Motivation Monday: Best Autobiographies by Inspiring Humans

Sometimes, coffee and viral videos just can’t ease the Monday gloom. No worries—we have an energy boost to last your whole week (or even year). Shake off the sluggish start with a kick of memoir-fueled motivation! 

From political leaders to trailblazing artists, these autobiographers offer their personal stories as emotional, mental, and spiritual fuel. Spark your own life story with Literati’s best inspirational books. 

Just Mercy—Bryan Stevenson

Image Source: https://justmercy.eji.org/

A Carnegie Medal Winner picked by our Luminary Richard Branson, Just Mercy shares the story of one man’s unbreakable moral compass—Bryan Stevenson. 

As a defense lawyer, Stevenson dedicated his work to representing those most in need, from impoverished mothers to marginalized communities. With passion and gusto, his professional memoir shares intimate tales on battling a broken legal system—and winning.

Why you’ll love Just Mercy:

  • Insights on institutional bias within the court system
  • Redemption tales of underserved citizens
  • A movie adaptation for post-reading enjoyment
  • Stevenson’s bottomless compassion and resolute moral compass

The Happiest Man on Earth—Eddie Jaku

Image Source: https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/eddie-jaku/the-happiest-man-on-earth/9781529066333

Can we still find happiness in our deepest moments of despair? According to Eddie Jaku, a seven-year survivor of Auschwitz, the answer is a resounding yes. From his fated capture in Germany to multiple escape attempts, Jaku’s memoir proves that choosing happiness is more than a life enhancement—it’s a tool for survival. 

Why you’ll love The Happiest Man on Earth:

  • Astonishing grit in the face of adversity
  • First-person account of a historical tragedy
  • Lessons on gratitude and forgiveness to last a lifetime
  • Jaku’s astonishing sensitivity and inner joy

Hell and Other Destinations—Madeleine Albright

Image Source: https://www.harpercollins.com/products/hell-and-other-destinations-madeleine-albright?variant=32205485998114

Acclaim her, criticize her, decry her—either way, there’s no arguing that Madeleine Albright is a singular political force. 

When leaving office as the first female secretary of state, Albright told the press she had “much more I intend to do.” Hell and Other Destinations very much embodies that nonstop drive. Intimate and forceful, Albright’s memoir gives a special look into a foreboding political figure’s life and mind.

Why you’ll love Hell and Other Destinations:

  • Albright’s intensely sharp writing and humor
  • Inside look at the federal government’s operations
  • Feminist themes on workplace and public acceptance
  • Inspiration for a second act in life

Aftershocks: A Memoir—Nadia Owusu

Image Source: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Aftershocks/Nadia-Owusu/9781982111229

With an absent mother, a lost father, and a multi-continental childhood, Nadia Owusu created the near impossible—a stable life of her own. Aftershocks is an incredible journey of self-discovery, giving voice to the insecurities and longings that we all possess. 

No matter your background, you’ll be taken by Owusu’s heroic overhaul of her life, from shaky beginnings in Uganda to a redemptive ending in New York.

Why you’ll love Aftershocks:

  • Honest portrayals of healing, forgiveness, and self-renewal
  • Owusu’s delicate yet poignant prose
  • Boundless hope against unfortunate circumstances

Just as I Am—Cicely Tyson

Image Source: https://www.harpercollins.com/products/just-as-i-am-cicely-tyson

Spirited and emotionally raw, Cicely Tyson was one of the most talented actresses of all time. But Tyson wasn’t just a groundbreaking performer—she also had a gift for storytelling on the page.

In Just As I Am, you’ll get a peek into the infallible spirit behind Tyson’s life. Just like her acting, the blatant honesty and natural spark of her words force you to take notice.

Why you’ll love Just As I Am:

  • Candid tales of prejudice in the entertainment industry
  • Tyson’s unique gall and dazzling charm
  • An appreciation of the journey, not the destination

My Mother’s Daughter: A Memoir of Struggle and Triumph—Perdita Felicien

Image Source: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/553230/my-mothers-daughter-by-perdita-felicien/9780385689960

As almost every memoir shows, parents play a big role in shaping our lives. It’s a lesson Olympian hurdler Perdita Felicien knows all too well. 

My Mother’s Daughter explores the incredible nurturing force behind Felicien’s athletic career—her single mother, Catherine. Through her mom’s grit and sacrifice, Felicien learned that anything is possible, even an Olympic career. Get ready for a tearjerker that’ll make you ring mom for a heartfelt “thank you.”

Why you’ll love My Mother’s Daughter:

  • Touching strength of a parent’s love and care
  • Felicien’s unique tale of defying the odds
  • Blood, sweat, and tears fueling an Olympian career

Heart of Fire: An Immigrant Daughter’s Story—Mazie K. Hirono

Image Source: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/636264/heart-of-fire-by-mazie-k-hirono/

If you don’t recognize Mazie Hirono’s name, it’s time to change that. As the first Asian-American and sole immigrant in the U.S. Senate, Hirono is a trailblazer whose story only matches the brilliance of her accomplishments.

From a rough childhood in rural Japan to a seat in the United States Congress, Heart of Fire chronicles Hirono’s hard-fought rise to political prominence. Bold and riveting, it’s a memoir built to honor and cherish a new era of American government and culture.

Why you’ll love Heart of Fire:

  • Glass ceiling destruction, left and right
  • Hirono’s powerful yet warm tone
  • An exclusive Washington D.C. account of Trump’s presidency

Motivation Monday, Everyday—Literati 

Sometimes, the greatest inspirations aren’t tales of achievements but of survival and painful rebirth. Each of our chosen memoirs shares this immense power within struggle, telling us that the biggest obstacles can lead to our best selves. 

Keep the inspiration flowing with our Luminary Books! Our Luminary leaders pick their favorite books for members to enjoy and discuss—you’ll gain an excellent new read and literary community. They curate the best books to read for various purposes, motivation included. 

What else could you want on a Monday? 

Or any day, for that matter? 

On Key

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