Have you ever thought to yourself, 'Why are memoirs so popular?'
They’ve been increasing steadily in popularity since the 1990s, and if it’s not a genre that appeals to you, you may well be wondering why.
I love reading memoirs (as a ghostwriter of memoirs it would be strange if I didn’t!), and they have always been popular with a certain niche of readers.

But there are many reasons why memoirs now appeal to a much broader audience.

We're All Secret Voyeurs

We all love to know how other people live; reading memoirs gives us an insight into other lives that may be very different to ours, particularly if the author was brought up in another era, country or culture.
If the memoir is well-written, we immerse ourselves in the author’s life, so each memoir we read becomes a different life we’ve led - vicariously.

Memoirs teach us to appreciate our differences and foster empathy, compassion and understanding. The world could do with more of these qualities.

Maybe it should be compulsory for all world leaders to read memoirs!
Memoirs in this category include:
I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education, by Malala Yousafzai, the girl who stood up to the Taliban and was shot by them.

The Happiest Man on Earth, by Eddie Jaku, who spent seven years in a German concentration camp in WW11.

I Am Malala

I Am Malala By Malala Yousafzai Book Cover

By Malala Yousafzai

The Happiest Man On Earth

The Happiest Man On Earth By Eddie Jaku Book Cover

By Eddie Jaku

Celebrity Memoirs No Longer Interest Us

Once upon a time, the only memoirs that were published were those of celebrities, because they were guaranteed to sell.

This was in the days when there was still a mystique attached to being a celebrity and their every movement wasn’t reported by the press.

Buying a celebrity’s memoir was the only way you could find out interesting tidbits about their lives, or their stories about other celebrities.
These days, with 24-hour news and social media, we’re inundated with the day-to-day activities of celebrities, so their memoir is not going to tell us anything we haven’t already seen and heard.

And the emergence of celebrity culture means that celebrities are often people who are wealthy or high status, but haven’t achieved anything worth reading about.

Real People Make Memoirs So Popular

As Helen Garnons-Williams, publishing director of 4th Estate, says in an article in The Guardian, ‘Celebrities aren’t inspiring any more, and people don’t want to be them.

What readers want is people who are normal and who they feel they can trust.’
We want to read stories by people we can relate to; everyday people who, nevertheless, have had exciting adventures, achieved big things or overcome great challenges.
Memoirs in this category include:
Wild: Lost and Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed, about her dangerous 1000 mile solo hike.

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, by Emma Carey, who became a paraplegic after a skydiving accident and created a new life for herself..


Wild By Cheryl Strayed

By Cheryl Strayed

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky By Emma Carey Book Cover

By Emma Carey

Memoirs Inspire And Motivate Us

There are few things more inspiring than reading a memoir by someone who has overcome the very challenge you’re grappling with – not only do you feel less alone, but you’re motivated to follow in their footsteps.

If they can do it, you reason, I can too!
Even when the memoir is not about a topic that is relevant to your situation, you can still find solace in it or be encouraged to take a giant leap into the unknown.
Memoirs in this category include:
The Resilience Project: Finding Happiness Through Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness by Hugh van Cuylenburg, about his life-changing realization when he was volunteering in India.

How To Fail, by Elizabeth Day, about the many times she has failed in her life and what it has taught her.

The Resilience Project

The Resilience Project By Hugh van Cuylenburg Book Cover

By Hugh van Cuylenburg

How To Fail

How To Fail By Elizabeth Day Book Cover

By Elizabeth Day

Memoirs Give Us Hope

In this world of 24/7 news, much of which is depressing or downright tragic, we have a craving for good news, to feel uplifted.

And let’s face it, despite the doomsayers, there are positive things happening all the time all over the world, and many reasons for us to feel happy and grateful.
This is why memoirs by teachers, nurses, police officers and firefighters are popular; they’re ordinary people doing extraordinary jobs, and making an impact on people’s lives every day.
As Helen Garnons-Williams says, in this Guardian article, ‘People want to read about good people doing good things.’

Memoirs in this category include:
The Language of Kindness – A Nurse’s Story by Christie Watson, about her 20 years as a hospital nurse.

Against All Odds: The inside account of the Thai cave rescue and the courageous Australians at the heart of it, by Craig Challen and Richard Harris, about their heart-stopping, 18-day rescue of 12 Thai boys from a flooded cave.

The Language Of Kindness

The Language of Kindness By Christie Watson Book Cover

By Christie Watson

Against All Odds

Against All Odds By Craig Challen and Richard Harris Book Cover

By Craig Challen & Richard Harris

What's Your Choice?

Maybe that memoir you’ve aways wanted to write falls into one of these categories.

Whatever your personal choice, it's easy to see what makes memoirs so popular, particularly in today's market. I'd love to know what type of memoir is your favourite in the comments below.

If you’d like to talk to me about writing your memoir, please contact me below and I’ll reply as soon as I can.

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Why Are Memoirs So Popular Pinterest

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