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. Among the wonderful new non-fiction books published this year, there’s a fantastic range of new memoirs for 2023 to dive into and come out wiser and more inspired.
Read on for some of the best memoirs of 2023 so far, featuring diverse voices and personal, enlightening, and inspiring perspectives.
The best memoirs to read in 2023 so far
What Looks Like Bravery by Laurel Braitman (2023)
Read What Looks Like Bravery for… a gorgeous memoir about the ways loss can transform us into the people we want to become and guide us back to love.
In my April book of the month, Laurel Braitman shares an incredibly wise story of love, loss, and healing after the death of her dad, the man who taught her how to keep bees, outfish grown men, and fix carburetors.
Read this for one woman’s healing journey through multiple wildernesses – from western Alaska to her Tinder app – each one forcing her to find bravery she wasn’t sure she had.
Our Migrant Souls by Héctor Tobar (2023)
Read Our Migrant Souls for… a personal exploration of what it means to be Latino in the United States today by journalist, novelist, mentor, and educator Héctor Tobar.
Told via a series of essays interwoven with Tobar’s experience and Guatemalan heritage, this beautiful read is the first account of the historical and social forces defining Latino identity.
There’s melancholy and indignation in these pages, but above all, inspiration, pride, and love. It feels like required reading.
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.
The Talk by Darrin Bell (2023)
Read The Talk for… a graphic memoir of coming of age, finding a voice, and raising a child as a Black man in America.
Darrin Bell was six years old when his mother told him he couldn’t have a realistic watergun because she feared for his safety.
Now, with the backdrop of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Editorial Cartoonist must decide whether he and his six-year-old son are ready to have The Talk.
Accompanied by trademark evocative illustrations and sharp humor, The Talk is Darrin’s exploration of the realities of racial injustice and his journey to finding a voice through cartooning.
All the Beauty in the World by Patrick Bringley (2023)
Read All the Beauty in the World for… an uplifting reminder of the comfort of art, told by someone who knows the treasures of the Met better than almost anyone.
After receiving news that changed everything, former New Yorker staffer Patrick Bringley sought solace in the most beautiful place he knew: the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
As Patrick shares in this new memoir for 2023, he spent the next decade working in the Met as a museum guard, his days marked by quiet contemplation, healing, and marvelling at the beautiful works in his care.
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 next. 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.
Thin Skin: Essays by Jenn Shapland (2023)
Read Thin Skin for… Jenn Shapland’s meditation on our planet’s interconnectedness and boundaries – and the strength and vulnerabilities that stem from both.
As Jenn Shapland recognises in this searing collection of essays, our tiniest choices can impact people, places, and species on the other side of the globe.
Diagnosed with extreme dermatologic sensitivity – thin skin – Jenn explores the wider porous barriers of our world, shedding light on capitalism’s toxic creep into the land, our bodies, and our perspectives.
This collection dives into so much – life as a queer woman in America, creativity in a capitalist world, the decision of whether or not to have children – all with piercing, intelligent, and vulnerable honesty.
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 had nowhere to go but the fierce Northumberland landscape that surrounded her.
Following the lunar calendar over the course of the year, this raw and beautiful memoir tracks Caro’s healing journey through dark times and joy, with the moon as her constant companion throughout.
The In-Between: Unforgettable Encounters During Life’s Final Moments by Hadley Vlahos R.N. (2023)
Read The In-Between for… a poignant look at how we can find meaning, dignity, and comfort during life’s final moments.
Every so often, a book about living well comes along that quickly becomes a must-read. The In-Between is 2023’s addition to this shortlist, penned by hospice nurse Hadley Vlahos.
As Hadley shares in this moving and deeply personal memoir, end-of-life care can teach us just as much about how to live as it does about how we die.
In these wonderfully wise pages, you’ll find an honest and open celebration of one of life’s few guarantees – and a guide to approaching it with wisdom, respect, and even joy.
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 memoir, celebration of nature, and self-growth guide. As a new book for 2023, Why 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.”
We Should Not Be Friends: The Story of a Friendship by Will Schwalbe (2023)
Read We Should Not Be Friends for… a warm and funny memoir that follows the course of an improbable and life-changing college friendship over forty years.
A decade after his wonderful celebration of the comfort of reading, The End of Your Life Book Club, Will Schwalbe has shared a rare and joyful view of male friendship, starting with the first time he met Maxey as a junior in college.
While Will was nerdy and creative, Maxey was physically imposing, loud, and a star wrestler who was determined to become a Navy SEAL. But thanks to a little-known secret society at Yale, the two forged a bond that transcended their differences and would remain throughout each others’ lives.
Mother, Nature by Jedidiah Jenkins (2023)
Read Mother, Nature for… the upcoming travel memoir for November 2023 by Jedidiah Jenkins, author of To Shake the Sleeping Self.
Jedidiah and his mother, Barbara, were divided by her version of a faith that views his sexuality as a sin. But when Barbara turned seventy, Jedidiah realised that his mother wouldn’t always be there. Could they reconcile their differences?
This was the time for the trip they’d always talked about, and they knew exactly what they’d do: retrace the thousands of miles Barbara trekked with Jedidiah’s father in the 70s.
They Called Us Exceptional: And Other Lies That Raised Us by Prachi Gupta (2023)
Read They Called Us Exceptional for… a searing look at the perils of the model minority myth.
What is on the flip side of overachievement? This is what Prachi Gupta explores in this much-needed memoir for 2023, deconstructing the dangerous myth that tight-knit and high-achieving Asian Americans are immune to hardship.
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 feeling anxious.
Katherine May’s Wintering is one of the most beautiful memoirs of rest and recuperation to read in times of burnout. In March 2023, Katherine released this gorgeous new book about wonder in an anxious age to follow its success.
For more of the best books to read this year, head over to…
- The best new non-fiction books of 2023
- Gripping non-fiction books you can’t put down
- The best new books and anticipated releases of 2023