Five must-read autobiographies about remarkable women

A look into the lives of five different women who all overcame the odds.

Marielle Descalsota

Published: 25 February 2022, 10:26 AM

My fascination with autobiographies stems from my curiosity about people who achieve great things. I find memoirs written by fellow women to be especially inspiring, as their stories give me new perspectives on dealing with life’s challenges. 

From a Singaporean businesswoman to the first hijabi American Olympian, here are five autobiographies by women that you should check out. 

1. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (2014) by Roz Chast

Make sure you have tissues when reading this graphic memoir by Roz Chast, one of the New York Times’ cartoonists and member of the American Philosophical Society. 

A heartbreaking view into the realities of caring for ageing parents, Chast’s unexpected meld of prose and cartoons makes the daunting topic of death more approachable. She recounts her final moments with her father George and mother Elizabeth, and how she deals with conflicting emotions about the passing of loved ones.


Heartbreaking but a delight to read. PHOTO CREDIT: GOODREADS


After reading her book, I began to see my parents in a more sentimental way. It even made me start thinking of how I would care for them in the future. This is a tear-jerker that I would recommend a thousand times over.

2. I Did Not Miss The Boat: A Memoir of a Vietnam Hoa Refugee (2020) by Lea Tran

As a refugee who fled the Vietnam War, Lea Tran has survived countless hardships – pirates, rough seas, and temporary settlement camps to name a few. Her memoir offers insight on how the lives of refugees really are, and the courage it takes to continue surviving.


One of the bravest women I can think of. PHOTO CREDIT: GOODREADS


Having managed to preserve valuable photographs, including her time at Singapore’s only refugee camp at 25 Hawkins Road, her book is truly a treasure trove of history not many people know about.

If you want to understand the hidden struggles of displaced persons, Lea’s story of triumph will be sure to enlighten you.

3. Love heals: how I turned my life around (2019) by Pamela Lim

When she was $400,000 in debt, entrepreneur Pamela Lim had to overcome depression, a failed business, and being estranged from her family. 

This is the story of how she founded a digital marketing company that helped her regain financial stability, turned her life around, and started a family.


An inspiring story of overcoming adversity. PHOTO CREDIT: AMAZON


Thought-provoking and inspirational, her book is a testament to being courageous in the face of adversity, conquering mental health struggles, and having an indomitable spirit.

4. Open Book (2020) by Jessica Simpson

Many would expect celebrities to thrive in the public eye, and to be open about their lives. But there remain many things that they might want to keep private, including their insecurities, marital issues, and even plastic surgery. 

Jessica’s autobiography discusses all these and more, as she reveals the struggles she faced in her time as a pop star, and how she slowly regained control of her life.


A deep dive into the deeply scrutinised life of a celebrity. PHOTO CREDIT: AMAZON


A “mesmerising memoir of recovery”, this bestseller should be on your to-read list if you are looking for a book that exposes what goes on behind the glitz and glamour of showbiz.

5. Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream by Ibtihaj Muhammad

Olympic medalist fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad’s memoir explains how she achieved her version of the American dream. As an African-American Muslim woman, she overcame the odds to succeed in fencing— a sport that has a reputation of being exclusive and dominated by the upper class.


I was left in awe of Ibtihaj and her journey. PHOTO CREDIT: GOODREADS


Her memoir explains how she achieved her version of the American dream. Reading this book will challenge your beliefs about racism, class, and bigotry, making it a must-read for time to come. 

These autobiographies may come from women of vastly different backgrounds, but they could all be great sources of motivation for everyone who reads them. I hope these books will be as enriching for you as it was for me.

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