A woman reading a book

A woman reading a book (Photo by Andrii Kobryn on Shutterstock)

From tales of resilience in the face of hardship to journeys of self-discovery, memoirs by women offer powerful and poignant glimpses into a vast array of experiences. Whether you’re seeking inspiration, yearning to connect with a shared story, or simply looking for a captivating read, there’s a powerful memoir out there waiting to be discovered. Dive into our list of the best women’s memoirs and find yourself transported by these remarkable women’s unforgettable voices and experiences.

There are two types of people: those who enjoy reading and those who don’t. For those who love diving into a new title, it takes the average person 36 minutes and 29 pages to get lost in a book they’re reading. A survey of 2,000 U.S. adults who regularly read found the easiest book genres to lose yourself in are fantasy (49%), romance (42%), history (39%), and sci-fi (36%).

Nearly three in four (74%) people have immersed themselves in a book. Of those respondents, 63 percent imagined themselves as one of the characters, the same amount transported themselves to the book’s setting, and 58 percent could almost hear how the narrator or characters sound. Reading is a vital part of the learning process and as avid readers will attest; reading can be a life-long hobby.

Memoirs can be funny, entertaining, and gripping all at once. They also act as time capsules that take readers back so that they can witness long-past events. The tales of these remarkable women in society serve as important works for representation and empowerment. Thanks to the consensus of 10 trusted sources, ranking the top five best women’s memoirs was a snap. Let us know your favorite memoirs in the comments below!

➡️ How Our “Best Of The Best” Lists Are Created

StudyFinds’ “Best of the Best” articles are put together with the idea of taking the work out of common consumer research. Ever find yourself searching for a product or service on Google and reading multiple reviews to find items listed across many of them? Our Best of the Best lists are created with that process in mind, with each item ranked by how frequently it appears on expert reviews or lists. With Best of the Best, you are getting consensus picks — making them truly the best of the best!

A woman laughing while reading
A woman laughing while reading (Photo by ViDI Studio on Shutterstock)

The List: Best Women’s Memoirs, According to Book Lovers

1. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou (1969)

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou (1969)
“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou (1969)

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” documents Maya Angelou’s childhood experience in America. It is an important recollection of the racism and bigotry that she overcame. This important literary work offers a deeply personal look at her early life. Discovery describes it as a coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the Depression-era South, where a young Angelou grapples with racism and societal limitations.

Book Riot highlights the book’s enduring impact, praising its poetic prose and ability to capture the complexities of Angelou’s experiences. They mention her struggles with abandonment, racism, and abuse, all contributing to a powerful and unforgettable narrative.

The memoir reflects the unflinching portrayal of segregation’s impact on a young Black girl, according to Books List Queen. They emphasize the book’s exploration of difficult topics, including sexual assault, solidifying its place as a literary classic.

2. “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel (2006)

“Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel (2006)
“Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel (2006)

“Fun Home” is a graphic novel with heavy lines and simple blue-tone shading. It captures the pain of loss and self-realization while at the same time showcasing Bechdel’s wry humor. The New York Times describes it as a coming-of-age story that delves into both sexuality and intellectual discovery. Bechdel’s artistic choices are lauded, with the graphic novel honoring the literary influences that shaped her and her parents.

When you open up this memoir, expect a multifaceted exploration of identity and family dynamics. Books and Bao highlight the memoir’s raw portrayal of self-acceptance within the LGBTQ+ community and the complexities of father-daughter relationships. The graphic format is praised for bringing Bechdel’s childhood experiences to life, including growing up in a place nicknamed “Fun Home” – the family’s funeral home business.

Discovery dives deeper into the family dynamics, describing Bechdel’s father as a man with numerous roles – a preservationist, funeral director, teacher, and closeted homosexual. His hidden relationships with students and the family babysitter create tension within the narrative. The review concludes by mentioning Bechdel’s own journey of self-discovery and her coming out as a lesbian, a moment depicted with both humor and emotional depth.

3. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama (2018)

“Becoming” by Michelle Obama (2018)
“Becoming” by Michelle Obama (2018)

Michelle Obama outlines her struggles and success in this best-selling memoir. Many readers have found this book to be inspirational and a fascinating look at life in America. In Penguin’s review, Michelle Obama’s memoir is celebrated for its capacity to inspire, particularly evident in Nadia Hallgren’s acclaimed Netflix documentary of the same title released in 2020. Spanning from her formative years in Chicago to her tenure at the White House, the narrative unfolds as a profound journey of self-discovery and revelation.

Good Housekeeping echoes this sentiment, emphasizing the depth of insight offered by Obama’s memoir. Even for those familiar with her public role as First Lady, there remains a wealth of untold stories waiting to be explored. The book delves into Obama’s roots in Chicago’s South Side, providing an intimate portrayal of her triumphs and challenges during her time in the political spotlight, offering readers a deeply personal perspective on her life.

Books List Queen attributes her memoir’s success to its ability to illuminate the complex interplay between personal experiences and public responsibilities. Through her candid reflections, Obama navigates the complexities of family life alongside the demands of political prominence, crafting a narrative that transcends partisan boundaries and resonates with readers from all walks of life.

4. “Hunger” by Roxane Gay (2017)

“Hunger” by Roxane Gay (2017)
“Hunger” by Roxane Gay (2017)

“Hunger” is an unflinching book about a survivor’s experience. Roxane Gay contextualizes her deeply personal trauma for readers. Pure Wow delves into Roxane Gay’s powerful narrative, describing it as an unflinchingly honest exploration of her relationship with her body, particularly in the aftermath of a traumatic childhood sexual assault. Gay’s intense and brutally honest account spans from her experiences leading up to the assault, through its aftermath, and into her journey of healing.

Gay not only reflects on her past, including the trauma that contributed to her weight gain, but also invites readers into her present reality as a woman navigating the complexities of size in contemporary society. Through her narrative, Gay not only sheds light on her personal struggles but also offers valuable lessons on kindness and compassion toward oneself and others (Discovery).

Books List Queen underscores Roxane Gay’s prominence in contemporary literature, particularly among Black female authors, noting her previous bestselling work, “Bad Feminist.” In her memoir, Gay engages with the realities of being overweight in America and grappling with the complexities of self-love and self-care. Through her candid and multifaceted reflections, Gay’s memoir offers raw, honest, and nuanced perspectives on these deeply personal and societal issues.

5. “Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner (2021)

“Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner (2021)
“Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner (2021)

“Crying in H Mart” is an important book for Korean American representation and Asian identity. Books and Bao outlines the journey of Michelle Zauner, detailing her upbringing as a child of immigrants in a small town in Oregon, interspersed with brief visits to Seoul to connect with family. Zauner recounts her experiences of leaving for college and forming a band, all while navigating the complexities of her relationship with her Korean heritage. Through her narrative, she explores her efforts to bridge the cultural gap through culinary traditions and personal experiences.

Reader’s Digest reflects on the poignant narrative of Zauner’s memoir, particularly focusing on her return home to care for her terminally ill mother and the profound impact it had on her sense of identity and connection to her heritage. The memoir is lauded for its lyrical prose and its exploration of themes such as family dynamics, grief, the significance of food, and the enduring power of love, earning it high praise and ratings on platforms like Goodreads.

Oprah Daily emphasizes the raw emotional depth of Zauner’s writing, highlighting important passages where she grapples with the devastating loss of her mother and the harsh reality that she will never see her again. The review encourages readers to engage with Zauner’s memoir, acknowledging its initial impact on the literary world and recommending it as essential reading for those who may have overlooked it during its initial acclaim.


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  1. Allen says:

    Come on now? Michael Jackson, Off The Wall.” It was released in August 1979. Easily one of the top 5 of ’70’s!