7 Inspiring Biographies & Memoirs You Need to Read This Summer

Image: @joaosilas 

Summer and great books just belong together. Relaxing with a good book is one of my favorite things to do in summer when it’s pretty much too hot to do anything else.

When I was younger, I was all about the fiction books. I love a good story. One of my favorites was the Alice McKinley series. I would just re-read those books over and over.

You know you’re a nerd when you have “comfort books”, right?

One summer changed it all though. At about 18, I decided to be wild and venture out of the young adult fiction section of the library (gasp!). I picked up a few biographies, thinking that I should finally leave the teeny-bopper young adult fiction now that I was officially a “grown up”.

That summer, I read biography after biography. Sometimes multiple per week! I was in love with the inspiration and interesting story of people’s lives biographies have to offer. The fact the stories I was reading were true was just so amazing to me.

Biographies and memoirs give you the chance to see the world from a different point of view. They help give you perspective and understand that all people face challenges.

While I still love the Alice McKinley series, now my first choice is a great biography or memoir. Here are a few of my favorites.

An Uncomplicated Life: A Father’s Memoir of His Exceptional Daughter

By Paul Daugherty

Paul Daugherty, a sports writer, gives vivid insight to what it is like to raise a daughter with Down Syndrome in his memoir, An Uncomplicated Life. From the beginning, his daughter Jillian seems to jump right off the page. His stories of her are told with such detail you feel as if you are there.

Throughout the book, you get a taste of the joy and sometimes heartbreak of raising a child with Down Syndrome.

I love this book for it’s wonderful storytelling quality, adorably hilarious stories of young Jillian, and its ability to expand my love for those who are different from me.

Pound for Pound: A Story of One Woman’s Recovery and the Shelter Dogs Who Loved Her Back to Life

by Shannon Kopp

Reading this book made me so amazed and proud to have Shannon Kopp as a contributor to Recovery Warriors! Her writing is phenomenal.

Shannon tells of the devastating story of her father’s alcoholism, the development of her eating disorder, and the animals who love her through it all. Her writing will make you feel as if you are right there with her in it all. I admire her ability to not sugar coat her struggle. Her writing is heartbreaking, relatable, and yet full of hope.

Still LoLo: A Spinning Propeller, a Horrific Accident, and a Family’s Journey of Hope

By Lauren Scruggs

Everything changes in an instant for Lauren Scruggs on Christmas Eve of 2011 when she was hit by a spinning helicopter propellor. The accident left her with brain damage and caused her to lose both her left eye and left hand.

However, Lauren’s story goes deeper than just relaying the accident, her recovery, and how that changed her life. It’s also about her emotional recovery, having her ideas of beauty and worth challenged, her family, and her faith.

What makes this memoir extra interesting is the fact that you get to read different perspectives from different family members.

This makes the book very unique and gives you the ability to gain insight from different points of view.

Dancing Through It: My Journey in the Ballet

By Jennifer Ringer

As a dancer, I am especially fond of this book. However, I’m sure dancers and non dancers alike will be able to relate to Jennifer’s story.

In her book, she recounts her young days in a ballet studio and her rise into the ranks of the New York City Ballet. And as a fellow recovery warrior, Jennifer knows the pain an eating disorder can bring.

She endured a dance critic describing her as having eaten “one too many sugar plums” and being asked to leave the company due to her weight.

Jennifer tells her journey to health, how her faith helped her heal, and her love for dance in a beautiful prose. I give Jennifer a big thank you for delving into the much needed discussion of body image in the ballet world.

Sick Girl

by Amy Stevenson

In her 20’s, Amy’s life was headed to great places. A successful law student with a devoted boyfriend, everything seemed to be going well. This all changes when one night out at dinner when she feels a terrible feeling that something is very, very wrong with her.

Amy tells the story of many misdiagnosis, a heart transplant, and the aftermath of it all with raw honesty about what it’s truly like to live as a “sick girl”. I remember literally not being able to put this book down for days. You’ll love her ability to speak her true feelings.

If you read it and love it like I did, she recently wrote a second memoir called, My Glory Was I Had Such Friends, which is on my reading list for this summer.

Life Without Limits: Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life

By Nick Vujicic

Nick Vujicic has a rare condition that caused him to be born without arms or legs. He spent most of his childhood and adolescent years struggling with this while also dealing with bullying and depression.

For the longest, loneliest time, I wondered if there was anyone on earth like me, and whether there was any purpose to my life other than pain and humiliation

In the midst of this, he found his purpose. To inspire people to live a life without limits, share his faith, and encourage those around him to help others. His story is full of real emotion, hurt, hardship, and finding what your true purpose.

Heaven Is Here: An Incredible Story of Hope, Triumph, and Everyday Joy

by Stephanie Nielson

One minute Stephanie Nielson was happily enjoying a short plane ride thinking about that night’s dinner. An instant later, she found herself in a life-or-death situation when the plane crashes and results in a massive fire.

After surviving that terrible plan crash and having over 80 percent of her body burned, Stephanie tells the story of her amazing healing. Her positive outlook, humor, and wisdom on what it means to be truly beautiful truly shine in this book. 

What about you? Tell us what’s on your summer reading list in the comments below.

1 Comment

  • Kadi says:

    “Girl in Pieces” by Kathleen Glasgow. A story (fiction, but inspired by the author’s life experiences)-that speaks to multiple issues coming from chaotic family life, abuse, neglect, self harm, homelessness, substance abuse, among others. What impressed me most about this book is that through every struggle, mistake, slip, and questionable judgement call, this is a powerful story of healing, learning what health and self care are in the real world, and the necessity and joy of community. It’s a rare book or tv show that spends much more more time on and adds perspective and attention to healing and growth than on the crisis that led the protagonist to it. This story does so beautifully! And in pointing this girl’s path to a better life, it shows that health and healing are not a one-size-fits-all “to-do list”. The paths to recovery are as varied as we are!

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