Left to right--Tina, Shirley, Mary, Gloria

Last weekend three of my college friends and I met in the beautiful home of my friend Tina in Virginia. We first spied each other in September, 1966, when we played hookey from college orientation sessions and walked to the local pizza shop instead. We have remained in each other’s lives ever since.

Tina is a reading specialist, guidance counselor, and librarian. She always wants us to bring book suggestions when we meet. She asked for a great list of memoirs suitable for high school students. I shared the list Mary Karr suggested and picked out Black Like Me and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings for special commendation to that age group. 

It would be great to hear from you on this subject. What memoirs did you you read when you were young? Have any of them made a life-long impression on you? If you are a teacher or parent, which memoirs have elicited great conversation with young people?

Shirley Showalter


  1. shirleyhs on May 31, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Here's a suggestion from my Twitterfeed: @shirleyhs Memoir for high school students – Gerald Durrell, My Family and Other Animals, fabulous! From inkwellHQ, (Vanessa O' Loughlin) who writes, teaches, and blogs in Dubklin, Ireland. Just gotta love the web!Oh yes, and I wanted to relate this post to another one I wrote that reminded me of these three friends–a review of The Girls from Ames here:http://www.100memoirs.com/2009/07/the-girls-from-ames-a-group-biographycollective-memoir/

  2. shirleyhs on May 31, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    This comment was posted at another location in this blog and should be added here: 3558 5 hours ago Suggestions for High School Students:Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World, by Rita Golden GelmanNothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone, by Mary Morris

  3. Andrea on June 7, 2010 at 2:26 am

    I still love Lauren F. Winner's memoir Girl Meets God.

  4. shirleyhs on July 6, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    This link will take you to a short, cute, video on YouTube of a high school class in Boston that is studying, and writing, memoir. They are asking Mary Karr to visit their class, which they have dubbed “The Liar's Club.”

  5. shirleyhs on May 25, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Here’s a great list for students–30 short summaries–from Carol Brown.


  6. Samantha Hartkemeyer on October 23, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Yay for Iowa! I would recommend Annie Dillard. If you are looking for a short piece you could do her essay, “Transfiguration” (Moth Essay). I am a student at UNI and an upcoming teacher and I am glad that this exist. Thank You!

  7. shirleyhs on October 23, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Oh yes, Annie Dillard is great. I had my college students read many of her books. Never tried her in high school. And I’ve not read “Transfiguration,” so you gave me a gift today. Thank you so much for adding your voice to http://www.100memoirs.com. Come back often!

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