Hidden Gems in Biography and Memoir

I won’t write about every one of these, because in some cases (Angela Davis, Meghan Daum, Mara Wilson) I’ve already written more than you wanted to read. In some cases—Anjelica Huston, Helen Mirren—the books are just a deep, interesting look into the life of a fabulous, fascinating woman (ha! and I have just realized that there is only one man on my list, whether subject or writer of the biography (and to be honest, I’ve included him in a list like this before). Both Mara Wilson and Nia Vardalos are actors who write specifically about another subject that’s been a significant part of their lives—Wilson about her anxiety and mental health issues, Vardalos about her experience adopting her daughter.

From Housewife to Heretic has a special place in my heart, because it is both a detailed account of a very relevant, frustrating period in our recent political history—the fight in the 1980s for the Equal Rights Amendment, which was first introduced in Congress in 1923 and has still not passed—and the personal account of a woman who went through the same painful process I did in leaving the LDS church. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter is also one of the books I read during that transition, and though it’s not as personal for me, it’s more widely relevant since Kidd’s experience was with mainstream Christianity, not such a specific subset.

Misty Copeland’s unique memoir illuminates the ballet world and tells the story of a poor black girl who grew up to excel in an elite, super-white culture. Love, Nina is a quick, funny collection of letters from a 20-year-old who moves to London to be a nanny in the 80s (you know, back when we still wrote letters). Moranthology is Caitlin Moran’s usual hilarity, only on broader subjects than just feminism (like in How to Be a Woman).

All of these books have under 10,000 ratings on Goodreads, and probably half of them have under 500. They’re all great books, some more powerful than others, but all enjoyable and worth the read.

Check out everyone else’s Top Ten Tuesday at The Broke and the Bookish.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Astilbe says:

    Instant Mom was such an interesting story. Good choice there!

    Here is our TTT

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gwen says:

      Funny that we both have an Angelica at the top of our lists, too, only mine’s spelled differently. 🙂


  2. Jan Hicks says:

    I love Anjelica Houston! I might have a look for her autobiography at the library.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gwen says:

      Thinking back on it now, I just have nice memories of reading this. Watch Me covers her adult years, and if you like it, she has another one called A Story Lately Told that’s about her childhood. She really has had the most fascinating life.


      1. Jan Hicks says:

        Autocorrect wanted her to be Texan, I see! I bet her life has been interesting, given who her dad was. She’s such a still but communicative actor.

        Liked by 1 person

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