15 of the best new memoirs to read in 2023

best memoirs 2023
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Some of the best books offer a guidebook for living. They allow us to hear from others who have been where we are, relate to their fears, understand their difficulties, and be inspired by their courage.

While I love fiction, there’s a unique and inspiring magic that comes from reading memoirs. There are also a lot of fantastic new memoirs for 2023 to dive into and come out wiser and more inspired.

Read on for some of the best memoirs to read in 2023, including both new books as well as my favourite memoirs from recent years…

The best memoirs to read in 2023

Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age by Katherine May (2023)

Read Enchantment for… a spellbindingly beautiful look at how we can awaken our wonder and marvel at the world when we’re facing anxiety.

Katherine May’s bestselling book Wintering is one of the most beautiful memoirs of rest and recuperation for burnout. Now in March 2023, Katherine has released this gorgeous new book about wonder in an anxious age.

Enchantment is full of gentle inspiration for when you feel directionless, exhausted, or out of tune with the world’s wonder and awe, offering one of the best memoirs to read in 2023.

A Line Above the Sky: On Mountains and Motherhood by Helen Mort (2022)

Read A Line Above the Sky for… Helen Mort’s stunning memoir of mountains and motherhood, layering her experiences against the life of one of Britain’s most acclaimed mountaineers.

I came across A Line Above the Sky as an audiobook on Libby last month and instantly fell in love with it.

Like The Illustrated Woman, Helen’s gorgeous poetry collection featured in my best books for women, this is a breathtakingly honest and insightful look at motherhood, adventure, and the inherent joy, risk, and sacrifice they share.

Strong Female Character by Fern Brady (2023)

Read Strong Female Character for… one of the best new memoirs of 2023, sharing Scottish comedian Fern Brady’s story of womanhood and neurodiversity.

Like Fern Brady, I’m autistic, but Strong Female Character is one of the best books for anyone to read in 2023. It’s fiercely witty, heartbreaking, and oh-so-required.

This is the comedian’s memoir of finally being diagnosed with autism, years after telling her doctor that she had it, ending up at a psychiatric facility when neither her parents nor school knew what to do with her, and never becoming the “right kind” of woman.

Poet Warrior: A Memoir by Joy Harjo (2021)

Read Poet Warrior for… poet laureate Joy Harjo’s lyrical contemplation of her trailblazing life, imbued with an inspiring call for love and justice.

Poet Warrior is Joy Harjo’s story of becoming the first Native American to serve as U.S. poet laureate, known for crafting beautiful poems with the power to unearth truth and demand justice.

With grace and beauty, Joy also sheds light on some of her own losses, and shares the rituals that nourish her as an artist, mother, wife, and community member.

Fieldwork: A Forager’s Memoir by Iliana Regan (2023)

Read Fieldwork for… Michelin star-winning chef Iliana Regan’s memoir of returning to her rural roots with a move to Michigan’s boreal forest.

If you love memoirs rooted in nature, read Fieldwork. Creating dishes foraged from the surrounding forest and river at the newly-opened Milkwood Inn, Iliana shares her experience as she struggles with personal and family legacies while trying to conceive a child.

What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma by Stephanie Foo (2022)

Read What My Bones Know for… a deeply personal book about the hold of the past over the present, the mind over the body, and one woman’s ability to reclaim agency from her trauma.

What My Bones Know is acclaimed journalist Stephanie Foo’s memoir of reckoning and healing – and one of the best books I’ve read about trauma. As the author writes at the start of the book, some of the early sections are heavy-going, and you can skip over these if they’re triggering.

Stephanie investigates innovative therapies, explores the effects of immigrant trauma on her California hometown, and uncovers family secrets to learn how trauma can be inherited through generations.

Twelve Moons: Under a Shared Sky by Caro Giles (2023)

Read Twelve Moons for… Caro Giles’s gently moving memoir about a healing year spent between the wild sea and the changing moon on the far edge of Britain.

Bound by circumstance, financial constraints, illness, and the challenges of single motherhood, Caro Giles has nowhere to go but the fierce Northumberland landscape that surrounds her in this raw and beautiful memoir.

Following the lunar calendar over the course of the year, and with stunning writing, Caro shares her journey to healing with the moon as her constant companion through dark times and joy.

Bewildered by Laura Waters (2019)

Read Bewildered for… an inspiring travel memoir about Laura Waters’ 3000-kilometre solo hike on the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand.

For Laura Waters, it was the implosion of a toxic relationship and a crippling bout of anxiety that inspired her to take off into the wild for five months.

With her life in a backpack, she set out to walk 3000 kilometres of raw and wild nature from the top of New Zealand’s North Island to the frosty tip of the South Island. Bewildered is her story of this life-changing journey.

Why Women Grow by Alice Vincent (2023)

Read Why Women Grow for… a stunning non-fiction story of soil, sisterhood, and survival from the author of Rootbound.

I love books that toe the line between being a celebration of nature, a memoir, and a self-growth guide. As a new book for 2023 from the author of RootboundWhy Women Grow is a much-needed exploration of why women turn to the earth as gardeners, growers, and custodians.

You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith (2023)

Read You Could Make This Place Beautiful for… poet Maggie Smith’s memoir of rebuilding a life when all seems shattered.

Tackling the devastation of a broken marriage and the healing journey of rebuilding her life, Maggie Smith’s upcoming memoir echoes the gorgeous lines from her poem “Good Bones”: “This place could be beautiful / right? You could make this place beautiful.

The Cure for Sleep by Tanya Shadrick (2022)

Read The Cure for Sleep for… Tanya Shadrick’s heartbreakingly raw memoir of the wake-up call that followed a near-death experience just days into motherhood.

With beautifully spun language that’s really more poetry than prose, Tanya Shadrick charts her decision to take more risks, stray from the path, and give up on a lifetime of longing for approval, safety, and rescue. The result is her stunning “memoir of a late-waking life”.

A Line in the World: A Year on the North Sea Coast by Dorthe Nors (2022)

Read A Line in the World for… Dorthe Nors’s beautiful memoir of a wild year close to nature on Denmark’s North Sea coastline.

Me, my notebook and my love of the wild and desolate. I wanted to do the opposite of what was expected of me. It’s a recurring pattern in my life. An instinct.

A Line in the World is a gorgeous memoir; graceful and lyrical, but with a powerful roar in there too. Read it if you loved The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, or other quietly powerful and introspective memoirs rooted in wild nature.

The Bookseller at the End of the World by Ruth Shaw (2022)

Read The Bookseller at the End of the World for… Ruth Shaw’s heartbreaking yet charming story of running two wee bookshops in the remote village of Manapouri in Fiordland, in the deep south of New Zealand.

In this beautiful book for booklovers, Ruth weaves together stories of the characters who visit her bookshops and musings on the books that have shaped her life.

She also shares bittersweet stories from her full and varied life, including losses, enduring love, and adventures sailing through the Pacific, being held up by pirates, working with drug addicts and prostitutes, and campaigning to protect the environment.

Water, Wood & Wild Things: Learning Craft and Cultivation in a Japanese Mountain Town by Hannah Kirshner (2021)

Read Water, Wood & Wild Things for… artist and food writer Hannah Kirshner’s journey through the culture and cuisine of one misty Japanese mountain town, its evergreen forests, local water, and smoke-filled artisan workshops.

“With this book, you feel you can stop time and savor the rituals of life,” shared Maira Kalman about Water, Wood & Wild Things. I came across this beautiful book in my local library recently and fell in love with it.

Part travelogue, part meditation on the meaning of work, and full of Hannah’s beautiful drawings and recipes inspired by her time in Yamanaka, this is a soothing and inspiring book about what it means to find purpose in cultivation and craft and sustain traditions.

For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World by Sasha Sagan (2019)

Read For Small Creatures Such As We for… a beautifully hopeful book by Sasha Sagan, daughter of Carl Sagan, that’s part memoir, part guidebook, and part social history.

Described by Richard Dawkins as “a charming book, ringing with the joy of existence,” Small Creatures Such as We is a lyrical exploration of how we can find beauty and hope in the natural world.

This soothing book also offers a gentle look at how we might re-introduce rituals to our lives as a way to find our own sense of meaning – and deepen our relationships and experience in the world.

For more of the best books to read this year, head over to…

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