True Story

Must-Read Backlist Memoirs for Your TBR!

This summer, I’ve been attacking a nonfiction class to help me make progress in some of my own projects. While I was working through the class assignments, I read a memoir or personal essay collection a week. Reading all of these books this summer reminded me of how much I love memoirs and personal essays. So today, I’m recommending two debut memoirs.

But first, new books and a reminder to check out Book Riot’s New Release Index. Delighting velocireaders since 2017, the Index will keep you in the know about all the latest books. New books for days. Subscribe today — you won’t be able to read them all, but it’s fun to try! 

Bookish Goods

a photo of a canvas tote bag with an orange and black illustration of a library. The tote says, "Get Lit At The Library"

Get Lit At The Library Screen Printed Tote Bag by RatherKeen

I am a sucker for a good tote bag. There’s just something special about flashing your love of books with the perfect bookish swag. $22

New Releases

a graphic of the cover of Wifedom: Mrs. Orwell's Invisible Life by Anna Funder

Wifedom: Mrs. Orwell’s Invisible Life by Anna Funder

Wifedom follows the life of Eileen O’Shaughnessy, the wife of George Orwell. O’Shaughnessy was a writer herself, and Anna Funder examines the major influence O’Shaughnessy had on her husband’s work.

a graphic of the cover of Book of Queens: The True Story of the Middle Eastern Horsewomen Who Fought the War on Terror by Pardis Mahdavi

Book of Queens: The True Story of the Middle Eastern Horsewomen Who Fought the War on Terror by Pardis Mahdavi

Author Pardis Mahdavi tells the story of the women warriors fighting for freedom against tyranny. Mahdavi follows these women through Persian history, including their tradition of breeding the Caspar horses they rode into battle.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

a graphic of the cover of Educated by Tara Westover

Educated by Tara Westover

Westover grew up in a very conservative Mormon family. Her father believed in living separate from the world, refusing to let his family go to the hospital and choosing to not educate his children in any real way. Tara survives her childhood and, with the encouragement of her older brother, studies and takes her exams to get into college. Westover shares her experience of enduring emotional and physical abuse while still loving her family very deeply.

a graphic of the cover of Dog Flowers by Danielle Geller

Dog Flowers by Danielle Geller

Danielle Geller starts off the memoir with her mother’s death from alcohol withdrawal. As Geller sorts belongings, she begins to piece together her mother’s life. She learns how decisions her mother made stemmed from numerous challenges she faced throughout her life. Eventually, Geller heads to her mother’s homeland, the Navajo Nation, to reconnect with the community and culture. Full of discussions around mothers and daughters and the inheritance our parents leave behind, Dog Flowers is a beautiful testament of her mother’s life.

That’s it for this week! You can find me over on my substack Winchester Ave, over on Instagram @kdwinchester, or on my podcast Read Appalachia. As always, feel free to drop me a line at For even MORE bookish content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy Reading, Friends!

~ Kendra