The structure of Machado’s memoir is unlike any other. Written almost entirely in the second-person perspective, Machado forces the reader to identify with her as if they were also in this relationship, inhabiting the Dream House. Don’t be scared of the experimental style—this memoir is incredibly gripping and is sure to leave an impression. 

The Copenhagen Trilogy: Childhood; Youth; Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen

Danish poet Tove Ditlevsen’s memoir is told in three parts. The first is focused on her life as a child growing up in a working class family in Copenhagen. The second centres on her experiences as a working teenager trying to find love and stability as she becomes a young adult. The third and final instalment in the trilogy focuses on her drug addiction after she receives a dose of Demerol during an illegally-performed medical procedure. Ditlevsen’s writing is sparse yet visceral, and draws the reader into the experience of her emotional and physical state. Ditlevsen’s life was marred with challenges, and her writing reflects the lonely distance between herself and the world she was seeking to be a part of. 

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Described as an autobiographical novel, poet Ocean Vuong’s debut novel takes the form of one long letter addressed from a son to his mother. Vuong blends fiction and reality through breathtaking prose and a biting story about the complex relationships between family members. Little Dog’s circumstances are often indistinguishable from Vuong’s own story as a Vietnamese immigrant growing up in America. The story winds through the brutality of childhood, to sexuality and independence in adolescence, to grief in adulthood — with family and culture binding each phase of life together. It’s a stunning read from start to finish. 

Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, The Flesh, and L.A. by Eve Babitz

Like On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Eve Babitz’s work is semi-autobiographical, blurring the lines between reality and fiction. In Slow Days, Fast Company, Babitz captures the experience of being an It Girl in Los Angeles during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s in 10 witty essays strung together loosely through their shared sunny destination. Addressed to an unnamed lover who refused to read her books, Babitz chronicles her experiences with various flamboyant characters in a scandalous humor that lets the reader in on the ridiculous lives of the famous and self-important socialites and soap-opera stars of her time. Throughout all of her recountings, Babitz holds tight to her love for Los Angeles and the many colourful characters that arise from its sun-baked sidewalks. 

Sarah Sparks

Ryerson '23

Sarah is a Creative Industries student at Ryerson University. She is passionate about many things, especially film. She can generally be found attempting to say hi to dogs on the street, quoting Fleabag to herself, or watching any version of SKAM she can find with english subtitles.
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