Reading Memoirs

August 14th, 2012


Honest and well-written memoirs are good to read when going through a hard time or processing big life events. Hearing someone else’s story can help us understand what we’re going through and feel less alone. Here are a few memoirs that I’ve read and recommend. They’re very different from each other, but each one affected me deeply.

My Pet Virus: The True Story of a Rebel Without a Cure
by Shawn Decker

Shawn was born with hemophilia and at age 11 was infected with HIV from tainted blood products. He faces an incredible amount of adversity, including being expelled from school, and manages to write about his situation with a lot of grace and humor. He chronicles his adventures in the dating world as a hetero, HIV positive man living in a rural town and how he finds meaningful work as a writer and speaker.

The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
by Elyn R. Saks

Elyn Saks offers an incredibly honest and detailed portrait of living with mental illness. After being diagnosed with schizophrenia, she continues her professional path through graduate school and law school, eventually becoming a professor of law with a specialization in mental health law. Along the way she struggles with taking medication, doing intensive psychotherapy, having psychotic episodes and creating a life worth living.

In Stitches
by Anthony Youn

At age seven, Anthony Youn tells his father that he may want to do something else with his life other than go into medicine. His father, a physician himself and an immigrant from Korea, says, “Doctor is the only thing. Every other job is no good for you. You have to make Daddy proud.” So Youn sets off on the grueling and expensive course of a becoming a doctor, finding a specialty, finding a love relationship, and perhaps most poignantly, finding his own unique voice within medicine.

image courtesy of Lola’s Room Photography

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