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Aug 29

YA Reads: Sharing Life Experiences: Biographies, Autobiographies, and Memoirs

Posted on August 29, 2023 at 8:09 AM by Maggie Witte

Throughout history, people have loved to share their life story or life stories about people they knew or had learned about from other sources. There have been written biographical texts since ancient times, with most ancient and early biographies written about ruling and/or high-ranking officials in government, society, and religion. That gradually changed over time, and today, there exists biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs about people of all backgrounds, cultures, faiths, and beliefs.

Biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs are each different in some way and similar in that they are stories about peoples’ lives and experiences. Biographies are books written about people by someone else. Autobiographies are books written by the person themselves, covering the author’s entire life up to the point of writing. Memoirs are books written by the author themselves, only memoirs focus on a specific part of their life.

People write biographical books for many reasons: to preserve their experiences for future generations; to tell the stories of people who have made an impact in the world; to restructure and explain your life; to demonstrate in words the experiences of being a human and the trials and successes in life. Reading these books can be inspiring. They can help us learn about different cultures and to see things from different perspectives. We can learn valuable life lessons, especially from people who have maybe already experience some of the things we are going through. Biographies can help us to learn from and move past failures and sometimes how to succeed. They also let us escape from our life into another’s life.

We’ve gathered a selection of biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs from our collection. Try giving one a read for your next book.

You can always take your books on the go with you using a smartphone or tablet and the BARD Mobile app. Audiobooks and magazines are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, with no due dates, no expiration dates, and no wait. And carrying your phone or tablet is very convenient. Contact our office for more information at 1-800-362-0699 or

DB 113686 We are not broken by George M. Johnson

Annotation: "This is the vibrant story of George, Garrett, Rall, and Rasul--four children raised by Nanny, their fiercely devoted grandmother. The boys hold each other close through early brushes with racism, memorable experiences at the family barbershop, and first loves and losses. And with Nanny at their center, they are never broken. George M. Johnson captures the unique experience of growing up as a Black boy in America through rich family stories that explore themes of vulnerability, sacrifice, and culture." -- Provided by publisher.  --  Unrated. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers.

DB 110856 Don’t look back: a memoir of war, survival, and my journey from Sudan to America by Achut Deng

Annotation: "For ten years, Achut Deng survived at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya after her family was ripped apart by the Second Sudanese Civil War. But Achut wanted to do more than merely survive. She wanted to live. The twenty-two-year civil war essentially orphaned over 20,000 children and drove them from their villages in southern Sudan. Some of these children walked over a thousand miles, through dangerous war zones and across unforgiving deserts. They are often referred to as The Lost Boys. But there were girls, too. Achut Deng was one of them. This is her story. It's a story of unimaginable hardship and selfless bravery, of tormenting physical pain and amazing emotional resilience, of unbreakable bonds of friendship and family. It's a story about what happens when your dream comes true, only to give way to a new nightmare. It's about how hard you will fight to save your own life." -- Provided by publisher.  --  Unrated. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers.

DB 110488 Gamer girls: 25 women who built the video game industry by Mary Kenney

Annotation: "Discover the women behind the video games we love--from the iconic games they created, the genres they invented, the studios and companies they built--and how they changed the industry forever. From classic games like Centipede and Solitaire to popular modern games like Final Fantasy, Uncharted, and Halo, this book explores the work and history of 25 influential women in the video game industry and how their contributions ultimately built and transformed the medium that we know today. Gamer Girls explores each woman's contributions to the industry, but also their inspirations and hardships as they worked to create the games that they wanted to play." -- Provided by publisher.  --  Some strong language. For junior and senior high readers.

DB 108988 Wired differently: 30 neurodiverse people who you should know by Joe Wells

Annotation: "This collection of illustrated portraits celebrates the lives of influential neurodivergent figures who have achieved amazing things in recent times. Showcasing these 30 incredible people, the extraordinary stories in this book show that the things they've achieved, created and inspired they did not despite being different but because they are different. From politicians, activists and journalists to YouTubers, DJs and poets, this book highlights a wide range of exciting career paths for neurodivergent readers." -- Provided by publisher.  --  For junior and senior high readers. 2022.

DB 108199 Pork belly tacos with a side of anxiety by Yvonne Castan~eda

Annotation: "In Pork Belly Tacos with a Side of Anxiety, Yvonne Castan~eda shares vibrant stories of her childhood growing up in Miami as the daughter of humble immigrants from Mexico and Cuba--and how she came to develop an unhealthy relationship with food. To help ease her mami's nervios, Yvonne becomes a perfectionist from a young age, achieving high grades at school and mastering the piano. But as her Cuban family members openly make comments about her awkward desarrollo, or puberty, Yvonne enters a new phase of self-consciousness that begins her obsession with weight. She abandons the piano for the high school cheerleading team, and reinvents herself, becoming both skinny and popular. However, as a first-generation adolescent born in the United States, Yvonne wrestles with the conflict between the cultural norms of her Hispanic/Latino heritage and American societal expectations. Plagued by doubt and low self-esteem, Yvonne begins a vicious cycle of weight gain and loss, as she battles Bulimia Nervosa. Beleaguered by feelings of guilt, shame, and inferiority, she develops anxiety, depression, and a reliance on dangerous coping mechanisms. Ultimately, sage advice from her dear abuela in Guadalajara, Mexico, guides Yvonne to a realization that shifts her perspective of herself and the purpose of her life, providing a foundation for inner peace, and la solucio´n to her past struggles." -- Provided by publisher.  --  Strong language and some descriptions of sex. For senior high and older readers. 2022.

DB 107834 Ready to launch: an astronaut’s lessons for success on earth by Scott Kelly

Annotation: Using ten life-changing moments from his path to space, retired astronaut Scott Kelly shares his advice for mastering fear and failure, and turning our daily struggles into rocket fuel for success. Commercial audiobook. For junior and senior high and older readers. 2022.

DB 107051 Rebel in Auschwitz: the true story of the resistance hero who fought the Nazis from inside the camp by Jack Fairweather

Annotation: An award-winning journalist tells the story of Witold Pilecki, a Polish underground operative who accepted a mission to uncover the fate of thousands interned at a new concentration camp, report on Nazi crimes, raise a secret army, and stage an uprising. Violence. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2021.

DB 106463 Code name Badass: the true story of Virginia Hall by Heather Demetrios

Annotation: Baltimore native Virginia "Dindy" Hall traveled to England to join their Special Operations unit and became an essential part of the Allied mission and the French Resistance, earning the dangerous honor of being named "the most dangerous of all Allied spies" by the Gestapo. Strong language, some violence. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2021.

DB 105916 Every falling star: the true story of how I survived and escaped from North Korea by Sungju Lee

Annotation: Memoir of Sungju Lee, who grew up in North Korea and learned to fend for himself after his parents disappeared. To survive, young Sungju created a gang and lived by thieving, fighting, begging, and stealing rides on cargo trains. Violence. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2016.

DB 100141 Ms. Gloria Steinem: a life by Winifred Conkling

Annotation: Award-winning author recounts the life of political activist and feminist icon Gloria Steinem. Covers Steinem's boundary-pushing journalistic career to the foundation of Ms. magazine to being awarded the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2020.

DB 98439 Hey, kiddo by Jarrett Knosoczka

Annotation: Award-winning author's graphic novel memoir about growing up with a drug-addicted mother, a missing father, and two unforgettably opinionated grandparents. Strong language and some descriptions of sex. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2018.

DB 95906 Warhead: the true story of one teen who almost saved the world by Jeff Henigson

Annotation: Jeff Henigson's memoir about his Starlight Children's Foundation wish after being diagnosed with brain cancer: to meet Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia and plead for nuclear disarmament and world peace. Contains some violence and some strong language. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2019.