Books To Read After “Educated”

In the world of memoirs, Tara Westover’s “Educated” holds a significant place. Unraveling a poignant tale of self-discovery and the transformative power of education, it leaves an indelible mark on its readers. After immersing yourself in Westover’s journey from an isolated Idaho mountain to the esteemed halls of Cambridge and Harvard, you might be seeking other narratives that explore similar themes or evoke related emotions.

This blog post is designed to guide you through a curated list of books to read after “Educated.” Each of these titles shares threads with Westover’s narrative, whether they echo the trials of overcoming adversity, the quest for self-identity, the pivotal role of education, or the complicated dynamics of family relationships.

Let’s embark on this literary journey, and deepen our understanding of these universal themes through the power of shared stories.

Understanding “Educated”

In order to comprehend the selection of books recommended for further reading, it’s crucial to briefly reflect on “Educated” and its central themes.

Brief Summary of “Educated”

“Educated” is a powerful memoir penned by Tara Westover that chronicles her journey from a secluded, survivalist family in Idaho to the halls of prestigious academic institutions. Born to parents who shunned formal education and modern medicine, Westover overcomes immense odds, abusive relationships, and ingrained beliefs to earn a PhD from Cambridge University.

Analysis of Key Elements in “Educated”

Overcoming Adversity

Tara’s journey is marked by her struggle to overcome adversity. Raised in an environment that fostered fear, ignorance, and abuse, her determination to escape and thrive becomes the crux of her story.

Quest for Self-Identity

Throughout the memoir, Tara grapples with her identity, torn between the family and beliefs she was born into and the wider world she discovers through education. It’s a poignant portrayal of the quest for self-definition and liberation.

Value of Education

A key theme in the memoir is the transformative power of education. Tara’s pursuit of knowledge not only opens new horizons but also enables her to question, understand, and ultimately redefine her upbringing.

Family Relationships

The complexities of Tara’s relationships with her family, particularly her father and brother, add depth to her narrative. It offers insight into the struggle of balancing familial loyalty and personal growth.

This analysis provides the foundation for our selection of books, each of which echoes one or more of these themes, offering a rich exploration of similar narratives.

Criteria for Book Selection

To provide a list of meaningful and impactful readings, we’ve taken into account several factors. This criteria ensures that the suggested books resonate well with the themes and spirit of “Educated.”

Factors Considered in Choosing Books

The books selected for this list have been meticulously chosen based on a few key criteria. Firstly, they should deal with one or more of the significant themes we identified in “Educated”: overcoming adversity, quest for self-identity, the value of education, and intricate family relationships.

Secondly, these books should inspire readers in a manner similar to “Educated.” They should possess the capacity to stir emotions, provoke thought, and offer new perspectives on the human experience.

Finally, they should be highly regarded, either by readers or critics, for their narrative power, literary quality, or the importance of the stories they tell.

How the Chosen Books Resonate with “Educated”

Each of the selected books resonates with “Educated” in its unique way. Some are direct reflections of the themes present in Tara Westover’s memoir, while others offer tangential but related explorations.

For instance, some books highlight personal narratives of overcoming adversity, presenting characters who rise above their circumstances through determination and resilience. Others delve into the often complex journey of self-discovery, showcasing protagonists grappling with their identities in ways reminiscent of Westover’s experiences.

There are also books that underscore the transformative power of education, echoing Westover’s own journey from a mountain in Idaho to Cambridge University. And finally, several selections shed light on the intricacies of family relationships, much like the nuanced dynamics between Westover and her family members.

Through this selection process, the goal is to offer a collection of books that expand upon the themes found in “Educated,” providing further opportunities for reflection, empathy, and understanding.

Book Suggestions

Following the outlined criteria, we’ve curated a list of books that echo the themes of “Educated” and offer equally impactful narratives. These books are categorized according to the predominant themes they share with “Educated.”

Books on Overcoming Adversity

“The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls presents an unforgettable memoir of resilience, recounting the author’s upbringing in a dysfunctional family constantly on the move. Walls’ journey through chaos, poverty, and neglect bears a striking resemblance to Westover’s struggles and her fight to rise above her circumstances.

“Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America” by Beth Macy delves into the opioid crisis in America. Though different in context, it presents a grim picture of adversity faced by communities in the grip of a widespread health crisis.

Books on Quest for Self-Identity

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou traces Angelou’s journey from her early childhood to becoming a mother at 16. It offers a vivid depiction of the author’s exploration of her identity amidst challenging circumstances, echoing Westover’s struggle for self-identity.

“The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir” by Ruth Wariner portrays a tale of courage and identity. As Wariner questions and ultimately breaks away from her family’s polygamist beliefs, readers are reminded of Westover’s own quest for self-definition.

Books on Value of Education

“Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” by J.D. Vance provides a stark portrayal of Vance’s life and his rise out of poverty. It underscores the transformative role of education in shaping his future, a theme that resonates strongly with “Educated.”

“Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness” by Susannah Cahalan recounts the author’s battle with a rare illness that strips her of her memories. The story highlights the power of knowledge and understanding in fighting an incomprehensible ailment.

Books on Complicated Family Relationships

“Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China” by Jung Chang traces the lives of three generations of women in China, starting in 1909. It delves into complex familial relationships against a backdrop of historical and political upheaval, drawing parallels with Westover’s family dynamics.

In each of these suggested books, readers who appreciated “Educated” will find common threads—characters defying odds, searching for identity, valuing education, and navigating complicated familial waters—offering a rich canvas of human experiences to explore.

Deep Dive into Selected Books

To provide a richer perspective, we’ll delve deeper into a few selected books from the list. These books not only reflect the themes of “Educated,” but also offer distinctive narratives worthy of further exploration.

“The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls

“The Glass Castle” presents an evocative exploration of a chaotic and unconventional childhood. Walls’ memoir is a testament to the power of resilience and optimism in the face of neglect and hardship. Readers will find parallels with “Educated” in the author’s grit and determination to overcome her circumstances and pursue her dreams.

Exploration of Themes

“The Glass Castle” largely deals with themes of overcoming adversity and complicated family relationships. Walls’ parents, although flawed and neglectful, are depicted as unique individuals rather than villains, adding depth and complexity to their character profiles.

Comparisons and Contrasts to “Educated”

Like “Educated,” Walls’ memoir presents a challenging family environment and the pursuit of education as a means of escape. However, where Westover’s narrative is tinted with the struggle to reconcile her past and her identity, Walls focuses more on the impact of her past on shaping her present, accepting her family for who they are.

“Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” by J.D. Vance

“Hillbilly Elegy” presents an introspective look at the author’s upbringing in the Rust Belt and his familial and ancestral ties to Kentucky. It provides a unique exploration of the culture and circumstances that shape him, and his journey to rise above them.

Exploration of Themes

This book explores themes of identity, class, education, and family. Vance’s narrative is marked by the desire to understand his roots and the determination to transcend the constraints of his upbringing. His journey toward higher education mirrors Westover’s quest for learning.

Comparisons and Contrasts to “Educated”

Like “Educated,” “Hillbilly Elegy” deals with the transformative power of education. However, while Westover’s story is one of breaking away, Vance’s story is more about understanding and coming to terms with his background. His struggle is not just against his immediate family, but also against a cultural backdrop that often feels oppressive and limiting.

By delving into these books, we gain a deeper understanding of their narratives and the common threads that link them to “Educated.” These stories provide further insight into the universal themes that make these memoirs resonate with readers.

How These Books Extend the Conversation Initiated by “Educated”

While each book on our list offers a unique narrative, they collectively continue the conversation started by “Educated”. They delve deeper into the key themes and provide diverse perspectives, thus enriching the dialogue surrounding those themes.

Broadening Perspectives on Overcoming Adversity

The suggested books present different contexts of adversity, each story depicting a unique struggle. From Walls’ destitute upbringing in “The Glass Castle,” to Macy’s exploration of the opioid crisis in “Dopesick,” each narrative expands the conversation on resilience, determination, and the human capacity to overcome adversity.

Diverse Journeys of Self-Identity

Books like “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and “The Sound of Gravel” offer distinct narratives of self-discovery. Angelou’s struggle with racism and trauma and Wariner’s journey in a polygamist community each offer unique perspectives on the search for self-identity, adding depth to the conversation initiated by Westover.

Expanding the Discourse on the Power of Education

“Hillbilly Elegy” and “Brain on Fire” provide further evidence of education’s transformative power. Whether it’s Vance’s rise and journey out of poverty or Cahalan’s struggle to comprehend her rare illness, these books extend the discussion on the pivotal role of education in shaping lives.

Complex Portrayals of Family Relationships

“Wild Swans” and “The Glass Castle” present complex familial relationships, each within unique cultural and social contexts. Whether it’s Chang’s portrayal of her ancestors amidst China’s political upheavals or Walls’ unconventional family, these narratives deepen the dialogue about the intricate dynamics of family relationships.

By providing a range of narratives that deal with similar themes, these books not only echo “Educated” but also add new dimensions to the conversation, thereby enriching our understanding of these themes.

Additional Book Recommendations

For those seeking more insightful reads, here are ten additional book recommendations that echo various themes from “Educated” and provide compelling narratives.

Books on Overcoming Adversity

“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” by William Kamkwamba: A heartening tale of a young Malawian boy who overcomes severe hardship through ingenuity and sheer will.

“Between a Rock and a Hard Place” by Aron Ralston: A harrowing account of Ralston’s life-threatening ordeal in a canyon and his incredible survival.

Books on Quest for Self-Identity

“Becoming” by Michelle Obama: The former First Lady’s memoir about her journey of self-discovery, from her childhood in Chicago to her years in the White House.

“The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion: A poignant exploration of grief and a quest for understanding following the sudden death of Didion’s husband.

Books on Value of Education

“A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier” by Ishmael Beah: A powerful tale of a child soldier in Sierra Leone and his subsequent recovery and education.

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot: A revealing narrative about the woman behind the immortal cell line, HeLa, and the importance of understanding scientific ethics.

Books on Complicated Family Relationships

“Running with Scissors” by Augusten Burroughs: A memoir detailing the author’s unconventional and difficult upbringing after his mother sends him to live with her psychiatrist.

“The Liars’ Club” by Mary Karr: A memoir that delves into the intricate dynamics of a family living in a Texas oil town, seen through the eyes of a young Karr.

Books that Reflect Multiple Themes

“Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt: A memoir of McCourt’s impoverished childhood in Ireland, a powerful narrative of resilience, identity, and the transformative power of education.

“A Man Named Dave” by Dave Pelzer: The final book in a trilogy, this memoir follows Pelzer’s journey through adulthood as he grapples with his past and strives to forge a positive identity.

Each of these books offers a powerful narrative that resonates with the themes found in “Educated.” Whether it’s overcoming adversity, self-discovery, the transformative power of education, or intricate family dynamics, you’ll find a story that captivates you.


In revisiting “Educated” and delving into the themes it explores, we find a rich tapestry of stories that continue the conversation initiated by Tara Westover. Each of these books provides a unique lens to examine similar themes, from overcoming adversity and the quest for self-identity to the transformative power of education and complex family dynamics.

Reflection on the Book Selection

These carefully chosen books broaden the perspective on the themes explored in “Educated”. They provide diverse narratives that enrich the reader’s understanding of these themes, each in its unique way. Whether you’re drawn to stories of resilience like “The Glass Castle”, journeys of self-discovery like “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, or tales of the transformative power of education like “Hillbilly Elegy”, there is a book on this list that will resonate with you.

Final Thoughts

Books have the power to open windows into different worlds, experiences, and perspectives. If “Educated” stirred your emotions, made you think, or spurred you into action, then exploring the books on this list will undoubtedly further enrich your reading journey. Each narrative will provide you with new insights, provoke thought, and continue the conversation started by “Educated”. So, pick a book from this list, get comfortable, and prepare to be captivated once again.

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