Best Memoirs and Autobiographies of All Time – Ranked

I collected over a dozen lists of the best memoirs and autobiographies from the Internet and compiled them into a single meta-list.  Here are the results, all the books on two or more of the original source lists, organized by rank (that is, with the books on the most lists at the top).  To see the same list organized chronologically, go here.

On 12 lists
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) – Maya Angelou

On 11 lists
The Glass Castle (2005) – Jeannette Walls

On 10 lists
The Year of Magical Thinking (2005) – Joan Didion

On 9 lists
Night (1956) – Elie Wiesel
Angela’s Ashes (1996) – Frank McCourt
The Liars’ Club (1995) – Mary Karr
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (2012) – Cheryl Strayed

On 8 lists
Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (1995) – Barack Obama
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000) – Dave Eggers
Just Kids (2010) – Patti Smith

On 7 lists
Out of Africa (1937) – Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen)
The Diary of a Young Girl (1942-1944, pub. 1946) – Anne Frank
Girl, Interrupted (1993) – Susanna Kaysen
Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000) – David Sedaris

On 6 lists
A Moveable Feast (pub. 1964) – Ernest Hemingway
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (1997) – Jean-Dominique Bauby
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (2000) – Anthony Bourdain
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (2000) – Stephen King
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia (2006) – Elizabeth Gilbert
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (2007) – Ishmael Beah
Men We Reaped: A Memoir (2013) – Jesmyn Ward
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban (2013) – Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
When Breath Becomes Air: What Makes Life Worth Living in the Face of Death (2016) – Paul Kalanithi

On 5 lists
The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965) – Malcolm X with Alex Haley
The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts (1976) – Maxine Hong Kingston
Autobiography of a Face (1994) – Lucy Grealy
The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother (1996) – James McBride
Running with Scissors (2002) – Augusten Burroughs
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books (2003) – Azar Nafisi
Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life (2007) – Steve Martin
Bossypants (2011) – Tina Fey

On 4 lists
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845) – Frederick Douglass
Black Boy (1945) – Richard Wright
Speak, Memory (1951) – Vladimir Nabokov
This Boy’s Life
(1989) – Tobias Wolff
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (1998) – Bill Bryson
All Over but the Shoutin’ (1999) – Rick Bragg
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood (2002) – Alexandra Fuller
I Feel Bad about My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman (2006) – Nora Ephron
My Life in France (2006) – Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme
Life (2010) – Keith Richards
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness (2012) – Susannah Cahalan

On 3 lists
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1791) – Benjamin Franklin
Walden (1854) – Henry David Thoreau
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (1985) – Richard Feynman
Long Walk to Freedom (1994) – Nelson Mandela
Personal History (1997) – Katharine Graham
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster (1997) – Jon Krakauer
Lucky (1999) – Alice Sebold
Persepolis (2003) – Marjane Satrapi
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006) – Alison Bechdel
Out of Egypt: A Memoir (2007) – Andre Aciman
Blood, Bones, & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef (2011) – Gabrielle Hamilton
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) (2011) – Mindy Kaling
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) (2012) – Jenny Lawson
H Is for Hawk (2014) – Helen Macdonald
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. (2014) – Viv Albertine
Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs (2015) – Sally Mann
Negroland: A Memoir (2015) – Margo Jefferson
My Life on the Road (2015) – Gloria Steinem
The Rules Do Not Apply (2017) – Ariel Levy

On 2 lists
The Story of My Life (1903) – Helen Keller
The Story of My Experiments with Truth (1929) – Mohandas K. Gandhi
Good-Bye to All That (1929) – Robert Graves
Down and Out in Paris and London (1933) – George Orwell
Homage to Catalonia (1938) – George Orwell
Dust Tracks on a Road (1948) – Zora Neale Hurston
All Creatures Great and Small (1972) – James Herriot
Conundrum (1974) – Jan Morris
Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir (1983) – Joyce Johnson
When I Was Puerto Rican (1994) – Esmeralda Santiago
A Child Called “It” (1995) – Dave Pelzer
Drinking: A Love Story (1996) – Caroline Knapp
Tuesdays with Morrie (1997) – Mitch Albom
Naked (1997) – David Sedaris
Experience: A Memoir (2000) – Martin Amis
Dry (2003) – Augusten Burroughs
She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders (2003) – Jennifer Finney Boylan
First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers (2003) – Loung Ung
Chronicles: Volume One (2004) – Bob Dylan
Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog (2005) John Grogan
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (2007) – Haruki Murakami
The Mistress’s Daughter (2007) – A.M. Homes
The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness (2007) – Elyn R. Saks
Stitches: A Memoir (2009) – David Small
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (2011) – Jeanette Winterson
The Memory Palace: A Memoir (2011) – Mira Bartok
Wave (2013) – Sonali Deraniyagala
Coming Clean (2013) – Kimberly Rae Miller
Yes Please (2014) – Amy Poehler
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (2014) – Bryan Stevenson
Between the World and Me (2015) – Ta-Nehisi Coates
Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget (2015) – Sarah Hepola
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (2016) – J.D. Vance
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (2017) – Roxane Gay
Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat (2017) – Patricia Williams
Priestdaddy (2017) – Patricia Lockwood
Becoming (2018) – Michelle Obama
Joy Enough: A Memoir (2018) – Sarah McColl
Educated: A Memoir (2018) – Tara Westover