These new memoirs are funny, insightful, and downright transporting—because some of the best stories are the ones that really happened. From a gripping account of an abducted woman’s blackest days, to Hollywood insider stories you’ll be recounting on your next coffee date (so what if they didn’t happen to you?), they offer a peek at fascinating lives that are sometimes recognizable, sometimes miles from our own.
Love Life, by Rob Lowe
Lowe’s charming, best-selling first memoir was full of stories of his rise to stardom, his years as a brat packer, and his recovery from the inevitable wages of fame. This follow-up finds him in a more contemplative frame of mind, adding extended musings on his life as a husband and father—and a searing account of a stint in rehab—to his addictive blend of dishy tell-all and good-natured reminiscence.
Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty, by Diane Keaton
Keaton, quirky style icon and staunch resistor of the Hollywood beauty machine (at 68, she’s never let a surgeon touch her face), writes on aging, romance, and the difficulties of blazing your own path as a woman, whether or not you’re in the public eye. Keaton’s warm, empowering second memoir (after 2012’s Then Again) is a perfect book club pick, even if the “club” is just you and your favorite funny friend.
You Must Remember This, by Robert Wagner
Actor Robert Wagner captures an era of Hollywood that pre-dates Lowe and Keaton, an age where men wore unironic cowboy boots and women had their cigarettes lit at the 21 Club. In this memoir covering the Golden Age of movies, he revisits the people and places that made Hollywood a backlit place of dreams, worth revisiting in the age of celebrity Twitter feeds and red-carpet selfies.
Exodus, by Deborah Feldman
In 2012’s Unorthodox, Feldman broke free of the strict Hasidic community she’d been raised in, and that had engineered the loveless marriage she could no longer abide. Exodus finds her foundering as an outcast, trading her native Brooklyn for the country, and searching for herself in a world where she’s only ever been identified by her community. This tale of self-actualization against all odds will make for an inspiring summer read.
New Life, No Instructions, by Gail Caldwell
In her third memoir Caldwell is picking up the pieces after losing a dog and a dear friend, the latter a victim of alcoholism. Her recovery includes taking home a new puppy, whose rambunctiousness ends up underscoring her own deteriorating hip, an aftereffect of childhood polio. Caldwell’s trying journey back toward health is animated with memories of her lost loved ones, in particular her parents, and her clear-eyed embrace of the solo life she’s created for herself, in sickness and in health.
Finding Me, by Michelle Knight
In 2002 Knight became the first kidnapping victim of Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man who kept her and two other women concealed in his home until their 2013 escape. Her account highlights the unimaginable misery not only of her “life” with Castro, but her life as a single mother, so estranged from her own family that after her disappearance she was eventually written off as a runaway. Despite its redemptive ending, her story’s horror will linger.
What’s your favorite memoir?