The Best Memoirs to Make You Laugh, Cry, and Think

From raucously funny to downright heartbreaking, these outstanding memoirs pack a serious emotional punch.

The memoir, as an art form, is one of the most difficult and complex to pull off. It can be incredibly hard to put pen to paper no matter the subject, but writing your own life story and relating personal experiences—often uncomfortable ones—in a way that engages, entertains, and connects with audiences of completely different backgrounds poses a unique challenge. 

That’s why these titles are so impressive: not only are they excellent works in their own right, but they’ve achieved cultural acclaim, resonating with listeners of different ages, genders, races, religions, and identities. Often narrated by the authors themselves, these audiobooks allow listeners to be immersed in each story and feel all of the raw and unfiltered emotion that comes with them. Here are our choices for the 20 best memoirs.   

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Born a Crime

Some of the most memorable memoirs have a truly unique story to tell, and Born a Crime, written and performed by The Daily Show host Trevor Noah, certainly belongs in that category. In his intimate autobiographical audiobook, Noah showcases his trademark sense of humor while talking about his life as the child of a white father and a Black mother born under apartheid in South Africa. Throughout his narration, Noah does a variety of impressions, switching between English, Xhosa, and Zulu accents without missing a beat, to illustrate the vibrant cast of his life. It’s no wonder the comedian won the Audie Award for Best Male Narrator for this performance.

The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle is Jeannette Walls’s true story of her upbringing as the child of a nomadic American family led by mentally ill, dysfunctional, and childishly irresponsible parents. In this deeply personal author-narrated listen, Walls illustrates her early life spent wandering across the country, forced to care for herself and her siblings while her father swung violently between moods and her mother consistently chose her art above her own children. Walls’s is a story of triumph over adversity, but what sets it apart from others is the fact that throughout her narrative, the author maintains a sense of compassion and love for the same family members responsible for her struggle. This is a heart wrenching story, but one that leaves the listener with a radical sense of empathy.

Becoming

When Michelle Obama became the First Lady, she captivated Americans with her grace, style, charisma, and fervor for helping others...all of which she seemed to perform effortlessly while simultaneously raising two teenage daughters and supporting the leader of the free world. Offering access that no other individual can, Obama’s autobiography delves deeply into the author’s personal history while also reveling in the lighter aspects of her station (like pitching vegetables to kids alongside the cast of Sesame Street). Alternating between introspective and lighthearted, hilarious and serious, Becoming is a rich personal profile and an empowering listen all in one—told in Obama’s singular, inimitable warm voice and style.

On Writing

Authors and practicing writers know exactly how hard it is to start, stick with, and finish a novel. The fact that master of horror Stephen King has written nearly 100—many of which have become instant best sellers—should be enough to make you wonder how he does it and what goes into his process. In this author-narrated memoir, King talks about his life and his craft: his own experiences, advice for aspiring wordsmiths, discussion of the mechanics of language, and more. Even if you’re not a writer, King’s advice on art, creativity, and productivity offer valuable lessons. And the chance to hear one of the most prolific writers of the 20th century talk about his work in his own words is a rare opportunity.

Educated

For a top student, it takes a massive amount of intellect, dedication, and luck to get into Cambridge University. For Tara Westover to have gained admission, despite stepping into her first classroom at the age of 17, is nothing short of phenomenal. Educated is Westover’s story, originating in the backwoods of Idaho where her Mormon survivalist father denied his family education, social interaction, and even medical attention. In teaming up with Audie Award-winning narrator Julia Whelan, Westover does an incredible job of explaining how she overcame these and other formidable setbacks, without rejecting the family responsible for them. In fact, she celebrates her family background, deftly illustrating how extremism is something we are all susceptible to, regardless of intelligence.

Between the World and Me

Though a relatively short listen at just over three and a half hours, this story is unforgettable and intensely visceral. In this autobiography, Ta-Nehisi Coates, one of the century’s greatest writers and thinkers, shares firsthand the trials and truths of racism and violence prevalent in American culture. Written in the form of a letter to his teenage son, this moving and intimate listen (made even more touching by Coates’s narration) explores his life in the United States as a Black man and what he has learned about reconciling his existence as an American with his identity as African-American. It contains hard, insightful, important truths about race in the United States, all told with the urgency of a man communicating essential realities to his son.

Shoe Dog

As Phil Knight’s story attests, the path to building an internationally renowned business is far from linear. The founder of Nike started his empire with neither massive capital nor a star-studded board of directors—instead, he took a $50 loan from his father and began selling sneakers from his car. But this is not the cut-and-dried rags-to-riches story of one man’s meteoric rise to success. Unlike so many business biographies that paint their subjects as demigods, Shoe Dog is a grounded portrayal of the realities of entrepreneurship that brings the listener through the failures, missteps, and heartache involved in starting your own business. It’s all brought to life by the performance of Norman Leo Butz, described by one listener as “one of the best narrators I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to.''

Born to Run

As any fan will tell you, Springsteen is as much a storyteller as he is a musician. His songs have always bridged the gap between prosaic and poetic. The rock legend is known for putting his own stories—as well as those of his family, his friends, and characters from his imagination—to music in a magical combination that feels raw and personal while also selling out arenas. In Born to Run, Springsteen leans into the intimacy of his lyrics, alternating between fleshing out his songs’ backstories and sharing memories of his own humble upbringing in a small New Jersey town that serves as the setting for many of his biggest hits. Far from a celebrity tell-all, Springsteen’s memoir is gritty and down-to-earth, filled with spirituality and symbolism, tapping into the sense of raw humanity that inspired the working-class anthems for which he’s best known. A Grammy nominee and an Audie winner for Best Autobiography/Memoir, Born to Run is more than an audiobook; it’s a universal experience.

Hunger

It’s virtually impossible to choose just one of Roxane Gay’s writings to recommend over the others. Despite this, there’s something about the vulnerable, intimate nature of Hunger that makes the author’s narration of the audiobook stand out among the rest. In it, the professor and New York Times best-selling author turns her gaze inward to ruminate on being fat in a fat-phobic world. Gay’s perspective is radical in her engagement with the causes, results, and implications of her weight. She talks about being a rape survivor, overeating as a coping mechanism, the difference between compulsive self-soothing and constructive self-care, and dealing with that inner turmoil while living in a world that fundamentally rejects people of her size. Whether or not you identify with Gay’s experience, Hunger offers meaningful insight into the relationship between our bodies and our society that is sure to help you empathize with others struggling with the legacy of shame—and be kinder to yourself.

In the Country We Love

Celebrity autobiographies tend to center on the author’s, well, celebrity qualities. After all, fame is typically the factor that most sets a celebrity apart. However, actress Diane Guerrero is far more than just a standout cast member of Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin: she’s also the daughter of two undocumented immigrants, who were abruptly deported when she was just 14. In this audiobook, she illustrates all facets of her complex, fascinating life in extraordinarily transfixing detail. Guerrero is incredibly warm and bright in her performance of both the ups and downs of her life, winning over the listener with the irresistibly charming personality that undoubtedly won her the auditions that started her Hollywood career.

The Last Black Unicorn

Tiffany Haddish seemed to arrive on Hollywood’s comedy scene suddenly when she starred as Dina in the 2017 hit, Girls Trip. But Haddish had spent many long, hard years hustling—both to build her career as a performer and to simply survive. Haddish grew up in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, rotating through foster homes and struggling to fit in. She arrived at high school unable to read or write, but enrolled in AP classes anyway and got by using her shining personality and wit. It was that same charisma that led her, finally, to figure out where she did fit: on the stage. In The Last Black Unicorn, Haddish tells her story in her trademark hilarious delivery and explains how her upbringing shaped who she is today—a blisteringly talented celebrity with a powerful commitment to her own humility, gratefulness, and spirituality.

We're Going to Need More Wine

The title of actress and advocate Gabrielle Union’s autobiography is a forewarning that many women are familiar with—one that comes right before a conversation turns deep: If we’re going to get into this, we’re going to need more wine. It’s with that same confessional tone that Union candidly shares her perspective with listeners in this audiobook, making it feel like she’s sitting across the table, glass in hand, as she talks about what her life has taught her about power, race, gender, feminism, celebrity, trauma, and more. Through it all, Union has remained steadfast in maintaining her sense of humor, which is powerfully evident in how she both writes and speaks about heartbreaking experiences with optimism and hope. Though her experiences are rooted in her identity as a woman, we recommend this to listeners regardless of gender—Union’s contagious personality and powerful wisdom are a surefire hit across the board.

Eat, Pray, Love

Since its publication in 2006, Eat, Pray, Love has become a global sensation. But despite the fact that Elizabeth Gilbert’s debut is now cemented solidly in the zeitgeist, it still rises to the top of the pack as one of the most worthwhile biographical works in the genre. The audiobook, narrated by the author herself, takes the listener on Gilbert’s journey of self-discovery following a succession of earth-shattering life changes that included a divorce and crushing depression. Choosing to take a radical step back from her life at home, Gilbert travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia on a quest to reconnect with her true self, writing about what she learns in the process. Gilbert’s gentle, friendly demeanor welcomes the listener into her journey and all of the hopes, fears, and failures she encountered throughout.

I Am Malala

The remarkable story of Malala Yousafzai has been heard all around the world. In I Am Malala, listeners can hear it for the first time in her own words, narrated by the inimitable Archie Panjabi (known to television fans as Blindspot’s Nas Kamal and The Good Wife’s Kalinda Sharma). Most accounts of Malala’s life center on her survival after being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman when she was just 15. But in her autobiography, Yousafzai explains that much had gone on to bring her to that moment: she was already an activist, had already garnered the Taliban’s outrage, and had already decided she would speak out regardless. She was remarkable long before the day she was shot—it’s the reason she was attacked to begin with. Richly illustrated with colorful characterizations of Malala’s life both as a child and as an internationally known activist, this is a shining gem of a memoir.

Angela's Ashes

Frank McCourt’s autobiography is a classic for a reason, but this heart-wrenching account of the traumas of immigration takes on a newly relevant slant in the modern era of border disputes around the world. Offering radical compassion for his dysfunctional family, McCourt recounts the nightmarish elements of his upbringing with kindness and love. Born in Brooklyn but transplanted at age four to the slums of Limerick, Ireland, McCourt was raised by an alcoholic father and a clinically depressed mother haunted by the early deaths of several of her children. His story follows his personal development, plagued by inherited anger, sadness, and confusion, striving to overcome his history and become someone he could be proud of. This is the sort of story that everyone should hear, and a listen that is even more haunting told in McCourt’s own voice.

Kitchen Confidential

The world became widely aware of the overlooked horrors of the culinary world when Anthony Bourdain, outwardly one of the most charismatic personalities in the food industry, died by suicide—the result of a long struggle with depression and addiction that he kept well hidden. The tragedy of Bourdain’s loss sheds a new light on his debut work of nonfiction, which delves into the grimy underbelly of the world of professional kitchens. Bourdain sugarcoats nothing in his descriptions of what he called 25 years of sex, drugs, bad behavior, and haute cuisine, during which he came up as a chef. Despite its dark undertones, the audiobook, which Bourdain also narrates with his signature dry wit, remains as searingly funny as ever, carving apart the absurdities not just of the culinary trade but life in general.

Heavy

One of the most uniquely moving titles on our list, Heavy is written in the second person by Kiese Laymon, allowing the listener to sit in as the recipient of the author-narrator’s words addressed to his mother. Laymon’s sprawling set of essays ties together an almost impossibly broad spectrum of themes and ideas as he reflects on his childhood and coming of age as a Black man grappling with the pressures placed on him by his excessively demanding mother, his secretive family, and a society that takes unkindly to both blackness and fatness. The juxtaposition of the brutal experiences the author recounts against beautiful prose and warm tone of voice is nothing short of breathtaking—it’s clear why Heavy was the first memoir to win the title of Audible Audiobook of the Year.

The Liar's Club

Published in 1995, Mary Karr’s revealing account of her upbringing in small-town Texas in the early 1960s genuinely took the literary world by storm and arguably kicked off a widespread revival of the memoir as an art form. It remains as influential as ever (in 2019, it was listed #4 on The New York Times’s book critics’ picks of The 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years), and you don’t need to listen long to understand why. Performed in her own voice, Karr’s stories of her chaotic, sometimes violent childhood could chill a listener to the bone, but told with the author’s wickedly dark sense of humor, they become captivating demonstrations of how a person can reclaim their traumas to turn their past into their power.

Know My Name

You are likely already familiar with Chanel Miller, if not by that name. Under the pseudonym Emily Doe, BuzzFeed published Miller’s victim impact statement the day after her rapist, Brock Turner, was sentenced to a mere six months in jail for three counts of sexual assault. The statement was read more than 11 million times in just two days. In 2019, Miller relinquished her anonymity with the release of her powerful memoir, Know My Name. Miller’s story is remarkable not just for the radical power to captivate, first demonstrated by the reaction to her court statement. The author, who also narrates, reveals herself as masterfully articulate and intellectual in her exploration of what happened to her—on the night of the assault and during its aftermath, throughout the tumultuous and painful legal process, and in her personal mission to find healing.

Over the Top

Those who recognize Jonathan Van Ness from the Netflix sensation Queer Eye know him to be a relentlessly cheerful source of positivity and warmth in the most vulnerable of situations. In his debut memoir, Van Ness pulls back the curtain on the painful, complicated, and often traumatic personal history that made him the beacon of optimism he is today. Since the author narrates, Over the Top is naturally full of the charisma and verve with which Van Ness has become synonymous—making it even more impactful to hear him open up about the difficulty of growing up gay in a small Midwestern town where his personality was met with derision and shame. What’s more, it makes the author doubly rewarding to root for as he talks about how he overcame it all to rise to the star status he enjoys today. Over the Top will leave you feeling empowered to show more radical, enthusiastic love—both to yourself and to the world.

Born a Crime

Some of the most memorable memoirs have a truly unique story to tell, and Born a Crime, written and performed by The Daily Show host Trevor Noah, certainly belongs in that category. In his intimate autobiographical audiobook, Noah showcases his trademark sense of humor while talking about his life as the child of a white father and a Black mother born under apartheid in South Africa. Throughout his narration, Noah does a variety of impressions, switching between English, Xhosa, and Zulu accents without missing a beat, to illustrate the vibrant cast of his life. It’s no wonder the comedian won the Audie Award for Best Male Narrator for this performance.

The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle is Jeannette Walls’s true story of her upbringing as the child of a nomadic American family led by mentally ill, dysfunctional, and childishly irresponsible parents. In this deeply personal author-narrated listen, Walls illustrates her early life spent wandering across the country, forced to care for herself and her siblings while her father swung violently between moods and her mother consistently chose her art above her own children. Walls’s is a story of triumph over adversity, but what sets it apart from others is the fact that throughout her narrative, the author maintains a sense of compassion and love for the same family members responsible for her struggle. This is a heart wrenching story, but one that leaves the listener with a radical sense of empathy.

Becoming

When Michelle Obama became the First Lady, she captivated Americans with her grace, style, charisma, and fervor for helping others...all of which she seemed to perform effortlessly while simultaneously raising two teenage daughters and supporting the leader of the free world. Offering access that no other individual can, Obama’s autobiography delves deeply into the author’s personal history while also reveling in the lighter aspects of her station (like pitching vegetables to kids alongside the cast of Sesame Street). Alternating between introspective and lighthearted, hilarious and serious, Becoming is a rich personal profile and an empowering listen all in one—told in Obama’s singular, inimitable warm voice and style.

On Writing

Authors and practicing writers know exactly how hard it is to start, stick with, and finish a novel. The fact that master of horror Stephen King has written nearly 100—many of which have become instant best sellers—should be enough to make you wonder how he does it and what goes into his process. In this author-narrated memoir, King talks about his life and his craft: his own experiences, advice for aspiring wordsmiths, discussion of the mechanics of language, and more. Even if you’re not a writer, King’s advice on art, creativity, and productivity offer valuable lessons. And the chance to hear one of the most prolific writers of the 20th century talk about his work in his own words is a rare opportunity.

Educated

For a top student, it takes a massive amount of intellect, dedication, and luck to get into Cambridge University. For Tara Westover to have gained admission, despite stepping into her first classroom at the age of 17, is nothing short of phenomenal. Educated is Westover’s story, originating in the backwoods of Idaho where her Mormon survivalist father denied his family education, social interaction, and even medical attention. In teaming up with Audie Award-winning narrator Julia Whelan, Westover does an incredible job of explaining how she overcame these and other formidable setbacks, without rejecting the family responsible for them. In fact, she celebrates her family background, deftly illustrating how extremism is something we are all susceptible to, regardless of intelligence.

Between the World and Me

Though a relatively short listen at just over three and a half hours, this story is unforgettable and intensely visceral. In this autobiography, Ta-Nehisi Coates, one of the century’s greatest writers and thinkers, shares firsthand the trials and truths of racism and violence prevalent in American culture. Written in the form of a letter to his teenage son, this moving and intimate listen (made even more touching by Coates’s narration) explores his life in the United States as a Black man and what he has learned about reconciling his existence as an American with his identity as African-American. It contains hard, insightful, important truths about race in the United States, all told with the urgency of a man communicating essential realities to his son.

Shoe Dog

As Phil Knight’s story attests, the path to building an internationally renowned business is far from linear. The founder of Nike started his empire with neither massive capital nor a star-studded board of directors—instead, he took a $50 loan from his father and began selling sneakers from his car. But this is not the cut-and-dried rags-to-riches story of one man’s meteoric rise to success. Unlike so many business biographies that paint their subjects as demigods, Shoe Dog is a grounded portrayal of the realities of entrepreneurship that brings the listener through the failures, missteps, and heartache involved in starting your own business. It’s all brought to life by the performance of Norman Leo Butz, described by one listener as “one of the best narrators I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to.''

Born to Run

As any fan will tell you, Springsteen is as much a storyteller as he is a musician. His songs have always bridged the gap between prosaic and poetic. The rock legend is known for putting his own stories—as well as those of his family, his friends, and characters from his imagination—to music in a magical combination that feels raw and personal while also selling out arenas. In Born to Run, Springsteen leans into the intimacy of his lyrics, alternating between fleshing out his songs’ backstories and sharing memories of his own humble upbringing in a small New Jersey town that serves as the setting for many of his biggest hits. Far from a celebrity tell-all, Springsteen’s memoir is gritty and down-to-earth, filled with spirituality and symbolism, tapping into the sense of raw humanity that inspired the working-class anthems for which he’s best known. A Grammy nominee and an Audie winner for Best Autobiography/Memoir, Born to Run is more than an audiobook; it’s a universal experience.

Hunger

It’s virtually impossible to choose just one of Roxane Gay’s writings to recommend over the others. Despite this, there’s something about the vulnerable, intimate nature of Hunger that makes the author’s narration of the audiobook stand out among the rest. In it, the professor and New York Times best-selling author turns her gaze inward to ruminate on being fat in a fat-phobic world. Gay’s perspective is radical in her engagement with the causes, results, and implications of her weight. She talks about being a rape survivor, overeating as a coping mechanism, the difference between compulsive self-soothing and constructive self-care, and dealing with that inner turmoil while living in a world that fundamentally rejects people of her size. Whether or not you identify with Gay’s experience, Hunger offers meaningful insight into the relationship between our bodies and our society that is sure to help you empathize with others struggling with the legacy of shame—and be kinder to yourself.

In the Country We Love

Celebrity autobiographies tend to center on the author’s, well, celebrity qualities. After all, fame is typically the factor that most sets a celebrity apart. However, actress Diane Guerrero is far more than just a standout cast member of Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin: she’s also the daughter of two undocumented immigrants, who were abruptly deported when she was just 14. In this audiobook, she illustrates all facets of her complex, fascinating life in extraordinarily transfixing detail. Guerrero is incredibly warm and bright in her performance of both the ups and downs of her life, winning over the listener with the irresistibly charming personality that undoubtedly won her the auditions that started her Hollywood career.

The Last Black Unicorn

Tiffany Haddish seemed to arrive on Hollywood’s comedy scene suddenly when she starred as Dina in the 2017 hit, Girls Trip. But Haddish had spent many long, hard years hustling—both to build her career as a performer and to simply survive. Haddish grew up in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, rotating through foster homes and struggling to fit in. She arrived at high school unable to read or write, but enrolled in AP classes anyway and got by using her shining personality and wit. It was that same charisma that led her, finally, to figure out where she did fit: on the stage. In The Last Black Unicorn, Haddish tells her story in her trademark hilarious delivery and explains how her upbringing shaped who she is today—a blisteringly talented celebrity with a powerful commitment to her own humility, gratefulness, and spirituality.

We're Going to Need More Wine

The title of actress and advocate Gabrielle Union’s autobiography is a forewarning that many women are familiar with—one that comes right before a conversation turns deep: If we’re going to get into this, we’re going to need more wine. It’s with that same confessional tone that Union candidly shares her perspective with listeners in this audiobook, making it feel like she’s sitting across the table, glass in hand, as she talks about what her life has taught her about power, race, gender, feminism, celebrity, trauma, and more. Through it all, Union has remained steadfast in maintaining her sense of humor, which is powerfully evident in how she both writes and speaks about heartbreaking experiences with optimism and hope. Though her experiences are rooted in her identity as a woman, we recommend this to listeners regardless of gender—Union’s contagious personality and powerful wisdom are a surefire hit across the board.

Eat, Pray, Love

Since its publication in 2006, Eat, Pray, Love has become a global sensation. But despite the fact that Elizabeth Gilbert’s debut is now cemented solidly in the zeitgeist, it still rises to the top of the pack as one of the most worthwhile biographical works in the genre. The audiobook, narrated by the author herself, takes the listener on Gilbert’s journey of self-discovery following a succession of earth-shattering life changes that included a divorce and crushing depression. Choosing to take a radical step back from her life at home, Gilbert travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia on a quest to reconnect with her true self, writing about what she learns in the process. Gilbert’s gentle, friendly demeanor welcomes the listener into her journey and all of the hopes, fears, and failures she encountered throughout.

I Am Malala

The remarkable story of Malala Yousafzai has been heard all around the world. In I Am Malala, listeners can hear it for the first time in her own words, narrated by the inimitable Archie Panjabi (known to television fans as Blindspot’s Nas Kamal and The Good Wife’s Kalinda Sharma). Most accounts of Malala’s life center on her survival after being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman when she was just 15. But in her autobiography, Yousafzai explains that much had gone on to bring her to that moment: she was already an activist, had already garnered the Taliban’s outrage, and had already decided she would speak out regardless. She was remarkable long before the day she was shot—it’s the reason she was attacked to begin with. Richly illustrated with colorful characterizations of Malala’s life both as a child and as an internationally known activist, this is a shining gem of a memoir.

Angela's Ashes

Frank McCourt’s autobiography is a classic for a reason, but this heart-wrenching account of the traumas of immigration takes on a newly relevant slant in the modern era of border disputes around the world. Offering radical compassion for his dysfunctional family, McCourt recounts the nightmarish elements of his upbringing with kindness and love. Born in Brooklyn but transplanted at age four to the slums of Limerick, Ireland, McCourt was raised by an alcoholic father and a clinically depressed mother haunted by the early deaths of several of her children. His story follows his personal development, plagued by inherited anger, sadness, and confusion, striving to overcome his history and become someone he could be proud of. This is the sort of story that everyone should hear, and a listen that is even more haunting told in McCourt’s own voice.

Kitchen Confidential

The world became widely aware of the overlooked horrors of the culinary world when Anthony Bourdain, outwardly one of the most charismatic personalities in the food industry, died by suicide—the result of a long struggle with depression and addiction that he kept well hidden. The tragedy of Bourdain’s loss sheds a new light on his debut work of nonfiction, which delves into the grimy underbelly of the world of professional kitchens. Bourdain sugarcoats nothing in his descriptions of what he called 25 years of sex, drugs, bad behavior, and haute cuisine, during which he came up as a chef. Despite its dark undertones, the audiobook, which Bourdain also narrates with his signature dry wit, remains as searingly funny as ever, carving apart the absurdities not just of the culinary trade but life in general.

Heavy

One of the most uniquely moving titles on our list, Heavy is written in the second person by Kiese Laymon, allowing the listener to sit in as the recipient of the author-narrator’s words addressed to his mother. Laymon’s sprawling set of essays ties together an almost impossibly broad spectrum of themes and ideas as he reflects on his childhood and coming of age as a Black man grappling with the pressures placed on him by his excessively demanding mother, his secretive family, and a society that takes unkindly to both blackness and fatness. The juxtaposition of the brutal experiences the author recounts against beautiful prose and warm tone of voice is nothing short of breathtaking—it’s clear why Heavy was the first memoir to win the title of Audible Audiobook of the Year.

The Liar's Club

Published in 1995, Mary Karr’s revealing account of her upbringing in small-town Texas in the early 1960s genuinely took the literary world by storm and arguably kicked off a widespread revival of the memoir as an art form. It remains as influential as ever (in 2019, it was listed #4 on The New York Times’s book critics’ picks of The 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years), and you don’t need to listen long to understand why. Performed in her own voice, Karr’s stories of her chaotic, sometimes violent childhood could chill a listener to the bone, but told with the author’s wickedly dark sense of humor, they become captivating demonstrations of how a person can reclaim their traumas to turn their past into their power.

Know My Name

You are likely already familiar with Chanel Miller, if not by that name. Under the pseudonym Emily Doe, BuzzFeed published Miller’s victim impact statement the day after her rapist, Brock Turner, was sentenced to a mere six months in jail for three counts of sexual assault. The statement was read more than 11 million times in just two days. In 2019, Miller relinquished her anonymity with the release of her powerful memoir, Know My Name. Miller’s story is remarkable not just for the radical power to captivate, first demonstrated by the reaction to her court statement. The author, who also narrates, reveals herself as masterfully articulate and intellectual in her exploration of what happened to her—on the night of the assault and during its aftermath, throughout the tumultuous and painful legal process, and in her personal mission to find healing.

Over the Top

Those who recognize Jonathan Van Ness from the Netflix sensation Queer Eye know him to be a relentlessly cheerful source of positivity and warmth in the most vulnerable of situations. In his debut memoir, Van Ness pulls back the curtain on the painful, complicated, and often traumatic personal history that made him the beacon of optimism he is today. Since the author narrates, Over the Top is naturally full of the charisma and verve with which Van Ness has become synonymous—making it even more impactful to hear him open up about the difficulty of growing up gay in a small Midwestern town where his personality was met with derision and shame. What’s more, it makes the author doubly rewarding to root for as he talks about how he overcame it all to rise to the star status he enjoys today. Over the Top will leave you feeling empowered to show more radical, enthusiastic love—both to yourself and to the world.


Selection Methodology

Inclusion in Audible’s “best audiobooks” series is based on a number of factors, including presence on Audible best seller lists, listener ratings and reviews, Goodreads ratings, and input from the Audible Editors. All audiobooks featured here have a minimum of 500 reviews averaging at least 4.5 stars, with some exceptions made for outstanding stories and performances.

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