Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates - Written as a series of letters to his son, Coates memoir reflects on his own experiences growing up in the tough neighborhoods of Baltimore. He focuses on the evolution of his thinking around issues of race, including the realization that the brutalization of black bodies, especially male bodies, by police brutality and mass incarceration are the result of intentional, systematic oppression.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel - Bechdel’s memoir focuses on her quest to reach and build a relationship with her father. When she eventually comes out as gay in her adolescent years, their already complex relationship faces new struggles and challenges.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai - Yousafzai, the daughter of a school owner, refused to give up her fight for an education in the face of the rise of the Taliban in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. After being shot at point-blank range on the bus home from school, she made a miraculous recovery. This memoir details the journey of her and her family.
Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Prince - As a child Prince wasn’t a “girly-girl” but she also didn’t fit in with the guys. In this memoir she shares her struggles during childhood and adolescence with what it meant to “be a girl,” and the ways in which her attempts to reject gender norms were complicated by her unconscious embracing of gender stereotypes.
The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston - Part memoir, part mythology, Kingston’s story documents her experiences living between the world of California where her parents immigrated and the “talk stories” her mother brings with her from China. As a “warrior of words” she works to fill in the gaps in her mother’s stories as she seeks to establish her own identity in and through filling these gaps.
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde - Lorde recounts her childhood memories in Harlem as well as her coming-of-age in the 1950s in a way that clearly connects her life, experiences, and identities to the women who helped shape her.
Hunger Of Memory by Richard Rodriguez - As a Mexican-American student knowing just 50 words of English, Rodriguez began his schooling in Sacramento, CA. His memoir chronicles his experiences and examines the cost of his social and academic acclimation to life in the U.S--alienation from his family.
The Blood Runs Like a River Through My Dreams by Nasdijj - Nasdijj writes of his adopted son, Tommy Nothing Fancy, and of his own chaotic childhood as a Native American in the deserts of the Southwest. He reveals the struggles he faced between two cultures and his pursuit of the writing as a life-saving endeavour.
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi - A graphic memor that chronicles Satrapi’s childhood and adolescence first as part of a large, loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution, then in Vienna during her high school years, back to reunite with her family in Tehran, and ultimately in self-imposed exile from her homeland.
The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman - Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story.
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie - Set largely on the Spokane reservation where Alexie came of age, this memoir shares Alexie’s grappling with the complex relationship he and his mother shared from his childhood through her recent death.
Hunger by Roxanne Gay - Gay’s startlingly honest memoir about food, body-image, identity, weight, and hunger that focuses on how she learned to feed her many hungers while engaging in self-care.