There’s nothing quite like discovering a book you just can’t put down. A well-written memoir can draw you into the author’s experiences, and give you a sense of what it might be like to live in their shoes.
This Women’s History Month, we want to honor some of the inspiring women who shared their unique stories with the world, and look back on recent history through the stories of their lives. Have you read any of these memoirs?
“Dust Tracks on a Road”
While Zora Neale Hurston is best-known for her acclaimed 1937 novel, “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” she also explored her own upbringing in “Dust Tracks on a Road.” This memoir chronicles her journey from poverty to fame as an African-American woman in the first half of the twentieth century.
Through various stories and anecdotes about her childhood, Hurston creates a compelling narrative of the strength that ultimately led her to success as both an anthropologist and an author. The memoir won the 1943 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for its exploration of race relations.
“The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts”
Of all the memoirs on this list, this one pushes the boundaries of the genre most. In “The Woman Warrior,” author Maxine Hong Kingston thoughtfully combines the art of traditional Chinese storytelling with her own personal experiences, to craft a story of growing up Chinese-American in the mid-twentieth-century. This memoir is split into five distinct sections and tells the story of women in Kingston’s life – not all of whom are real – by carefully weaving reality and folktale together.
What Kingston accomplished is truly unique. Her work “blurs the line between reality and fantasy” in a way that any reader who has ever turned to stories to understand their own life can relate to. Among several honors, the book earned the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in 1978. Since this memoir draws on the stories of Chinese women through history, “The Woman Warrior” is an ideal pick for Women’s History Month.
“The Liars’ Club”
While one of the more recent memoirs on this list, Mary Karr’s “The Liars’ Club” is often credited with popularizing the memoir genre again. Currently 62 years of age, Karr penned “The Liars’ Club” as a reflection on her turbulent childhood. This book and her subsequent work has inspired many others to share their stories with the world.
Karr grew up in Texas in the 1960s and was met with challenges far beyond her years such as familial alcohol abuse, violence and destructive behavior. Despite her upbringing, Karr never gave in to the state of despair that seemed to follow her family. Even in the short period of time this memoir covers, Karr comes across as grateful, humble and optimistic about her future. After publication, her memoir remained on the New York Times Bestseller List for over a year.
If you’re ready to find your next good read, be sure to check out our Andersonville neighbors, Women and Children First. In addition to books, the store offers regular readings and other events — see if there are any you’d enjoy!