Autobiographies & Memoirs

What you won't find here: tell-all celebrity confessions ghostwritten by a former member of the staff or entourage.

We like to keep our memoirs classy, and by that we mean literary. We're not saying you should never read just-the-facts-ma'am bios (we suggest you steer clear of the celebrity trash mentioned above), but there's something to be said for reading autobiographical works as good or better than any critically acclaimed novel.

Famous people have been penning reflections on their own lives almost as long as writing and people have existed simultaneously. Even portions of the Old Testament are written in first person, and though subsequent autobiographers have preferred to chronicle themselves in the third person, the fact remains that we generally want to hear how things transpired from the mouths of the principle players themselves.

It's an established fact that a lot of untruth and outright lying goes into memoirs. Authors either want to appear better than they were, want their opponents to appear worse than they were, or simply like to invent stories about themselves (they're writers, after all). But how much can we actually know about someone else's life? and if they're proven untrustworthy as their own narrators, doesn't that say something significant about them, too?

Not all of these are happy books. In fact, most of them aren't "happy" in the sense of things always going well for the protagonists, or things ending well, or even wellness as a general theme. But part of the attraction of the inside scoop is that we get to know and better understand the human condition as it is, rather than as we would like it to be.

Ben Franklin was one of the true geniuses of the American Revolution. In his Autobiography (as though there could, or would, be no other), he talks about being a vegetarian. He permitted himself to eat fish, however, because though they were meat, they ate each other, and were thus unsoiled by the things that usually taint other meats. How would we know this brilliant man could be so illogical were it not for his own record of his own life?

If all autobiographies were similarly entertaining, we'd read them all. They often are, but there are others (like The Lost Executioner, about a genocidal commandant of a Cambodian death camp) that we read for far different reasons. They show us the black human heart, fully exposed. We are terrified when we read these memoirs, and we weep, as often as not because we recognize ourselves in the faces of the men and women on the cover.

Memoirs, whether confessional or obscurantist, are secrets whispered from the author to the reader. Sometimes the author writes as through a megaphone, at other times as though whispering through mittened hands. It's not our job to untangle every objectively true statement from those that aren't. It's our job to listen to the words spoken, and to hear the underlying truth each memoirist conveys.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.

 

Did you find this review helpful?
292 Items found Print
26 Fairmont Avenue
by Tomie De Paola
from Puffin Books
for 2nd-5th grade
in Picture Books (Location: PICTURE)
$6.99
26 Fairmount Avenue
by Tomie De Paola
from Scholastic Inc.
for 2nd-4th grade
in Picture Books (Location: PICTURE)
$2.00 (1 in stock)
84, Charing Cross Road
from Penguin Random House
for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$15.00
Account of Mary Rowlandson and Other Indian Captivity Narratives
by Mary Rowlandson
from Dover Publications
for 9th-Adult
in 17th Century Literature (Location: LIT4-17)
$5.95
Adventures of Theodore Roosevelt
by Theodore Roosevelt
from National Geographic
for 9th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$16.00
Again Calls the Owl
by Margaret Craven
from G.P. Putnam's Sons
for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$4.00 (1 in stock)
Aku-Aku
by Thor Heyerdahl
from Rand McNally
for 9th-Adult
in Vintage Fiction & Literature (Location: VIN-FIC)
$7.00 (1 in stock)
All Creatures Great and Small
by James Herriot
from St. Martin's Press
for 10th-Adult
in Realistic Fiction (Location: FIC-REA)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
All Creatures Great and Small
James Herriot Series Book 1
by James Herriot
from St. Martin's Press
Realistic Fiction for 7th-Adult
in Animal Stories (Location: FIC-ANI)
$16.99
All Hands Aloft!
by Lou A. Schmitt
from Howell-North
for 9th-Adult
in Vintage History & Biographies (Location: VIN-HIS)
$12.00 (1 in stock)
All Things Bright and Beautiful
James Herriot Series Book 2
by James Herriot
from St. Martin's Press
Realistic Fiction for 7th-12th grade
in Animal Stories (Location: FIC-ANI)
$16.99
All Things Wise and Wonderful
James Herriot Series Book 3
by James Herriot
from St. Martin's Press
Realistic Fiction for 7th-Adult
in Animal Stories (Location: FIC-ANI)
$17.99
American Childhood
by Annie Dillard
from Harper & Row
for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Anne Frank: Beyond the Diary
by Ruud van der Rol & Rian Verhoeven
from Scholastic Inc.
for 6th-10th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$3.50 (1 in stock)
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
by Anne Frank, translated by B. M. Mooyaart-Doubleday with an introduction by Eleanor Roosevelt
Book Club Edition from Nelson Doubleday, Inc.
for 6th-10th grade
in Vintage History & Biographies (Location: VIN-HIS)
$14.00 (1 in stock)
Annotated Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant
by Ulysses S. Grant
from W. W. Norton and Co.
for 10th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
Apologia Pro Vita Sua
Dover Giant Thrift Editions
by John Henry Newman
from Dover Publications
for 9th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
$7.00
Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life's Song
by Ashley Bryan
First Edition from Atheneum
for 5th-7th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
Authentic Life of Billy the Kid
by Pat F. Garrett
from University of Oklahoma Press
for 9th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$5.00 (1 in stock)
Autobiography of a Spy
by Mary Bancroft
from William Morrow & Company
for 11th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$4.00 (1 in stock)
Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man
Dover Thrift Editions
by James Weldon Johnson
from Dover Publications
for 10th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$4.00 $2.50 (2 in stock)
Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Dover Thrift Editions
by Benjamin Franklin
from Dover Publications
for 9th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$2.50 (1 in stock)
Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
by Benjamin Franklin
from International Collectors Library
for 10th-Adult
in 18th Century Literature (Location: LIT5-18)
Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
by Benjamin Franklin, illustrated by William Sharp, with an introduction by Carl Van Doren
from Easton Press
for 10th-Adult
in Leather Bound Collectible Books (Location: VIN-LEA)
Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
by Benjamin Franklin
from Barnes & Noble
for 10th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
by Benjamin Franklin
from Walter J. Black, Inc.
for 10th-Adult
in Walter J. Black Classics Club (Location: VIN-LITWJB)
$4.00 (1 in stock)
Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini
by Benvenuto Cellini
from International Collectors Library
for 9th-Adult
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: LIT3-REN)
$11.50 (1 in stock)
Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge
by Calvin Coolidge, Edited with an Introduction by Amity Shlaes and Matthew Denhart
from ISI Books
for 9th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$22.00
Autobiography of Charles G. Finney
by Charles G. Finney
from Bethany House
Autobiography for 9th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$19.00
Autobiography of G. K. Chesterton
by G. K. Chesterton
from Ignatius Press
Autobiography for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$18.95
Autobiography of George Muller
by George Muller
from Whitaker House
Biography for 11th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$9.99
Autobiography of Josiah Henson
by Josiah Henson
from Dover Publications
for 9th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
Autobiography of Mark Twain - Two Volume Set
from University of California Press
for 11th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
Ben Franklin: America's Original Entrepreneur
by Benjamin Franklin, illustrated by William Sharp, with an introduction by Carl Van Doren
from Entrepreneur Press
for 10th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
Benjamin Franklin: The Autobiography and Other Writings
Signet Classics
by Benjamin Franklin
Reprint from Signet Classics
Autobiography for 9th-Adult
in 18th Century Literature (Location: LIT5-18)
$5.95
Best of James Herriot
by James Herriot
from St. Martin's Press
for 10th-Adult
in Animal Stories (Location: FIC-ANI)
$8.00 (2 in stock)
Best of James Herriot
by James Herriot
from St. Martin's Press
for 10th-Adult
in Animal Stories (Location: FIC-ANI)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
Black Boy (American Hunger)
by Richard Wright, Foreword by John Edgar Wideman, Afterworld by Malcolm Wright
Modern Classics 75th Anniversary from Harper Perennial
for Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
Black Like Me
by John Howard Griffin & Robert Bonazzi
35th anniversary from Signet Classics
for 8th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$9.99 $6.00 (2 in stock)
Blood Brothers
by Elias Chacour with David Hazard
from Baker Books
for 9th-12th grade
in Near & Middle East (Location: HISMC-NME)
$14.99
Blue Like Jazz
by Donald Miller
from Thomas Nelson Publishers
for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$3.00 (3 in stock)
Born Again
by Charles Colson
from Chosen Books
for 9th grade-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$19.99
Born Again
by Charles W. Colson
First Edition from Chosen Books
for 10th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
Born Free
by Joy Adamson
Anniversary from Pantheon Books
for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$9.00 (1 in stock)
Born to Run
by Christopher McDougall
from Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
for 9th-Adult
in Biography Anthologies (Location: BIO-ANTH)
$9.00 (1 in stock)
Born to Run
by Christopher McDougall
from Vintage Books
for 9th-Adult
in Biography Anthologies (Location: BIO-ANTH)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Boswell's London Journal 1762-1763
by Frederick A. Pottle
1st edition from McGraw-Hill
for 9th-Adult
in Vintage Fiction & Literature (Location: VIN-FIC)
$10.00 (1 in stock)
Boy
by Roald Dahl
from Puffin Books
for 3rd-6th grade
in Realistic Fiction (Location: FIC-REA)
$8.99
Boy
by Roald Dahl
1999 reissue from Puffin Books
for 3rd-6th grade
in Realistic Fiction (Location: FIC-REA)
$3.50 (1 in stock)
Boy on the Wooden Box
by Leon Leyson
Reprint from Atheneum
for 4th-8th grade
Christopher Award
in Holocaust (Location: HISW-20WW2H)
$9.99
Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
by Bryan Mealer, William Kamkwamba
from Harper Perennial
for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$15.99
Boy's War
by David Michell
1st edition from OMF
for 5th-8th grade
in WWII: Pacific Theater (Location: HISA-20WW2P)
$4.00 (2 in stock)
Brendan Voyage
Modern Library Exploration
by Tim Severin
from Modern Library
for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$19.00
Bridge to the Sun
by Gwen Terasaki
from Rock Creek Books
for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$15.99
Bruchko
by Bruce Olson
Updated from Charisma House
for 10th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$4.00 (1 in stock)
Bruchko and the Motilone Miracle
by Bruce Olson
from Charisma House
Biography for 10th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$14.99 $10.00 (1 in stock)
Buddy's Crazy True-Life Adventures
Buddy Davis Amazing Adventures
by Buddy Davis
from Answers in Genesis
for 3rd-6th grade
in Short Stories (Location: LIT-ANTH)
$10.00 (1 in stock)
Chasing the Horizon
by Patrick Kinkade, Thomas Kinkade
from Harvest House
for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$8.50 (1 in stock)
Children of the Storm
by Natasha Vins
from Bob Jones University Press
Autobiography for 8th-10th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$6.99
China Cry
by Nora Lam with Richard Schneider
from Thomas Nelson Publishers
for 9th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$3.00 (1 in stock)
Classic Slave Narratives
by Henry Louis Gates, ed.
Reissue from Signet Classics
for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
$7.95
Co. Aytch
by Sam Watkins
from Touchstone
Historical Non-fiction for 8th-Adult
in American Civil War (1860-1865) (Location: HISA-19CW)
$17.00
Compleat Angler
from Oxford University
for 10th-Adult
in 17th Century Literature (Location: LIT4-17)
Confessions
by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
from Penguin Classics
for 10th-Adult
in 18th Century Literature (Location: LIT5-18)
$13.00
Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
from Heritage Press
for 10th-Adult
in Vintage Fiction & Literature (Location: VIN-FIC)
Confessions of Saint Augustine
Penguin Classics
by Augustine of Hippo (introduction & translation by R.S. Pine-Coffin)
from Penguin Classics
Autobiography/Devotional Material for 11th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$10.00
Confessions of Saint Augustine
Penguin Classics
by Augustine of Hippo (translation by John K. Ryan)
from Image
Autobiography/Devotional Material for 11th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$17.00
Confessions of Saint Augustine
Penguin Classics
by Augustine of Hippo (translation by Maria Boulding)
from Vintage Classics
Autobiography/Devotional Material for 11th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$14.95
Confessions of Saint Augustine
Penguin Classics
by Augustine of Hippo (translation by Garry Wills)
from Penguin Classics
Autobiography/Devotional Material for 11th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$16.00
Confessions of Saint Augustine
by Augustine of Hippo (translation by Sarah Ruden)
from Modern Library
Autobiography/Devotional Material for 11th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$16.00
Confessions of Saint Augustine
by Augustine of Hippo (translation by Thomas Williams)
from Hackett Publishing Company
Autobiography/Devotional Material for 11th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$11.00
Confessions of St. Augustine
by St. Augustine (translation by Philip Burton)
from Everyman's Library
for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$17.60
Confessions of St. Augustine
by Saint Augustine (translation by Henry Chadwick)
from Oxford University
for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$7.95
Confessions of St. Augustine
by St. Augustine (translation by Frank J. Sheed)
2nd Revised Edition from Hackett Publishing Company
for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
Corrie Ten Boom
Christian Heroes: Then & Now
by Geoff & Janet Benge
from YWAM Publishing
Biography for 4th-7th grade
in Christian Heroes: Then and Now (Location: BIO-BENGE)
$9.99
Cross Creek
by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
from Charles Scribner's Sons
for 9th-Adult
in Vintage Fiction & Literature (Location: VIN-FIC)
$10.00 (1 in stock)
Dandelion Wine
by Ray Bradbury
from Spectra Books
for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$6.39
Dandelion Wine
by Ray Bradbury
Reprint from Avon Books
for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
Dead End in Norvelt
by Jack Gantos
from Square Fish Publishing
for 5th-8th grade
2012 Newbery Medal Winner
in Realistic Fiction (Location: FIC-REA)
Defeating the Totalitarian Lie
by Hilmar Von Campe
from HighWay
for 8th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Diary of a Napoleanic Foot Soldier
by Jakob Walter
from Penguin Putnam
for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
$6.50 (1 in stock)
Diary of a Young Girl
by Anne Frank
from International Collectors Library
for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
Diary of a Young Girl
by Anne Frank
from Bantam Books
Biography for 7th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$7.99
Diary of Ma Yan
by Ma Yan & Pierre Haski
Reprint from HarperCollins
for 5th-7th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
Down and Out in Paris and London
by George Orwell
from Mariner Books
for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$15.99
Early Days of a Cowboy on the Pecos
by James F. Hinkle
from Unknown Publisher
for 7th-12th grade
in Cowboys & Cattlemen (Location: HISA-19CO)
$3.50 (1 in stock)
Education of a Wandering Man
by Louis L'amour
from Bantam Books
for 10th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$7.99 $4.50 (1 in stock)
Education of a Wandering Man
by Louis L'Amour
2nd Printing from Bantam Books
for 10th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
Education of Henry Adams
by Henry Adams
from Houghton Mifflin
for Adult
1919 Biography Pulitzer Prize
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
Egg and I
by Betty MacDonald
from HarperCollins
Biography for 8th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$15.99
Eleanor's Story
by Eleanor Ramrath Garner
from Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
for 7th-9th grade
in WWII: European Theater (Location: HISA-20WW2E)
England Have My Bones
by TH White
from Futura Publications
for 11th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$3.00 (1 in stock)
Escape from Corregidor
by Edward D. Whitcomb
from Regnery Publishing, Inc.
for 6th-12th grade
in Vintage History & Biographies (Location: VIN-HIS)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
Everlasting is the Past
by Walter Wangerin
from Rabbit Room Press
for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$14.95
Every Living Thing
by James Herriot
1st edition from St. Martin's Press
for 8th-Adult
in Animal Stories (Location: FIC-ANI)
$7.00 (1 in stock)
Every Living Thing
by James Herriot
from St. Martin's Press
for 7th-Adult
in Animal Stories (Location: FIC-ANI)
Eyewitnesses at the Battle of Franklin
by David R. Logsdon
4th edition
for 9th-Adult
in Clearance: History & Geography (Location: ZCLE-HIS)
$3.00 (1 in stock)
Falcons of France
by Charles Nordhoff & James Norman Hall
from Husband Press
for 7th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
Farewell Summer
by Ray Bradbury
1st edition from William Morrow & Company
for 7th-12th grade
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: LIT7-20)
$7.19
Fatty Legs
by Christy Jordan-Fenton, Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
from Annick Press
for 5th-7th grade
in Realistic Fiction (Location: FIC-REA)
123