Top rated autobiographies to read this Christmas 2022 in the UK

Books make an excellent gift at Christmas time, but also can be a great gift for yourself – especially if you’re looking to take a break from the screens that surround us in modern life. Having said that, reading a physical book isn’t the only way to enjoy these amazing stories.

Getting an Amazon Kindle can be a great way to carry lots of books round with you if you’re travelling, and you can often download books for a much lower cost. Listening to audiobooks is also a great way to stay on top of your reading when you’re on the go. Amazon Audible lets you download books onto your phone and listen as you go, and it’s also running a 30-day UK free trial right now.

We love the experience of going into a bookshop, looking at all the covers and picking out a few new titles. But life can get busy, and it can be tricky to find the time to continue to support your local bookshop. Shopping from a site like also lets you support independent bookshops from home.

Here’s our list of the best autobiographies to buy this Christmas.

Looking for better ways to experience your favourite audiobook? Check out guide to the best wireless earbuds this year, and the best smart speakers in 2022.

Best autobiographies at a glance:

  • Open, Andre Agassi from £10.99
  • Everything I Know About Love, Dolly Alderton from £8.99
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou from £7.59
  • Wild Swans, Jung Chang from £7.69
  • The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion from £6.99
  • The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher from £8.99
  • The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank from £8.54
  • All Creatures Great and Small, James Herriot from £8.54
  • This is Going to Hurt, Adam Kay from £7.39
  • Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela from £11.63
  • I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette McCurdy from £20 £10
  • Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama from £9.99
  • Becoming, Michelle Obama from £6.49
  • Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman, Alan Rickman from £25 £12.50
  • Just Kids, Patti Smith from £12.34
  • Wild, Cheryl Strayed from £8.99
  • Taste, Stanley Tucci from £5
  • Educated, Tara Westover from £9.99
  • I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzai from £7.59
  • Crying In H Mart, Michelle Zauner from £8.49

Best autobiographies to read in 2022

Open, Andre Agassi

Written in 2009, this is the autobiography of the American former World No.1 tennis player, Andre Agassi. Written in collaboration with JR Moehringer from a collection of hundreds of hours of tapes, this memoir gives top insight into the life of a professional sportsperson.

Agassi’s was a career of fierce rivalries and it’s fascinating to hear these from the perspective of an insider. Like many high-performing careers, in sport children are singled out for their talent at a young age, and Agassi describes the intensity of training for himself and his fellow tennis players in their collective pursuit of excellence.

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This book would make a great present for any tennis fan, and gives an interesting insight into the man behind the nickname ‘The Punisher’.

Open, Andre Agassi from £10.99 at Waterstones

Everything I Know About Love, Dolly Alderton

Everything I Know About Love follows Times columnist Dolly Alderton through her early life and 20s. It tackles themes of dating, love, friendship as Alderton comes of age and grows into herself. Dispersed with recipes in the style of Nora Ephron’s Heartburn, the book gained a cult following since it was published in 2018 and won a National Book Award (UK) for best autobiography of the year.

Alderton’s memoir has also now been turned into a BBC TV show which follows a fictionalised version of Alderton and her friends as they navigate life in London.

Everything I Know About Love, Dolly Alderton from £8.99 at Foyles

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is the first of seven autobiographies Angelou wrote about her life. It follows her childhood, beginning when she’s just three years old and spanning to when she is 16 — from her time as a child to when she had a child herself. The book follows the young Maya as she and her brother Bailey are moved between family members following the separation of her parents.

Discussing themes of racism, sexual assault and displacement, the expertly crafted narrative is widely taught in schools here and in the US. Written in the aftermath of the death of Martin Luther King Jr in 1968, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings became an instant classic and is a must-read.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou from £7.59 at Amazon

Wild Swans, Jung Chang

Slightly different from traditional first person autobiographies, in this book Jung Chang tells the stories of three generations of women in her own family — her grandmother, her mother and herself. At a time when China is becoming increasingly isolated from the rest of the world, this book provides vital context into the 20th century history of the country.

Through the stories of her grandmother who was given to a warlord as a concubine, and her mother who was a young idealist during the rise of Communism, she captures moments of bravery, fear, and ultimately survival.

The book, which is banned in China, has sold more than 13 million copies worldwide and is as beautifully written as it is educationally fascinating.

Wild Swans, Jung Chang from £7.69 at Amazon

The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion

Published in 2005 when it went on to win Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography, this book follows Didion in the year after her the death of her husband of nearly 40 years, John Gregory Dunne. In this harrowing depiction of grief, love and loss, Didion turns her personal experience into one that is universally relatable.

Didion and Donne’s adopted daughter Quintana fell ill days before his death and was still in hospital when he died. Didion recounts her experience caring for her throughout the book, all while going through her own grief.

While not an easy read, this is an incredibly powerful one.

The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion from £6.99 at Amazon

The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher

This might be an obvious choice for any Star Wars fan, but we think the appeal of this book stretches far beyond just that. Made up of the diaries Fisher wrote when she was 19 years old and first started playing Princess Leia, the book was released shortly before her death in 2016.

Any peak behind the scenes of such a well-known franchise is bound to be popular, and this examines her experience as a young adult thrust into the world of fame and sex. Unlike her deeply person earlier memoir Wishful Drinking, in which Fisher described her struggles with mental illness, The Princess Diarist is full of bombshell revelations and funny punchlines, making for an enjoyable read.

The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher from £8.99 at Foyles

The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank

The title of this book is clever because in so many ways, Anne Frank’s diary is just that — the diary of a young girl. But it is also a vital account of history.

Starting on her 13th birthday, Anne writes about her life with her family living in Amsterdam from 1942 to 1944. Alongside other Jews, Anne and her family go into hiding to escape persecution from the Nazis. She deals with all the feeling teenagers experience growing up, but also grapples with her isolation, lack of freedom, and trying to understand what is happening in the world around her.

Important reading for young people and adults alike, Anne’s writing brings home the realities of human suffering levelled upon the Jewish people by the Nazis. Anne’s father Otto Frank was the only member of her family to survive the Holocaust, and he published his daughter’s diary in line with her wishes.

The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank from £8.54 at

All Creatures Great and Small, James Herriot

This book would make a great gift for the animal lover in your life, or any fan of the great outdoors. In it, James Herriot recounts his experiences as a newly qualified vet working in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1930s.

The first in his series of memoirs, All Creatures Great and Small finds Herriot in situations where there are high stakes, and more often than not some hilarity (think escaped pigs!). In the years since their first publication, the books have become classics.

If you want more of All Creatures Great and Small, there is also a TV adaptation to get stuck into.

All Creatures Great and Small, James Herriot from £8.54 at

This is Going to Hurt, Adam Kay

This autobiography follows Adam Kay through his years as a junior doctor specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology and working within the NHS. It will have you crying of laughter and sorrow as the young doctor finds himself helping people from all walks of life, all while his own personal life falls into disarray.

Kay’s debut publication was the bestselling non-fiction title of 2018 in the UK and stayed at the top of the charts for weeks.

This is Going to Hurt was adapted into a limited drama series by the BBC earlier this year starring Ben Whishaw, which used elements of the book to explore wider themes around health and the NHS.

This is Going to Hurt, Adam Kay from £7.39 at Amazon

Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela

This autobiography hardly needs an introduction. It tells the life story of former South African President and antiapartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela, covering his childhood, education and the 27 years he spent in prison.

Mandela is internationally praised for overcoming enormous persecution and struggle, rebuilding South Africa’s society as President. The film adaptation of his autobiography stars Idris Elba as Mandela, and was released shortly after his death.

Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela from £11.63 at Amazon

I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette McCurdy

Jennette McCurdy’s memoir has been one of the most talked about books of 2022. A former child star best know for her role on Nickelodeon’s iCarly in the USA, McCurdy’s memoir describes her experience growing up in the limelight with an abusive parent.

The book’s title has, unsurprisingly, been a big talking point, but it addresses an issue faced by many who write about their life experiences — how do you write about your true experience without damaging your relationships? In this frank and often funny book, McCurdy describes the emotional complexity of receiving abuse from someone you love.

I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette McCurdy from £10 at Amazon

Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama

Published nearly 15 years before he became President of the United States, Barack Obama’s first memoir is a deep exploration into identity and belonging. In this book which begins with him learning about his father’s death, Obama explores his own relationship with race as the son of a Black Kenyan father and a white American mother.

Written with his recognisable voice, Obama travels back to Kansas where his mother’s family is from (they later moved to Hawaii where Obama spent most of his childhood) before making the journey to Kenya.

This makes an interesting read not only to learn more about the background of a man who holds such an important place in America’s history, but also in shedding light on how we all relate to our own parentage and what makes us who we are.

Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama from £9.99 at Waterstones

Becoming, Michelle Obama

America’s former First Lady Michelle Obama recounts experiences of her life in this record breaking autobiography, from growing up on the south side of Chicago with her parents and brother, to attending Princeton University and Harvard Law School before returning to Chicago as a qualified lawyer. It was whilst working at a law firm in the city that she met her husband Barack Obama.

Obama uses her elegant story telling to take us along on the incredible journey she went on, as an accomplished lawyer, daughter, wife and mother to becoming First Lady. This is an autobiography that lets you see history from the insider’s perspective and is definitely a must read.

Becoming, Michelle Obama from £6.49 at Amazon

Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman, Alan Rickman

Alan Rickman was much loved for his roles in fan favourite films, such as Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series. This collection of diary entries, written with the intention of being made public and published after his death, give his witty insights into his day-to-day life but also his take on world events.

The book is filled not only with delightful showbiz gossip, but also with snippets of hidden moments — from his disbelief and grief at the sudden death of actor and friend Natasha Richardson, to the relief he feels that the costume for Severus Snape still fits.

Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman, Alan Rickman from £12.50 at Amazon

Just Kids, Patti Smith

On its release in 2010, Patti Smith’s memoir won the US National Book Award for Nonfiction. In many ways it is a love letter to her life long friend, the artist Robert Mapplethorpe. In Just Kids, she recounts their meeting, romance and how they continued to inspire and encourage each other in their artistic pursuits for the rest of their lives.

This story which so vividly depicts life is, however, overshadowed by Mapplethorpe’s death. Read for a vivid description of the New York art scene in the late ’60s.

Just Kids, Patti Smith from £12.34 at

Wild, Cheryl Strayed

In this autobiography, Cheryl Strayed writes about hiking the Pacific Coast Trail, from the Mojave Desert in California to Washington State in the Pacific North West. In total, Strayed walks over a thousand miles on her own and in the process, she walked back to herself.

This memoir is beautifully written, moving between stories from the trail to those about Strayed’s childhood, her struggles with heroin use and the sudden death of her mother — the main motivation for her walk. Full of suspense, warmth and humour, this book will make you think about your life and your family, and probably make you want to go on a walk.

Wild was adapted into a film in 2014, produced by and starring Reese Witherspoon.

Wild, Cheryl Strayed from £8.99 at Waterstones

Taste, Stanley Tucci

Stanley Tucci has long been beloved for his nuanced and charming acting performances, but in the last few years has gained popularity for his true love — food. Between his CNN series Searching for Italy making us all cross eyed with food envy, and his cookbook The Tucci Table written with wife Felicity Blunt, there’s no getting away from the fact that Stanley Tucci is giving Italian food an even better name than it had already.

But there’s a good reason for Tucci’s renewed love of food and his devotion to these passion projects. He was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2018 which left him unable to eat for several months, and even after he was able to eat again, his sense of taste was changed. In this memoir, he recounts his early relationship with food in his grandparent’s kitchen and at his parent’s table, and how his relationship with food has shaped all the loves of his life.

We recommend having a bowl of pasta in front of you while you read this!

Taste, Stanley Tucci from £5 at Amazon

Educated, Tara Westover

This is a frankly astonishing memoir in which Tara Westover recounts how she came from a Mormon fundamentalist background without a birth certificate or any schooling, and ended up studying for her PhD at the University of Cambridge.

Westover gives readers a peak behind the curtain into the lifestyle of a group who do everything they can to stay away from the outside world. She recounts the experience of herself and her siblings as they grew up in an environment where they were often injured and didn’t have access to medical help.

The juxtaposition of loving her family and yet needing to escape is acutely described, and she writes so cleverly about the complex subject matter, often admitting that her version of events may not be the correct one. Westover expertly uses her own story to examine themes of religion, love and above all education – and we promise you won’t be able to put it down.

Educated, Tara Westover from £9.99 at Foyles

I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai’s story is undeniably an incredible one. After the Taliban took over in Swat Valley in Pakistan where she was born, Yousafzai was prevented from going to school. Despite being just a child herself, she became outspoken on girls’ right to learn and in 2012, she was shot in the head by a masked gunman while on the bus to school.

After the attack Yousafzai moved to the UK with her family. In this autobiography, she describes the importance of female education, starting the Malala Fund, and receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. This book will leave you inspired.

I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzai from £7.59 at

Crying In H Mart, Michelle Zauner

Michelle Zauner is an Asian-American singer-songwriter and guitarist best known as lead of the band Japanese Breakfast. In this memoir, Zauner explores her relationship with her Korean heritage and how her mother’s death forced her to reckon with the side of herself she had all but lost.

At the heart of this book about love, loss and grief is food. It acts as a constant dialogue between Zauner and her mother, as well as an enduring connection with her Korean heritage. This makes for a highly emotional and thought-provoking read.

Crying In H Mart, Michelle Zauner from £8.49 at Waterstones

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Adam Regan
Adam Regan
Deputy Editor

Features and account management. 3 years media experience. Previously covered features for online and print editions.


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