If you don’t know the meaning of memoirs, then you can find it here in the post along with some of the best examples. Memoirs are non-fiction narrative writing based on the personal memories of the  author. Therefore, the assertions made in the writing work are considered to be factual. A memoir can be described as a subcategory of the biography or auto-biography. In the late 20th century, this genre of the books is differentiated to depict a narrowed focus. In this post, you can get to know about the meaning of the memoirs with some of the finest examples of the memoir books. 

Difference Between Memoirs And Biography/Autobiography

A biography covers the story of a person’s life whereas, an autobiography is written by the subject itself. On the other hand, a memoir tells the story of a particular event of life. It can include the touchstone and turning points from the author’s life. The one who writes a memoir is termed as a memoirist or a memorialist.

List Of The Best Memoirs You Must Read

Now that you know the meaning of memoirs, below is the list of the best memoirs you can read: 


Just Kids is written by Patti Smith and rolled out in 2010. The story revolves around the time when 20-year old aspiring poet Patti Smith moved to New York City in 1967. There, she expects to make ends meet by working as a waitress. However, she got a job at a bookstore and met budding artist Robert Mapplethorpe. She embarked her journey with him upon the kind of bohemian late-twentieth century life. The story defines the city’s last great period of artistic foment. 

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2: Fierce Attachments (Gornick – 1987)

Fierce Attachments is a memoir of Vivian Gornick that tells the story of her lifelong battle with her mother for independence. It is a ruthless book of the mother-daughter relationship. Gornick was born and raised in the Bronx in an urban peasant family. She grows up in the shadow of her intelligent mother facing depression over the early death of her husband. Nattie on the other hand, who lives the next door greatly influenced Vivian with her calculating sensuality. This is a popular book you can use to understand the meaning of the memoir. 

3: The Woman Warrior, (Maxine Hong Kingston – 1987)

The Woman Warrior is a four decade old book of the memoir genre. However, it is one of the best memoirs published till date. Maxine Hong Kingston has presented his ghost experiences with the ruthless precision. The author tried to represent the cultural, familial, and personal context via the book that she felt essential. It helped her to depict her unique position as a first-generation Chinese-American woman. She has also expressed the fact that the women and cultural minorities are not privileged to express their individual opinions. She depicted this view with the help of her Chinese talk-story and her mother’s traditional Chinese perspective. Reading this book, you can get the true meaning of memoirs. 

4: Fun Home (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – 2006)

Fun Home is a graphic novel by the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel launched in 2006. This memoir illustrates the childhood and youth stories of the author in rural Pennsylvania, United States. The story focuses on the author’s complex relation with her father. The key highlights of the novel are sexual orientation, suiside, emotional abuse, and dysfunctional family Life. Besides, it also represents the role of the literature in finding oneself in one’s family. This illustrated novel can help if you are trying to find out the meaning of memoirs. 

5: The Liars’ Club (Marry Karr, 1995)

The Liars’ Club is a fire-raising memoir about the author’s childhood in the 1960s. The memoir was published in 1995 that reflects the background of a small industrial town in Southeast Texas. It was the time when the memoir genre of spreading its tentacles and this memoir was a path breaking book. It turned out to be the New York Times bestseller. The book describes the story of the author’s troubled childhood days in a small town of Texas. There are several instances of heavy alcohol abuse and psychological problems are mentioned in the book to explain the hardship of growing in a small family. 

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6: Hitch-22

Hitch-22 is the next novel you can read to understand the meaning of memoirs. Christopher Hitchens wrote this book, which was published in May 2010. It was also nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. The book traces the several instances of the author’s childhood in Portsmouth, England. It also covers the student life of the author at Oxford and his subsequent career as a writer both in the United States and England. The critics used several adjectives to describe the book such as fascinating, sad, funny, incisive, and serious narrative. 

7: Men We Reaped

Men We Reaped is a book of the memoir genre written by the African-Americal writer Jesmyn Ward. It is one of the most popular memoirs till date launched in 2013. In this book, she has presented the tribute to the five young black men whom she lost in the span of four years including her brother. They died due to several reasons such as drug, accident, and suiside. The author has also covered several other issues in the book such as poverty and racism. 

8: Palimpsest

Palimpsest is a memoir written by Gore Vidal, which was published in 1996. The book has the traces of the author’s early life when he was attracted towards his beautiful classmate, Jimmie, who later died at 19. The book is full of revelations that depict the author’s rangy life on how he joined military, politics, and Hollywood. If you are trying to find the true meaning of the memoirs, then it is a must read book for you. 

Final Words

The memoirs listed in this post are some of the best and must-read novels of all the times. If you have interest in reading the books of this particular genre, these books will not disappoint you. If you liked this post and want to read more, visit our blog section.