Must-Read Memoirs and Non-Fiction to Pick Up Before Summer Ends

summer releases

There’s something sweet and lazy about summer that makes it the perfect season to read books that you can really take your time with; like memoirs, for example! Books of this genre are meant to spark contemplation, conversation, and inspiration. As summer winds down, we’ve gathered the best memoirs to spend your time reading to take the decision-making out for you.

Shooting Out the Lights by Kim Fairley

This one is for the mystery lovers out there! Kim was only in her early twenties when she met and married the love of her life – a fifty-seven-year-old man. Falling for him was easy; his quirkiness, sense of humor and devilish smile made her feel immediately connected to him… but after settling into their marriage and trying to plan a family, she starts to realize it’s not all as idyllic as she planned as Vern’s ghosts begin to haunt them. This is a real-life mystery that navigates challenges in a loving marriage, gun violence, and healing from the past.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Michelle Zauner, singer/songwriter of the dreamy indie band Japanese Breakfast, brings her lyrical talent to paper as she beautifully writes about some of the ugliest topics in the human experience: broken parental relationships, cancer, and healing from the death of a parent. As Michelle’s creamy-smooth prose floats you through the tribulations of her harsh relationship with her mother growing up and the tenderness of caring for her in the end stages of her life, her readers also see her grow as she heals from the loss of her mother and blossoms in her own journey of self-discovery.

Sandwiched by Laurie James

Memoirs are often about resonating with some aspect of the writer’s life, and Laurie’s story is especially relatable. Behind her guise of carefree, do-it-all mom, she grapples with her fear of loneliness and feeling overwhelmed with her mother’s heart attack and her husband’s lawyer delivering shocking news. As she finds herself sandwiched between caring for her mother and struggling to understand her husband, Laurie starts to write; and in doing so, she realizes that she’s the only one who can let go of the life she planned and embrace the life she belongs to.

summer beach reads

Fly Safe by Vicki Cody

Whether your own spouse is a veteran, or you just want to remember what long-distance communicating was like before the digital age, you’ll appreciate Vicki Cody’s memoir. When her husband is deployed to Saudi Arabia in the first Gulf War in 1990, Vicki is restricted to only written letters to stay connected with him. This is a very real and very humbling glimpse of what it’s like for spouses and families during a war, especially when there was no texting and no Facetime. An intimate collection of journal entries and narrative, Vicki’s story gives the reader a front-row seat to war and love. 

Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford

Ashley Ford’s memoir of growing up as a poor Black girl with a family broken by incarceration will lead you into a world that shows how isolating and complex such a childhood can be. Ashley grows up in poverty and the absence of her father for reasons she isn’t able to know weighs heavy on her. She also struggles to handle the changes in her body that bring unwanted advances from men. As these changes, and rebellion against her mother, bring her an abusive relationship, Ashley grapples with the chaos of her rape, the truth about her father’s arrest, and the complicated love that holds her family together.

Yearbook by Seth Rogen

A goofy and authentic collection of stories from Hollywood’s funniest and most successful stoners, Yearbook is everything you would expect and want from Seth Rogen and more. Watching Seth Rogen on the big screen is so easy because he brings his real personality and humor to his performances, and this little book is no different. His mother calls it “more sweet and funny than anything” which readers can take to mean Seth translated his exact personality into a book filled with hilarious encounters, his unique vernacular, and probably lots of pot.

Enough Already by Valerie Bertinelli

Even after winning Emmy awards for her Food Network show and receiving critical praise for her books and cookbooks, Valerie could not stop being harsh with herself if she gained a pound or found a new wrinkle. But after her mother died and she found an old recipe box filled with notes of the strong women who came before her, Valerie remembers who she is. After having enough, she sets out to find herself again in this blueprint for finding her stride in midlife, dealing with relationship changes, and the battle to believe in yourself.

Live Your Life: My Story of Loving and Losing Nick Cordero by Amanda Kloots

Even as we all try to scurry past and forget about COVID (and all of 2020, really) some of us carry permanent reminders in the empty spaces the Coronavirus created in our lives. Amanda Kloots feels this loss especially ever since her husband, Broadway star and Tony Award nominee Nick Cordero lost his public battle with COVID-19. This resulting memoir is an unexpectedly uplifting message post-COVID and sews together sweeter memories of their relationship, Nick’s fight for survival, and Amanda’s optimism and faith.

Better to Have Gone: Love, Death, and the Quest for Utopia in Auroville by Akash Kapur

This richly atmospheric and vivid story spread across time and continents chronicles Akash’s in-laws, John Walker and Diane Maes, who together founded a utopian community called Auroville. Mysteriously, John and Diane died two decades later, on the same day, in a hut near a remote canyon. How could death like this come from their own haven of a utopia? Years later, Akash and his wife set out to find the answers, and along the way, they come to understand how their own fates interweave with the fates of everyone else who came from Auroville.

Love People, Use Things: Because the Opposite Never Works by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

This is not a simple how-to on becoming less of a hoarder and more of a minimalist; it’s a contemplation on how minimalism makes room in your life to reevaluate and heal the seven essential relationships we have in our lives: stuff, truth, self, money, values, people, and creativity. In addition, they use this memoir to personally tell theirs and others’ experiences to create a template for how to live a fuller (where it counts) and more meaningful life.

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.