Trying to figure out how to write a memoir? These books help teach the craft of writing memoir so you can tell the stories of your life.
Depending on how much information you like to consume, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. By “must-read,” I don’t mean you have to read every title, but if you’re going to read a book about writing memoir, these are the ones to go to first.
The idea isn’t to read everything that’s been published on how to write a memoir, but to get a few doses of inspiration so you can do what matters most: writing.
- Maintain your daily writing practice (or start one, if you haven’t already) while you’re reading these books.
- Take a peek inside each book below and choose 1-3 books to read. Don’t buy a book just because someone is recommending it — see if you connect with it first.
- Look at the Table of Contents and read a few paragraphs — make sure you like the author’s voice, and how they treat you as a writer.
- If they offer a writing exercise, give it a try. You might uncover a story you’ve forgotten about.
- If getting through a book stats to feel boring or difficult, put it aside. It may not be the right book for you.
- If you purchased a book, mark it up! Underline or highlight helpful sections.
- If you borrowed the book from the library or a friend, use sticky tabs (I use these) to mark the pages you like.
- When you finish the book, review your highlights or tabbed pages. Write down key thoughts or processes into your journal. Write inspirational quotes onto index cards and tape them up where you can see them daily.
- Remember: all memoir writers were readers first. In addition to reading books about the craft of writing a memoir, read memoirs written by authors you love or who write on similar themes and topics. Read twice: once as a reader, then again as a writer. How did they do what they do? What was their narrative arc? What did you think of their voice and writing style? In your opinion, what makes this author a good writer?
The Writer-ish Top 10 Books That Teach You How to Write a Memoir
Following are my top 10 books (with previews!) that teach you how to write a memoir. If you’re already a seasoned writer, they’ll help you hone your craft and shape your writing. All of these books are on my shelf or e-reader, and they’ve formed the foundation for how I write and teach memoir. You can find the full list at the Writer-ish Bookstore on Bookshop.
More memoir Writing Resources ⚡️
- Have a book recommendation that’s not on this list? Add it to the comments below. ⬇️
- Want to know when this list is updated? Join my mailing list. 💌
- Ready to write? Here are my 10 Tips on How to Write a Book About Your Life. ✅
- Looking for some memoir prompts? I got ’em here. ✍🏼
- Interested in working with me? Check out my calendar to see where I’m teaching right now, or sign up for a one-on-one consult. 👩🏻🏫