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This year, I find myself reaching for memoirs. I don’t know what it is about someone telling me about their life, but I find their stories comforting, like I’m sitting across the table from them, listening as they share their fascinating story. So if you find yourself, like me, in the memoir mood, here are a few of my favorites.
Eat a Peach by David Chang with Gabe Ulla, Narrated by David Chang
In his much-anticipated memoir, Eat a Peach, David Chang shares the story of how he became a chef, opened his first restaurant, Momofuku, and how he entered the world of food media. Throughout the audiobook, he discusses his own struggles with bipolar disorder and his decades-long experience trying to find a combination of therapy and medication that works for him. Chang performs the audiobook himself, giving Eat a Peach that special read-by-the-author personal feel.
We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib, Narrated by Parmida Vand
In her LAMBDA award-winning memoir, We Have Always Been Here, Samra Habib writes about how she and her family fled Pakistan as refugees, settling in Canada. After breaking her arranged marriage, Samra marries another man while still in her teens. But at the end of her twenties she files for divorce, coming out as queer and setting out to travel the world and explore her newly embraced sexuality. At its heart, this is a beautiful memoir about a Muslim woman learning that she still has a place in Islam as a queer person. Parmida Vand performs the audiobook, bringing Habib’s voice to life with her vibrant narration.
The Erratics by Vicki Laveau-Harvie, Narrated by Jacqueline Samuda
When it was first published in Australia, The Erratics received much acclaim from literary critics. The way Vicki Laveau-Harvie writes her prose is exquisite, making the audiobook a divine listening experience. In this slim memoir, Laveau-Harvie describes how she and her sister return to their aging parents’ farm in rural Canada to take care of their father after their mother suffers from a serious fall. When they see their father, they realize that their mother has been slowly starving him. The resulting conversations begin to reveal the full extent of their mother’s abuse, forcing them to reenter their parents lives and intervene on their father’s behalf.
The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, Narrated by the Author
DACA recipient Karla Cornejo Villavicencio and her parents are undocumented, but she never liked talking about it. But after the election in 2016, she realized she needed to tell not just her own story, but also share the stories of other undocumented Americans. For this project, Cornejo Villavicencio travels the country and interviews undocumented people from wide range of professions and life experiences. She also shares her struggles with her own mental health, and how her mental illness has been exacerbated by the stress and fear of deportation. Cornejo Villavicencio’s narration is clear and direct, matter of factly delivering her research and the stories of her interviews. She makes it clear from the start: she is here to advocate for undocumented Americans, not to sensationalize or entertain.
Rust: A Memoir of Steel and Grit by Eliese Colette Goldbach, Narrated Kelly Pekar
Near the end of grad school, Eliese Colette Goldbach experiences a particularly difficult episode of her bipolar disorder, leaving her feeling lost, rootless, and out of place. Before she finishes her thesis, she leaves academia for a job at the local steel mill, entering the world of blue collar labor. The excellent pay makes up for the dangerous hours working around the mill, but as time passes, Goldbach realizes she hasn’t seen the last of her mental illness. Kelly Pekar narrates the audiobook with a clear and no-nonsense manner, perfectly embodying Goldbach’s own narrative voice on the page.
Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher, Narrated by the Author
The one and only Carrie Fisher is an amazing actress, but did you also know she’s an amazing writer? In her memoir Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher shares her experience getting into the movie business, gives us a behind-the-scenes look at her big break as Princess Leia on Star Wars, and describes what it’s like to struggle with depression. Fisher narrates her memoir, turning the audiobook into one of her most beautiful performances.