The following six memoirs and autobiographies are inspiring for different reasons. But all of these stories have one major thing in common. All of these stories are about people who overcome major obstacles to fight for what they want or what they believe is right. In those moments when you’re searching for hope, faith, or the strength to speak up for yourself, reach for one of these books.
I Am Malala is the story of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, in her own words. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, Malala was only 15 years old. She was on the bus, riding home from school, when she was shot in the head, point-blank. No one expected her to survive. But Malala didn't just recover. She became the voice of a movement, fighting for girls' rights to an education and peacefully protesting against terrorism.
In Miracles from Heaven: A Little Girl, Her Journey to Heaven, and Her Amazing Story of Healing, author Christy Wilson Beam tells the story of her sickly young daughter's miraculous recovery. Christy's daughter Annabel was diagnosed with a rare and incurable digestive disorder that had her in and out of hospitals for most of her childhood and prevented her from having a normal life. But everything changed one day when Annabel was playing outside with her sisters, fell three stories headfirst inside of a tree, and somehow survived the fall without a scratch. While Annabel was unconscious in the tree, she visited heaven, and when she awoke, she was somehow cured of her chronic ailment. Annabel's recovery defies science, but reinforces the significance of faith.
Author Lindy West is a columnist for The Guardian and a contributor to This American Life. In her memoir Shrill, West reflects on what it's like being a woman growing up in a culture that expects women to be small, compliant, and quiet. From a very early age, West understood that she was none of those things. Lindy West looks back at her childhood, when she used to try to hide her big body and her opinionated personality in the hopes of being accepted. And she looks at how she eventually began to change her outlook on herself and the way people saw her. Now, Lindy West is an activist who champions feminism, social justice, and positive body images for people of all sizes. This is her insightful and often humorous journey of how she became the woman she is today and stopped listening to what the world told her she was supposed to be.
The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober — Catherine Gray’s The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober is a personal memoir about her struggles and victories with alcoholism. But this book is unique in that Gray also looks beyond her own experiences to examine how society pushes drinking. Gray talks to neuroscientists and psychologists about the reasons behind our drinking habits and what drinking does to our brains and bodies. Through Gray’s own personal journey toward sobriety and her thorough and thought-provoking research, this book will provide you with the tools and motivation to ditch drinking.
Written by the legendary American civil rights hero himself, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr. tells the story of King's life growing up the son of a preacher, becoming a minister, fighting for civil rights, and working with other leading political and social figures. This autobiography covers his accomplishments in leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott, helping found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and leading the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. In 1964, King received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end segregation and racial discrimination using non-violent methods. This book is a must-read for anyone who supports King's work and his legacy.
Stronger is a memoir by Jeff Bauman, written with the help of Bret Witter. This book tells the story of Bauman's experiences at the 2013 Boston Marathon. The first bomb went off as Jeff waited at the finish line for his girlfriend to finish the race. Days later, after several hours of surgery, Jeff woke up to discover he no longer had legs. This is Jeff's inspiring story of recovery after he experienced a terrible act of terrorism firsthand. In his fight to live his life and walk again, Jeff hopes to show the terrorists who attacked the Boston Marathon that they accomplished nothing.
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