I hate cold, nasty, icky winter just as much as anyone, but there is one big plus to the gross weather that plagues February through March: SO MUCH TIME TO READ. And in case you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of amazing books that came out in the past year. Even better, many of them are memoirs by incredible women who have equally incredible stories to share with the world. Everything from politics, to World War II, to training hawks, these women have some pretty tremendous experiences under their belt.
So, what could possibly be better than curling up and getting to know one (or ALL) of these ladies through their novels? Absolutely nothing. So go ahead and grab your mug of hot tea and your warm, fuzzy socks —you’ve got some crazy-good reading ahead of you.
The Lonely War by Nazila Fathi
Nazila Fathi may not be a household name, but she definitely should be! Her debut book is a memoir packed with interesting insights and historical details, all bound up in an empowering story about a fascinating woman. Fathi was ten when the Islamic Revolution ended Iran’s monarchy and put in place today’s ruling theocracy. Fathi and her family stayed in Iran, and rode the waves of change that have rocked the country ever since. Now living in exile, Fathi was The New York Times‘ only correspondent in Iran, a position that made her vulnerable to government forces when protests broke out in 2009. The Lonely War weaves together the story of her journalism career and a post-revolution Iran to create a complete picture of upheaval, progress, and oppression through the eyes of a local.
A Fifty-Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot
Part memoir, part love story, part history book, Miranda Richmond Mouillot’s novel was decades and miles in the making. Jumping across country borders and decades, you can’t help but get lost in the story of Mouillot’s search to understand her grandparent’s volatile estrangement as she finds her own place in the place they once hoped to call home. Mouillot was a child when she learned that her grandparents, estranged since the 1940s, owned an abandoned house in the south of France. Over the course of multiple years, Mouillot put together the story of how her grandparents fell in love, survived the Holocaust, yet parted on such horrible terms that they could not be in the same room. Mouillot is movingly open about her relationship with her lively grandmother and distant grandfather, and the difficulty she had balancing her relationships with them and her desire to learn more about their lives. She also shows how sometimes we find exactly what we need, even if it wasn’t what we were looking for in the first place.
H Is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald
Winner of the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize, Helen Macdonald’s memoir is a moving exploration of human emotion and connection. Following the sudden death of her father, Macdonald decided to train a goshawk, one of the most vicious birds of prey falconers can work with. As she bonds with Mabel the goshawk and overcomes her own trepidation, she grapples with her grief and comes to terms with the loss of her father. It’s a many layered story that pulls from her loss, her experience training hawks, and T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. But Macdonald’s lyrical writing weaves it all together in a way that draws the reader in and doesn’t let go. And by the end, you’ll wish you had a Mabel of your own!
Everything is Perfect When You’re A Liar by Kelly Oxford
Emotional memoirs are great and all, but it’s time to laugh. Kelly Oxford is one of the funniest people on Twitter, and her debut book is no less hilarious. Keep a pack of tissues with you, because you will laugh until you cry. Beginning with her awkward childhood in Alberta, Canada, Oxford shares her twisted path to Hollywood in a series of laugh-out-loud anecdotes. Whether she’s diving head first into the dog-eat-dog world of Canadian teen modeling, working as an assistant to an eccentric celeb or exploring David Copperfield’s personal magic museum while totally wasted, Oxford’s self-deprecating style and quick wit will win your heart and split your sides! She comes across as approachable and normal, just as neurotic and awkward as anyone else. And that’s the beauty of Oxford’s humor: She’s like a cool, dorky, awesome friend you could get into all kinds of wonderful trouble with!
The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
Amanda Palmer’s crowdsourcing practices may be controversial, but her memoir makes a strong case for opening up and asking for help when you need it. Palmer uses examples from her own life to illustrate the power of a tight knit community and the kindness of strangers, while also showing the vulnerability of living life in the public eye. She’s also very open about her own struggles with asking for help from loved ones, something that is never easy! Palmer has made a career of being vulnerable in front of fans, and encouraging them to become a community for each other. That ethos really comes through in this book; it’s less memoir and more heartfelt midnight conversation with a friend. Expect some tears, some laughs, and an overwhelming sense that people can be really awesome if you give them the chance to help.