From a posthumous memoir to a rock icon’s first foray into autobiography, 2016 was nothing short of sensational for biography and memoir lovers. Whether you’re looking for that perfect last minute Christmas present or an enthralling read for your own holiday downtime, this year’s selection of non-fiction works is one of the most diverse in recent years. Keep reading to check out our list of the most exciting biographies and memoirs of 2016.
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Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen, Simon Schuster
Considering his everlasting star power, it came of little surprise that the release of Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography was a smash hit this year. Written over a seven year period with a co-writer, this 500-page book details the singer’s life, from childhood to Born in the USA to the Super Bowl halftime show and everything in between. The rock icon’s “tell it like it is” attitude and humble nature keeps Born To Run from stumbling into vanity project territory. Springsteen’s foray into non-fiction proves that the songwriter’s lyrical talents easily transfer over to the page.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, Random House
It’s said that only in the face of death do we truly reflect on life. This is true of Stanford neurosurgical resident Paul Kalanithi, who, upon being diagnosed with stage IV metastatic lung cancer at age 36, set out to write a memoir. Published posthumously this year, the book serves as a reflection on his own life, as well as the nature of human mortality. Told in a eloquent yet matter of fact tone, When Breath Becomes Air details one man’s tragic journey from a surgeon’s coat to a patient’s gown.
Stories I Tell Myself by Juan F. Thompson, Knopf
Part biography, part memoir, Stories I Tell Myself is a portrait of troubled journalist Hunter S. Thompson from the perspective of his son, Juan Thompson. The book is written as a chronological timeline of his father’s life in relation to his own, in which Thompson details their unique relationship up to the point of Thompson’s suicide. Known as the pioneer of “gonzo journalism,” Hunter S. Thompson was infamous for his wild persona and drug use. Despite this, Juan Thompson’s memoir offers a touching and thoughtful depiction of a writer who didn’t quite know how to tackle fatherhood.
The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between by Hisham Matar, Knopf
Libyan writer Hisham Matar is an accomplished novelist with two well-received fictional books under his belt. This time, however, the writer weaves himself into the narrative with this harrowing memoir about a son in search of his father (both literally and figuratively). In 1990, Matar’s father was kidnapped by the Egyptian secret police and has not been seen since. The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between details Matar’s return to his native Libya in an attempt to achieve a sense of closure regarding his father’s likely death.