Nine New Memoirs to Step Into

By Carrie Mcbride, Blog Editor
March 30, 2021

Memoirs offer an opportunity to step into someone else's life momentarily, see things from a new perspective, and experience worlds you know nothing about. At the same time, a good memoir reminds us of our shared humanity as we recognize thoughts and feelings in others we thought were ours alone. A chef, an activist, an actress, a psychologist, a scrap metal collector, and much more—here are nine new memoirs, all published in the past few months, ready for you to get lost in.

Speak, Okinawa: A Memoir by Elizabeth Miki Brina

An American woman whose parents met in U.S.-occupied Okinawa, her mother a war bride, her father a Vietnam veteran, describes the complicated, embattled dynamics of her family and the feelings of shame and self-loathing that plagued her cultural heritage.

Featherhood: A Memoir of Two Fathers and a Magpie by Charlie Gilmour

Forging a bond with a clever magpie, a man struggling with the past and his own uncertainties as a parent discovers that the poet father who abandoned him as a baby had a jackdaw companion. 

Black Boy Out of Time: A Memoir by Hari Ziyad

A cultural critic, screenwriter, and editor in chief of RaceBaitr discusses gender, race, and the challenges of growing up Black and queer as one of nineteen children in a blended family in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Empathy Diaries: A Memoir by Sherry Turkel 

In this vivid and poignant narrative, Turkle ties together her coming-of-age and her pathbreaking research on technology, empathy, and ethics. Growing up in postwar Brooklyn, Turkle searched for clues to her identity in a house filled with mysteries. She mastered the codes that governed her secretive mother's life. She learned never to ask about her absent scientist father—and never to use his name, her name. Before empathy was a way to find connection, it was her strategy for survival.

American Daughter: A Memoir by Stephanie Thornton Plymale

The founder of the Heritage Home Foundation nonprofit documents her secret abuse-marked childhood in and out of foster care and what she discovered while investigating the story of her mother's own harrowing past.

I'm in Seattle, Where Are You? by Mortada Gzar, translated by William Hutchins

In his deeply affecting memoir, Mortada interweaves tales of his childhood work as a scrap-metal collector in a war zone and the indignities faced by openly gay artists in Iraq with his impossible love story and journey to the US. Marginalized by his own society, he is surprised to discover the racism he finds in a new one.

Just As I Am: A Memoir by Cicely Tyson

The Academy, Tony, and three-time Emmy Award-winning actor and trailblazer tells her stunning story, looking back at her six-decade career and life.

Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaoud

An Emmy Award-winning writer and activist describes the harrowing years she spent in early adulthood fighting leukemia and how she learned to live again while forging connections with other survivors of profound illness and suffering

Finding Freedom:  A Cook's Story: Remaking a Life from Scratch by Erin French

The award-winning chef from The Lost Kitchen in Maine shares the story of how she overcame severe anxiety, addiction and the challenges of single parenthood to become the proprietor of a world-class restaurant.

Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Summaries provided via NYPL’s catalog, which draws from multiple sources. Click through to each book’s title for more.