Instead of Scrolling Through Instagram, Read an Intellectual Memoir

Katie Fowler
PHOTO:

Harper and Harley

It’s April 2017, which means the world is consumed by social media, celebrity, and anything involving a 'side-hustle'. We need a break from being 'switched on', scrolling social feeds, and feeling bleary-eyed from staring at screens. Tuning out social media can be a daunting thought, as it's now become the normal way to converse with friends, keep up to date with news, plan social activities, and of course, shop. However, taking a moment to switch off can be truly satisfying, and actually make you smarter.

Think of it as a fresh start. Use your dedicated time off to reconnect with your intellectual side, and get inspired by some real-life memoirs. 

Keep scrolling to discover the seven memoirs that inspire us below.

For the mother

Joan Didion The Year of Magical Thinking ($14)

Synopsis:

"From one of America’s iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage--and a life, in good times and bad--that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child."

For the Dreamer

Linda Rodriguez McRobbie Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings ($27)

Synopsis:

"You think you know her story. You’ve read the Brothers Grimm, you’ve watched the Disney cartoons, and you cheered as these virtuous women lived happily ever after. But real princesses didn't always get happy endings. Sure, plenty were graceful and benevolent leaders, but just as many were ruthless in their quest for power—and all of them had skeletons rattling in their royal closets. Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe was a Nazi spy. Empress Elisabeth of the Austro-Hungarian empire slept wearing a mask of raw veal. Princess Olga of Kiev slaughtered her way to sainthood while Princess Lakshmibai waged war on the battlefield, charging into combat with her toddler son strapped to her back. Princesses Behaving Badly offers true tales of all these princesses and dozens more in a fascinating read that's perfect for history buffs, feminists, and anyone seeking a different kind of bedtime story."

For the thinker

Margot Lee Shetterly Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race ($23)

Synopsis:

"Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff."

For the rule-breaker

Ariel Levy The Rules Do Not Apply ($21)

Synopsis:

"When Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true. Levy picks you up and hurls you through the story of how she built an unconventional life and then watched it fall apart with astonishing speed. Like much of her generation, she was raised to resist traditional rules—about work, about love, and about womanhood."

For the feminist

Malala Yousafzai I am Malala ($15)

Synopsis:

"In 2009 Malala Yousafzai began writing a blog on BBC Urdu about life in the Swat Valley as the Taliban gained control, at times banning girls from attending school. When her identity was discovered, Malala began to appear in both Pakistani and international media, advocating the freedom to pursue education for all. In October 2011, gunmen boarded Malala's school bus and shot her in the face, a bullet passing through her head and into her shoulder. Remarkably, Malala survived the shooting."

For the writer

Maya Angelou I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ($12)

Synopsis:

"Maya Angelou's seven volumes of autobiography are a testament to the talents and resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a Black woman she has known discrimination and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy, achievement and celebration. In this first volume of her six books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s. She learns the power of the white folks at the other end of town and suffers the terrible trauma of rape by her mother's lover. 'I write about being a Black American woman, however, I am always talking about what it's like to be a human being. This is how we are, what makes us laugh, and this is how we fall and how we somehow, amazingly, stand up again."

For the side-hustler

Sheryl Sandberg Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead ($16)

Synopsis:

"Sandberg is chief operating officer of Facebook and author of the forthcoming book Option B with Adam Grant. In 2010, she gave an electrifying TED talk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which has been viewed more than six million times, encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto."

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