9 Autobiographies You Should Know About

9 Autobiographies You Should Know About

Whether you’re looking for a last-minute Christmas gift or an excuse to hunker down in front of a roaring fire, a good autobiography could be the answer. This year, there are plenty of new releases to consider. From Elton John’s celebrity memoir and a behind-the-scenes look at news reporting by Emily Maitlis to a moving story about a Muslim girl realising she is queer, every walk of life has been covered. Make some space on your bedside table for these top buys…

Finding My Voice - Nadiya Hussain

Thrust into the spotlight after her 2015 Bake Off win, Nadiya Hussain has become a household name with a number of cookbooks and TV shows under her belt. In this deeply personal and open-hearted book, Nadiya lets us into her life, sharing all sorts of memories and experiences – from her arranged marriage and TV success to her family life and battle with anxiety. It’s hard-hitting and uncomfortable at times (she relays stories of childhood abuse, bullying and panic attacks) but also warm-hearted, witty and uplifting. It’s an inspiring look at how to break free of the constraints that society places on us, and a motivational read for all those who have been told ‘no’. We love the addition of personal recipes and thoughtful poems.

“A revelatory honest read… There's no doubt that the book will make an impact and enable young girls to question the boxes society places them in and to dream bigger than the previous generation thought possible.” – Elizabeth Day, podcaster & author

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Gotta Get Theroux This - Louis Theroux

Louis Theroux’s absorbing interviews and various TV programmes always have us gripped to our seats. If you can relate to that, this is the book for you. Gotta Get Theroux This is an insightful look at his unexpectedly successful career, the challenges he has faced along the way and the places he has ended up. His documentaries have seen him meet a diverse range of people – from racist US militias and violent gang members to pro-wrestlers and America’s most hated family – and through it all, he seems unflappable. With his trademark wit and honesty, Louis reflects on what his subjects were like off camera and considers questions around the nature of evil, including how he missed the truth behind Jimmy Saville’s actions. A must-read.

“An absorbing and surprisingly candid book.” – Telegraph Magazine

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Motherwell: A Girlhood by Deborah Orr

In this unflinching memoir about the intricacies of the mother-daughter bond, late Guardian columnist Deborah Orr deftly navigates complex questions surrounding family relationships. Fierce, warm and funny at the same time, it’s beautifully written and focuses on many important themes – from the sacrifices we have to make and the opportunities we have to take, to the class and mobility struggles facing many. It’s a truthful look at the individual journey we go on as we grow up, and offers an insight into how the people and the places we come from impacts this.

“Utterly unflinching and staggeringly good, both as the history of a woman and the history of a place.” – India Knight

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Me - Sir Elton John 

We all know his songs, but what do we know about the star behind the piano? Christened Reginald Dwight, the man who would become 70s rock icon Elton John was a shy boy with Buddy Holly glasses who grew up in the suburbs of London. From quiet beginnings, he emerged onto the music scene with huge aplomb – sequins, silver hot pants, crazy glasses and all. Me is his first and only official autobiography. It’s a joyous, moving account that reveals candid details about his life – including his friendships with the likes of Freddie Mercury, Georgie Michael and John Lennon, and his drug addiction. He writes honestly about getting clean, finding love and becoming a father. It’s a touching book and the messages inside will surely stay with you.

“Outrageously enjoyable… Racy, pacy and crammed with scurrilous anecdotes – what more could you ask from the rocket man?” – Guardian

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Airhead: The Imperfect Art of Making News - Emily Maitlis 

Do you want to know what it’s really like reporting on some of the biggest news stories of a generation? Let Emily Maitlis, presenter of Newsnight, explain more. In Airhead, she gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most engaging interviews she’s conducted in recent years – with all the wrangling, arguing, pleading and last-minute script writing they involved. From spending three hours in a lift with Alan Partridge, and being thrown into a provincial Cuban jail, to attending the Miss USA beauty pageant on an invitation from Donald Trump, Emily talks about what really happens when the cameras stop rolling. As she says, making news may be essential, but it rarely goes according to plan. Insightful, funny and engrossing, we love it.

“A deliciously funny book about the high-wire act of broadcasting and the madness that surrounds it.” – Times 

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On Chapel Sands - Laura Cumming

This skilled memoir is much more than simply an autobiography. Laura Cumming, an artist and art critic, has always been enthralled by the tale of her mother’s childhood disappearance, which saw her kidnapped and taken away from her family for five days in an event she cannot remember. On Chapel Sands is the story of the uncovering of the mystery. Two narratives run through the book: her mother’s tale and Laura’s own pursuit of the truth. It’s a beautiful, multi-layered story full of lost love, human motivation and tender secrets.

“On Chapel Sands is much more than a search for truth. It is a moving, many-sided human story of great depth and tenderness, and a revelation of how art enriches life. In short, a masterpiece.” – Sunday Times

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Unfollow - Megan Phelps-Roper

If you enjoyed Educated by Tara Westover, Unfollow should definitely be on your Christmas list. Fans of Louis Theroux may remember Megan Phelps-Roper from The Most Hated Family In America – she’s the granddaughter of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps. The religious sect is well known for its aggressive hate speech against Muslims, Jews and the LGBTQ+ community, and notorious for picketing the funerals of American soldiers. Megan was part of the group until 2012, when she made the decision to leave at 26. Unfollow is an inspiring memoir of a woman finding the courage to change her mind and discover compassion for others as well as herself.

“Megan Phelps-Roper is a beautiful writer, and her journey – from Westboro to becoming one of the most empathetic, thoughtful, humanistic writers around – is exceptional and inspiring.” – Jon Ronson, author

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We Have Always Been Here - Samra Habib

This revolutionary autobiography has been received with much critical acclaim. A story of forgiveness and freedom, it follows Samra Habib’s life as she realises she is queer. Growing up, she was part of a threatened minority Muslim sect in Pakistan, and the book follows her arrival in Canada and escape from an arranged marriage at 16. As she begins to explore her faith, love, art and sexuality, her journey takes her across the world to uncover a truth that has resided within her all along. It’s a fearless rallying cry for all those who have ever felt alone, and a powerful read.   

“Told with precision and honesty, [this book] is a brave and powerful insight into what it’s like to discover you’re a queer Muslim with no set path to follow.” – Stylist 

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Inside Out - Demi Moore 

Adversity and resilience are key themes in Demi Moore’s new memoir. A candid and reflective book, Inside Out covers some of the most pivotal moments in her life – from her rise to fame, to her battle with addiction and childhood traumas. Demi is well known for numerous iconic film roles and was one of the highest-paid female actors in Hollywood but. even as her success grew, she found herself questioning if acting was for her. It’s a brutally honest account of family relationships and stardom, and highlights the issues caused by feelings of insecurity and low self-worth. In the midst of all that, her survival and success is inspiring. 

“A fabulously frank and well-written book. One finds oneself in awe of Moore for determinedly clinging on.” – Sunday Times

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