For me, memoirs just might be the perfect literary genre. As a nonfiction junkie who always wants to be learning (sorry, can’t help it), they allow me to immerse myself in a rich plot line while still scratching my personal development itch. And what’s not to love about a truly intimate view into the life of someone with a fascinating true story to tell?

These are the memoirs that have impacted my mindset the most in recent years. Each of them gave me a new perspective and have subtly permeated the way that I think.

Start the new year inspired with one of these powerful reads, and I’d love to hear about your favorite memoirs in the comments!

Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover

I’ve yet to meet a single person who’s read this book and not been blown away by Westover’s story. Raised in rural Idaho with a conspiracy-theorist father and religious fanatic upbringing, she set foot in a classroom for the first time at age 17. Her beautiful writing and strong intellect are a testament to the determination it took for her to rise up – and the power that comes from access to education.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, by Susannah Cahalan

Cahalan’s story of her descent from successful newspaper journalist to psychotic patient – in a matter of days – is both chilling and fascinating. The mystery of her diagnosis unfolds through the lens of her tenacious spirit, her family’s love and faith, and the power of survival. I could not put this book down as I followed Cahalan’s journey from hell and back to finding herself again.

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert

It’s a classic for a reason; this book will inspire you to move past society’s expectations of who you should be, instead setting off on the journey of discovering your best, truest self. It’s soul-searching at its finest with a backdrop of three very different and very fun-to-read-about destination.

Beauty in the Broken Places, by Allison Pataki

A heartbreaking memoir about a young woman on the cusp of the life she’d dreamed of – and how it all changed in the blink of an eye. This memoir leaves you grateful for your health, your loved ones, and the resiliency to come back from crisis.

Shoe Dog, A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, by Phil Knight

I was actually caught off guard by how much I instantly loved this book. The story behind one of the world’s most iconic brands – and it’s notoriously private founder – will inspire anyone who wants to be a builder, founder, innovator, or creator. It’s a powerful reminder to stay true to a bold vision, no matter the obstacles.

Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle

My sister gave me this book (one of her all-time faves) for Christmas, so I can’t yet give it a full review since I’m still in process. But I’ve already fallen in love with Doyle’s authenticity and bravery to lay her truest self bare in the ultimate act of vulnerability. So far, the message to just be you has come off the page and straight into my heart.

When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi

I’ve recommended this book to, oh, probably about 100 people. I still remember finishing it on an airplane, tears streaming down my face but also so moved by the power of love and the brevity of life. It’s the story of a young neurosurgeon diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. In an instant, the future he and his wife all changed, and he invites the reader on his journey towards discovering what truly makes our lives worth living.

  1. 1
    Lucie | January 13, 2019 at 3:46 am

    I’m so so glad you wrote this post! The only one I’ve read on this list is Eat, Pray, Love, and it remains one of my favorite things I’ve ever read! I’ll definitely add a couple of those on my to-read lists!

    • Camille Styles | January 13, 2019 at 7:52 pm

      It’s such a good one – a classic! Let me know if you give any of these others a try! xo

  2. 2
    Erin | January 15, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    I’m reading Shoe Dog right now! It is a surprisingly good story.

    • Camille Styles | January 15, 2019 at 7:28 pm

      Isn’t it great!! I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did – Phil Knight is so inspiring!

  3. 3
    Megan | January 16, 2019 at 8:34 am

    I absolutely LOVE Eat Pray Love! I read it while I was working in Rome and had a lot of fun adding Liz’s favorite places to my “to visit” list. As a young woman traveling abroad, I found it very inspiring and empowering!

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