Every so often, I’ll read a memoir and the central theme goes far beyond the nuts and bolts life of the person writing it. These are books that have great, universal messages at their heart; I have finished them all feeling enriched, educated and so glad to have read them. Here a five such reads…
5 inspirational Memoirs with a Message
/ How Not to be a Boy by Robert Webb
The message? Let’s smash gender stereotypes.
Robert Webb has looked back over his life and identified that the ridiculous gender stereotypes that men and women are – from birth – almost conditioned to adhere to, have been detrimental to him in so many ways. This is his wake up call for us all to be more aware and pro-active in not automatically assuming personality traits based on gender.
/ This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay
The message? Doctors don’t get nearly enough respect or money for the amazing work they do.
This memoir has been much talked about – for excellent reasons. It so perfectly blends the eye-wateringly funny stories of Adam Kay’s life as a junior doctor on the NHS with the truly harsh reality that comes with training to do such an important job. Doctors are woefully pushed to the edge of their physical and mental capacity, just to train to do a job that helps humanity. Something is wildly wrong about that, as Kay lays out in this memoir.
/ I am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite
The message? Racism is prevalent in our society and this needs to stop.
Technically not a memoir, as Candice herself says in the book, but I’ve included it here as it has such a strong message about the racism problem in Britain. I am Not Your Baby Mother is Candice’s story about being a black British mother and in it she describes all the stereotypes and prejudices she faces daily, just for being a black woman. It has a heavy theme, but Candice’s authentic, often funny tone makes it effortless to read. A truly eye-opening one for me.
/ Educated by Tara Westover
The message? Don’t let your beginnings hold you back.
Tara Westover is a highly educated, intelligent woman as this beautifully written memoir attests to. What is so fascinating is how she went from being brought up by her strict Mormon father, preparing for the end-of-days, never going to school and having not much contact with the outside world, to being the woman she is today. A very intersting look at the nature / nurture debate and taking control of your own life.
/ The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
The message? The power of the human mind is phenomenal.
I was just blown-away by The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly when I first read it a few years ago. Jean-Dominique was the glamorous editor of French Elle when, at the age of 43, he suffered a stroke that left him with Locked-In Syndrome. This meant his body was paralysed, but his mind remained intact, he was literally a prisoner within his own body. All he could do was turn his head slightly and blink his left eye. So by blinking that eye, he painstakingly dictated his thoughts while in hospital and what transpires is this extraordinary book that’s wonderful to read.
Have you read any of my choices? I’m always on the lookout for an amazing new memoir to educate and inspire me, leave your recommendations below!