A memoir book can encompass many things; the life journey of someone, a perception of their mindset at a certain time, a sense of relief to a person undergoing a similar thing, and an inspiration for individuals seeking to achieve more. Memoirs are fascinating and all-inclusive, encompassing everything from religion, sexuality, politics, grief, war, and Hollywood life to sports. By narrating their own life story, the author speaks to a wide range of audiences. But which are the most famous memoirs of all time? Here is a review of the 10 best-selling memoirs of all time.
10. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey (2009)- Estimated 500k+ Copies Sold.
This memoir became popular and one of the best-selling memoirs for a reason. According to BOOKS-A-MILLION, this is a painful, poetic, and powerful memoir. Angelou remembers her childhood and the many exploitations, from the locals’ casual cruelty to being assaulted sexually when she was eight. However, Angelou stayed hopeful, and by self-love and finding kindness in others; she learned how to be free. This is one of the must-read books.
9. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (1997) – Estimated 1M+ Copies Sold
Tuesdays with Morrie is an excellent memoir by Mitch Albom recalling his weekly visits to his old college professor, Morrie Schwartz, during the last months of the professor’s life. The story aims at revealing the importance of being attentive to the wisdom of our elders. Mitch rediscovered Morrie during the last months of the older man’s life, and knowing he would die soon, he visited him every Tuesday like they used to meet in college. The revived relationship became a final class lesson on how to live. Read this one to get a lesson that will last forever.
8. Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck (1980)- Estimated 1M+ Copies Sold
This is an intimate journey across America written by one of the most beloved writers. At age 58, John Steinbeck aims to hear the speech of the real America, to see the colors and the light, sell the trees and grass and rediscover the country he had been writing about for years. Alongside Harley, his French poodle, Steinbeck drives interstates and the country, eats with truckers, encounters old friends in San Francisco, and witnesses bear at Yellowstone. Along his trip, he reflects on the American character, racial resentment, and unpredictable compassion of strangers.
7. Will By Will Smith, Mark Manson (2021)- Estimated 1M+ Copies Sold
Will Smith is a common name for most movie enthusiasts, and he does not hold back his bravery in this remarkable memoir. Will offers a humane hint of the real man behind the famous actor, musician, and producer as he narrates his trauma and insecurities. It encompasses Will Smith’s journey from a kid from West Philadelphia to one of the most incredible rappers and movie stars of his era in the history of Hollywood. This heartwarming read tells the whole story in one of the fascinating rides through the world of film and music. as Oprah Winfrey says, this is one of the best memoirs she has ever read.
6. The liars’ Club by Mary Karr, (1995)- Estimated 1.5M+ Copies Sold
According to The New York Times, this is a provocative memoir about Mary Karr’s childhood in the 1960s in a small town in Southeast Texas. Published in 1995, this book was a stepping stone for the modern memoir boom, and it deserves its remarkable reputation. As a young girl, Karr always wanted to settle scores going to the extent of biting anyone who wronged her. Her mother experienced psychotic episodes and was married seven times. On the other hand, her dad was an oil refinery employee who was most lively when telling stories with a group of men known as the Liars club. This is one of the best books of all time on growing up in America, evoking Karr’s fights, fears, and petty jealousies during her preadolescent age with eccentric vividness.
5. Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward (2013)- Estimated 1.5M+ Copies Sold
This is another popular book and one of the bestselling by Jesmyn Ward, a winner of the National Book Award. Ward wrestles with losing five men in her life in five years and how poverty and racism place a target on their names. The book discusses the intersection of race and class in a richly visual, lyrical, and fascinating style. She tells her complicated life journey of isolation and survival when recruited to an elite all-white school. But the author does not make her subjects symbolic. This memoir will leave you wanting more.
4. Educated By Tara Westover 2018 – Estimated 2M+ Copies Sold
Detailing her escape from a strict Mormon household in Idaho, ‘Educated’ is an inspiring tale of the power of self-determination and education. You will go through a journey with Tara Westover as she leaves her family in Idaho into a series of education journeys that sees her graduate with a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. According to Amazon, this extraordinary story is unsentimentally and beautifully written. Its reception and insights on the gap between the uneducated and educated in the US saw Westover get into the Times list of the most influential people in 2019.
3. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (2016)- Estimated 2M+ Copies Sold
Born a Crime is a thought-provoking story of Trevor Noah, a host of US phenomenon, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and a rising comedy star. Trevor Noah’s unexpected path from apartheid South Africa to the host of The Daily Show started with a criminal act at the time; his birth. Noah was born to a black Xhosa mom and a white Swiss dad, a crime punishable by more than five years in prison. With sharp observations on race, politics, and identity, it’s one of the most soul-nourishing reads on growing up in South Africa during the last times of apartheid and the tumultuous freedom days.
2. Becoming By Michelle Obama (2018)- Estimated 3M+ Copies Sold
Michelle Obama has had many titles in her life; mother, wife, and First Lady. Now, her memoir has sold more than a million copies and is on the way to being the highest-selling memoir of all time. Published in 2018, ‘Becoming’ is one of the recent famous memoirs. The book features the captivating life stories of Michelle Obama and her journey to and time in the White House. As the first lady of color, her experiences were undoubtedly different from those of any that came before her.
1. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey (2020)- Estimated 5M+ Copies Sold
Greenlights is a short memoir by Matthew McConaughey about some valuable observations and insights from his own life. Listed as one of The Guardian’s best books of the year, McConaughey takes us through the lessons in his life. He has been writing journals from as young as fifteen years old. His life adventures have taken him from Peru to Mali, Texas to Australia, all chronicled in this memoir. This unconventional and authentic journal encourages reflecting, remembering, going inside and musing, taking risks, adventuring, and having big dreams.