Whilst some may opt for inspiration from self-help books, I turn to memoirs instead. Autobiographies make great reading for many reasons but I enjoy them because they are a combination of storytelling and non-fiction.
If you feel that you are in a space where you could do with some motivation or if you are facing some sort of challenge in life, you might want to consider reading a memoir.
There is much to gain from reading about success stories and even if you do not relate to the person’s situation, you will still be able to relate to their feelings of joy, sadness, loss, despair, hope, fear, satisfaction and so on.
It is the truth behind these stories that give it, its life-changing impact.
Over the years, I have read a number of autobiographies but for now, I would like to suggest five to you. Each one is different from the other and inspiring in its own way.
1.MAO’S LAST DANCER BY LI CUNXIN
This is the story of a famous Chinese ballet dancer. It is his journey from poverty as a young boy in rural China to his success as a world famous dancer. Whilst there is a lot to learn from Cunxin’s hard work, discipline and commitment to the art, for me the biggest take away from his story was ‘sacrifice’.
Cunxin had to endure some painful sacrifices in order to accomplish his dream and build a successful career. In particular, I found it heartbreaking to read about him, as a child, leaving his family to join the dance academy. His sacrifices do pay off and he reaps many rewards over the years. His story will inspire anyone reaching for a dream. This memoir is so much more than a ‘rags to riches’ tale.
2. TRAFFICKED BY SOPHIE HAYES
Hayes’ story is jaw-dropping. Once I began reading this story, I could not put the book down. Hayes is a British teenage girl whose only mistake was to trust a “friend”. After years of friendship, he lured her out of her country and forced her to become a sex worker in Italy. Hayes’ experience was horrific and is devastating to read about, but her story desperately needs to be told to create awareness about human trafficking.
It is a story for every parent and young girl to read. After reading the book, your eyes will be opened to a whole new world and you will become vigilant towards these situations. You will feel compelled to support the cause to stop human trafficking after learning about the ordeals of these innocent girls in the sex trade industry. Hayes is remarkably strong and brave, and I am thankful to her for sharing her painful journey with us, for the sake of saving other girls.
3. ON WRITING BY STEPHEN KING
This is an autobiography that I read many years ago after I completed school and had my sights set on becoming a writer. This story, by the famous and bestselling author Stephen King, is an invaluable tool for anyone wanting to pursue a career in creative writing.
King generously offers expert advice and tips for storytelling, while also giving us insight into his personal life. Though this book could be used as a study guide, it is not set out in a boring textbook-like fashion; it is both interesting and entertaining to read.
4. DANCING TO THE BEAT OF THE DRUM BY PAMELA NOMVETE
As a South African, this story caught my attention because it is about a celebrity who was a major success in a popular South African drama series in the 90’s. Nomvete played the role of the villain, Ntsiki Lukhele, who we all loved to hate on the hit TV show, Generations. Nomvete suddenly disappeared off our screens and left us wondering why. This book is her behind-the-scenes account of what she went through whilst acting in Generations and after. Nomvete’s story is shocking.
It is the story of a talented, rich and famous actress who lost everything after entering an abusive relationship. Not only did she lose her fame and fortune, but also her sense of self and self-respect. Nomvete openly and honestly tells us about her ups and many downs, and how she eventually overcame her destructive circumstances after battling homelessness and alcoholism.
She also shares about her frantic search for inner peace and quest to find herself, which eventually led to her decision to relocate the United Kingdom, where she restarted her life and acting career on the successful TV show, Coronation Street. Her story is encouraging for anyone going through hardship and trying circumstances.
5. THE GIRL FROM FOREIGN BY SADIA SHEPARD
This memoir, also known by the name Footpaths in the Painted City, is the story of one woman’s journey from the USA to India in search of her heritage. After the death of her grandmother, Shepard is lost and empty. They were very close to each other and shared a special bond.
With a heavy heart, she heads to India to learn more about her grandmother’s past. Shepard travels around India in search of her ancestors who claim to be descendants of one of the lost tribes of Israel. Whilst in India, Shepard documents her experiences and her research on the Bene Israel people.
Shepard’s journey into her grandmother’s secretive past helps her come to terms with her loss and she begins to see her grandmother in a different light. She begins to understand her grandmother as a person, young woman, wife, mother, and matriarch. This story will give hope and strength to anyone suffering the loss of a loved one.
I trust that you will enjoy these memoirs as much as I have and that you will find inspiration, motivation, and encouragement in them. I hope that you will be moved enough to smile and to shed a tear or two. After all, it is only when we share in other’s trials and triumphs that we are able to look beyond our own circumstances and put life into perspective.
If you would like to recommend any good memoirs for us to read, please drop us a message in the comments box below with the book title, author name and a reason why you think it’s a story we ought to read.