21 New Memoirs That Will Inspire, Motivate, And Captivate You This Summer
Now that summer is officially here, I've decided it's time to start taking stock of the books I really want to get through in the upcoming weeks. After all, summer is a truly fleeting season, and what with all of the traveling, pool-hopping, beach-tripping and other activities we've all got going on, fall can often arrive in the blink of an eye. Luckily, there is no shortage of incredible new books of summer 2019 to get excited about, including tons of exciting new memoirs to enjoy. If you're like me and consider an engrossing memoir the perfect pick for an afternoon spent in the summer sun, you're going to be thrilled with this summer's selection of books.
Below are 21 new memoirs that run the gamut from inspirational to heart-wrenching, written by figures both hugely recognizable (including former Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Elaine Welteroth) and quietly influential, sharing experiences from all over the globe that will make you laugh, make you cry, make you think, and keep you glued to the page. Whatever mood you're in, or whatever space you're trying to fill in your carefully curated reading list, you're sure to find something you'll love in the selection of new memoirs below:
'All We Knew But Couldn't Say' by Joanne Vannicola
Joanne Vannicola was pressured to leave home as a teen, and struggled to cope with the memories of a difficult childhood while alone in a strange new city. Fifteen years later, Vannicola's estranged mother was dying. When the two reconnect, a trove of devastating secrets is unearthed.
'On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard' by Jennifer Pastiloff
In On Being Human, Jennifer Pastiloff shares the story of how she left her 13-year waitressing job to become a yoga teacher, despite her fears about her inexperience. These days, she's a widely-regarded and beloved speaker, and in her memoir, she tracks her inspirational journey from a life of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness to one of contentment, gratitude, and bravery.
'Formation: A Woman's Memoir of Stepping Out of Line' by Ryan Leigh Dostie
Ryan Dostie was raised by powerful women in a sheltered Christian community, but her life changed entirely when she joined the Army. She held her own in the testosterone-filled barracks, until the unthinkable happened: She was raped by a fellow soldier. In this memoir, Dostie writes about her experience as a survivor of sexual assault in the military.
'We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir' by Samra Habib
As an Ahmadi Muslim growing up in Pakistan, Samra Habib faced regular threats from Islamic extremists and was told by her parents to hide her identity. But when her family moved to Canada as refugees, Samra began an exploration of faith, art, love, and queer sexuality.
'More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are' by Elaine Welteroth
In her memoir, groundbreaking journalist Elaine Welteroth shares what she's learned about race, identity, and success through stories of her own journey.
'High Achiever: The Incredible True Story of One Addict's Double Life' by Tiffany Jenkins
A few years ago, Tiffany Jenkins was detoxing behind bars at a Florida prison, where she was incarcerated after being convicted of 20 felonies. Today, she is sober, and a married mother of three. In this memoir, she tells her deeply personal story about the opioid crisis.
'The Way Through the Woods: On Mushrooms and Mourning' by Litt Woon Long (July 2)
When Long Litt Woon unexpectedly lost her husband of 32 years, she was utterly bereft. It is only when she wandered off deep into the woods with mushroom hunter that she returned to life. In her memoir, she describes how mushrooms — and nature — saved her from her grief.
'What Do We Need Men For?: A Modest Proposal' by E. Jean Carroll (July 2)
When famed advice columnist E. Jean Carroll realized that her readers all seemed to have one thing in common — their problems were caused by men — she hit the road to ask women the crucial question: What Do We Need Men For? In this memoir, she reflects on her own dark history with hideous men, and alleges that one of those hideous men, Donald Trump, sexually assaulted her in the 1990s.
'Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem' by Daniel R. Day (July 9)
Harlem's Dapper Dan pioneered high-end streetwear in the early 1980s by remixing classic luxury-brand logos with his own flamboyant designs. In this memoir, Dapper Dan writes about his life as a hungry boy with holes in his shoes, as a teen who gambled with drug dealers, as a young man in a prison cell who found intellectual, spiritual, and emotional nourishment in books, and, finally, as a barrier-breaking designer.
'Love Lives Here: A Story of Thriving in a Transgender Family' by Amanda Jetté Knox (July 30)
Amanda Jetté Knox got married at 20 and quickly had three children, grateful that she finally had the stability she always craved. But soon, her family would open themselves up to their greater truths. At age 11, one of Knox's children came out as transgender. About a year later, Knox's husband came out as transgender, too. In this memoir, she writes about their family story.
'Motherland: A Memoir of Love, Loathing and Longing' by Elissa Altman (Aug. 6)
After surviving a traumatic childhood in 1970s New York and young adulthood living in the shadow of her flamboyant mother, Elissa Altman managed to build a stable life with her wife in Connecticut. But when her mother suffered an incapacitating fall, Elissa was forced to finally confront their profound differences.
'The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability and Other Reasons to Fall in Love with Me ' by Keah Brown (Aug. 6)
In The Pretty One, #DisabledAndCute creator Keah Brown, who was born with cerebral palsy, explores her relationship with her able-bodied identical twin, the nuances of navigating dating and romance, and her deep affinity for all things pop culture.
'Travel Light, Move Fast' by Alexandra Fuller (Aug. 6)
In Travel Light, Move Fast, Fuller tells the story of her father, Tim Fuller, a self-exiled black sheep who moved to Africa to fight in the Rhodesian War before settling as a banana farmer in Zambia. She also writes about how, in the wake of his death, she used his lessons to cope with her grief.
'Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard' by Haben Girma (Aug. 6)
In this memoir, Haben Girma recounts how she grew up hearing about her parents' harrowing experiences during Eritrea's 30-year war with Ethiopia and writes about her own quest for knowledge — which ultimately leads her to develop a revolutionary text-to-Braille communication system and to conquer Harvard Law.
'When I Was White: A Memoir' by Sarah Valentine (Aug. 6)
At the age of 27, Sarah Valentine learned the truth about her parents: Her father was a black man and she is not white, but mixed race. In this memoir, Sarah talks about the discovery and explores why her community conspired to convince her that she was not mixed race.
'Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention' by Donna Freitas (Aug. 13)
Donna Freitas lives two lives: In one, she is a respected scholar who has traveled the country speaking about consent and sex; in the other, she is a victim, a woman who was stalked by her professor for over two years. In her memoir, Freitas uses her experiences to examine how we stigmatize, debate, and understand consent today.
'A Girl’s Guide to Missiles: Growing Up in American's Secret Desert' by Karen Piper (Aug. 13)
The China Lake missile range, created during WWII, is located in a huge stretch of the Mojave Desert and shrouded in secrecy. But the people who make missiles are regular working people, and four of them are Karen Piper's parents, her sister, and herself.
'The Last Ocean: A Journey through Memory and Forgetting' by Nicci Gerrard (Aug. 13)
After a diagnosis of dementia, Nicci Gerrard's father, John, continued to live life on his own terms, alongside the disease. But when an isolating hospital stay resulted in a dramatic turn for the worse, Nicci Gerrard was inspired to begin an in-depth investigation into what dementia does to both the person who lives with the condition and to their caregivers. This memoir is the result.
'All the Wrong Moves: A Memoir About Chess, Love and Ruining Everything' by Sasha Chapin (Aug. 13)
All the Wrong Moves traces Sasha Chapin's two-year journey around the globe in search of chess glory. He competed in tournaments in Bangkok, sought out mentors in St. Louis, and finally found himself at the Los Angeles Open.
'I'm Telling the Truth, But I'm Lying' by Bassey Ikpi (Aug. 20)
Nigerian-born Bassey Ikpi was a spoken word artist in her early 20s when a mental breakdown culminated in a diagnosis of Bipolar II. In her memoir, Bassey examines the ways mental health is inextricably intertwined with every facet of her life.
'Five Days Gone: The Mystery of My Mother's Disappearance as a Child' by Laura Cumming (Aug. 27)
When Laura Cumming’s mother was three years old, she was kidnapped from a beach on the coast of England. She turned up several days later, in perfect health and happiness. For years, her parents never discussed the incident or informed their daughter it had happened. In Five Days Gone, Laura Cumming unspools the tale of her mother’s life and attempts to understand her family’s past.