A quick search brings up lists of the memoir bestsellers: stories of celebrities, athletes, politicians and the rest. But what about the lesser-known stories? Unknown books? The unsung heroes? These memoirs can be just as - if not more - powerful, often because listeners can relate to them on a more personal level. We’ve compiled 8 of the finest hidden gems books of the memoir genre that tell these underrated but no less powerful real-life stories.
A Good Wife is a poignant memoir that follows the life of author Samra Zafar, a teenage bride newly brought to Canada. Through her own life story, Zafar gives a voice to an often-silenced and frequently misunderstood demographic. She uses her own struggles and pain to highlight the tales of so many other young girls forced into similar situations as her own.
Compelling, powerful, and full of emotion, Zafar does not shy away from the hard truths of her own life and the society in which she was raised. She acknowledges her struggles and traumas in a way that is both heartbreaking and intense. Zafar's debut novel is full of strength and provides a voice so often taken from those leading similar lives.
Zafar also narrates this audiobook, adding a depth, understanding and passion that only the author could, embellishing what is already a deeply personal story with style and class. The performance is truly an emotional journey, full of all the highs and lows of a life once trapped, now free.
Author Jessica Lee provides a stunning debut in this audiobook that combines memoir with aspects of historical fiction and nature. Two Trees Make a Forest is as much a personal tale as it is a love story to the beauty and landscape of Taiwan. Nearly impossible to categorize, this audiobook is a masterpiece of writing unlike any other.
Canada is inherently multicultural, and tales of adjustment after moving to the country are often greeted with empathy and understanding. This relatable storyline gives this audiobook a personal feel, whether the listener has a tie to Taiwan or not. The love and passion for home shine through with every word, forming a deep and meaningful connection between author and listener.
Lee narrates the title herself, and her passion for the beauty of Taiwan is apparent in her voice as she seeks to connect her family letters to the country they loved so dearly. Bold, vibrant, and full of life, this audiobook beautifully marries Lee’s own family’s story with detailed descriptions that will swiftly paint a picture in the minds of listeners.
Sports memoirs are nothing new. They often talk of the glory and pitfalls of professional sports, the struggles and triumphs of pushing yourself towards a goal, highlighting the victories and setbacks many athletes face in the journey to success. It is a tried and true formula, but this memoir looks at things a little differently.
Brantt Myhres’ Pain Killer explores the world of addiction and dependency that can come with sports injuries and addictive personalities, openly and honestly addressing his own weaknesses and struggles in the process. This audiobook is raw and unforgiving, not shying away from the darker aspects of professional sports, not to mention the toll his addiction took on his body and career.
Listeners can dive into a passionate author-read narrative that is full of everything that makes great books: heart, regret, triumph and a remarkable story that is sure to inspire. It isn’t the easiest listen, but it is a must nonetheless.
This memoir is for all the medicine and healthcare workers out there. The ones we turn to take care of us, time and time again. We Are All Perfectly Fine (by Jillian Horton) looks at the toll being a medical worker can take on the mental health and psyche of those who fight on the front lines against illness and disease.
For your average person, you hopefully rarely have to take a trip to a hospital, go to the E.R., or undergo surgery. But for nurses, doctors and healthcare workers, holding someone’s health in their hands is an everyday occurrence. This memoir takes a powerful look at the very real burnout that impacted Horton and so many doctors and medical students like her in their professional journeys.
In the face of an ongoing worldwide pandemic, a memoir from a medical worker could not be more timely. Whether you work in healthcare or not, listeners will immediately connect with the heart, passion and exhaustion portrayed in this audiobook, as Horton analyzes not only her own limits but the flaws in a system that push people to the breaking point. We Are All Perfectly Fine is a must-listen about how we are taught to move onward, no matter the damage done. More importantly, it asks the question; why?
Call Me Indian is the lesser-known story of Fred Sasakamoose, one of the first Canadian Indigenous players to play in the NHL. This is a story every Canadian should hear, no matter where you stand on Canada’s favourite sport. Sasakamoose outlines his life from “the trauma of residential school” to his career with the Chicago Black Hawks at hockey’s highest level.
This audiobook is dominated by his career, but there is more to it than what happened on the ice. Sasakamoose not only outlines his life and accomplishments both within and outside of the NHL, but he sheds much-needed light on the systemic racism, government prejudice, and generational trauma that was inflicted on native Canadians for years - and continues to go unchecked throughout the country.
A startling tale of tragedy and triumph, this audiobook is about as ‘must-listen' as it gets. It not only brings life to an incredible man’s memoir, but it also provides a perspective on how prejudice and assumptions can have lasting impacts on individuals and society.
This powerful multi-generational story shines from beginning to end. My Mother’s Daughter focuses on the connection between a mother and daughter, doing so with a raw openness that encompasses all the highs and lows of familial ties. Perdita Felicien’s mother hails from St. Lucia, and like so many Canadian stories, this tale is rooted in the tumult of immigration and a shifting sense of home and identity. Perdita Felicien also happened to be an elite athlete (she won gold in the 100m hurdles at the 2003 World Championships in Paris), and her memoir also highlights the ups and downs of this experience.
This audiobook is full of hidden authorial talent, as Felicien beautifully describes the full range of what it means to be a young woman. Her story is deeply personal and unique yet universally relatable, a fact accentuated by the openness of her storytelling.
Felicien narrates the tale herself and brings life, passion, and energy to her story, bringing this memoir to life in the process. Felicien speaks passionately and with a voice full of emotion that adds an unmissable quality to this audiobook. A must-listen likely to top any favorite books list.
This hidden gem of a memoir takes a look at the history and heritage of the Métis, so often overlooked in Canadian history books and discourse. Gregory Scofield offers a stunning window into the lives of the people that helped shape this nation. The author's tumultuous childhood may have prevented him from exploring his heritage, but Scofield takes the listener on a journey of self-discovery. It is as vital as it is engaging.
Scofield’s poetic style lends itself to the audiobook format as he weaves through tragedies with a delicate beauty that is both honest and soft. He neither shies away from hard truths nor overburdens his writing with heaviness. Instead, the narrative has a beauty and heart that will win over the listener and wrap them in his unique artistic approach. It really is a stunning piece of work.
Similarly, Billy Merasty’s narration delivers the story with a soothing yet strong cadence that matches the narrative voice to a tee. The familiarity and warm quality of his tone help the audiobook flow, and it is almost as if a best friend was in the room sharing their life story with you. This casual yet emotive narration pulls the listener in for an intimate and emotional experience.
Last on this list of hidden gems is Crossroads. This audiobook focuses on the traumatic Humboldt Broncos bus crash from the point of view of one of the survivors, Kaleb Dahlgren. This is more than just a tale of survival; this true story takes a look at how a traumatic event shaped not only a young boy's life but moved a nation.
Crossroads tells the personal side of a very public tragedy that rocked the nation. Dahlgren outlines the events and details how much the outpouring of love from Canada and abroad was felt in a time of ultimate need. It is a story that in many ways describes coming of age through tragedy, retelling a pivotal life moment that shaped everything to follow.
This audiobook is for anyone who has been shaped by or experienced tragedy. It balances grief and resilience with aplomb. Dahlgren is an inspiring young adult whose story is a source of hope that shines a light on how adversity can shape you but doesn't have to break you. Crossroads takes a tragic story that was felt all across Canada and without diminishing any of the trauma, it manages to inject it with hope for the future.