6 Memoirs to Read this SummerMichael M. Guevara
With summer either starting or just around the corner, you probably have a growing TBR pile. Well, make room, we've got more books to add to that stack!
I've compiled a list of memoirs (or "menoirs" as they're all male authors this go around). Most of these selections aren't your typical beach reads, but they'd all serve as wonderful mentor texts.
Beautiful Boy by David Sheff tells the story of a father's journey through his son's methamphetamine addiction. Nic, once a charming and vivacious boy, a varsity athlete, and an honor student became unrecognizable. He lied constantly, stole, and eventually lived on the streets. But David refused to give up on his son, researching every possible treatment, even when it seemed he'd lost Nic completely.
David Sheff is a masterful writer, crafting beautiful and elaborate sentences. This would be a great story to use as a mentor text when studying any sort of writer's craft.
If you're as enraptured with Beautiful Boy as I am, I encourage you to check out Tweak by Nic Sheff.
Welcome to the Circus of Baseball by Ryan McGee—What's more reminiscent of summer than a trip to the ballpark? Ryan McGee is now a successful ESPN reporter. But fresh out of college in 1994, his first foray into sports writing was for a minor league baseball team.
His first summer working in sports isn't glamorous by any means. But what does that matter when you get to spend your summer with a hilarious cast of characters at the ballpark?
Brave Face by Shaun David Hutchinson tells the story of then-19-year-old David coming to terms with his sexuality, coming out, and learning to cope with his depression. This is a great book for teens, many of whom are also learning to accept their different identities and embrace who they are.
Another aspect of this book that I love is you can see how Sam's own story is woven into his other books like A Complicated Love Story Set in Space, which we covered on the blog here.
This is a darker story, but it's also a story of hope in that you get to see how he survives in the face of adversity and how he funnels that into becoming the person and writer he is today.
Every Good Boy Does Fine by Jeremy Denk—Like a lot of kids, I took piano lessons growing up. I was terrible. I never figured out how to properly play the left-hand parts. I never learned to use the pedals. Heck, I need a GPS to find Middle C.
Jeremy Denk is the world-renowned classical pianist I could never be. Although this story is about his journey, it's also a love letter to the teachers, professors, and mentors who shaped him into the well-decorated musician he is today.
Brown Enough by Christopher Rivas—My mother tells me constantly, "Ay, que triste es que ya no hables español." "Oh, how sad it is that you don't speak any more Spanish." Wanting me to do well in school, my parents made a concerted effort to speak English in our house growing up.
Like me, Rivas didn't speak Spanish at home. But, throughout the course of the story, he explores why being a Brown person in America is far more complex than skin color, language, or where we grew up.
If you're looking for a more expansive and inclusive view of race in the U.S., this story is for you. It's informational but also an intensely personal story of grappling with one's identity.
Requiem for the Massacre by RJ Young uncovers the story of the massacre against the Black residents of Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921. For 100 years, this story was ignored or covered up by powerful people. Journalist RJ Young blends memoir and immersive journalism to explain one of the worst acts of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.
Young offers a firsthand account of the aftermath of the massacre, providing commentary on how things have changed, and how in many ways things haven't changed at all.
Check out Michael's recommendations in video form!👇
Michael Méndez Guevara is a former high school journalism and English teacher who spent his time in the classroom helping students see themselves as writers and fall in love with reading through the world of young adult literature. As an educational sales consultant with Perfection Learning®, Michael works with teachers and schools on improving their literacy instruction and providing resources to help students achieve academic success. He has taught elementary school, middle school, and high school and has worked as a district level leader and served on the Texas state standards revision committee that developed the state’s current literacy standards. He is the father of three adult sons, the youngest a student at the University of Kansas—Rock Chalk! Michael is working on a professional development book for literacy educators and currently has agents reading the manuscript of his young adult novel, The Closest Thing to a Normal Life. When he's not reading, writing, or running, Michael is fully committed to watching as much Law & Order as possible.