Photo by Brett Jordan

Memoirs about family, like Those Were The Days by Kenny Harmon or Mysteries of My Father by Thomas Fleming, are intimate accounts and how such deep and personal bonds inevitably shape everyone.

In this rapidly changing world, where society shifts without warning, it feels like everyone’s attention keeps jumping to new things.

Now, history is often overlooked and forgotten, and people never get to learn what life was like in the recent past. 

Sure, there is a contingent of individuals seeking new information about the history of the world, but it is only for superficial interest.

Still, there seems to be an inverse correlation depending on how far along you want to go in the timeline (e.g., few people give a toss about the seventies or the eighties, aside from particular events and people like the Vietnam War or the Beatles). 

Technology is helping people interact more and over vast distances, but it also reinforces the ideas and atmosphere of alienation spreading among everyone.

And memoirs are avenues for fixing that.

Why You Should Write a Memoir

Despite this absence of widespread attention and interest, it is incredibly fortunate that there is a treasure trove of memoirs that people can read.

memoir can be satisfying for both the reader and the author. For the author, it is a vent where they can share their life stories and attempt to preserve their memories and ideas for future generations to learn more. 

While for the reader, it helps them understand someone’s point of view and know about a society wholly different from theirs.

Writing a memoir is writing down memories in text. What differentiates it from an autobiography is that memoirs focus on a specific timeline or issue, such as poverty, abuse, loss, etc. In contrast, an autobiography is a run-through of one’s life from birth to now. 

There are many reasons someone may want to write a memoir:

  1. In contemplating what to write, authors can revisit their memories and maybe rethink past perspectives.
  2. A memoir lets authors make peace with the dark points of their lives, transforming and growing from them.
  3. It is a way for authors to leave their heritage for the whole world to remember, and maybe even just their family.
  4. A memoir allows authors to share their ideas and perspectives that they may have difficulty representing in dry text.

Memoirs About Family and the Past

A niche subgenre of the memoir is the family memoir. Unlike common examples, family memoirs focus on a broader group of characters, how their lives intersect and influence one another, and how the trend of the times affects all of their lives.

Family memoirs are snapshots of a bygone era, a look into the life of people from before, their ideas, views, and dreams, and how much society has changed since then.

Here are some family memoirs that will have readers mindful and reflective and that everyone should have on their shelves:

Sad Papaw’s Those Were The Days by Kenny Harmon

Capitalizing on his internet fame from a viral meme, Kenny Harmon began writing about his life with The Early Years, and in Those Were The Days, he writes about growing up in the 1950s and 60s, the music and the movies of the time, and just living in a time of significant change.

Tea That Burns: A Family Memoir of Chinatown by Bruce Hall

Written by a fourth-generation Chinese American, Tea That Burns is about the life of an immigrant family starting from their home country and then moving to the other side of the planet in a country unfamiliar to them. Intertwined with their story is also the history of New York City’s Chinatown. 

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

Growing up, Jennette McCurdy’s mother was constantly pushing for her to be a star and as a child, who wouldn’t want to make their parent happy? But her journey was rife with emotional abuse, issues she would only find out after her mother died. I’m Glad My Mom Died is a profoundly personal account of grief, trauma, and recovery.