“A memoir is a collection of memories that an individual writes about moments or events, both public or private, that took place in the subject’s life.” -Wikipedia
I have rediscovered my love for memoirs. I have been thinking a lot lately about how important memoirs are, and the impact that they can have on the reader. There are many reasons why I think memoirs matter and I would love to share a few of them with you. I would also like to hear your opinion on memoirs!
Allow you to get first-hand perspectives
The great thing about memoirs is that you get a first person account of the author’s experiences. You can read history books about WWII for example, but it will never have the same impact as a memoir written by a Holocaust survivor. A memoir not only gives you facts about the event that took place, but they give you insight in to how someone who was there felt, and how it affected them personally.
Examples: Night by Elie Wiesel, A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
Take you beyond your own experiences
Memoirs have the potential to teach you about lifestyles, places, and experiences that are completely different from your own. They allow you to enter another person’s world, which will help you to better understand and empathize with those around you.
Examples: The Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells, Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
Give a voice to people who are often overlooked
This is something that I have been seeing more of lately, and it makes me so happy. People from marginalized groups are being given a voice. They are able to reach thousands of people and share their story through their memoirs. Giving a voice to the voiceless is so important, and it is something I look for when deciding to pick up a memoir.
Examples: The Gender Games by Juno Dawson, I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Readers are able to find someone to relate to
There are so many memoirs out there that we are bound to find one that we relate to or that we can see ourselves reflected in. It is comforting to know that someone else has lived through and survived what we are going through. Memoirs can help us feel a special connection to the author that I do not think you can find in any other genre.
Examples: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
They are often inspirational
I have walked away from most of the memoirs that I have read with some form of inspiration. Reading about other peoples struggles, and triumphs often leaves me feeling motivated.
Examples: Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Are you a lover of memoirs? Why or why not?
What are some of your favourite memoirs, and what did you gain from them?