Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

5 New Memoirs That Will Make You Laugh and Cry

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Susie Dumond

Senior Contributor

Susie (she/her) is a queer writer originally from Little Rock, now living in Washington, DC. She is the author of QUEERLY BELOVED and the forthcoming LOOKING FOR A SIGN from Dial Press/Random House. You can find her on Instagram @susiedoom.

There’s nothing better than a well-written memoir to take you on an emotional journey. A good writer can turn any personal story into an entertaining and meaningful tale, and these writers of recent memoirs and essay collections have done just that. Each of these 2020 new memoirs are sure to make you laugh out loud, but the more tender moments will also bring a tear to your eye.

I also highly recommend each of these books in audiobook form; each is read by the author. Hearing the writers’ stories in their own voices adds a personal touch that brings these books even more vividly to life. But whether you choose to enjoy these memoirs and personal essay collections in print or audio, you’re sure to enjoy the hilarious and unique takes each brings to the genre.

Here For It by R. Eric Thomas coverHere For It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America by R. Eric Thomas

R. Eric Thomas is a funny person on the internet; you may know him from his “Eric Reads the News” column at Now, he’s a funny person you can get to know better through his memoir. This book opens with a hilarious, philosophical essay on Sesame Street and ends with a bizarre, poignant short play where Thomas meets past and former versions of himself over lobster tails at a cruise ship buffet. And between, you get so much more, including the time Thomas accidentally became a famous racist, what it feels like to kiss a gay pastor at a pride parade, and how a funny Facebook post led to a career. I loved everything about this book: the humor, the profundity, the timing, the balance…It’s exactly what I hope for in a book of personal essays. I laughed, I cried, I gasped, I texted quotes to friends and begged them to read it. As soon as I read the last word, I wanted to flip back to the beginning and start all over again.

Save Yourself coverSave Yourself by Cameron Esposito

In this memoir, comedian Cameron Esposito explores her coming out process and writes the queer coming-of-age story she wishes she’d heard as a young person. This was even more laugh-out-loud funny than I expected, and I had high expectations as a fan of Esposito. But beyond the laughs, this memoir has so much heart. Growing up in a devout Catholic family and attending a conservative Catholic university meant Esposito’s journey of self-exploration wasn’t always easy. She doesn’t shy away from the difficult moments, and her earnest vulnerability in Save Yourself made this a very special book. From being an awkward tween with an eye patch to worrying God cursed her with ringworm after her first gay kiss, this memoir will make you laugh, cry, and feel a little bit gayer.

F*ck Your Diet: And Other Things My Thighs Tell Me by Chloé Hilliard

In this hilarious and refreshing memoir, comedian Chloé Hilliard takes on diet culture and the way society teaches us to think about our bodies. By the age of 12, Hilliard stood at over six feet tall and worse a size 12 in shoes and clothes. With the weight of society’s expectations on how she should view her body, she tried every fad diet and fitness regimen in sight. And through it all, she learned a lot more about other people than she did about her own body. From junk food to the meat industry to standards of beauty, Hilliard has a lot to say, and I loved every word.

Wow No Thank You coverWow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

Look, Samantha Irby is hilarious and perfect and can do no wrong for me. If you loved Meaty and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life (and if you haven’t read them already, what are you even doing with your life?), you’re going to love Wow, No Thank You. In her newest collection, you’ll find the signature pop culture criticism, avoidance of socializing, and horrifying poop stories that gained Irby a cult following. But now that Sam’s married with stepkids and living in small town Michigan, she’s got even more in store. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll wish you could be friends with Samantha Irby.

Buy Yourself the Fcking Lilies coverBuy Yourself the F*cking Lilies: And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who’s Been There by Tara Schuster

As a TV executive at Comedy Central, Tara Schuster definitely has a sense of humor. But this book also explores heavy topics: depression, anxiety, difficult childhoods, and unhealthy relationships. Part memoir and part self-help book, Schuster gives advice on “reparenting” and loving yourself by telling her own story to show that we’re all in this together. No matter where you are in your self-love journey, Schuster’s story will touch you, and you’ll find some great takeaways to apply to your own life. There’s nothing better than a memoir that is entertaining to read and helps you on your own journey!

We hope this list of 2020 new memoirs helped you find a book to make you laugh, cry, and grow. Looking for more recommendations? You might enjoy 50 Must-Read Memoirs to Make You Feel and the 20 Best Essay Collections of 2019.