Inspiring Quotes From ‘Know My Name,’ ‘Inside Out,’ & 13 Other Memoirs
"The path to self-discovery is not a straight line. It’s a zigzag," Alicia Keys writes in More Myself.
No matter how much you love fiction, you’ve got to admit that reading real people’s stories just hits different. The last few years have seen some truly great autobiographies make their way into stores. The best quotes from memoirs will make you want to read every last one of those books, so make a little room on your nightstand for the 15 titles below.
The memoir allows anyone to tell their life story. Whether you want to read a celebrity or politician’s deepest, darkest secrets, or you’re just looking to read an average person’s biggest regrets and insights, there’s a memoir out there you’re sure to enjoy.
We’ve used the idea of the memoir sort of loosely here. You’ll find traditional memoirs and stories of life with complicated families below, as well as a few autobiographical essay collections. Rest assured: these are all real stories from real people brave enough to open up.
Here are 15 quotes from memoirs that will make you want to read more:
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"Blink, and you’ll miss your treasure. Blink again, and you’ll realize that the truth you thought was completely hidden, has materialized some ungainly part of it revealed under new conditions."
"Boundaries help. It’s through boundaries that we construct ourselves, say, Here is where you end and I begin. However, while boundaries are powerful, they’re unfortunately not solid. They are made in the imagination, and there are inherent flaws in arming oneself for battle in our fantasies. What is shocking isn’t that we have lived through the traumas of our lives. The miracle is that we are still remotely permeable."
"Dancers can look at a mirror, a writer can look at a page, and a painter can look at a canvas and see their work reflected back at them. But singers can only hear and feel what they are doing. After all the training, technique, use of breath, and placement of sound, it boils down to an emotional response to music and lyrics — and the way they touch one’s heart and soul."
"This devastation is a crossroads with a choice; to remain in the ashes or to forge ahead unburdened. Here is the chance to mold into a new nakedness, strengthened by the legacy of resilience to climb over the debris toward a different life."
"A handy trick is to think long and hard about what the person who hates you would realistically add to your life if they were to actually be a part of it. Most people really do have absolutely nothing to offer you."
"The path to self-discovery is not a straight line. It’s a zigzag. We move in and out of awareness: one step forward, three steps to the left, a baby step back, another leap forward. A lightbulb moment might shine brightly one day, but then flicker the next. It takes work to hold tightly to a certain consciousness, to live in its wisdom. Every day, I have to intentionally maintain an awareness of my value."
"Our bodies are ecosystems, and they shed and replace and repair until we die. And when we die, our bodies feed the hungry earth, our cells becoming part of other cells, and in the world of the living, where. we used to be, people kiss and hold hands and fall in love and fuck and laugh and cry and hurt others and nurse broken hearts and start wars and pull sleeping children out of car seats and shout at each other. If you could harness that energy — that constant, roving hunger — you could do wonders with it. You could push the earth inch by inch through the cosmos until it collided heart first with the sun."
"When women lose themselves, the world loses its way. We do not need more selfless women. What we need right now is more women who have detoxed themselves so completely from the world’s expectations that they are full of nothing but themselves. What we need are women who are full of themselves. A woman who is full of herself knows and trusts herself enough to say and do what must be done. She lets the rest burn."
"Most people say developing is linear, but for survivors it is cyclic. People grow up, victims grow around; we strengthen around the place that hurt, become older and fuller, but the vulnerable core is never gone."
"I have since come to understand that there is no such thing as someone ‘loving you enough’ to be better. People can only be as good as they are, no matter how much they love you."
"Still, I was present. I kept a promise I made to myself a little over a year before to show up in my own life. To feel things, whether they were the result of bad memories, or good ones in the making."
"You are making something, a life, a self, and it is an intensely creative task as well as one at which it is more than possible to fail, a little, a lot, miserably, fatally."
"One day, when I cut my knee in the ditch outside, revealing what appeared to be a layer of white skin underneath, I lay between them, holding their hands up side by side, asking why they weren’t the same color, why I didn’t match either of them exactly. What was I? ‘You have the best of both worlds,’ they told me, not for the first time."
"When an artist dies, the art that never was is often mourned with as much grief as — if not more grief than — the individual themself. The individual, after all, was flesh and blood. It’s the art that’s immortal."
"Being in a relationship will inevitably offer up uncertainty, risk, and challenges. Find someone who is willing and able to come up with creative solutions as issues arise and takes leaps for you when called for."
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