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Stony Brook University

First-year Reading 2020-2021: *Educated* by Tara Westover

Use this guide to for context and related content to inform your reading of Tara Westover's 2018 memoir, Educated.

The Book


What is a memoir?

The genre of a creative work helps you understand more about the author's intentions, intended audience, and writing style. For example, you would expect different qualities from a poem than from a novel; from opera than from musical theatre; or from a watercolor than from a photograph.

An important genre in the world of books, a memoir is a first-person account of specific true events in the author's life. Whereas autobiographies tend to be written by famous people, memoirs can be written by anyone. Readers often read memoirs more because of their interest in a memoir's subject matter and less because they are interested in factual or chronological details of a person's life. There is also often a strong emotional element in the telling of one's personal story in a memoir, which might transcend human experience and create a shared sense of empathy, understanding, and knowledge amongst readers.

For more information about how a memoir is different from an autobiography, see these resources:


  • New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Boston Globe Bestseller
  • Named one of the ten best books fo the year by the New York Times Book Review
  • One of President Barack Obama's favorite books of the year
  • Bill Gate's Holiday Reading List
  • Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle's Award in autobiography
  • Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle's John Leonard Prize for Best First Book
  • Finalist for the Pen/Jean Stein Book Award
  • Finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize
  • Named one of Paste's Best Memoirs of the Decade
  • Named One of the Best Books of the Year by: The Washington Post, O: The Oprah Magazine, Time, NPR, Good Morning America, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian, The Economist, Financial Times, Newsday, New York Post, theSkimm, Refinery29, Bloomberg, Self, Real Simple, Town & Country, Bustle, Paste, Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal, LibraryReads, BookRiot, Pamela Paul, KQED, New York Public Library