Some Books that Inspired Me

I’ve found inspiration for writing personal narrative from all the books on this list. On this list you’ll find craft books, memoirs, a few selections of poetry and autobiographical fiction, a few graphic novels, and at least two books that defy categorization.

Seattle Public Library has some of these books filed under this list:

Coates, Te-Nehisi. Between the World and Me.

Coates, Te-Nehisi. The Beautiful Struggle.

Benson, Amy. The Sparkling-Eyed Boy.

Rankine, Claudia. Citizen.

Baldwin, James. Notes of a Native Son.

Kingston, Maxine Hong. Woman Warrior.

Barrington, Judith. Writing the Memoir.

Rainer, Tristine. Your Life as Story.

Beard, Jo Ann. The Boys of My Youth.

Strayed, Cheryl. Tiny Beautiful Things.

Strayed, Cheryl. Wild.

Gay, Roxane. Hunger.

Cameron, Julia. How to Avoid Making Art (and Anything Else You Enjoy).

Tharp, Twyla. The Creative Habit.

Karr, Mary. Lit.

Shields, David. Reality Hunger.

Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down the Bones.

Cameron, Julia. The Right to Write.

Donofrio, Beverly. Riding in Cars with Boys.

Forney, Ellen. Marbles.

Gornick, Vivian. The Situation and the Story.

Lamott, Anne. Traveling Mercies.

Nelson, Maggie. The Argonauts.

Ward, Jesmyn. Men We Reaped.

Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home.

Spiegelman, Art. Maus.

Lopate, Phillip. (Introduction to) The Art of the Personal Essay.

Moraga and Anzaldúa (editors). This Bridge Called My Back.

Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street.

Dubus, Andre. Broken Vessels.

Silverman, Sue William. Fearless Confessions.

Williams, Terry Tempest. Refuge.

Harrison, Kathryn. The Kiss.

Duras, Marguerite. The Lover.

Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar.

Jong, Erica. Fear of Flying

Ephron, Nora. Heartburn.

Houston, Pam. Cowboys Are My Weakness.

Hoagland, Tony. What Narcissism Means to Me.

Knapp, Caroline. Drinking: A Love Story.

Wideman, John Edgar. Brothers and Keepers.

Daum, Meghan. My Misspent Youth.

Tsing Loh, Sandra. Mother on Fire.

Solnit, Rebecca. The Faraway Nearby.

Eggers, Dave. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

Barry, Lynda. One Hundred Demons.

Rodriguez, Richard. Hunger of Memory.

Thomas, Abigail. Thinking About Memoir.

Thomas, Abigail. Safekeeping.

Irby, Samantha. We Are Never Meeting in Real Life.

Klein, Jessie. You’ll Grow Out of It.

Robinson, Phoebe. Everything’s Trash and That’s Okay.

Apatow, Judd. Sick in the Head.

Reading Lists for Memoirists based on Book Type

Collage Memoirs

California Calling by Natalie Singer

An Earlier Life by Brenda Miller

The Sparkling-Eyed Boy by Amy Benson

Starvation Mode by Elissa Washuta

My Body Is a Book of Rules by Elissa Washuta

Bluets by Maggie Nelson

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

A Chinaman’s Chance by Eric Liu

Safekeeping by Abigail Thomas

Love and Trouble by Claire Dederer

Scene-driven Memoirs

Burroughs, Augusten. Running with Scissors (his other books too)

Donofrio, Beverly. Riding in Cars with Boys.

Elhajj, Tim. Dopefiend.

McCourt, Frank. Angela’s Ashes

Karr, Mary. The Liars’ Club

Wolff, Tobias. This Boy’s Life.

Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Schmidt, Jason. A List of Things that Didn’t Kill Me

Walls, Jeannette. The Glass Castle.

Hardy, Nicole. Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin.

Theme-driven Memoirs

Knapp, Caroline. Drinking: A Love Story

Benson, Amy. The Sparkling-Eyed Boy

Graphic Memoirs

Fun Home  by Alison Bechdel

Dykes to Watch Out for by Alison Bechdel

Maus  by Art Spiegelman

One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry

Marbles by Ellen Forney

Research-rich Memoirs

Dederer, Claire. Poser

Gilbert, Elizabeth. Committed.


Robinson, Phoebe. Everything’s Trash and That’s Okay.

Klein, Jessi. You’ll Grow Out of It.

Irby, Samantha. We’re Never Meeting in Real Life.

Apatow, Judd. Sick in the Head.

Lamott, Anne. Traveling Mercies.

Comfort books for Writers

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird

Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down the Bones

Cameron, Julia. The Right to Write

Nestor, Theo Pauline. Writing Is My Drink