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14 Heartening Memoirs That Will Improve Your Outlook On Life

In a world all too obsessed with idealism and relentless escapism into the world of fiction, the best memoirs are a pleasing departure that deeply resonate with readers and are a tribute to human endeavor, accomplishment, and resilience.

Fiction has its place in the literary cosmos, and transporting yourself into worlds conjured by highly imaginative minds is surreal in and of itself. Memoirs are much more close to home. They hand-hold you on a journey through the author’s personal experience with the expectation that it helps you reflect on yours.

It is less navel-gazing for the memoirist and more about bringing you closer to yourself, digging deeper, and ultimately learning more about yourself (and often times more about other relevant issues as well).

Honest and raw, from the insightful and engrossing to the heart-rending and horrifying, we present the best memoirs that will engage and activate your mind for deep introspection. Our round up of the best memoirs for young adults offers additional entrancing suggestions.

#1 Maharishi & Me by Shumsky Susan

Susan's candid, honest portrayal draws back the curtain on her shattering, extreme emotional seesaws of heaven and hell she endured while under her guru's influence. This compelling, haunting memoir will continue to challenge readers long after they turn its last page. It dismantles all previous beliefs about the spiritual path and how spiritual masters are supposed to behave.

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Contributor: Susan Shumsky from Skyhorse Publishing

#2 Three Stages by Ben Bryant

I never could imagine what life was like for a southern boy who sings in a church choir, becomes a successful working actor, with an amazing amount of ease may I say, then leaves a career that others would give their right arm to have. ... He worked in opera, musical comedy and all the other things he accomplished. This man has lived many life times and done more than most people could dream of.

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Contributor: Elizabeth Hepburn from Quantum Feeling Inc

#3 Circumstances Beyond My Control by Ben Bryant

This will be very useful as a text and motivational guide for film students who plan to seek professional careers in the Production Department ... reading about and being intimately familiar with the break-in struggles of a successful professional in our industry is profoundly helpful, even necessary, for Film Students of any production discipline. In fact this book is a must read for anyone who wants to know how films are actually made.

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Contributor: Elizabeth Hepburn from Quantum Feeling Inc

#5 After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry

This is a true-crime book written by someone often overlooked when horror and tragedy strike: the family members of the murder victim. Perry was a child when her mother was brutally raped and murdered, in their home. In this wrenching memoir, she tells the entire story from her perspective, from their happy life before the tragedy, to finding out who the perpetrator was, decades later.

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Contributor: Valerie Brett Shaindlin from University of Hawai

#7 Becoming by Michelle Obama

Straight from a woman who broke barriers and made history, this work gives an insider’s perspective on where she came from, her life as a mother and her experience as First Lady. Obama is funny, open and honest in her writing, so the pages will turn quickly.

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Contributor: Caleb Backe from Maple Holistics

#8 The Bridesmaid’s Daughter by Nyna Giles

This book is a deeply personal memoir about friendship and motherhood, and a clarion call for improving mental healthcare. Nyna hopes that by sharing her mother’s story with your audience, she can help raise awareness for maternal mental health, the need for universal screenings and treatment for those who can’t advocate for themselves. She hopes to encourage more people to tell their stories and to be comfortable talking about this topic.

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Contributor: Peter Giles from Giles Communications

#9 Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

What better way to honor Anthony Bourdain, whom the world tragically lost this year, than by reading his memoir Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly? In this book Bourdain gets personal, referencing some pretty colorful experiences as well as his main love, food. He gives the insider’s scoop on living life as a chef, and his funny yet inspiring writing will make you grateful you read it.

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Contributor: Caleb Backe from Maple Holistics

#10 In Search of the Sun by Leza Lowitz

in a country where bloodlines are all-important and adoption is rare. Even extended family members must agree to the process before an adoption can be made legal. A love story on many levels, In Search of the Sun is a beautifully told, life-affirming memoir.

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Contributor: Suzanne Kamata from suzannekamata

#11 We by Ben Barnz

This is the first account of an adoption by a same-sex couple that I have come across. Barnz, a film producer, writes about the open adoption of his daughter, which was contested by the newborn’s biological father, with honesty and sensitivity -- and love. This is a beautifully-told story in a beautiful package.

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Contributor: Suzanne Kamata from suzannekamata

#12 Wilt, Ike, and Me by David Richman

Wilt, Ike & Me is a poignant story of epic characters, set in a bygone era. As it journeys from the everyday, to the fantastic and even the metaphysical, the touching family saga is filled with triumph and tragedy. But ultimately, its true hero is the human heart, with its remarkable ability to transcend both time and death. 

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Contributor: David Richman from Quantum Feeling Inc

#14 Memoirs Of Madame De Motteville On Anne Of Austria And Her Court

Madame de Motteville mother was a Spaniard and the little girl loved at court since 7 years old. richelieu disliked the queen association with Spanish people and sent de Motteville and her mother to Normandy. When she was 18, de Motteville married a man of 82. He soon died and left her well off, she returned to Paris and stayed with her mistress the queen, loyal and supportive, through war and Fronde, describing fashions and characters, princes, cardinales, nobles in vivid details, aslo what queen ate, how she dressed and so on. Very light and interesting read, plus as you go, you learn the history, so it's two in one.

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Contributor: Natalya Alatyreva

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Written by Taegan Lion