The Most Popular Memoirs on Passerbuys

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The women of Passerbuys share their favorite memoirists who helped them find direction and inspiration in their own creative lives.

There is no one way to a perfect career or personal life. It takes time and information to fully understand that we are not alone, and memoirs help bring to light other people's journeys in order to help ourselves realize this. At some point, Joan Didion and Patti Smith were not the women we all recognize today. Their memoirs remind women that there is struggle and triumph in real life circumstances. Reading about a certain period of their lives can help bring ourselves out of a rut we may be in. The most popular and recommended memoirs on Passerbuys all have this in common.


The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Recommended by ellis jonesshawana grosvenorgia salvaggioheba kadryjessica comingoreivy weinglassnicole steriovski, and maura walters

This classic by Joan Didion is the most popular and recommended memoir on Passerbuys. The Year of Magical Thinking documents Didion's heartbreaking and honest year grappling with family and marriage. Speaking to Didion's emotion, music editor Lauren Nostro says, "As for...Joan Didion, I like to make myself cry."

Buy The Year of Magical Thinking


Just Kids by Patti Smith

Recommended by allie berman, ellis jones, gabrielle herbst, rachel cabitt, rawan rihani, natalie pace, clémence vazard, sara radin, and sam tarter

Designer Sam Tarter says of the book, "Patti Smith’s Just Kids, romanticized New York in the 1960s-1970s. It gives a strange appeal to the rough life of a starving artist in love and trying to make it in a place where no one owes you anything, all by being none other than herself. This book opened my eyes to a different time, packed with rockstars, artists & poets. I would recommend it to anyone."

Buy Just Kids


The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy

Recommended by molly youngsusan alexandrakalen kaminskierin allweiss, and natalie pace

When Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true. A moving memoir of the adventure and heartbreak of being. Natalie Pace of West Elm wrote, "I also just finished the book, The Rules Do Not Apply, which has easily become one of my favorite books. It’s a memoir of Ariel’s life in New York and how she bent the rules to live the life she wanted."

Buy The Rules Do Not Apply


Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick

Recommended by Dana BodourovKaye BlegvadFariha Róisín, and Mimi Packer

Illustrator Kaye Blegvad writes in her feature, "I only discovered Gornick’s work this year, and it’s completely blown my mind. This book is non-linear, riveting memoir, focussing mainly on her relationship with her mother. It also deals with her relationships to men, to other women, femininity in general, work, and the world. I love reading her almost stream-of-consciousness writing, and I relate to a lot of it, stronger than I’ve related to much writing before."

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Letters To A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

recommended by kyla marshell, bianca valle, and maura walters

In a series of letters to a young soldier who aspires to be a writer, renowned poet Rainer Maria Rilke shares his life along with lessons for anyone seeking to be creative. Writer Kyla Marshell says of the book, "It is my personal secular art bible. It’s gotten me through some very tough times, when I felt lost, confused, or alone. Rilke wrote, 'Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them.'  I’ve been slowly embroidering that quotation onto a ribbon as well."

Buy Letters To A Young Poet