5 Unforgettable Family Memoirs to Listen To

All families have their secrets and their infamous stories. Some families are merely eccentric, while others are downright dysfunctional. These five memoirs demonstrate ways in which people have made sense of their own family histories, whether it be through experimenting in the kitchen or in-depth journalistic investigations of one’s own kin.

Now My Heart Is Full
Author: Laura June
Read By: Laura June

Laura June’s daughter was only a few moments old when she held her for the first time and thought, I wish my mother were here. It wasn’t a thought she was used to having. Laura was in second grade when she realized her mother was an alcoholic. As the years went by her mom spiraled deeper, and by the time of her death the two had drifted apart entirely. In her own voice, Laura June tells how raising her daughter forced her to confront this tragic legacy and recognize the connective tissue that binds generations of women together.

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Crux

Throughout Jean Guerrero’s childhood, her father, Marco Antonio, was an erratic and elusive presence. A self-taught genius at fixing, creating, and conjuring, he gradually began to lose himself in his peculiar obsessions, careening wildly between reality and hallucination. In time, he abandoned his family and fled to Asia, Europe, and eventually back to Mexico. There he succumbed to drug and alcohol-fueled manias while suffering the effects of what he said were CIA mind-control experiments. Now a journalist, Guerrero uses the tools of her trade and the gift of her own voice to seek answers to the questions he left behind.

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Five-Finger Discount

With deadpan delivery and obvious affection, Helene Stapinski narrates the story of her New Jersey family of swindlers, bookies, embezzlers, and mobster-wannabes. Stapinski weaves the checkered history of her hometown of Jersey City with the tales that have swirled around her relatives for decades.

Listen to an excerpt FIVE-FINGER DISCOUNT

The Best Cook in the World
Author: Rick Bragg
Read By: Rick Bragg

Margaret Bragg does not own a single cookbook. She measures in “dabs” and “smidgens” and “tads” and “you know, hon, just some.” She cannot be pinned down on how long to bake corn bread (“about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the mysteries of your oven”). Her notion of farm-to-table is a flatbed truck. In The Best Cook in the World, author Rick Bragg preserves his heritage by telling the stories that framed his mother’s cooking and education, from his childhood into her old age.

Listen to an excerpt THE BEST COOK IN THE WORLD

On Sunset

Kathryn Harrison always understood that her family was beyond eccentric — they’d breached the bounds of the unconventional. She was largely raised by her grandparents in an outsized Tudor confection of a house on the periphery of Bel Air, which she thought of as “Sunset,” her kingdom of the imagination, inhabited by the past and its numberless artifacts. True wandering Jews, her grandparents had arrived in Los Angeles in the forties after dramatic, globetrotting lives. Kathryn Harrison grew up in an almost mythical realm of their letters and artifacts and stories, and now they have been brought to life by beloved narrator Rebecca Lowman.

Listen to an excerpt THE BEST COOK IN THE WORLD