Wikipedia provides the definition of a novel as:

A novel is a long narrative, normally in prose, which describes fictional characters and events, usually in the form of a sequential story.

and that of an autobiography as:

An autobiography (from the Greek, αὐτός-autos self + βίος-bios life + γράφειν-graphein to write) is a written account of the life of a person written by that person.

I wonder if there is a word for books that describe, not the entire life but, a single incident from the author's life? For example, the one I recently read, Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. Calling it a "story book" sounds extremely childish.

  • "Reality books" sounds like "Reality TV" in another format!
    – Golden Cuy
    Feb 6, 2016 at 8:34

1 Answer 1


You could consider calling it a memoir. The linked Wikipedia article explains well the difference between autobiography and memoir:

A memoir (from French: mémoire: memoria, meaning memory or reminiscence) is a collection of memories that an individual writes about moments or events, both public or private that took place in the subject's life. The assertions made in the work are understood to be factual. While memoir has historically been defined as a subcategory of biography or autobiography since the late 20th century, the genre is differentiated in form, presenting a narrowed focus.

A memoir could describe a short period in life. Dreams from My Father is a memoir by President Obama describing his childhood up until his entry into law school.

Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell mainly describes the period when he was fighting during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan. Even though the period is relatively short, it is a memoir.

an account of something noteworthy


  • Just one more thing. I wrote I wonder if there is a word for books that describes, not the.... Should it be describes or describe? I'm getting a bit confused. @Rathony
    – 7_R3X
    Feb 6, 2016 at 7:37
  • 2
    @7_R3X The antecedent of the relative pronoun that is books, not word. You should use describe.
    – user24743
    Feb 6, 2016 at 7:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .