The Memoir bookstore features personal stories of African Americans. Books are listed in alphabetical order by title. Click the title to read more about each book. Are we missing your favorite book? Click here to send us your recommendations.
- Believing in Magic: My Story of Love, Overcoming Adversity and Keeping the Faith
- Climbing Higher
- Everybody’s Got Something
- Foxy: My Life in Three Acts
- I’m Still Standing: From Captive U.S. Soldier to Free Citizen--My Journey Home
- Lonnie Fresh: The Lionell Dixon Story “Out of the Shadows”
- Love Brought Me Back: A Journey of Loss and Gain
- Redefining Diva: Life Lessons from the Original Dreamgirl
- Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide: A Memoir
- This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare
- True You
- We’re Going to Need More Wine
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.
Believing in Magic: My Story of Love, Overcoming Adversity and Keeping the Faith
by Cookie Johnson and Denene Millner
In her new memoir, Cookie Johnson, wife of NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, shares details of her marriage, motherhood, faith, and how an HIV diagnosis twenty-five years ago changed the course of their lives forever.
On November 7, 1991, basketball icon Earvin “Magic” Johnson stunned the world with the news that he was HIV-positive. For the millions who watched, his announcement became a pivotal moment not only for the nation, but his family and wife. Twenty-five years later, Cookie Johnson shares her story and the emotional journey that started on that day—from life as a pregnant and joyous newlywed to one filled with the fear that her husband would die, she and her baby would be infected with the virus, and their family would be shunned. Believing in Magic is the story of her marriage to Earvin nearly four decades of loving each other, losing their way, and eventually finding a path they never imagined.
November 7, 2016 will mark a quarter-century since the announcement and Cookie’s survival and triumph as a wife, mother, and God-fearing woman.
by Montel Williams and Lawrence Grobel
In 1999, after almost twenty years of symptoms, Montel Williams, a decorated naval officer and Emmy Award-winning talk show host, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He was struck with denial, fear, depression, and anger, and now he’s battling back. Graced with strong values, courage, and hard-won wisdom, he shares his insights in this powerful book on the divergent roads a life can take, and recounts how he rose to meet the challenges he’s faced. Surprising, searing, and deeply personal, Climbing Higher is as honest and inspiring as its author.
Everybody’s Got Something
by Robin Roberts and Veronica Chambers
So begins beloved Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts’s new memoir in which she recounts the incredible journey that’s been her life so far, and the lessons she’s learned along the way. With grace, heart, and humor, she writes about overcoming breast cancer only to learn five years later that she will need a bone marrow transplant to combat a rare blood disorder, the grief and heartbreak she suffered when her mother passed away, her triumphant return to GMA after her medical leave, and the tremendous support and love of her family and friends that saw her through her difficult times.
Following her mother’s advice to “make your mess your message,” Robin taught a nation of viewers that while it is true that we’ve all got something -- a medical crisis to face, aging parents to care for, heartbreak in all its many forms --- we’ve also all got something to give: hope, encouragement, a life-saving transplant or a spirit-saving embrace. As Robin has learned, and what readers of her remarkable story will come to believe as well, it’s all about faith, family and friends. And finding out that you are stronger, much stronger, than you think.
Foxy: My Life in Three Acts
by Pam Grier and Andrea Cagan
Some may know her as hot, gutsy, gun-totin’ Foxy Brown, Friday Foster, Coffy, and Jackie Brown. Others may know her from her role as Kit Porter on The L Word. But that only defines one part of the legend that is Pam Grier.
Foxy is Pam’s testimony of her life, past and present. In it, she reveals her relationships with Richard Pryor, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Freddie Prinze Sr., among others. She unveils her experiences as a backup singer and a blaxploitation star. In particularly candid and shocking chapters, she shares-for the first time-her view of those films and the persecution that blacks, especially women, needed to endure to make a name for themselves . . . including how it felt to be labeled one of the most beautiful women alive, yet not be permitted to try on clothes in a department store because of the color of her skin. And in words sure to inspire many, she tells the story of her ongoing battle with cancer.
From her disappointments to her triumphs, nothing is held back. With Foxy, Pam wishes to impart life lessons to her readers-and hopes to touch their hearts.
I’m Still Standing: From Captive U.S. Soldier to Free Citizen--My Journey Home
by Shoshana Johnson
Shoshana holds nothing back in this harrowing account of an ordinary woman caught in extraordinary circumstances. She reveals decisions made by chain of command that may have led to her twenty-two-day imprisonment, describes the pain of post-traumatic stress disorder, and shares the surprising story of how a specialist in a maintenance company ended up on the front lines of war. Told with exceptional bravery and candor, I’m Still Standing is at once a provocative look at the politics of war and the unforgettable story of a single mom and soldier who became an American hero.
Lonnie Fresh: The Lionell Dixon Story “Out of the Shadows”
by Lionell Dixon
The story of Lonnie Fresh accentuates the sheer courage to soar above the pain of his childhood, being abandoned by his father in the rain, gaining 350 lbs, suffered with bulimia and homeless while trying to get an education. His heroic path will inspire readers to look for the silver lining in every storm and never settle for less than you’re worth. Lonnie loses half of his body weight and enter numerous championship body building competitions after weighing in at 150 lbs. His amazing journey is hysterical, but real. A must read for any teenager in crisis.
Love Brought Me Back: A Journey of Loss and Gain
by Natalie Cole and David Ritz
In this luminous memoir, legendary singer and actress Natalie Cole tells a remarkeable story of life-threatening illness and recover, and the story of a death that brought new life.
In 2009 Natalie Cole was on dialysis, her kidneys failing. Without a kidney transplant, her future was uncertain. Throughout Natalie’s illness one of her biggest supporters was her beloved sister Cooke. But then Cooke herself became ill, with cancer. Astonishingly, as Cooke lay dying in a hospital, Natalie received a call that a kidney was available, but the surgery had to be performed immediately. Natalie couldn’t leave her sister’s side--but neither could she refuse the kidney that would save her own life.
This is a story of sisters, Natalie and Cooke, but also of the sisters who made the transplant possible, Patty and Jessica. It was Jessica’s death that gave new life to Natalie, even as Natalie experienced the devastating loss of Cooke. Patty, too, suffered her own terrible loss, but when she met Natalie, she found that her sister’s spirit still lived. Through the gift of life, Natalie and Patty became sisters in spirit.
Love Brought Me Back "is a story of loss and recovery, sorrow and joy, success and despair--and, finally, success again. It will touch you as few memoirs ever have.
Tina Turner—the long-reigning queen of rock & roll and living legend—sets the record straight about her illustrious career and complicated personal life in this eye-opening and compelling memoir.
From her early years in Nutbush, Tennessee to her rise to fame alongside Ike Turner to her phenomenal success in the 1980s and beyond, Tina candidly examines her personal history, from her darkest hours to her happiest moments and everything in between.
My Love Story is an explosive and inspiring story of a woman who dared to break any barriers put in her way. Emphatically showcasing Tina’s signature blend of strength, energy, heart, and soul, this is a gorgeously wrought memoir as enthralling and moving as any of her greatest hits.
Redefining Diva: Life Lessons from the Original Dreamgirl
by Sheryl Lee Ralph
Secrets about love, life, and Hollywood from the Tony Award-winning actress from the Broadway production of Dreamgirls in celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of the original Broadway show.
Sheryl Lee Ralph’s superstar performance as the original Deena in Broadway’s groundbreaking musical Dreamgirls didn’t happen overnight. First came a grueling Hollywood apprenticeship, where roles for young black women at the time were often offensive and demeaning. Sheryl Lee, however, held stubbornly to the values of her mother and grandmother: she wouldn’t take any part she couldn’t be proud of. Even after joining Dreamgirls—where she helped create a role that grew from her own life story—she would invest years of sweat and tears before the play finally opened to instant acclaim.
In these highly personal reflections, Sheryl Lee Ralph reveals her take on her supposed feuds with Diana Ross and Jennifer Holliday, on auditioning for Sidney Poitier, on why she exited so controversially from the TV series Moesha, and how she signed away her rights to Dreamgirls for a dollar. She uses her life story to illustrate her vision: black, white, or any other color of the rainbow, a true Diva is a person of strength, character, and a beauty that radiates from within. Not just a memoir, Redefining Diva will inspire every woman (and man) who reads it to examine the potential in their own life.
Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide: A Memoir
by Darryl “DMC” McDaniels and Darrell Dawsey
In this surprising and moving memoir, the legendary rap star and cofounder of Run D.M.C. keeps it a hundred percent, speaking out about his battle with depression and overcoming suicidal thoughts—one of the most devastating yet little known health issues plaguing the black community today.
As one third of the legendary rap group Run D.M.C., Darryl “DMC” McDaniels—aka Legendary MC, The Devastating Mic Controller, and the King of Rock—had it all: talent, money, fame, prestige. While hitting #1 on the Billboard charts was exhilarating, the group’s success soon became overwhelming. A creative guy who enjoyed being at home alone or with his family, DMC turned to alcohol to numb himself, a retreat that became an addiction. For years, he went through the motions. But in 1997, when intoxication could no longer keep the pain at bay, he plunged into severe depression and became suicidal. He wasn’t alone. During the same period, suicide became the number three leading cause of death among black people—a health crisis that continues to this day.
In this riveting memoir, DMC speaks openly about his emotional and psychological struggles and the impact on his life, and addresses the many reasons that led him—and thousands of others—to consider suicide. Some of the factors include not being true to who you are, feelings of loneliness, isolation, and alienation, and a lack of understanding and support from friends and family when it’s needed most. He also provides essential information on resources for getting help. Revealing how even the most successful people can suffer from depression, DMC offers inspiration for everyone in pain—information and insight that he hopes can help save other lives.
This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare
by Gabourey Sidibe
In This Is Just My Face, Gabourey Sidibe—the “gives-zero-effs queen of Hollywood AND perceptive best friend in your head” (Lena Dunham)—paints her unconventional rise to fame with full-throttle honesty. Sidibe tells engrossing, inspiring stories about her Bed-Stuy/Harlem/Senegalese family life with a polygamous father and a gifted mother who supports her two children by singing in the subway, her first job as a phone sex “talker,” and her Oscar-nominated role in Lee Daniels’s Precious.
Sidibe’s memoir hits hard with self-knowing dispatches on friendship, celebrity, weight, haters, fashion, race, and depression (“Sidibe’s heartfelt exploration of insecurity . . . makes us love her” —O Magazine). Irreverent, hilarious, and untraditional, This Is Just My Face will resonate with anyone who has ever felt different, and with anyone who has ever felt inspired to make a dream come true.
True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself
by Janet Jackson
One of the greatest entertainers of our time candidly reveals her very personal sturggle with an issue so many of us face every day: self-esteem.
Janet Jackson emerged from the shadows of an already famous family to become one of the most beloved, recognizable, and influential performers in the world. But at what cost?
From the age of ten, when she made her acting debut on Good Times, Janet was told by Hollywood that she needed to slim down. Her well-meaning brothers, especially fun-loving Michael, teased her relentlessly until she began to believe that who she was wasn’t good enough. It was an idea that no amount of critical acclaim in television and film or, later, international platinum success in music could change.
Janet turned to food for comfort and escape. She developed a self-destructive pattern familiar to so many of us: fear and uncertainty led to bad feelings about herself and ultimately depression. The depression led to overeating. And her yo-yoing weight was painfully obvious in the bright lights of the entertainment world.
It has taken Janet most of her adult life to come to terms with who she is. But she has finally broken free of the attitudes that brought her down and has embraced realistic goals that help her eat better, exercise better, feel better, and ultimately be better.
This book is about meeting those challenges that face all of us. With candor and courage, Janet shares her painful journey to loving herself. She addresses the crazy rumors that have swirled around her for most of her life, shines an intimate light on her family, and pulls us behind the velvet rope into her unforgettable career. She also shares lessons she has learned through contact with friends and fans and reveals the fitness secrets she has learned from her trainer. Finally, her nutritionist, David Allen, unveils the wholesome, delicious recipes and lifestyle-changing tips that helped Janet get in shape—mind and spirit, heart and soul.
True You is a call to tune in to your own fundamental wisdom, to let go of the ugly comparisons, and to understand that who you are, the true you, is more than enough.
We’re Going to Need More Wine
by Gabrielle Union
In the spirit of Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, and Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, a powerful collection of essays about gender, sexuality, race, beauty, Hollywood, and what it means to be a modern woman.
One month before the release of the highly anticipated film The Birth of a Nation, actress Gabrielle Union shook the world with a vulnerable and impassioned editorial in which she urged our society to have compassion for victims of sexual violence. In the wake of rape allegations made against director and actor Nate Parker, Union—a forty-four-year-old actress who launched her career with roles in iconic ’90s movies—instantly became the insightful, outspoken actress that Hollywood has been desperately awaiting. With honesty and heartbreaking wisdom, she revealed her own trauma as a victim of sexual assault: “It is for you that I am speaking. This is real. We are real.”
In this moving collection of thought provoking essays infused with her unique wisdom and deep humor, Union uses that same fearlessness to tell astonishingly personal and true stories about power, color, gender, feminism, and fame. Union tackles a range of experiences, including bullying, beauty standards, and competition between women in Hollywood, growing up in white California suburbia and then spending summers with her black relatives in Nebraska, coping with crushes, puberty, and the divorce of her parents. Genuine and perceptive, Union bravely lays herself bare, uncovering a complex and courageous life of self-doubt and self-discovery with incredible poise and brutal honesty. Throughout, she compels us to be ethical and empathetic, and reminds us of the importance of confidence, self-awareness, and the power of sharing truth, laughter, and support.