5 Amazing Female Memoirs That You Need to Read & Then Gush Over With Me

I love memoirs.

I love the this-year-I’m-going-do-something-crazy-so-I-can-write-a-book-about-it memoirs.

I love look-at-me-overcoming-this-tragedy memoirs.

I love my-life-isn’t-any-different-than-yours-but-I-can-draw-amazing-beautiful-symbolism-and-meaning-from-mine memoirs.

2015 has been a great year so far for women-written memoirs, and I’ve fallen in love with the five listed below. I highly recommend you find these books at the library or buy them online or steal them from a friend.

(But only if you promise to give them back.)

(Assuming your friend was giving her books the care and love they deserved.)


(Note: Best of Fates does not advocate liberating misused books if you get caught.)

Today I’m going to try out a new way of showcasing books I love. Rather than blather on and on about them making me cry (not hard to do), teaching me something new (ditto), or trying to sound like I’ve taken a single college literature course (nope), I’ve decided to just share the book and a few quotes I loved from it.

Which, hopefully, will give you a real glimpse into its content and style and showcase my perspective in loving it. Which will then you give a better guide into knowing if you’d share my love.

How to be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis
“Alcott never stuck to a woman’s sphere. In real life, she, not her father, joined the Civil War; when she was 30, she travelled five hundred miles to become an army nurse and caught typhoid that nearly killed her. Mr. March annoys me even more now I know that he monopolises the heroism that, if she was really going to write autobiographically, Alcott should have given to Jo.”

“But later I started feeling that a battle was coming, a battle about what kind of woman I was going to be, and that laughter and irony would never win it. Lizzy wins the game of Regency society; she gets a desirable man, and she gets him on her terms. But I was starting to think I didn’t want to win my community’s game; I didn’t even want to play it.”

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans
“It seems that most of the Bible’s instructions regarding modesty find their context in warnings about materialism, not sexuality…a pattern that has gone largely unnoticed by the red-faced preacher population. I’ve heard dozens of sermons about keeping my legs and my cleavage out of sight, but not one about ensuring that my jewelry was not acquired through unjust or exploitative trade practices.”

“I looked into this, and sure enough, in Jewish culture it is not the women who memorize Proverbs 31, but the men. Husbands commit each line of the poem to memory, so they can recite it to their wives at the Sabbath meal, usually in a song. “Eshet chayil mi yimtza v’rachok mip’ninim michrah,” they sing in the presence of their children and guests. “A valorous woman, who can find? Her value is far beyond pearls.” Eshet chayil is at its core a blessing – one that was never meant to be earned, but to be given, unconditionally.”

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
“That’s a brutal list, in its immediacy and its relentlessness, and it’s a list that silences people. It silenced me for a long time. To say this is difficult is understatement; telling this story is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But my ghosts were once people, and I cannot forget that.”

“After I left New York, I found the adage about time healing all wounds to be false: grief doesn’t fade. Grief scabs over like my scars and pulls into new, painful configurations as it knits. It hurts in new ways. We are never free from grief. We are never free from the feeling that we have failed. We are never free from self-loathing. We are never free from the feeling that something is wrong with us, not with the world that made this mess.”

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
I’ve also read and highly recommend I Am Malala, which alongside her amazing life story includes Pakistani history from the perspective of those living it.

Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon
And Girl in a Band, which I found intriguing and inspirational even though I’ve never heard a Sonic Youth song. Sadly I didn’t “read” those two books as much as listen to their audiobooks, so have no handy list of quotes I loved. (I will attempt to be better in the future.)