February reads: Memoirs to add to your reading list

Memoirs to add to your reading list

Don't ask me why but I'm strangely obsessed with memoirs atm; these are my recent favourites. They all stand out as strong, powerful books, are all written by intelligent, sassy women and all tell unique stories. Go read: 

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan 

Bloody hell this book is incredible. Beyond incredible. It tells the true story of when Susannah Cahalan, then aged 24, suffered from anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. She was living an ordinary life in New York, working as a journalist, when suddenly she started suffering from paranoia, psychosis, violent seizures and slowly lost control of her body and personality. From her memory & journals, and hospital footage & testimonies of her family, friends and doctors for the month she cannot remember, she tells the story of her descent into illness, the incorrect diagnosis, her time in hospital, the slow recovery and what it takes to re-build your own personality. A really fascinating read, and will make you very grateful for your own physical and mental health.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

I become strangely obsessed with this book for a while; I kept giving it to other people as gifts. You may have heard of it amongst this hygge obsession we’ve all been having but it’s so much more than that. Helen Russell is a journalist who had been living the London life for twelve years. Her and her husband lived in a basement flat, worked long hours and were unable to have a baby. And then her husband was offered a job which would mean moving to rural Denmark for a year. At first, she’s having none of it and then eventually is persuaded to give it a go. After doing some research, she’s startled to discover that Denmark is supposedly the happiest country in the world and so she sets herself the ‘happiness project’; a year to find out why her new home is the happiest place to be. It’s half like reading a blog post about a couple who are experiencing relocating to a new country and half like reading a really interesting article about the ins and outs of life in Denmark and why it makes them happier than the rest of us. And I loved the whole thing. I loved Helen’s writing style, and her stories about suddenly living in rural Denmark, and I loved learning so much about the country. Really recommend this one; you will probs want to move to Denmark when you’ve finished though.

Where Am I Now? By Mara Wilson

Remember Matilda? Remember Mrs Doubtfire? Remember the little girl? Well obvs, of course you do. This is her, and a collection of essays which include stories of growing up famous, suffering from anxiety and a letter to Robin Williams. The stories are less about being the-girl-from-Matilda and more about what it is to grow up as a woman. It’s witty, honest and really quite poignant


Animal: The Autobiography of the Female Body by Sara Pascoe

I don’t know how to describe this one. It is kinda like a memoir in the sense that Sara uses personal stories and draws on her own experience, but it’s also a bit like reading the notes of a very funny university lecture... with a diagram of a vagina.  This is a book about being a woman, although I honestly think more men should read it as well. We’d probably all have a better understanding of one another. It’s about sex and menstruating and jealousy and boobs and broodiness and growing up and the future. And there’s the evolutionary history and science behind it all as well. So interesting and snort-on-the-train funny.

Ctrl Alt Delete: How I Grew Up Online by Emma Gannon

I loved this book. It gave me so much nostalgia for my childhood. Emma was born the same year as the World Wide Web so literally grew up alongside the internet. Whilst I’m a couple of years behind, I could identify with every experience she spoke about. I grew strangely wistful thinking of the days of MSN and Myspace and was cracking up at the dodgy webcam stories. One for hilarity and nostalgia and, although a book about growing up with the internet, it will also make you consider the importance of logging off from it all.


If it's your kind of thing (and seeing as you're reading a book blog post, I'm guessing it is) the Royal Society of Literature is running a poll at the moment on the Nation's Favourite Second Novel. Go read more and cast your vote here

Happy reading x 

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