Staff Picks: Memoir and Essay

For more recommendations, see: 

Poetry | Children & Young Adult | Fiction | Nonfiction

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Aftershocks: A Memoir By Nadia Owusu Cover Image
$15.29
ISBN: 9781982111236
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - August 3rd, 2021

Recommended by Alison Meyers, Executive Director


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Story of a Poem: A Memoir By Matthew Zapruder Cover Image
$23.80
ISBN: 9781951213688
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Unnamed Press - April 4th, 2023

Recommended by Alison Meyers, Executive Director and Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land By Toni Jensen Cover Image
$15.30
ISBN: 9781984821201
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Ballantine Books - September 21st, 2021

Recommended by Alison Meyers, Executive Director


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After The Eclipse By Sarah Perry Cover Image
$12.74
ISBN: 9781328511911
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Mariner Books - September 4th, 2018

Sarah's book is a moving memoir, a love letter to her mother and a heartbreaking rememberance of her life. The "coming of age"-meets-"true crime" is somehow both hopeful and a gut punch.

-Amanda Chestnut, Marketing Manager


When They Tell You To Be Good By Prince Shakur Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781953534934
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Tin House Books - August 22nd, 2023

I was an artist in residence at The Studios of Key West with Prince while he was working on this book. It was amazing to watch his story of being Black, queer, and political come together!

-Amanda Chestnut, Marketing Manager


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The Other Family Doctor: A Veterinarian Explores What Animals Can Teach Us About Love, Life, and Mortality By Karen Fine Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780593466919
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Vintage - March 5th, 2024

I read this book right after my so beloved cat died, and it was everything I needed. A beautifully informative book on pets, our bonds with them, their mortality, and how to honor them. Not too light, not too heavy, and a great read for people who love their pets.

-Lily Brunner, Bookstore & Visitor Services Coordinator

Fine introduced me to the term "anticipatory grief" and that knowledge has helped me have new perspective on my relationships with animals and loved ones.

-Chris Fanning, Deputy Director


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I Can't Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I've Put My Faith in Beyoncé By Michael Arceneaux Cover Image
$14.45
ISBN: 9781501178856
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Atria Books - July 24th, 2018

Recommended by Chris Fanning, Deputy Director


Recommended by Chris Fanning, Deputy Director


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Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir By Linda Ronstadt Cover Image
$15.29
ISBN: 9781451668735
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - September 2nd, 2014

Recommended by Chris Fanning, Deputy Director


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Mother Noise: A Memoir By Cindy House Cover Image
$15.29
ISBN: 9781982168773
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: S&S/ Marysue Rucci Books - May 23rd, 2023

A mother grapples with how to tell her young son about the years she spent gripped by addiction. Turns into a testament to the healing & lifesaving powers of writing. Plus, she's funny too! She trained with David Sedaris!

-Clara O'Connor, Youth Education and Executive Associate


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Gender Queer: A Memoir By Maia Kobabe Cover Image
$21.24
ISBN: 9781549304002
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Oni Press - May 28th, 2019

Recommended by Clara O'Connor, Youth Education and Executive Associate


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Something That May Shock and Discredit You By Daniel M. Lavery Cover Image
$15.29
ISBN: 9781982105228
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Washington Square Press - October 13th, 2020

Recommended by Clara O'Connor, Youth Education and Executive Associate


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In the Dream House: A Memoir By Carmen Maria Machado Cover Image
$15.30
ISBN: 9781644450383
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Graywolf Press - December 1st, 2020

Recommended by Clara O'Connor, Youth Education and Executive Associate


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Know My Name: A Memoir By Chanel Miller Cover Image
$16.15
ISBN: 9780735223721
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Penguin Books - August 18th, 2020

Recommended by Clara O'Connor, Youth Education and Executive Associate


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Fairest: A Memoir By Meredith Talusan Cover Image
$15.30
ISBN: 9780525561323
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Penguin Books - June 8th, 2021

Recommended by Clara O'Connor, Youth Education and Executive Associate


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I'm Glad My Mom Died By Jennette McCurdy Cover Image
$23.79
ISBN: 9781982185824
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - August 9th, 2022

Recommended by Lily Brunner, Bookstore & Visitor Services Coordinator


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Everything Is OK By Debbie Tung Cover Image
$14.44
ISBN: 9781524863272
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Andrews McMeel Publishing - September 27th, 2022

I found this book when I needed it most. I was going through a tough time mentally, and I had found this book in a shipment to our store. I read this delightful graphic novel in just an hour and I resonated with it so quickly that I knew I needed to buy it immediately

-Lily Brunner, Bookstore & Visitor Services Coordinator


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The In-Between: Unforgettable Encounters During Life's Final Moments By Hadley Vlahos, R.N. Cover Image
$22.95
ISBN: 9780593499931
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Ballantine Books - June 13th, 2023

An absolutely beautiful memoir by a hospice nurse that tells the stories of some of her most memorable patients at the end of their lives. Not an easy or light read by any means, but a beautiful, sensitive, and compelling one that challenges taboos surrounding death and dying.

-Lily Brunner, Bookstore & Visitor Services Coordinator


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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory By Caitlin Doughty Cover Image
$14.41
ISBN: 9780393351903
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 28th, 2015

This book opened my eyes to a completely different perspective of mortality and death. It discusses the funeral industry, different cultures handling the passing of loved ones, and explores the author’s own experiences of working in a funeral home/crematory. I could spend days just talking about how good and important this book is.

-Lily Brunner, Bookstore & Visitor Services Coordinator


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Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption By Bryan Stevenson Cover Image
$15.30
ISBN: 9780812984965
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: One World - August 18th, 2015

This is an incredible memoir of Bryan Stevenson’s tireless work in support of the wrongly accused on death row, of fighting for children who have been convicted in an adult prison system, of fighting for justice. I learned a lot and was deeply moved; he is my new hero. I am glad I read this book before election day last November because it made me better understand how important my votes for judgeships and the DA are.

-Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Pain Woman Takes Your Keys, and Other Essays from a Nervous System (American Lives ) By Sonya Huber Cover Image
$15.26
ISBN: 9780803299917
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: University of Nebraska Press - March 1st, 2017

The writing in this book is stunning, and I learned so much. A memoir in essays about living with rheumatoid arthritis, its form is inventive, the language is often poetic. It brilliantly addresses a range of disability and gender bias issues. Beautifully honest.

-Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive By Stephanie Land, Barbara Ehrenreich (Foreword by) Cover Image
$16.14
ISBN: 9780316505093
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Legacy Lit - January 21st, 2020

Recommended by Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Once I Was Cool: Personal Essays By Megan Stielstra Cover Image
$15.30
ISBN: 9780810143920
Availability: Special Order - Usually Ships in 3 - 9 weeks.
Published: Northwestern University Press - August 15th, 2021

Recommended by Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Ghostbread By Sonja Livingston Cover Image
$20.36
ISBN: 9780820336879
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: University of Georgia Press - September 1st, 2010

Recommended by Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Not Something We Discuss Often By Sarah Cedeño Cover Image
$10.20
ISBN: 9781957248066
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
(This book cannot be returned.)
Published: Small Harbor Publishing - October 27th, 2022

Recommended by Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Girlhood By Melissa Febos Cover Image
$16.15
ISBN: 9781635579314
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - May 24th, 2022

I can't recommend Girlhood by Melissa Febos enough. she is really pushing the envelope in the conversation about the patriarchy and how it permeates so much of our subconscious, and conscious, ways of being in the world. Not to mention that she is an incredible writer and storyteller. This is an important book, for all genders.

-Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef By Gabrielle Hamilton Cover Image
$15.30
ISBN: 9780812980882
Availability: Backordered
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - January 24th, 2012

Recommended by Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist By Judith Heumann, Kristen Joiner Cover Image
$14.44
ISBN: 9780807002803
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Beacon Press - February 23rd, 2021

Reading this book made Judy Heumann my new hero. She changed the course of American policy as it relates to disability. Section 504? The ADA? Thank you, Judy!

-Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Easy Beauty: A Memoir By Chloé Cooper Jones Cover Image
$16.14
ISBN: 9781982152000
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster - April 4th, 2023

This book is a journey that honors the complexity of disability with brilliantly crafted storytelling. I stopped and read portions of this out loud to my family while I was reading it because it was too good not to share. Read the prologue, you won't be able to put it down.

-Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Raising a Rare Girl By Heather Lanier Cover Image
$14.45
ISBN: 9780525559658
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Penguin Books - July 6th, 2021

A grounded and beautiful new memoir written by a mom raising a child with disabilities. The book is strikingly honest and sheds important light on—and fights against—ableism embedded in the fabric of our culture. I couldn't put it down.

-Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Golem Girl: A Memoir By Riva Lehrer Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781984820327
Availability: Special Order - Usually Ships in 3 - 9 weeks.
Published: One World - October 26th, 2021

Disability. Art. Family. Education. Love. Somehow Riva Lehrer captures 60 years of her incredible life in both a deep and comprehensive memoir. Stunning. Plus it includes many color reproductions of her groundbreaking portraits!

-Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Priestdaddy: A Memoir By Patricia Lockwood Cover Image
$15.30
ISBN: 9780399573262
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - May 1st, 2018

This book is extraordinary. Laugh out loud funny, and also very poignant. Remarkable and poetic turns of phrase, but also a narrative that flies right off the page. Truly a stunning memoir.

-Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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A Ghost in the Throat By Doireann Ní Ghríofa Cover Image
$14.41
ISBN: 9781771964111
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Biblioasis - June 1st, 2021

"This is a female text" is the refrain throughout this poetic memoir that honors the work of motherhood while the author, a 21st century Irish poet, delves into the work of an 18th century Irish poet. Exquisite and important.

-Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death By Maggie O'Farrell Cover Image
$15.30
ISBN: 9780525436058
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Vintage - March 26th, 2019

Recommended by Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Made in China: A Memoir of Love and Labor By Anna Qu Cover Image
By Anna Qu
$14.41
ISBN: 9781646221523
Availability: Special Order - Usually Ships in 3 - 9 weeks.
Published: Catapult - August 2nd, 2022

Recommended by Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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You Could Make This Place Beautiful: A Memoir By Maggie Smith Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781982185862
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Advance Order Now
Published: Atria/One Signal Publishers - June 4th, 2024

Recommended by Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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The Wrong Way to Save Your Life: Essays By Megan Stielstra Cover Image
$13.59
ISBN: 9780062429209
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - August 1st, 2017

I love Megan Stielstra's writing so much because I always feel like I am sitting down with her at a coffee shop or a bar listening to her stories--fiercely feminist, down to earth, full of wisdom--stories of art-making, parenting, finding her way as a human on this planet. Exceptional essays!

-Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Breadsong: How Baking Changed Our Lives By Kitty Tait, Al Tait Cover Image
$25.50
ISBN: 9781635578041
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - May 24th, 2022

I loved this book so much I only read it on the weekends to make it last longer. Part memoir, part cookbook, when 14YO Kitty Tait first watches her dad bake a loaf of bread it changes the course of their lives. The storytelling alternates between father and daughter and is full of love and delicious baked goods!

-Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body By Rebekah Taussig Cover Image
$14.44
ISBN: 9780062936806
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: HarperOne - July 6th, 2021

Recommended by Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Men We Reaped: A Memoir By Jesmyn Ward Cover Image
$15.29
ISBN: 9781608197651
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Bloomsbury USA - September 16th, 2014

Recommended by Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Lights to Guide Me Home: A Journey Off the Beaten Track in Life, Love, Adventure, and Parenting By Meghan J. Ward, Caroline Van Hemert (Foreword by) Cover Image
$21.25
ISBN: 9781771603591
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Rocky Mountain Books Incorporated - September 27th, 2022

I LOVED reading this memoir--experiencing far-flung travel and wilderness exploration with Ward and her husband, and how they navigate their love for the outdoors once they have children.

-Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Knocked Down: A High-Risk Memoir (American Lives ) By Aileen Weintraub Cover Image
$19.51
ISBN: 9781496230201
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: University of Nebraska Press - March 1st, 2022

Aileen Weintraub is an incredible writer, very funny, very thoughtful. Her vulnerability on the page leads to poignant insights into marriage and relationships, pregnancy/motherhood, work/life balance, priorities and much, much more!

-Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Splinters: Another Kind of Love Story By Leslie Jamison Cover Image
$24.65
ISBN: 9780316374880
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Little, Brown and Company - February 20th, 2024

Recommended by Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Heavy: An American Memoir By Kiese Laymon Cover Image
$13.60
ISBN: 9781501125669
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Scribner - March 5th, 2019

Recommended by Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country By Pam Houston Cover Image
$13.56
ISBN: 9780393357660
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - January 7th, 2020

Recommended by Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education


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The Man Who Could Move Clouds: A Memoir By Ingrid Rojas Contreras Cover Image
$14.45
ISBN: 9780593311165
Availability: Usually Ships in 3-7 Days
Published: Anchor - July 11th, 2023

Recommended by Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education