Recommended Reading – Memoirs

I am writing a memoir so I am definitely biased about the genre, but I love reading interesting accounts of people’s lives. Knowing a story is true gives it power. I have been reading a lot of memoirs for inspiration in writing my own story, some of which I recommend below. The chosen stories are set in a variety of countries to keep in line with the travel theme of my blog.

Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan. The American author volunteers at an orphanage Nepal where he discovers the children are not legitimate orphans, but victims of child trafficking. He dedicates his time to reuniting kids with their lost families.



A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. Ishmael is picked up by government soldiers in Sierra Leone at the age of thirteen and turned into a boy soldier to fight a civil war he is too young to understand.



The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine by Somaly Mam. Sold into sexual slavery at the age of twelve, the author now rescues other Cambodian sex workers in her fight against human trafficking.



Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America’s Strangest Jail by Thomas McFadden and Rusty YoungAn Australian journalist bribes the guards at a Bolivian prison to allow him to spend three months sharing a cell with a convicted English drug trafficker in order to share his story.



Mr Nice by Howard Marks. The autobiography of a British drug smuggler. The story moves through Pakistan, Thailand, America and Canada.




A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Lee Dugard. An eleven-year-old American girl is kidnapped and kept prisoner by a man and his wife for 18 years. As an object of the man’s abuse, she gives birth to two of his children in captivity.



Papillon by Henri Charriere. An autobiography of a Frenchman nicknamed “Papillon” who was convicted of a murder he did not commit and sentenced to life imprisonment in the penal colony of French Guiana. Papillon’s escape from prison is a story of amazing adventure and risk.



An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison. A medical expert on manic depression, Dr. Jamison is also a sufferer of bipolar. Her firsthand experience of the disorder includes violence and attempted suicide.



Happy reading. I’d love to hear about any memoirs you would recommend.

12 thoughts on “Recommended Reading – Memoirs

  1. Hi Vera, I am almost finished reading ‘In the Shadow of the Banyan’. Thank you very much for the recommendation. It is one of the most beautiful and poetic pieces of writing I have read in a while.

  2. I had found quite interesting the memoir ‘The Lady and the Monk’ by Pico Iyer where he goes to Kyoto to live in a Monastery to know about Zen Buddhism and discovers both the old and the new in Japanese culture.

  3. I’ve reviewed a lot of memoirs at A Traveler’s Library-preferably those that draw a clear picture of a place. The very best of the bunch, in my opinion, is In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner. An amazing, poetic presentation of a family in Cambodia during the days of Pol Pot.

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