Books for a Better Life Award Inspirational Memoir winners

shelved under Self-Help and Award Winners

The Books for a Better Life Awards, founded in 1996, have honored more than 400 self-improvement titles and raised more than $1.5 million for the New York Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. The following are the winners in the Inspirational Memoir category from 2005 to 2008. (Editor's note: We think this prize started in 1996 but had a devil of a time finding any info on earlier winners. If anyone knows, please drop us a line.)


The Last Lecture (2008)

by Jeffrey Zaslow, Randy Pausch

I think most people have heard of the inspiring Carnegie Mellon professor who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and gave the incredibly inspiring lecture “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” This last lecture wasn’t about dying, it was about living. Thousands of people saw the Last Lecture on YouTube and became so touched by this incredible man, and his book is filled with the same intelligence, humor and indomitable spirit as Professor Pausch’s exalting lecture.


The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness (2007)

by Elyn R. Saks

The noted neurologist Oliver Sacks says that this is “the most lucid and hopeful memoir of living with schizophrenia that I have ever read.” This is a profoundly moving memoir of the author’s battle with schizophrenia. The author is a professor of law and psychiatry at the University of Southern California. The title is borrowed from the line “center cannot hold,” from a William Butler Yeats poem entitled The Second Coming.


A Three Dog Life (2006)

by Abigail Thomas

The author composed crystal-clear essays about her life after her husband sustains a traumatic brain injury after a hit-and-run accident. I think sometimes a reader may pick this book up and then put it back down because they fear the subject matter is going to be depressing... quite the contrary! This book sparkles with wit and observations about life in general and in the particular. Give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.

This book also appears on The Things We Do For Love


Love in the Driest Season: A Family Memoir (2005)

by Neely Tucker

This very gifted Washington Post writer weaves the true tale of him and his wife’s work at a Zimbabwe orphanage at the height of the AIDS crisis. This riveting book also tells of the Tucker's heroic efforts to save a baby girl and their struggle to adopt this child who has stolen their hearts. A heartwarming story about two people with limitless depths of love and compassion.