Editors’ Picks: The All-Time Best Narratively Memoirs

In Narratively's first five years, our memoirists have scoured the world for Nazis, helped strangers with severed fingers, navigated life as a clown, and much more.

After bringing you editors’ picks of the single best stories from each of our first five years, our finest longform “deep dives” and a few stories you may have missed, we’re wrapping up our month-long anniversary celebration with our all-time favorite memoirs.

We hope you enjoy them, and cheers to five years of Narratively! We’re so very grateful for your continued readership and support.

1. The Women in My Family Had to Be Good With Money

By Dena Landon

Illustration by Cornelia Li

How my mother, grandmother and I saved, schemed and sacrificed to gain independence from our controlling husbands.

2. There’s a Mathematical Equation That Proves I’m Ugly – Or So I Learned in My Seventh Grade Art Class

By Ariel Henley

Photo courtesy Ariel Henley

It took me years to realize that despite being born with a rare facial disfigurement, beauty is more than a cold calculation.

3. How to Get Your Paranoid Mother Into the Poisonous Ambulance

By Joseph A. Lapin

Illustration by Danielle Chenette

When your mom is bipolar and believes everything is trying to kill her, the simple act of getting to the hospital becomes a battle of epic proportions.

4. The Day I Told My Father to Shoot Himself

By Jennifer Fliss

Illustration by Jenn LIv

I’ve never spoken about what it was like growing up in a house overflowing with guns. But now I understand how even weapons that are never fired can wound us for life.

5. How Helping a Stranger With a Severed Finger Saved My Life

By Kim Porter

Illustration by Casey Roonan

I was suicidally depressed, until a bloody emergency reminded me what I’m capable of.

6. Secret Life of a Manhattan Doorman

By Garrett McGrath

Illustration by Ben Juers

I was a college student stoked to land a summer gig as a union-wage doorman – until I learned the job description included everything from hauling out hoarders to discovering dead bodies.

7. Searching for the Nazi Who Saved My Mother’s Life

By Karen Kirsten

Illustration by Vinnie Neuberg

Among my family’s many wartime secrets is the shocking story of the SS officer who rescued my mother as a toddler and hid her in a Polish convent – and I just had to find him.

8. The Soul-Crushing Reality of the Stay-At-Home Dad

By Billy Doidge Kilgore

Illustration by Clayton Thompson

When I resigned from my job to care for our infant son, I fancied myself the perfect progressive father. One year later, I’m an isolated, energy-sapped mess.

9. What Happens When a Lesbian Reporter Covers a Pray-The-Gay-Away Convention

By Sarah Viren

Illustration by Kimberly Denson

How writing about a conversion-therapy minister from Texas and his I-swear-I’m-cured-of-it young son taught me about compassion.

10. How to Mourn a Sexually Abusive Father

By Celeste Ramos

Illustrations by Leonardo Santamaria

I’d wanted him dead for years, but that didn’t stop me from grieving.

11. When a Father’s Son Becomes His Daughter

By Meredith Ramirez Talusan

Illustration by Esther Hong

My domineering dad stood by me during my gender transition, but I didn’t truly become a woman until I finally stood up to him.

12. Growing Up Clown

By Brandon Ambrosino

Illustration by Pascal Girard

As the loving son of a clown, I reveled in all the goofy wonder of the performance art. As a grown man, I learned what was really underneath my mother’s painted-on smile.

If you’ve enjoyed these pieces, please consider helping us continue Narratively and tell more great stories by becoming a Narratively member on Patreon.