Every year thousands of our readers vote for their favorite books of the year in the She Reads Best of 2021 Awards. Find out more about the books that were nominated and see which book was voted the Best Memoir of 2021.
The winner of the Best Memoir of 2021 is . . .
Just As I Am by Cicely Tyson
Long-time actress Cicely Tyson gives her thoughts and dreams a voice in this enriching memoir, offering a preset into her life as a church girl, a curious teenager, and her life on stage. This memoir details a lifetime of truth and discovery and what it takes to find the purpose in one’s life.
The nominees for Best Memoir of 2021 are:
Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang
This must-read memoir of seven-year-old Qian, who arrives in New York City in 1994 and is confused by fear, is heartbreakingly courageous. Surviving means staying invisible, but staying invisible in the face of coming of age in a “beautiful country” is harder than it seems. The number-one rule in America still stands: to be noticed is to risk losing everything.
Between Two Kingdoms by Jaouad Suleika
From diagnosis to remission, to re-entry to the “normal” world, Suleika Jaouad gives us an inside look into the reality and strength of surviving. On a 100-day, 15,000-mile road trip across the country, she looks back on the years that didn’t promise her a present-day and gives insight to the people and mind that stuck with her through her whole journey.
Blow Your House Down by Gina Frangello
When Frangello’s secrets are finally revealed to the world, she must learn the truth of desire, forgiveness and responsibility. A tale of power and empowerment and the pain of caged women in traditional narratives of self-sacrifice and erasure.
Flesh & Blood by N. West Moss
This is a powerful memoir about heartache and healing when it comes to infertility and loss, and a conversation that isn’t had enough and advice that deals illness, relapse and recovery. In Flesh & Blood, discover a story of kin and kinship and the ideas of legacy from generations of women.
Fox and I by Catherine Raven
Catherine Raven has only had one reoccurring visitor at her tiny cottage on an isolated plot of land in Montana. A fox, every day at 4:15 pm. So she read to him, and in her everyday encounter, she realized that we are never really alone. Especially when we’re surrounded by nature, the very Earth itself. In this book, Catherine is giving us the secrets she learned.
Home Made by Liz Hauck
An observed story about the ways we behave when we are hungry and the conversations that happen at the intersections of flavor and memory, vulnerability and strength, grief and connection. And through all of it, the author shares their truth about boyhood and inequality.
Nowhere Girl by Cheryl Diamond
Growing up, Diamond believed her life was one adventure after another, but she technically never existed in the places she had been. One day, love and trust turned to fear and violence, and her family who were the only people she had in the world began to unravel. She had to escape and unlearn everything she had ever been taught. This is the life and memory of a fugitive childhood.
Punch Me Up to the Gods by Brian Broome
Brian Broome shares the story of his life in his memoir; a life that reflects on his childhood as a dark-skinned Black boy who finds himself crushing on other boys. The book takes off from there, and we watch the ways Broome’s understandings of himself have an impact on his relationships with those closest to him. We watch as he grapples with addiction, abuse and ultimately finding his way. Broome is reflective and vulnerable and in doing so, creates sentences that beg to be read.
Seeing Ghosts by Kat Chow
After her mother’s death, Kat Chow sets out on a journey to understand the legacy of her family, her late mother, and herself. It is through grief and writing that she is able to both preserve and exorcise the loss and overwhelming fear that follows death. Chow’s memoir takes the reader on a journey from China and Hong Kong to Cuba and America. She reclaims her family’s history—and her own—through this masterpiece of experience.
Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford
This must-read memoir of a Black girl growing up in Indiana is one of the most deeply layered memoirs we’ve read in a very long time. It touches on Ashley C. Ford’s complicated and sometimes emotionally unstable relationship with her mother while reflecting on a childhood without her father, who was incarcerated. The writing feels so tender to Ashley C. Ford’s inner child. It is a reminder to allow childhood memories without questioning them or trying to pick them apart as an adult now.
Unbound by Tarana Burke
Powerful, empathetic, intelligent and courageous—if those words inspire you, then so will the story of Tarana Burke. She writes about her journey of healing and the life that empowered her to speak up and make a difference for those around her, and herself. Tarana not only changed the way of society but the way she viewed herself. This memoir might just be the self-help book that everyone needs.