Author: Sherry Helms
Some days back, we published blog post on “Top 10 Most Popular Autobiographies of All Time“, and today, we thought of coming up with “A List of Memorable Memoirs of All Time”.
Let’s first understand the difference between an autobiography and a memoir. Though both the genre of writing are centered on one’s personal life experiences, there are obvious and practical differences between the two. Unlike an autobiography, which is a formal chronological telling of one’s experience including phases such as childhood, adolescence, adulthood, etc. with dates and double-checked facts, a memoir is a narrative having primary focus around a mood or attitude toward a particular section of the author’s life, and that has much more intimate relationship to the writer’s own memories, feelings and emotions.
So, enlisted below those Memoirs that are unforgettable for not only their authors, but become memorable for their readers, too.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want–husband, country home, successful career, but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and elated book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.
Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan – This is a heartwarming and unforgettable story of a family in the making and the wondrously neurotic dog, named Marley who taught them what really matters in life. Based on human-animal relationship, this book is also adapted into a movie with the same name and that is as successful as the books is.
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt – “When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.” So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt about his miser than miserable childhood, about his survival. Wearing shoes repaired with tires, begging a pig’s head for Christmas dinner, and searching the pubs for his father, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors, yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance and remarkable forgiveness.
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch – A lot of professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture.” Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave as “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment. It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey – At the age of 23, James Frey woke up on a plane to find his front teeth knocked out and his nose broken. He had no idea where the plane was headed nor any recollection of the past two weeks. An alcoholic for ten years and a crack addict for three, he checked into a treatment facility shortly after landing. There he was told he could either stop using or die before he reached age 24. This is Frey’s acclaimed account of his six weeks in rehab.
Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell – Julie Powell, nearing thirty and trapped in a dead-end secretarial job, resolves to reclaim her life by cooking in the span of a single year, every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child’s legendary Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her unexpected reward: not just a newfound respect for calves’ livers and aspic, but a new life-lived with gusto. This bestselling irresistible memoir is now a major motion picture. The film version is written and directed by Nora Ephron and stars Amy Adams as Julie and Meryl Streep as Julia.
My Life in France by Julia Child – In her own words, here is the captivating story of Julia Child’s years in France, where she fell in love with French food and found ‘her true calling.’
From the moment the ship docked in Le Havre in the fall of 1948 and Julia watched the well-muscled stevedores unloading the cargo to the first perfectly soigné meal that she and her husband, Paul, savored in Rouen en route to Paris, where he was to work for the USIS, Julia had an awakening that changed her life. Soon this tall, outspoken gal from Pasadena, California, who didn’t speak a word of French and knew nothing about the country, was steeped in the language, chatting with purveyors in the local markets, and enrolled in the Cordon Bleu.
A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father by Augusten Burroughs - In this memoir of his childhood, Burroughs makes a quantum leap into untapped emotional terrain: the radical pendulum swing between love and hate, the unspeakably terrifying relationship between father and son. Told with scorching honesty and penetrating insight, it is a story for anyone who has ever longed for unconditional love from a parent. Though harrowing and brutal, this memoir will ultimately leave you buoyed with the profound joy of simply being alive. It’s a memoir of stunning psychological cruelty and the redemptive power of hope.
Hope, our readers would love reading these Memoirs, and if you have some other titles, which you think fits the list feel free to mention them in your comments.