The Art of Memoir - Mary Karr (2015)

Appendix. Required Reading-Mostly Memoirs and Some Hybrids

The asterisked memoirs are books I’ve taught. Does this mean they’re better written? Absolutely.

*Adams, Henry. The Education of Henry Adams and Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres.

*Allende, Isabel. The Sum of Our Days.

*Als, Hilton. The Women.

Amis, Martin. Experience.

*Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Antrim, Donald. The Afterlife.

*Arenas, Reinaldo. Before Night Falls.

Ayer, Pico. Falling Off the Map.

*Saint Augustine. Confessions.

Baldwin, James. Notes of a Native Son.

*Batuman, Elif. The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them.

*Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone.

Beck, Edward. God Underneath: Spiritual Memoirs of a Catholic Priest.

*Bernhard, Thomas. Gathering Evidence.

*Black Elk. Black Elk Speaks.

Blow, Charles M. Fire Shut Up in My Bones.

Bourdain, Anthony. Kitchen Confidential.

Boyett, Micha. Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer.

Brave Bird, Mary. Lakota Woman.

Brickhouse, Jamie. Dangerous When Wet.

*Brown, Claude. Manchild in the Promised Land.

*Buford, Bill. Among the Thugs and Heat.

Burgess, Anthony. Little Wilson and Big God: Being the First Part of the Confessions of Anthony Burgess.

Busch, Benjamin. Dust to Dust.

Cairns, Scott. Short Trip to the Edge.

Carr, David. The Night of the Gun.

Carroll, James. Practicing Catholic.

*Chaudhuri, Nirad C. The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian.

*Chatwin, Bruce. In Patagonia.

Chast, Roz. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

*Cheever, Susan. Home Before Dark.

*Cherry-Garrard, Apsley. The Worst Journey in the World.

Churchill, Winston. My Early Life, 1874–1904.

Ciszek, Walter, SJ. With God in Russia.

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. The Beautiful Stuggle.

*Coetzee, J. M. Boyhood.

Collins, Judy. Singing Lessons: A Memoir of Love, Loss, Hope, and Healing.

*Conroy, Frank. Stop-Time.

Conway, Jill Ker. The Road from Coorain.

Covington, Dennis. Salvation on Sand Mountain.

*Crews, Harry. A Childhood: The Biography of a Place and Blood and Grits.

*Crick, Francis, and James Watson. The Double Helix.

Crowell, Rodney. Chinaberry Sidewalks.

Dau, John Bul. God Grew Tired of Us.

*Day, Dorothy. The Long Loneliness.

*Dinesen, Isak. Out of Africa.

*Didion, Joan. The Year of Magical Thinking.

*Dillard, Annie. An American Childhood.

*Doty, Mark. Heaven’s Coast.

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.

*Du Bois, W. E. B. The Souls of Black Folk.

Dubus, Andre, III. Townie.

Dunham, Lena. Not That Kind of Girl.

Dylan, Bob. Chronicles.

Eggers, Dave. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

Eire, Carlos. Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy.

*Exley, Frederick. A Fan’s Notes.

Fey, Tina. Bossypants.

Forna, Aminatta. The Devil That Danced on the Water.

Fox, Paula. Borrowed Finery.

Frame, Janet. An Autobiography.

Frankl, Viktor. Man’s Search for Meaning.

Franklin, Benjamin. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.

*Frazier, Ian. On the Rez.

Frenkel, Edward. Love and Math.

Fuller, Alexandra. Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight.

*García Márquez, Gabriel. Living to Tell the Tale.

Gellhorn, Martha. Travels With Myself and Another.

George, Nelson. City Kid: A Writer’s Memoir of Ghetto Life and Post-Soul Success.

Geronimo. My Life.

Gilbert, Elizabeth. Eat, Pray, Love.

*Ginzburg, Yevgenia. Journey into the Whirlwind.

*Gourevitch, Philip. We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families.

*Graves, Robert. Good-Bye to All That.

Gray, Francine du Plessix. Them: A Memoir of Parents.

Grealy, Lucy. Autobiography of a Face.

Greene, Graham. A Sort of Life.

Guevara, Ernesto Che. The Motorcycle Diaries.

*Haley, Alex, and Malcolm X. The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

Hamilton, Gabrielle. Blood, Bones & Butter.

Hampl, Patricia. A Romantic Education.

*Hardy, G. H. A Mathematician’s Apology.

*Harrison, Kathryn. The Kiss.

*Haxton, Brooks. Fading Hearts on the River: A Life in High-Stakes Poker.

*Hemingway, Ernest. A Moveable Feast.

*Herr, Michael. Dispatches.

*Hickey, Dave. Air Guitar.

Hogan, Linda. The Woman Who Watches Over the World.

Hongo, Garrett. Volcano: A Memoir of Hawai’i.

Hooks, Bell. Bone Black.

Huang, Eddie. Fresh Off the Boat.

*Hurston, Zora Neale. Dust Tracks on a Road.

Irving, Debby. Waking Up White.

Jackson, Phil. Sacred Hoops.

Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

Jamison, Kay. An Unquiet Mind.

Jordan, June. Soldier: A Poet’s Childhood.

Keller, Helen. The Story of My Life.

Kidder, Tracy. House.

*Kincaid, Jamaica. My Brother.

King, Stephen. On Writing.

*Kingston, Maxine Hong. The Woman Warrior.

Knausgård, Karl Ove. The Min Kamp (My Struggle) series.

*Krakauer, Jon. Into Thin Air.

Lawrence, T. E. Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Least Heat-Moon, William. Blue Highways: A Journey into America.

*Levi, Primo. Survival in Auschwitz.

*Lewis, C. S. Surprised by Joy.

Liao Yiwu. For a Song and a Hundred Songs: A Poet’s Journey Through a Chinese Prison.

Lopate, Philip. Against Joie de Vivre.

*Lorde, Audre. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name.

*Lowell, Robert. “91 Revere Street,” in Life Studies.

Macdonald, Helen. H Is for Hawk.

Malan, Rian. My Traitor’s Heart.

Mandela, Nelson. Conversations with Myself.

*Mandelstam, Nadezhda. Hope Against Hope and Hope Abandoned.

Manguso, Sarah. The Two Kinds of Decay.

*Mantel, Hilary. Giving Up the Ghost.

*Markham, Beryl. West with the Night.

Martin, Steve. Born Standing Up.

*Matthiessen, Peter. The Snow Leopard.

Mayle, Peter. A Year in Provence.

*McBride, James. The Color of Water.

McCarthy, Mary. Memories of a Catholic Girlhood.

*McCourt, Frank. Angela’s Ashes.

McPhee, John. Coming into the Country.

*Merton, Thomas. The Seven Storey Mountain.

*Milburn, Michael. Odd Man In.

*Mingus, Charles. Beneath the Underdog.

Momaday, N. Scott. The Names.

Monette, Paul. Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir.

Moody, Anne. Coming of Age in Mississippi.

Murakami, Haruki. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

*Nabokov, Vladimir. Speak, Memory.

Nafisi, Azar. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books.

*Neruda, Pablo. Memoirs.

Nolan, Ty. Memoir of a Reluctant Shaman.

Norris, Kathleen. The Cloister Walk.

Oates, Joyce Carol. A Widow’s Story.

Olsen, Tillie. Silences.

*Ondaatje, Michael. Running in the Family.

O’Rourke, Meghan. The Long Goodbye.

Orwell, George. Homage to CataloniaBurmese Days, and Down and Out in Paris and London.

Parker, Mary Louise. Dear Mr. You.

*Patchett, Ann. Truth & Beauty.

Pirsig, Robert. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Raban, Jonathan. Bad Land.

Radziwill, Carole. What Remains.

Raphael, Lev. My Germany.

Red Cloud, with Bob Drury and Tom Clavin. The Heart of Everything That Is.

Reed, Ishmael. Blues City.

Rios, Albert. Capirotada: A Nogales Memoir.

*Rodriguez, Richard. Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez.

Roth, Marco. The Scientists.

Russell, Bertrand. The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell.

*St Aubyn, Edward. The Patrick Melrose novels.

Sallans, Ryan. Second Son.

Santiago, Esmeralda. When I Was Puerto Rican.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. The Words.

*Sassoon, Siegfried. Memoirs of an Infantry Officer.

*Shackleton, Ernest. South: The Endurance Expedition.

Shakur, Assata. Assata.

Shakur, Sanyika. Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member.

*Shteyngart, Gary. Little Failure.

Sleigh, Tom. Interview with a Ghost.

Smith, Patti. Just Kids.

Smith, Tracy K. Ordinary Light.

Solomon, Andrew. The Noonday Demon.

Sontag, Susan. Illness as Metaphor.

Soto, Jock. Every Step You Take.

Stahl, Jerry. Permanent Midnight.

Strayed, Cheryl. Wild.

Talley, André Leon. A.L.T.: A Memoir.

Tan, Amy. The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings.

Theroux, Paul. Old Patagonian Express.

Tolstoy, Leo. Childhood, Boyhood, Youth.

Thompson, Ahmir-Khalib. Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove.

Thompson, Hunter S. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Trillin, Calvin. About Alice.

*Twain, Mark. Autobiography of Mark Twain.

Walls, Jeannette. The Glass Castle.

Wainaina, Binyavanga. One Day I Will Write About This Place.

Washington, Booker T. Up from Slavery.

Watt, Robert Lee. The Black Horn.

Weil, Simone. Waiting for God, Gravity and Grace.

*Welty, Eudora. One Writer’s Beginnings.

White, Edmund. My Lives.

White, T.H. The Goshawk.

*Wideman, John Edgar. Brothers and Keepers.

*Wiesel, Elie. Night.

Winterson, Jeanette. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

*Wolfe, Tom. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

*Wolff, Geoffrey. The Duke of Deception and A Day at the Beach.

*Wolff, Tobias. This Boy’s Life and In Pharaoh’s Army.

Woolf, Virginia. Moments of Being.

*Wright, Richard. American Hunger.

*Yen Mah, Adeline. Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter.

Zailckas, Koren. Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood.


Adams, Timothy Dow. Telling Lies in Modern American Autobiography.

Leibowitz, Herbert. Fabricating Lives.

Shields, David. Reality Hunger.

Yagoda, Ben. Memoir: A History.