Discover the best audiobook memoirs of all time to binge listen to now and have the most immersive reading experience. These true stories are heard best in the author’s own words (and most often, their own voice too), and they will truly make you laugh, cry, and think, whether you are reading for a book club, for a road trip or commute, or otherwise.
While I very often binge audiobooks narrated by the author, the thought of compiling a list of the best audiobook memoirs worth listening to always felt daunting to me, as there are SO many great memoirs out there, that I felt I simply could not read them all, and I like to be really comprehensive in my posts.
But, requests for the best memoirs on Audible have been coming in more frequently from readers of The Literary Lifestyle, and I’m not surprised, as memoir audiobooks make for really immersive reading and experiences, and they can be truly hard to put down books (er, press pause on!).
And I realized, while I have not personally read the most comprehensive list of best memoir audiobooks, I have listened to A LOT of the best audio memoirs from some of the best audiobook services, and I have a unique perspective and insight as an avid reader and book blogger as to my own very personal best recommendations for you.
I made a list of all the popular memoirs I have read, then crossed off all the ones I didn’t read on audio, and then crossed off all the ones, no matter how good they were (and really most memoirs are good memoirs to read), that didn’t truly leave a lasting mark on me looking back on them now. Lastly, I polled my Instagram audience and, at the end of this post, I also offer you some reader favorites for the best audiobook memoirs for even further reading.
I truly believe these are some of the most enjoyable reading experiences, as well as some of the best books to improve your reading habits. With that in mind, below you will find all the top audiobook memoirs to which you should listen.
Best Audiobook Memoirs
Becoming by Michelle Obama
- #1 New York Times bestseller
- Oprah’s Book Club Pick
- NAACP Image Award Winner
- One of Essence’s 50 most impactful Black books of the past 50 years
Becoming is both one of the best selling memoirs and one of the best memoirs on Audible, read by the former First Lady herself. It’s her life story, in her words and voice, from the beginning through her time in the White House, and what makes it so great is her relatability.
She’s so accomplished, and she has experienced so many uncommon life experiences, yet she seems just like the rest of us in conveying her story.
Unlike many celebrity memoirs, it also has a very real, and not ghostwritten, feel. If you like Michelle Obama — from who she is to how she speaks and the content of her messages — you will very likely love this book. It gets consistently rave reviews from readers.
Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
- Celebrating over one year on the New York Times bestseller list
- A Best Book of 2021: Entertainment Weekly, Good Morning America, Wall Street Journal, and more
Crying in H Mart was one of the best memoir books in 2021 — one of those books everyone was reading and talking about. It’s the heartbreaking, yet unforgettable, grief memoir of the indie rockstar in the band Japanese Breakfast about her mother’s terminal cancer diagnosis and death, which formed her own identity as a Korean American adult.
It’s uniquely the story of a complex mother/daughter relationship — one more Korean and the other more American, and how the mother’s death forever changes the daughter.
While the author struggled growing up due to her mother’s high expectations of her and her status as one of the only Asian Americans at her school, when her mother was later diagnosed with cancer, she savored the time they had left together and found a new appreciation for the Korean culture her mother gave her.
This book is unflinching and raw in relaying what it’s really like to bear witness to daily life with a terminal cancer diagnosis, as well as the death of a parent. It’s an absolutely flawless portrait of both grief and self-reflection that leaves no stone uncovered and keeps the memory of the author’s mother alive in both rich anecdotes and life lessons.
Educated by Tara Westover
- Number one New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Boston Globe best seller
- Named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review
- One of President Barack Obama’s Favorite Books of the Year
- Bill Gates’s holiday reading list
- Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle’s Award in Autobiography
- Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize for Best First Book
- Finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award
- Finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize
- Named one of Paste’s Best Memoirs of the Decade
- Named one of the Best Books of the Year by: The Washington Post, O: The Oprah Magazine Time, NPR, Good Morning America, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian, The Economist, Financial Times, Newsday, New York Post, theSkimm, Refinery29, Bloomberg, Self, Real Simple, Town & Country, Bustle, Paste, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, LibraryReads, BookRiot, Pamela Paul, KQED, New York Public Library
Educated is one of the best Audible memoirs that earns this title based on shock value. To this date, it’s one of the few books I still think about all the time.
This non-fiction book is a memoir by a woman who was raised in the mountains of Idaho as a member of a survivalist Mormon family. Her mother was a midwife and natural healer, and her father ran a junkyard. In his free time, he was a religious fanatic preparing for surviving an apocalypse.
They didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals, and they barely conducted homeschooling. Tara didn’t even have a birth certificate. Tara’s version of events was that, more or less, she began educating herself as a teen, and she first stepped foot into a classroom as a college student at Brigham Young University. She later studied at Harvard.
As Tara grew up and left the confines of her home, she was torn between choosing her dysfunctional family and finding herself, which simply could not co-exist. It leaves you with so many questions, the biggest of which is, “What is an education?”
From Scratch by Tembi Locke
- New York Times bestseller
- Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club pick
- One of AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks of 2019
- Now a series on Netflix
From Scratch is one audiobook read by the author that left me teary-eyed and remains one of my favorite books of recent years. Tembi Locke is an actress, as well as an exquisite writer, who captures her emotions in a way that makes you empathize with her story of grief and resilience, particularly in the audio version.
Locke tells of her husband, Saro, whom she met while she was studying in Florence, Italy. Saro was a Sicilian chef whose family did not approve of him marrying a black American actress. After the couple moves to Los Angeles and adopts a baby girl, Saro is diagnosed with cancer and dies.
From Scratch chronicles the three Summers that Locke spends in Sicily, Italy, with her daughter, as they try to piece together their lives without Saro. Sicily is a place of comforting food, but it also becomes a place of forgiveness, growth, grief, healing, and strength.
The range of emotions encompassed in this memoir is best felt through the immersive experience of audio.
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
- #1 New York Times bestseller
- Winner, 2017 APA Audie Awards – Nonfiction
- Now a Netflix movie
Hillbilly Elegy was one of those audiobooks I simply could not stop reading and binged in record time.
Also one of the best books for men, it’s the memoir of a man who was raised in Ohio by an Appalachian family dealing with poverty and addiction, only to become a Yale-educated lawyer with the encouragement of his grandmother, who had been an uneducated teen mom.
I consider it to be both utterly shocking and truly educational, and it’s also conveyed with a sense of tough love.
I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
- #1 New York Times bestseller
- #1 International bestseller
I’m Glad My Mom Died was arguably the most talked about memoir of 2022, and for good reason. Not only does the title stop you in your tracks, but so does the content.
McCurdy is a former Nickelodeon child star with a lot to say about being raised by a stage mom, as well as the dark truths about being a child star, all of which contributed to eating disorders, addiction, and unhealthy relationships. And she’s incredibly courageous in telling her story and how she’s overcoming her challenges. It’s a jaw-dropper, best listened to by the narration of the star herself.
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
New York Times bestseller
If you listen to only one of the best celebrity memoir audiobooks make it Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. Why? Because no one, and I mean no one, writes, reads, and SPEAKS like him. There truly is only one way to consume this book, and it is in his singular, recognizable voice.
It’s a memoir about Bourdain’s early life in the kitchens of the restaurant business, particularly in New York City. He shares secrets and tips about the restaurant industry, and I felt like I was a secret agent hearing insider information for my ears only.
This audiobook truly keeps his memory alive.
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
- Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography
- Instant New York Times bestseller
Know My Name is one of the best memoirs of all time because it forces you to think differently and incites actual change.
It’s the heart-stopping memoir of the Stanford sexual assault victim, who gained notoriety when her victim impact statement at the sentencing of her assailant went viral. She speaks with analytical depth, the likes of which I haven’t read (heard) before.
She settles for nothing less than making you question everything you thought you knew about sexual assault and, without a doubt, made a tremendous impact in publicizing her story, best heard from Miller herself, as it reads both emotionally and like a perfectly constructed argument.
Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl
- Read with Jenna Bush Hager book club
- Named a “Best Book of the Year” by New Statesman, New York Public Library, Chicago Public Library, and Washington Independent Review of Books
- Southern Book Prize Finalist
- An O, the Oprah Magazine pick
- A Publishers Weekly “Pick of the Week”
- An Indie Next Selection
- An Indies Introduce Selection
- A 2019 Okra Pick
Late Migrations remains special in my heart as the book I discussed with Jenna on The Today Show! In this memoir, Renkl shares snippets of her life, including some larger moments and some smaller moments, primarily during her upbringing in Alabama in the 1960s.
Her prose encompasses short micro-essays that connect to major themes of nature, love, loss, the value of memories, and the meaning of life.
The rich language and poetic lyricism of these essays felt especially indulgent and beautiful on audio. They are soulful and they are bittersweet, exploring a complex range of universal emotions: love, joy, sadness, and darkness.
I can still recall them feeling so special in audio format.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
Instant New York Times bestseller
I have found the most memorable books to be those for which I can mentally and physically recall the actual experience of reading, and Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is one of those books.
In essence, it’s a (based on a true story) memoir of therapy about a therapist who seeks therapy after a breakup, and about the same therapist offering therapy to a handful of memorable patients in unique circumstances.
Since the subject of this must-read memoir includes the most private of topics, listening to it on audiobook is an especially emotional experience. As a listener, you essentially are sitting in on therapy sessions as these very real humans learn and grow. You will undoubtedly leave this book not just thinking about them, but also feeling for them.
Mean Baby by Selma Blair
New York Times bestseller
I picked up Mean Baby after repeatedly hearing good reviews about it — and they were right. It’s one of the best audiobooks read by the author, in my opinion, because Blair narrates a very intimate story very intimately.
Not just a tale of coming-of-age in Hollywood (though there’s lots of that too), it’s best remembered for Blair’s difficult relationship with her mother and the true stories behind her recent battle with MS.
Naturally, it’s very emotional, bringing Blair to tears on occasion. Her vulnerability did not go unnoticed; in fact, it made this book unforgettable.
The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey
Instant #1 New York Times bestseller
The Office BFFs is exactly what it sounds like: “Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There.” It’s both a behind-the-scenes window into the making of the beloved show (an all-time favorite of mine), as well as a memoir of friendship between the two stars who met on the set and remain besties to date.
But, the real reason this book makes my list of the best memoirs worth listening to is the way in which these talented actresses and real-life friends narrate it — like two of your closest pals chatting casually over coffee. They read it with inflection and excitement just as they speak in real life (I know since I listen to their podcast.)
I’ve never listened to an audiobook quite like this one and, as an added bonus, it comes with exclusive audio content from other cast members too.
Open Book by Jessica Simpson
#1 New York Times bestseller
Open Book is easily one of the best Audible memoirs by a celebrity, as well as a personal favorite. If fact, it’s one of the first books I thought of including in this list. In addition to coming with exclusive songs, the audiobook is narrated by Simpson like a very private, secret-revealing conversation between two friends. You truly can feel her heart in her narration.
She dives deep into her marriage and divorce to Nick Lachey, as well as so many other bombshells and topics, including addiction, sexual abuse, and speculation about her weight.
She is also very self-reflective and not afraid to talk about herself, which has made this book a fan favorite of readers worldwide. It’s the kind of book you will desperately want to talk about with someone.
Promise Me, Dad by Joe Biden
Instant #1 New York Times Bestseller
Promise Me, Dad is one of the most memorable memoirs read by the author for me because I can still clearly recall the experience of feeling the absolute exasperation in President Biden’s memorable voice when talking about the year in which his son, Beau, was diagnosed with and died from brain cancer (of the same type as Senator John McCain).
Although Biden held the title of Vice President of the United States at the time this story unfolded, he recounts it as any other American grappling with a devastating diagnosis of a dying family member — from treatment decisions to family planning, and trying to balance all that is life in the process.
Known for his trademark empathy, Biden’s memoir conveys the emotion you would expect from him in telling such a personal story.
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
#1 New York Times bestseller
Shoe Dog earns its rank on this list of the best audiobook memoirs because it’s my husband’s favorite audiobook. It’s also the ONE book I most often hear men say is their favorite, it’s popular with readers of The Literary Lifestyle, and it’s a book I enjoyed on audio as well.
As my husband says, it’s not just about the business of Nike, it’s also a genuinely good story. This makes it especially impactful on audio.
It shows the very long decades of ups and downs, unknowns, and sacrifices it takes to be a business owner. At times, the book was very emotional and contained unexpected, tragic events as well. So much happened over decades to potentially cause the Nike business to crumble that I had to ask myself, was Phil Knight (the author) totally crazy or absolutely genius for sticking with his dream?
I don’t think you can go wrong with this one.
Spare by Prince Harry
When I first heard that Prince Harry was publishing his memoir, Spare, I immediately pre-ordered it on audiobook. I knew it was bound to be both emotional and revealing, and I wanted to hear him let us in on royal life in a totally unprecedented way.
For whatever it’s worth, he also has a very lovely voice that’s simply pleasant to listen to, so I definitely recommend it on audio for all these reasons.
As you may expect, he walks you firsthand behind the scenes of a very public life, from his mother’s death to the present, and he gets very personal and real about not just himself but everything he deems wrong about the royals themselves and as an institution.
The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton
- Oprah’s Book Club pick
- New York Times bestseller
- Winner of the 2019 Moore Prize
- Finalist, Dayton Peace Prize, 2019
The Sun Does Shine has always been popular with readers of The Literary Lifestyle, and I recommend it on audio because of the connection it creates and the shock it conveys in (literally) hearing the firsthand story of a man falsely convicted of murder, who spent 30 years on Death Row before his release from prison.
In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Stunned, confused, and only 29 years old, Hinton knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed that the truth would prove his innocence and ultimately set him free.
This true story of injustice, hope, and redemption will undoubtedly leave a mark on you.
Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett is one of my favorite authors, as I think she just has a way to make even the most ordinary, everyday types of occurrences read like literature. It’s one thing when she does this in her fiction work, and a whole other treasure when she does it in her nonfiction writing.
Her friendship memoir Truth & Beauty is one of those books that I will never forget reading (and literally being unable to stop). It’s a very real and raw, yet beautiful, story of the often difficult friendship she had with another writer, Lucy Grealy, who was disfigured and also struggled with a number of other problems, including addiction.
She writes every “character,” herself included, with a multitude of complex layers, and offers life lessons from which everyone can learn by way of her unique relationship. And she narrates the audiobook herself in the same soft, yet profound, cadence of her writing.
Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
New York Times bestseller
The woman best known as Lorelai Gilmore shares a collection of personal essays in a voice that’s as fast and quirky as her beloved character. Gilmore Girls fans will rejoice as she reveals behind-the-scenes stories about the show and reflects on her life, particularly as a working actress.
This isn’t a “tell-all” but rather amusing ruminations as PG as Gilmore Girls. It’s a little bit Lauren, a little bit Lorelai, and a whole lot of fun, especially in her signature fast delivery on audio.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
- #1 New York Times bestseller
- Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
The memoir When Breath Becomes Air was, in fact, the first audiobook I ever listened to, and it remains not just one of my favorite non-fiction books of all time, but also one of the top memoirs of all time generally speaking.
The premise is simple, yet the content is deeply philosophical. A 36-year-old neurosurgeon diagnosed with terminal cancer questions the meaning of life in the face of his own mortality in ways that truly do take your breath away.
This is one book that will make you both think AND feel differently and with great depth, and it’s one of the few books I would call a must-read for all.
The Woman in Me by Britney Spears
The Woman in Me is pop star Britney Spears’s memoir revealing the impact that fame and generation trauma had on her life. She gets extremely candid about many topics, most notably her relationship with Justin Timberlake (who’s referenced nearly as much as her family), as well as her conservatorship and every other notorious moment of her very public life.
While she only narrates the beginning herself, I still found it to be well worth inclusion on this list. Actress Michelle Williams does an exquisite job narrating the remainder.
Is it worth it? 100%. Even if you already know the most shocking details she reveals, there’s definitely a lot more to the story, and reading it in full makes a lot of things “make sense” about her life.
Related Post: Discussion Questions for The Woman in Me
Since I have not personally read all of the best audiobook memoirs of all-time, I polled my audience to see if they had any favorites missing from my own list, and below are the three that came up most often:
Those are all the best audiobook memoirs to which you should listen.