5 Powerful Autobiographies With Rags to Riches Tales

Many successful people went through struggles before gaining notoriety. Read on to learn about some books that showed real-life rags to riches stories.

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Book covers of Finding Me, Never Broken, and Raw, on a blue-purple sparkly background.

While many people were lucky enough to be born into wealth, that is certainly not the case for everyone. Most had to work hard in order to achieve their great accomplishments. They had to dig their way through poor conditions in order to fully thrive. There are plenty of novels that tell these inspirational tales of rags to riches. However, the memoirs of rags to riches tales can be even more inspirational due to their authentic and realistic nature. These books display true stories of people who had to struggle before they became successful, inspiring many to reach for the stars.

Never Broken: Songs are Only Half the Story by Jewel

With her Grammy nominations and records that have had hundreds of millions of sales, Jewel is a singer who has built up a devoted following and a modern legacy. However, her life was not always filled with musical success. She had rough beginnings, which she describes in her memoir Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story.

Book cover of Never Broken with Jewel riding on a horse in a field with a white background.
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Jewel started her life living on a homestead in Anchorage, Alaska. She and her family were always traveling around to make it as musicians and Jewel would hardly know where home would be each night. Then, when she got older, she tried to make it on her own, which led to bouts of homelessness. Jewel did not grow up with a cushy life; she had to work hard at what she loved. The book shows how she persevered through all of the hardships to become a superstar.

Straight Shooter: A Memoir of Second Chances and First Takes by Stephen A. Smith

When it comes to televised sports journalism, Stephen A. Smith has become one of the top personalities with his frequent work on ESPN. However, this was not a career handed to him; he had to work hard to make it where he is now. That work is described in Smith’s autobiography Straight Shooter: A Memoir of Second Chances and First Takes.

Book cover of Straight Shooter with Stephen A. Smith with a hand on his face staring straight forward on a gray background.
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Smith grew up in a poor household with six children to feed, so food was not guaranteed for every meal. Smith also struggled with having an absent father in this life, as well as problems with dyslexia. However, when Smith tried sports journalism for the first time, he fell in love with the field and was determined to work hard to be a successful journalist in the field. Then, once he found success, he still experienced lows that he had to overcome. Smith’s book is one about persistence and how hard work can almost certainly pay off, no matter the situation.

Finding Me by Viola Davis

As an Oscar winner and four-time nominee, Viola Davis has become a bona fide movie star recognizable to millions. She appears to be the epitome of glitz and glamor. However, her life was not always this way. There was a time when she lived in poverty with rough living conditions. Davis educates fans about her upbringing in her autobiography Finding Me.

Book cover of Finding Me with Viola Davis staring forward taking up the cover space.
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In the book, Davis talks about living in a home filled with rats and days going by without actual meals. She had grown up in an abusive childhood filled with the odors of urine. It was a difficult life where many comforts of life seemed impossible to reach. Nevertheless, she fought through these struggles in order to achieve her goal of professional acting. It took a lot of practicing her craft and following her dreams so that she could escape her difficult childhood to be the A-list star that she is today.

#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

One day, Sophia Amoruso was committing petty theft and scrounging for whatever she could find to eat. Then, in the blink of an eye, she became the CEO of multi-million dollar clothing company Nasty Gal. Amoruso details how this rise came to be in #Girlboss, which serves as both a memoir and a book on business advice.

Book cover of #Girlboss with Sophia Amoruso standing with her hands on her hips staring forward on a white square and pinkish background.
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It should be noted that since the release of this book, Amoruso has had financial problems and is no longer part of Nasty Gal. Nevertheless, she is still working hard to this day and helps young women break into business. This book shows how Amoruso found the drive to achieve success, a lesson that anyone could use.

Raw: My Journey into the Wu-Tang by Lamont “U-God” Hawkins

Wu-Tang Clan helped create many hip-hop stars, released many hit singles, and helped the hip-hop scene shine in the 1990s. The group likely shaped the members of the group in many different ways, and one member shared what it was like to be a part of this rapidly growing group. Lamont “U-God” Hawkins talks about what it was like to be in the Wu-Tang Clan and the difficult early life he had before the group in Raw: My Journey into the Wu-Tang.

Book cover of Raw with U-God looking up and forward while holding his hand up to the sky with a gray background.
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Hawkins was raised by a single mother in the projects, where he ended up having to sell drugs for a while. Fortunately, he was able to get together with fellow hip-hop musicians, which helped him build a better life. Hawkin’s autobiography shows the importance of community and how it can be a key part of building a better life.

The main concept that all of these books have in common is that they all demonstrate the importance of never giving up. The subjects of these memoirs all had serious lows, yet they were able to power through. The fact these are factual life stories demonstrates to all readers that they are able to achieve any of their dreams as long as they set their minds to it.


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