Inspirational and Insightful Reads: New Memoirs and Autobiographies

Memoirs and autobiographies offer an opportunity to step into someone else’s life momentarily, see things from a new perspective, and experience worlds you know nothing about.  Especially when written by individuals from other cultures and backgrounds, they have the potential to teach you about lifestyles, places, and experiences that are completely different from your own. 

At the same time, a good memoir or autobiography  reminds us of our shared humanity as we recognize a commonality in circumstances, thoughts , challenges experienced by others that we thought were ours alone.  Memoirs can be inspirational too; tales of overcoming the odds and triumphing over adversity can inspire us to persevere.

Here are some illuminating recently published memoirs or autobiographies that can be checked out with your Livingston Library card and which will be worth adding to your reading list.

Baggage : Tales From A Fully Packed Life by Alan Cumming

The acclaimed Scottish actor and activist reflects on overcoming a painful past to make room for a fruitful future. In his moving debut memoir, Not My Father’s Son (2014), Cumming urgently confessed to growing up in a sadistically abusive family and how that experience hobbled his adult life, suppressing his emotional maturity and limiting his capacity for happiness. In this wise, pensive, sometimes chatty book, the author examines how he has been able to embrace the painful memories embedded in his “splintered psyche” in order to move forward and face further challenges along the way.

Beautiful Country : A Memoir by Qian Julie Wang

How one little girl found her way through the terror, hunger, exhaustion, and cruelty of an undocumented childhood in New York’s Chinatown. Engaging readers through all five senses and the heart, Wang’s debut memoir is a critical addition to the literature on immigration as well as the timeless category of childhood memoir. 

Going There by Katie Couric

In this memoir, the iconic media star discusses her professional and personal life, including losing her husband at a young age, her historic turn as anchor of the CBS Evening News, and experiences dealing with gender inequality.

My Life In Full : Work, Family, And Our Future by Indra Nooyi

The trailblazing former CEO of PepsiCo, offers clear-eyed insight and a call to action for how our society can really blend work and family–and advance women–in the twenty-first century.

1000 Years Of Joys And Sorrows by Ai WeiWei

Weiwei, one of the world’s most famous artists and activists, has written a sweeping memoir that presents a remarkable history of China over the last 100 years while illuminating his artistic process.  Weiwei recounts his childhood in exile, and his difficult decision to leave his family to study art in America, where he befriended Allen Ginsberg and was inspired by Andy Warhol. With candor and wit, he details his return to China and his rise from artistic unknown to art world superstar and international human rights activist-and how his work has been shaped by living under a totalitarian regime.

Poet Warrior : A Memoir by Joy Harjo

Harjo offers a vivid, lyrical, and inspiring call for love and justice in this contemplation of her trailblazing life. Weaving together the voices that shaped her, Harjo listens to stories of ancestors and family, the poetry and music that she first encountered as a child, the teachings of a changing earth, and the poets who paved her way.

The Storyteller : Tales Of Life And Music by David Grohl

The legendary American musician, singer, songwriter and documentary filmmaker offers a collection of stories, written by his own hand, that focus on the memories of his life, from his childhood to today.

Taste : My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci

From award-winning actor and food obsessive Stanley Tucci comes an intimate and charming memoir of life in and out of the kitchen. Tucci grew up in an Italian American family that spent every night around the kitchen table. He shared the magic of those meals with us in The Tucci Cookbook and The Tucci Table, and now he takes us beyond the savory recipes and into the compelling stories behind them.​

Unprotected by Billy Porter

Television and stage star Porter opens his soul in this memoir about his life and career, from his childhood in Pittsburgh, to his recent award-winning roles in the stage musical Kinky Boots and on the FX series Pose. Porter writes candidly about growing up Black and gay, his current fears about living during the time of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic, and how his own hard work, luck, and the generosity of others provided the stepping stones for his current success.

Unrequited Infatuations : Odyssey Of A Rock And Roll Consigliere : (A Cautionary Tale) by Stevie Van Zandt

 Identifying himself as a “political Rock Artist,” Van Zandt combines his expansive knowledge of music creation with his personal development in the sociopolitical sphere, recounting moments such as the making of the star-studded “Sun City” protest song; his trips to South Africa and to Nicaragua ; and his politically charged solo albums including Voice of America. Van Zandt’s bravado shines through his prose, and he’s refreshingly honest as he takes readers through his many professional triumphs and disappointments. 

Where Tomorrows Aren’t Promised : A Memoir by Carmelo Anthony

From this iconic NBA All-Star, comes a raw and inspirational memoir about growing up in the housing projects of Red Hook and Baltimore-a brutal world Where Tomorrows Aren’t Promised.

Will by Will Smith

A product of a profound journey of self-knowledge, and a reckoning with all that your will can get you and all that it can leave behind, in this memoir, one of the most dynamic and globally recognized entertainment forces of our time opens up fully about his life.

-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions

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