Grief in Memoir

Staff PicksSouthwest Library

Grief in Memoir

What to read while you wait for Crying in H Mart

Michelle Zauner’s memoir on grief, family, and food, Crying in H Mart, is massively popular. In fact, as of this writing, the print copy of the book has 549 holds at DC Public Library. While you wait for your turn with this powerful personal account, why not try some similar reads? These memoirs explore themes similar to those found in Crying in H Mart, including family, loss, and grief. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and be sure to have the tissues nearby.

House of Sticks by Ly Tran
Beginning with her family’s immigration from Vietnam in 1993, Ly Tran chronicles her experiences growing up in America. From her father’s belief that Ly’s need for glasses is a government conspiracy to the abuse she witnesses her mother enduring at the family’s nail salon, Tran’s book is as much memoir as it is a family saga examining generational trauma, racism, and family dynamics, both in the context of families of Asian immigrants and specific to Tran’s family. Deeply compelling, House of Sticks paints a detailed and textured picture of Tran’s life with fascinating and forthright consideration of how she was molded. Also available as an ebook.

Kadian Journal: A Father’s Memoir by Thomas Harding
After the death of his son in a bicycle accident, father Thomas Harding set out to write a book about his experience with his profound grief. Looking back on the short fourteen years of Kadian’s life and trudging through the mire of his new grief, Harding offers an immediate and raw look at what it means to lose a child. Part biography, part memoir, part journal, Kadian Journal brings tragedy to healing in an unforgettable story.

The Dead Moms Club: A Memoir about Death, Grief, and Surviving the Mother of All Losses by Kate Spencer
Lost on how to grieve the death of her mother after a cancer diagnosis, Kate Spencer looks back at her 27-year-old self to revisit that period. Both memoir and practical advice, The Dead Moms Club describes an experience we all will likely have in straightforward terms, but not without empathy. While Spencer describes her own struggle through grief, she sometimes leans into humor to lighten the difficulties of discussing such a momentous loss. Also available as an ebook.

Black Widow: A Sad-Funny Journey through Grief for People Who Normally Avoid Books with Words Like “Journey” in the Title by Leslie Gray Streeter
After finding love a little later in life, Leslie Gray Streeter seemed to have it all. With her loving, white and Jewish husband, her Black, Christian life was complete. But just after a few short years together, the author found herself widowed after her husband experienced a fatal heart attack mid-kiss. Diving unabashedly into her experience with grief from the downright ugly to the small, sparkling moments of beauty, Black Widow’s frank approach to grief leaves room for laughter between the tears.

All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir by Nicole Chung
Another massively popular memoir, All You Can Ever Know explores author Nicole Chung’s experience growing up as an overseas adoptee, coming from Korea to Oregon as an infant. Adopted by a white family, Chung grew up with a rosy understanding of her adoption story, but soon learned new information about her origins. Also confronting prejudice her adopted family was blind to, Chung examines the nuances of growing up “different” while both mourning and celebrating who she is and who she might have been. Also available as an ebook, an audiobook, an eaudiobook, and in large print.

Seeing Ghosts by Kat Chow
Preoccupied with death as a child born after her older brother died only hours after his birth, author Kat Chow finally must confront a loss of life when her mother passes unexpectedly. Left with her father and two sisters, Chow finds herself in a dimmer world without her mother. Contextualizing her experience in issues of race, gender, and class, Chow discusses how grief interplays with these societal definers while digging through her own heartbreak. Also available as an ebook and an eaudiobook.

Stranger Care: A Memoir of Loving What Isn’t Ours by Sarah Sentilles
Choosing to serve as foster parents for children who need it, Sarah and her husband understand the realities of their choice. While for a while, a child will be theirs in many ways, any child they care for will -- the hope is -- ultimately be reunited with their birth family. After a significant amount of time going through the process and waiting for a child in need, the call comes. Coco, only three days old, needs a family. But a sense of mourning instills itself immediately in Sarah, as she knows Coco won’t be hers forever. She examines this unique situation of grief in prose with a heartbeat as she welcomes yet another into her family: the reader. Also available as an ebook.

Little and Often by Trent Preszler
After years of estrangement, Trent Preszler is invited to visit his father in South Dakota. But what he soon discovers is that it will be the last visit; burdened with cancer, his father only has a short while left to live. Following his father’s death, Trent inherits his toolbox and endeavors to build something with its contents, despite having no experience in woodwork. Getting to know a new hobby brings Preszler to get to know his father, uncovering his father as never before as he works through his toolbox and his grief.