Why Memoirs are Important

Why I Love Memoirs

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Examples: Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

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Are you a lover of memoirs? Why or why not?

What are some of your favourite memoirs, and what did you gain from them?

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43 thoughts on “Why Memoirs are Important

  1. Great post! I am NOT a big lover of non-fiction, I will always prefer a good novel, and somehow I’ve always just lumped memoirs and biographies in with the rest. So I just haven’t read many. But the memoirs I have read I almost always really enjoy. I feel like you really get to know the person you’re reading about when it’s done well, as if they were your best friend. And I can always use more best friends. 🙂

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    1. The thing a love about memoirs is that a lot of them actually read more like fiction. It’s like someone telling you a story instead of other non fiction novels were they are pelting you with information and facts!! You truly do get to know a person when you read their memoir. It’s a unique experience!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Having just read three memoirs this month, I am realizing all these things that you point out. They either leave me to think about a concept in a way I never thought, make me realize that my life is not half as bad or just appreciate other people in a whole new light. Awesome post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mmm – wonderful post! so many great memoirs – I loved Tina Fey’s, Lauren Graham, Clint Hill (The Five Presidents), Three Cups of Tea (opened my eyes to a world that I’m not as familiar with or knew much about – the lack of education in the Middle East countries), Glennon Doyle (any – Carry On Warrior is my fave), Jen Hatmaker (any, but For the Love is my fave), The Bright Hour – Nina Riggs, Shoe Dog – Nike, and When Breath Becomes Air

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  4. Such a great post! I also love memoirs and the unique perspective they can give into certain events, sometimes the big ones and sometimes small ones that just show you what someone else’s life is like. The Glass Castle is such an excellent book, I think it’s one of those that can make people reconsider nonfiction or memoir as a genre if they’re not already fans.

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  5. Oh I didn’t even realize Tuesday’s with Morrie was a memoir, I want to read it! The only real memoir I’ve read was the one by Saroo Brierley based on the movie Lion and I loved it! It completely surprised me as I didn’t think I was into the genre, but it’s nice having people tell you their story and sometimes reality is more fascinating than fiction

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  6. I absolutely adore memoirs. The first one I read as a child was Farewell to Manzanar, and it still holds a special place in my heart.

    They’re so engaging, and I love the point you make about giving voice to traditionally marginalized voices—I feel like reading memoirs helps me empathize with others’ experiences, if that makes sense?

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  7. Yes, yes!! I love memoirs! And I second the recommendation for When Breath Becomes Air! While it is completely heartbreaking it is also very uplifting. And I really want to read The Last Lecture. I’ve seen a video clip of it, but really want to read it in it’s entirety. Jen Lancaster has some great ones in the “people you can relate to” category as well.

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  8. Great post! It also comes at a great time as I’m actually reading a memoir right now. It’s called Home is Burning by Dan Marshall and it’s his struggle with his parents dying of two diseases; his dad is going through ALS, and his mom has cancer, it’s sad, yet it’s funny. I think you have to have a certain sense of humour for this book, but I’m enjoying it.

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  9. I don’t think i’ve ever read a memoir. I’m not a fan of non-fiction in general and generally when i have to choose between fiction or memoir/biography, i’d always go for fiction.
    I can’t even explain properly why…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have never really read many memoirs, but I’m really looking forward to reading Educated by Tara Westover. There’s definitely something very impactful about reading someone’s real-life experience in their own words, rather than somebody else interpreting it through a fictional story.

    Liked by 1 person

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