Memoirs You Should Listen To

With a toddler at home and a hectic schedule, audio books have become a staple of my reading diet (especially when I can borrow them on the go, for free with my library card through Overdrive!). However, I have also found that not all audio books are created equal. A good print book does not necessarily translate well to audio format.

One genre that reliably tends to produce excellent audio books is memoirs. Audio versions of memoirs tend to be read by the author and I find this makes all the difference. The author knows exactly how the words were intended to sound, where to place the emphasis, when to pause, and what intonation to give to their own words. This insider knowledge almost always translates well to the finished audio book and ads a deeper level of intimacy between author and reader/listener.

My absolute favorite audio book of all time is Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates – when recommending this title, I always recommend the audio version over the print version. Coates reads his work as a beat poet, imbuing his words with sincerity and power. If you listen to only one item from this list, Between the World and Me should be the one.

Between the World and Me

A powerful “letter” of love from a father to his teenage son, and the similarities and differences in their experiences of growing up as black men in modern America. Coates shares his story and struggles of growing up in urban Baltimore and his path to becoming a writer and voice for the African-American community as a guiding lesson for his son. You can also check out this title as eBook on OverDrive/Libby or as eAudio on OverDrive/Libby.


Follow Tina Fey, of Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock fame, on a raucous journey from awkward kid to successful (and often still awkward) TV star and writer. This book is not only hilarious and heartfelt, but also excellently well written.

Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life

Master storyteller John Le Carré, author of such bestsellers as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Night Manager, has written his first memoir. From his career in British Intelligence during the Cold War through three decades as a writer, Le Carré chronicles his life, travels, and writing career with his usual wit and vividness.

Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living

Nick Offerman offers tips on how to be the best mustachioed, breakfast-food-loving, woodworking red-meat connoisseur you can be. Written in his trademarked witty and hilarious style, this memoir spans his upbringing “in the middle of a cornfield” to his success as an actor, best known for his iconic role as Ron Swanson on NBC’s Parks and Recreation.

Not My Father's Son: A Memoir

Alan Cumming’s memoir examines his childhood with a cold and distant father and allows us to accompany him on his journey of acceptance.  Throughout his struggles, Cumming’s charm and graciousness shine and ultimately carry him to peace.