The best memoirs to read this fall
Our picks for the top titles from this season's real-life lit lineup.
This fall is chock-full of fiction — there are follow-ups coming from boldface names like Sally Rooney and Jonathan Franzen — but don't sleep on the nonfiction of the season. We combed through the true stories to pick out our favorite first-person works, and below are our four must-reads (and yes, there's even a boldface name in the mix).
Seeing Ghosts, by Kat Chow
Fans of Michelle Zauner's Crying in H Mart, the spring's biggest memoir, will instantly recognize the themes at play in Ghosts; others won't be far behind in connecting to Kat Chow's story. The journalist, a founding member of NPR's Code Switch team, recounts the fear of death that haunted her childhood and the agony that descended when her mother passed away ,unexpectedly, of cancer. As she explores the way the death changed her path, she manages to turn her tragic loss into the reader's gain. (Aug. 24)
Three Girls From Bronzeville, by Dawn Turner
The Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, on the city's South Side, was shaped by the Great Migration: Hundreds of thousands of Black Americans moved north in an attempt to escape the devastation of Jim Crow laws. The titular girls here are the third generation of the movement. Author Dawn Turner explores her childhood with sister Kim and best friend Debra, who begin their lives in Bronzeville with similar hopes and dreams for their future but whose lives take on shockingly different dimensions. (Sept. 7)
Beautiful Country, by Qian Julie Wang
Made all the more poignant in the wake of anti-Asian sentiment that's swept the country the past year, Qian Julie Wang's memoir — which she wrote on the subway while commuting to her job as a lawyer — is one of an undocumented family living in poverty. Her parents were professors in China, but in America they toil in sweatshops while a young Qian hides out in the library, learning English through its collection of children's books. As her parents endure more institutional tragedies, Qian discovers her own version of America. (Sept. 7)
Misfits, by Michaela Coel
Less a memoir than a manifesto — or perhaps a rallying cry — this slim yet highly impactful book from the writer-director-actor behind 2020's firecracker hit series I May Destroy You builds on her celebrated 2018 MacTaggart lecture (part of the Edinburgh International Television Festival in Scotland). Michaela Coel, who aims to empower "misfits" (a group with which she self-identifies), reflects on everything from her London childhood to the trauma that lurks at the edge of her creative genius. (Sept. 7)