8 Memoirs by Women of Color for Your TBR List

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memoirs by women of color
Graphics by: Kathie Baptista

While I love to read a good romance novel or fantasy series, I also have a deep love and appreciation for memoirs. There’s something special about reading a book with a person’s actual lived experience that keeps me up well past my bedtime.

As a Woman of Color, I’ve been so used to reading books by white authors and about white characters that I felt like I was missing out on something. It wasn’t until I picked up a book written by a WOC author that it clicked.

Reading books by mostly white authors made me unable to connect with those who had similar experiences, and by starting to read books by authors of color, I was able to feel more seen. This reminded me that although I talk a lot about racial mirrors for children, I also need to diversify my own reading list for the year, just like I’d been doing for my kids’ bookshelf. 

Here are a few of the memoirs by Women of Color I’ve either read or are at the top of my to-be-read pile.

Georgina Lawton

Raceless

The moment I heard about Raceless, I bought it. As a Woman of Color who was also raised in a predominantly white family that hid my origins, I have craved reading about people with experiences like mine. I know a lot of biracial people and even transracial adoptees can relate to the author's life, and others can learn from her experiences.

Michelle Zauner

Crying in H Mart

This memoir is a beautiful masterpiece that seamlessly weaves stories of terminal illness and culture together and keeps the reader wanting more. I could relate to Michelle Zauner's struggles of rediscovering her identity and the impact that losing a loved one has on your life. This is definitely a must-read that is also a New York Times Bestseller.

Tiffany Haddish

The Last Black Unicorn

Tiffany Haddish is one of my favorite comedians, so I was very excited to find out that she had a memoir. I was surprised at the effortless way she weaved heavy subjects but still kept her humor throughout.

Cupcake Brown

A Piece of Cake

Cupcake Brown has had a very unconventional life, which she talks about frankly in her writing. As the book's synopsis describes, Cupcake Brown survived the death of a parent, childhood abuse, rape, drug addiction, miscarriage, alcoholism, hustling, gangbanging, near-death injuries, drug dealing, prostitution, and homelessness—all before she turned 20. But then things got interesting.

With a teaser like that, I can 100 percent see why this one is a New York Times Bestseller.

Anna Qu

Made in China

Coming from an immigrant family, I immediately added this book to my to-be-read list. Although I did not experience forced labor in my family like Anna Qu did, this book brings to light some common themes that people, especially BIPOC, face once they immigrate to the United States that need to be talked about more. Made in China does it seamlessly.

Danielle Henderson

The Ugly Cry

Danielle Henderson was abandoned by her mother and raised by her grandparents. Growing up Black under the loving (and foul-mouthed) care of her grandmother in a mostly white neighborhood, Henderson tells a moving story about love with humor and wisdom.

Christa Couture

How to Lose Everything

In the mood for a good cry? Pick up this moving memoir about grief.

Christa Couture tells a breathtaking story about losing her leg from bone cancer, having a heart transplant, and experiencing the death of a child—and how she moves forward, loss after loss.

Ly Tran

House of Sticks

Obsessed with coming-of-age stories, I was drawn to Tran’s memoir about her journey from Vietnam to Queens, New York. Knowing the struggles of my own immigrant family, I found it was heartwarming to read about others with similar experiences.

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