Memoirs of Pittsburgh

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The environments of our childhood – the smells, tastes, family and friends, and familiar streets and buildings – indelibly influence the person we become. And those environments and events will look very different with the hindsight of years and knowledge.

In these memoirs, we as readers can immerse ourselves in the lives of real people who are looking back on the Pittsburgh of their past and revealing how these personal versions of our city have shaped and changed them.

This is by no means the definitive list of Pittsburgh memoirs – you can browse more in our catalog.

Check out our other Pittsburgh-centric lists for Poetry, Mysteries and Thrillers, Realistic fiction, Sci Fi and Fantasy, and Historical fiction.

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Growing Up With Clemente

In Pittsburgh’s South Side, postWorld War II, “Pete” Peterson grew up playing baseball and loving the Pirates—in particular, admiring Roberto Clemente. You can also check out this title as eBook on Hoopla.

Hoop Roots

A multilayered memoir of basketball, family, home, love, and race, John Edgar Wideman’s “Hoop Roots” brings “a touch of Proust to the blacktop” (Time) as it tells of the author’s love for a game he can no longer play. Beginning with the scruffy backlot playground he discovered in Pittsburgh some fifty years ago, Wideman works magical riffs that connect black music, language, culture, and sport. His voice modulates from nostalgic to outraged, from scholarly to streetwise, in describing the game that has sustained his passion throughout his life.

Olive Witch: A Memoir

Abeer Hoque is a Bangladeshi girl growing up in a small sunlit town, where the red clay earth, corporal punishment and running games are facts of life. At thirteen she moves with her family to suburban Pittsburgh and finds herself surrounded by clouded skies and high schoolers who speak in movie quotes and pop culture slang. Arresting and beautifully written, with poems and weather conditions framing each chapter, “Olive Witch” is an intimate memoir about taking the long way home. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby, as eAudio on OverDrive/Libby or as eAudio on Hoopla.


Through brightly colored art, Santoro recalls his Pittsburgh neighborhood and the story of his parents and brings these memories to bear on the present day.

The Room

As part of the Westinghouse Bulldogs football team, John M. Brewer, Jr. endured violence and injustice and he tells his story in this memoir.

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays

For Damon Young, existing while Black is an extreme sport. The act of possessing black skin while searching for space to breathe in America is enough to induce a ceaseless state of angst where questions such as “How should I react here, as a professional black person?” and “Will this white person’s potato salad kill me?” are forever relevant. “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker” chronicles Young’s efforts to survive while battling and making sense of the various neuroses his country has given him. You can also check out this title as eAudio on Hoopla, as eAudio on OverDrive/Libby or as eBook on OverDrive/Libby.