Hello, friends! Time to talk about some more books on my TBR! This is a series where I talk about a specific subset of books on my TBR. I’ve done a few posts of really long lists of books on my TBR, so for these posts I’m going to try to keep the list fairly small, provide the synopsis from Goodreads, and talk about where I found it and why I want to read it.
So, today’s topic is memoirs! I really enjoy memoirs, largely because I’m nosy and want to know about people’s lives. So here are some lesser-known memoirs on my TBR!
Unicorn: The Memoir of a Muslim Drag Queen by Amrou Al-Kadhi
From a god-fearing Muslim boy enraptured with their mother, to a vocal, queer drag queen estranged from their family, this is a heart-breaking and hilarious memoir about the author’s fight to be true to themself.
My name is Amrou Al-Kadhi – by day. By night, I am Glamrou, an empowered, fearless and acerbic drag queen who wears seven-inch heels and says the things that nobody else dares to.
Growing up in a strict Iraqi Muslim household, it didn’t take long for me to realise I was different. When I was ten years old, I announced to my family that I was in love with Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. The resultant fallout might best be described as something like the Iraqi version of Jerry Springer: The Opera. And that was just the beginning.
This is the story of how I got from there to here: about my teenage obsession with marine biology, and how fluid aquatic life helped me understand my non-binary gender identity; about my two-year scholarship at Eton college, during which I wondered if I could forge a new identity as a British aristocrat (spoiler alert: it didn’t work); about discovering the transformative powers of drag while at university (and how I very nearly lost my mind after I left); and about how, after years of rage towards it, I finally began to understand Islam in a new, queer way.
Most of all, this is a book about my mother. It’s the journey of how we lost and found each other, about forgiveness, understanding, hope – and the life-long search for belonging.
This memoir sounds fantastic. I’m super interested in people’s relationship with queerness and religion, and this book sounds like it gets into that a bit, which is very exciting.
Me, Myself, They: Life Beyond the Binary by Joshua M. Ferguson
Me, Myself, They: Life Beyond the Binary chronicles Luna M. Ferguson’s extraordinary story of transformation to become the celebrated non-binary filmmaker, writer, and advocate for trans rights they are today. Beginning with their birth and early childhood years of gender creativity, Ferguson recounts the complex and often challenging evolution of their identity, including traumatizing experiences with gender conversion therapy, bullying, depression, sexual assault, and violent physical assault. But Ferguson’s story is above all about survival, empathy, and self-acceptance. By combining their personal reflections on what it feels like to never truly fit into the prescribed roles of girl or boy, woman or man, with an informed analysis of the ongoing shifts in contemporary attitudes towards sex and gender, Ferguson calls for recognition and respect for all trans, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming people, and an inclusive understanding of the rich diversity of human identity. Through their honest and impassioned storytelling, we learn what it means to reclaim one’s identity and to live beyond the binary.
This memoir about a Canadian non-binary artist and performer sounds super interesting, and there’s an audiobook available at my library! I definitely need to read it soon.
In My Own Moccasins: A Memoir of Resilience by Helen Knott
Helen Knott, a highly accomplished Indigenous woman, seems to have it all. But in her memoir, she offers a different perspective. In My Own Moccasins is an unflinching account of addiction, intergenerational trauma, and the wounds brought on by sexual violence. It is also the story of sisterhood, the power of ceremony, the love of family, and the possibility of redemption.
With gripping moments of withdrawal, times of spiritual awareness, and historical insights going back to the signing of Treaty 8 by her great-great grandfather, Chief Bigfoot, her journey exposes the legacy of colonialism, while reclaiming her spirit.
I’m always trying to read more Indigenous authors, and this Indigenous memoir sounds great. There are also copies at my library!
Run, Hide, Repeat: A Memoir of a Fugitive Childhood by Pauline Dakin
Pauline Dakin spent her childhood on the run. Without warning, her mother twice uprooted her and her brother, moving thousands of miles away from family and friends. Disturbing events interrupt their outwardly normal life: break-ins, car thefts, even physical attacks on a family friend. Many years later, her mother finally revealed they’d been running from the Mafia and were receiving protection from a covert anti-organized crime task force.
But the truth was even more bizarre. Gradually, Dakin’s fears give way to suspicion. She puts her journalistic training to work and discovers that the Mafia threat was actually an elaborate web of lies. As she revisits her past, Dakin uncovers the human capacity for betrayal and deception, and the power of love to forgive.
Run, Hide, Repeat is a memoir of a childhood steeped in unexplained fear and menace. Gripping and suspenseful, it moves from Dakin’s uneasy acceptance of her family’s dire situation to bewildered anger. As compelling and twisted as a thriller, Run Hide Repeat is an unforgettable portrait of a family under threat, and the resilience of family bonds.
This sounds so incredibly interesting. I love organized crime, but I also love reading about how it impacts everyday people, or the family members of those involved. So I really want to read this soon.
Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
Kiese Laymon is a fearless writer. In his essays, personal stories combine with piercing intellect to reflect both on the state of American society and on his experiences with abuse, which conjure conflicted feelings of shame, joy, confusion and humiliation. Laymon invites us to consider the consequences of growing up in a nation wholly obsessed with progress yet wholly disinterested in the messy work of reckoning with where we’ve been.
In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence, to his suspension from college, to his trek to New York as a young college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing, and ultimately gambling. By attempting to name secrets and lies he and his mother spent a lifetime avoiding, Laymon asks himself, his mother, his nation, and us to confront the terrifying possibility that few in this nation actually know how to responsibly love, and even fewer want to live under the weight of actually becoming free.
I actually have this one on hold at the library, and am really excited to read it! I’ve heard really good things, so hopefully it’s great.
The Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir by Wayétu Moore
When Wayétu Moore turns five years old, her father and grandmother throw her a big birthday party at their home in Monrovia, Liberia, but all she can think about is how much she misses her mother, who is working and studying in faraway New York. Before she gets the reunion her father promised her, war breaks out in Liberia. The family is forced to flee their home on foot, walking and hiding for three weeks until they arrive in the village of Lai. Finally, a rebel soldier smuggles them across the border to Sierra Leone, reuniting the family and setting them off on yet another journey, this time to the United States.
Spanning this harrowing journey in Moore’s early childhood, her years adjusting to life in Texas as a black woman and an immigrant, and her eventual return to Liberia, The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a deeply moving story of the search for home in the midst of upheaval. Moore has a novelist’s eye for suspense and emotional depth, and this unforgettable memoir is full of imaginative, lyrical flights and lush prose. In capturing both the hazy magic and the stark realities of what is becoming an increasingly pervasive experience, Moore shines a light on the great political and personal forces that continue to affect many migrants around the world, and calls us all to acknowledge the tenacious power of love and family.
This sounds so interesting! I’ve read Moore’s novel and loved it and the writing, so I’m really excited to read this. Also, I love the title.
So there are some memoirs on my TBR! Have you read any of these? What were your thoughts? Do you have any recommendations? Let me know!
Also if you have any requests for things you’d like to see on my TBR, let me know!