Memoir is when people lead amazing lives and triumph through incredible adversity, then take the time to write it all down and share the small wisdoms they’ve learned. Survival, overcoming obstacles, finding strength within yourself, checking your biases, the silver lining of a diagnosis — there is so much to learn in others’ stories about their lives. Here are several inspiring lives to read about:
Relative Distance by David Pruitt
Relative Distance is a powerful and masculine memoir of resilience and faith, an unflinching look at brothers raised by a violent, abusive father and a detached, mentally ill mother. After surviving his tumultuous upbringing, David Pruitt rises to become a CEO in Corporate America, while his brother, Danny, becomes a homeless traveler. Yet, despite their differences, a common thread runs through the distinct trajectories of the brothers’ lives: each of them struggles with difficult psychological issues stemming from their troubled past. This deeply moving memoir examines the lifelong challenges that often come for those raised in an abusive home, along with the limitless possibilities we open ourselves to when we allow faith and determination to overcome judgment and fear.
Conversations Across America by Kari Loya
In Conversations Across America, Kari Loya chronicles the TransAmerica bike ride he and his dad, Merv, took to discover America, just in the nick of time. They had a long-standing dream to bike the TransAmerica Bike Trail, but it wasn’t until Kari’s dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s that they finally seized the day and went on the adventure of a lifetime. At 75 years old, Merv was one of the oldest people to bike the Trail. During the 73 day ride, Kari and his dad wrestled with the realities of his early-stage Alzheimer’s. But this time ultimately would become a gift of pride, laughter, and joy for his father’s final years. Chronicled in the book are 300 short, candid conversations with the people who approached them as they rode along. The book shares these conversations and captures the soul of rural America.
The Road Ahead and Miles Behind by Mike Liguori
After being on the brink of suicide induced by years of PTSD from fighting in Iraq with the Marines, a series of supernatural interventions saved Mike Liguori’s life. His military service and deployments to a war zone were not by accident. He had engaged and often ran away from his enemies long before and after the war within the shadow of his past. The Road Ahead and Miles Behind: A Story of Healing and Redemption Between Father and Son chronicles the story of a cross-country road trip taken during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic with one of the darkest shadows of his past, his relationship with his father. Full of inspiring moments and perspectives that demonstrate the healing power of hard conversations with those you love, it’s a story that will remind you it’s never too late to have something with your parents.
If You Only Knew by Emily Francis
Written with passion and a visceral commitment to her students, If You Only Knew: Letters from An Immigrant Teacher reflects the journey and experiences of Emily Francis, an immigrant and unaccompanied minor who travels from Guatemala to the USA to become a teacher. Once in the classroom, “Ms. Francis” learns about her students’ stories and journeys and begins to see her own life reflected in the lives of her students. She starts writing letters to her students in which her story is intertwined with theirs, offering a unique expression of empathy. Speaking to both young adults and their teachers, If You Only Knew delivers support, solace, and empathy for immigrant students whose stories are too often ignored.
Dear Radiant One by Phoebe Leona
Phoebe Leona takes us on her journey as she dances through the twists and turns of life. She guides us from the shadows of fear, anger, grief, shame and loneliness and asks us to step with her into the light of gratitude, trust, confidence, joy and love. Phoebe’s own childhood journey from trauma to radiant spiritual teacher, reminds us that we are all authors of our own stories, and we can rewrite them at any period of our lives. Through her letters in Dear Radiant One, Phoebe shares vulnerable and honest interaction with her own emotions that provide inspiration and access to our own internal landscape. She provides specific practices that are an open invitation to explore our vulnerability and honest experiences of our emotional bodies. Get ready to dance with your radiance.
Cover photo from Seven Shooter on Unsplash
A proud native-New Yorker, ErinNicole Conti completed her Masters Degree in Publishing: Digital and Print Media at New York University. When not obsessively reading, she catches up on science-fiction and dramedy shows with her adorable cat.