My Favorite Memoirs

Now that we all have time (or at least a little more time) on our hands with our courses being remote, there is no excuse for us to not expand our minds and read a few books now and then. This past summer (2019), I was recommended a slew of memoirs by a co-worker; I am very eager to share them with the HC Community. These books have reminded me of my love of reading, which I have unfortunately not prioritized with the technological advancements that are as small as the palm of my hand. These books have reminded me of the joy of holding a physical book in my hand and learning to see the world from a different perspective.

  1. 1. Educated by Tara Westover

    This book is simply a piece of art. Tara Westover’s page-turner was selected as the summer read for my high school last summer (2019, yes the same summer I read it, even though I was a Junior in college). So many of my co-workers this past summer were reading it at the same time that you saw copies of this book everywhere in the breakroom. After a long day of work, my parents could easily find me reading Educated in my room or on the couch. Westover graduated from Brigham Young University in 2008, continued to earn her Masters Degree in Philosophy from Trinity College, Cambridge University, and was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. Her journey to get to Brigham Young University, however, was not an easy one, to say the least. Without giving away too much of the storyline, Tara Westover grew up in the mountains in Clifton, Idaho with her family. When I say they lived in the mountains, they lived in the mountains! Tara never went to school until she was 17 years old and her parents did not believe in government-funded health care. Educated has won 22 awards, and once you read this beautiful piece of work, you will be sure to understand why. (Her Campus Media has even recommended this book in their email newsletter! It’s that noteworthy!)


  2. 2. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

    It is without a doubt that this book is a close second to the previous memoir. This book was yet another page-turner that I devoured within five days. Having grown up in Middletown, Ohio, J.D. Vance writes about his family where the Appalachian value of Kentucky transplants remained unmatched. He doesn’t waste a single word in his memoir as he writes about how his parents, unfortunately, became victims of alcohol, after which his beloved grandparents eventually became his legal guardians. Specifically, his endearing relationship with his grandmother (“Mamaw”) is second-to-none and his Mamaw encouraged him to earn his undergraduate / Bachelors’ Degree from Ohio State University, followed by an impressive time enrolled in Yale Law School. Be sure to pick up your copy today (or download on your mobile device, or listen on Audible)!

  3. 3. All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir About Adoption by Nicole Chung

    This memoir holds a very special place in my heart. Nicole Chung is a Korean adoptee who was raised by two beloved Caucasian parents, just as I was adopted from China when I was eleven months old. I can’t exactly write a summary about this story without spoiling the beauty of it (which is what incentivized me to pick up this memoir in the first place). As I read the book, I kept track of my favorite quotes on GoodReads because I related to the moments when Chung talked about her desire to meet her birth mother, the perceptions of Asian adoptees in a predominantly Caucasian family, and her curiosity about the circumstances that lead her to live the life of an adoptee, in the first place. If you are at all interested in what it is like to live as an adoptee, please read this beautiful memoir, I couldn’t have written it better (other than the fact that no adoption story is the same).

Honorable Mentions (I read these a while ago, but why not add to the list of memoirs):

  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

What memoirs do you recommend? Let us know by DM’ing us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter!