6 Memoirs on Audio Read by Their Authors

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What is the meaning of time when you look up and realize that November is almost over? I had such great intentions for #NonfictionNovember, but alas, the month got away from me. Every year, I typically reach for memoirs read by their authors. There have been so many wonderful memoirs on audio this year — too many to choose from. But if you’re like me and looking around for some last-minute nonfiction recommendations, here you are!

Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile

Typically, I’m not one for celebrity memoirs, but recently I’ve read a few that have started to win me over. A couple weeks ago, I finished Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile, the Grammy Award–winning American folk musician. Carlile’s narration of her memoir is truly a performance as she sings between each chapter, making you feel like you have your own personal concert coming through your headphones. She reads her story so earnestly, as if she is just as delighted telling you her story as you are listening to it.

Will by Will Smith with Mark Manson

Will, another celebrity memoir that’s grabbed my attention, gives listeners an intimate look into the life of one of America’s biggest stars. From his difficult relationship with his father to his break out on The Fresh Prince, we learn the intimate details of his catapult to fame. Smith performs the audiobook with all of his signature humor and charm, making listeners feel like we are right in the room with him listening to him tell his story.

Broken (in the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson

Lawson’s books have always come into my life at the perfect time. This year, I’ve struggled with my mental health, which is made all the more complicated by my disabling chronic illness. So when I heard Lawson reading her latest collection of essays, I was reminded that I’m not alone in my experience. Lawson’s performance evokes all the warmth and humor of her prose while also feeling incredibly close and intimate.

What Doesn’t Kill You: A Life with Chronic Illness — Lessons from a Body in Revolt by Tessa Miller

This hidden gem keeps flying under the radar of the bookish world, but make sure you don’t miss it! What Doesn’t Kill You follows Tessa Miller through her life as she grows ill and is eventually diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. As someone with severe colon disease myself, I can tell you that books about colon disease are few and far between. But Miller’s story shows her every inch the resilient woman as she navigates America’s broken healthcare system. Miller performs the audiobook herself, giving her book that extra personal touch.

Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford

Somebody’s Daughter stands out as one of the BEST memoirs of 2021. Ford grew up never knowing her incarcerated father, and his absence marked her childhood. But she never knew what her father did to end up in prison. Ford performs her story, describing what it was like for her growing up as a Black girl in Indiana, never quite knowing all the different parts of who she is and who she might grow to be.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

After her mother dies, Zauner finds herself crying in an H Mart, overwhelmed by all of the memories flooding back to her, painfully aware of all of the memories she’ll never be able to make. In this insightful story, we follow a Korean American young woman who is searching for a place where she can feel completely and entirely herself. Zauner performs her memoir, creating that unique intimacy that comes from a memoirist narrating her own story.

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