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Memoirs Made for Gift Giving

The holiday season is fast approaching, and we’re already earmarking some remarkable memoirs for our gift lists. As windows into the lives of others, good memoirs offer new perspectives on people, issues, and life itself. Here is an eclectic mix of some of our favorite memoirs that we look forward to giving — or receiving! — this year.

By Brandon Miller

Undaunted: My Fight Against America’s Enemies, At Home and Abroad

By John O. Brennan

In this insightful memoir, former CIA director John Brennan discusses his life and career, offering a behind-the-scenes look into government and national security. Through Undaunted, Brennan shares a direct, insider account of important historical moments, like the invasion of Iraq, the day that Osama bin Laden was killed, and more. If you have ever wondered what it is really like to work in intelligence, this is the book for you.

Hollywood Park

By Mikel Jollett

This unflinching bestseller, written by musician Mikel Jollett, is proof that an unconventional, turbulent upbringing need not restrict one from achieving big things. Starting with his earliest memories living inside a cult, Jollett unveils a childhood filled with trauma, emotional abuse, and addiction. But ultimately, the love of family helps him find his voice as a musician and writer.


By Abby Wambach

Olympic gold medalist Abby Wambach details her life as a world-renowned athlete, as well as the path she took to get there. All about inner struggle and outward excellence, Forward is a must-read memoir from a record-breaking woman who will go down in the history books. If you’re a fan, be sure to also check out her second book, Wolfpack, inspired by her celebrated commencement speech at Barnard College.

More Myself

By Alicia Keys

You already knew she could write a fantastic song, but it turns out Alicia Keys can also pen a beautiful book. Unlike a traditional memoir, More Myself includes Keys’ autobiographical narrative interspersed with recollections from others she has met along her journey. It offers a powerful and inspirational look inside the life and struggles of one of music’s biggest superstars.

Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs

By Jennifer Finney Boylan

In this book, author and transgender activist Jennifer Finney Boylan discusses the transformative power of living with — and loving — dogs throughout her boyhood and into her life as a middle-aged woman. At the most fundamental level, this is a memoir of how our relationships with our pets can teach us, nourish our soles, and transform our lives. It will resonate with any pet lover on your gift list.

Here We Are: To Migrate To America… It’s the Boldest Act of One’s Life

By Aarti Namdev Shahani

This memoir from NPR correspondent Aarti Namdev Shahani is not your average tale of an immigrant family searching for their American Dream. Shahani’s story starts with her Queens upbringing in the 1980s, her time as a scholarship student at an elite Manhattan prep, and becoming documented in the U.S. But after her father unsuspectingly sold merchandise to the Cali drug cartel, Aarti’s life revolved around visiting Rikers Island, navigating the justice system, and fighting for her father’s right to remain an American citizen.

Eat a Peach

By David Chang

In Eat a Peach, David Chang, the famed restauranter behind Momofuku, details how he was able make it to the top of his industry, and he offers us a look inside restaurant life. But it is more than just a how-to guide for wannabe-chefs — the book delves into topics like race, religion, and mental health with both raw honesty and a solid dose of humor.

When Breath Becomes Air

By Paul Kalinithi

A Pulitzer Prize finalist, When Breath Becomes Air is a tale about life and death, written from the unique perspective of a neurosurgeon who, on the cusp of finishing a decade of medical training, learns that he has stage four lung cancer. The author died while writing this book, but his words continue to impact readers worldwide as they are brought inside his private world.

Walking with the Wind

By John Lewis

Walking with the Wind is a fantastic recounting of the American civil rights movement, and the fight for justice and equality in the 1960s. Written by the late John Lewis, a civil rights pioneer and former congressman, the book recounts Lewis’ role in the Nashville movement, the Selma marches, Bloody Sunday, and the Freedom Rides, all the while affirming his commitment to nonviolence and approach to leadership.


By Michelle Obama

Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Becoming — for which she recently won a Grammy for the audiobook — offers a peek inside the life of one of America’s most beloved and respected women. In this memoir, Obama discusses her childhood, career, motherhood, and yes, being First Lady. It is a fascinating tracing of the path that took Michelle Obama from young girl to American icon.

I Am These Truths

By Sunny Hostin

You might know Sunny Hostin as a co-host on The View, but this memoir will teach you that becoming television personality is but one in a long list of accomplishments. I Am These Truths follows Hostin from a poverty-stricken childhood in the Bronx all the way through college, law school, a career as a federal prosecutor, and a second career as a legal journalist.

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