The past decade has seen an incredible number of memoirs and biographies capturing the strength, passion and complexities of the human experience. This list encompasses a variety of gripping life stories featuring diverse subjects that have touched countless readers. Tara Westover’s ‘Educated’ dominates the list with her story of overcoming an oppressive upbringing in rural Idaho. Other highlights include Michelle Obama’s widely-topical ‘Becoming’, J.D. Vance’s ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ that faced the struggles of working-class America, and Trevor Noah’s ‘Born a Crime’, which details his experiences growing up during South Africa apartheid. Whether inspiring resilience or showcasing cultural divides, these memoirs and biographies captured the hearts and minds of readers worldwide.
The Top 10 Memoirs and Biographies of the Decade
The past decade has seen an abundance of gripping memoirs and biographical works. From fascinating life stories to inspirational accounts of triumph over adversity, these books have captured the hearts and minds of readers worldwide. Here’s a rundown of the top 10 memoirs and biographies of the past decade.
1. Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
Tara Westover’s debut memoir is a captivating account of her upbringing in a strict family in rural Idaho. Denied access to proper education, she taught herself and eventually earned a PhD from Cambridge University. Her book has been praised for its honesty, grit, and inspiring message of resilience.
2. Becoming by Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama’s memoir has undoubtedly been one of the most talked-about books of the decade. In it, she writes of her upbringing, her career, and her time as first lady of the United States, revealing the challenges and triumphs she faced along the way. Her candid and relatable writing is a testament to her authenticity and powerful voice.
3. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
J.D. Vance’s memoir offers a poignant reflection on the struggles of working-class America. Raised in a poor, Rust Belt community in Ohio, Vance grappled with addiction, family dysfunction, and cultural identity. His book explores the complex issues facing this often-overlooked demographic with empathy and insight.
4. Just Kids by Patti Smith
Patti Smith’s memoir is a poetic tribute to her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in 1970s New York City. Their artistic collaboration and deeply intertwined lives make for a moving and intimate portrait of a bygone era.
5. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Paul Kalanithi’s memoir is a profound reflection on life and death, written in the face of his own terminal illness. A gifted neurosurgeon, Kalanithi united his literary talents with his medical expertise to pen this unforgettable testament to the human spirit.
6. Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah’s memoir recounts his experiences growing up during apartheid in South Africa. Half-black and half-white, he navigated the country’s strict racial categories and societal norms with humor, wit, and resilience. His book is a testament to the power of humor and compassion in the face of adversity.
7. In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero
Diane Guerrero’s memoir is a harrowing account of her family’s deportation when she was just fourteen years old. Left to navigate the difficulties of adolescence and life in America without her parents, Guerrero writes movingly of the challenges she faced and the resilience she developed.
8. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
Laura Hillenbrand’s biography tells the incredible story of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic runner and WWII prisoner of war. Brutalized by his captors and facing unimaginable adversity, Zamperini never lost his spirit or determination. His story is an unforgettable tribute to the human capacity for resilience and hope.
9. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed’s memoir is a raw and honest account of her solo trek along the Pacific Crest Trail after the death of her mother and the dissolution of her marriage. Her physical and emotional journey make for a powerful and inspiring read.
10. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Jeannette Walls’ memoir recounts her unconventional childhood, spent moving from place to place with her unpredictable and neglectful parents. Her ability to retain hope and resilience in the face of such challenging circumstances make for a moving and unforgettable read.
In conclusion, the past decade has seen an incredible array of memoirs and biographies that capture the beauty, strength, and complexity of the human experience. Through these works, readers are able to connect with people from diverse backgrounds and experiences, gaining empathy, insight and inspiration along the way.