2017 Summer Reading Guide: Gripping Memoirs

Some people have life stories that are really fascinating and other people have a gift for making even the average completely interesting. All of these memoirs are both.

Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas
I’ve had this book recommended to me for years and never even picked it up, until this year when I downloaded it to my Kindle on a whim and then read the whole thing in two days, laughing my face off all the way. Her experiences and stories are the perfect mix of the universal experiences of childhood and growing up and those that are more specific to an immigrant family. I feel like there’s no way to do this book justice except to say, “go read it and love every page.” And then read the sequel immediately afterward.

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
This is a memoir like none I’ve ever read – it’s broken down into sections like a college curriculum (romance languages, history, etc) and it’s not a comprehensive story of her life as much as bits of stories, memories and thoughts. I generally don’t love books with a very unusual narrative structure, but this book delighted me from the first to the last page and made me wish she was my next-door neighbor. It’s perfect for a day at the beach or a lazy summer afternoon in the hammock (I need to get myself a hammock).

Where the Light Gets In: Losing My Mother Only to Find Her Again
by Kimberly Williams-Paisley

Here’s where I admit that I’ve never actually seen Father of the Bride, but that didn’t keep me from loving this book about her experiences with her mom’s dementia. I read Still Alice a few years ago and this book reminded me a lot of it, although this one is a true story instead of a novel. I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it must be to watch a loved one become someone you don’t even recognize anymore and this book is filled with sweet and heartbreaking stories and experiences as their family navigates these difficult circumstances together.


A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold 
This is maybe a little bit heavy for summer reading (okay, a lot), but it was so good that I can’t leave it off here. Sue Klebold was an average suburban dweller in Colorado until April of 1999 when her son, Dylan, opened fire in Columbine High School and her family’s life changed forever. This book explores their family life, the signs they missed that Dylan was deeply depressed and angry, and all the factors that can converge to lead to a tragedy like Columbine. She doesn’t make any attempts to excuse her son’s actions, but she does try to understand what kinds of things lead to this sort of horrible massacre, and she really does an amazing job. I was completely gripped by this book from the first to the last page.

Check out the other categories on the 2017 Summer Reading Guide (so many more great books!):

24 great titles to read this summer