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Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- JANUARY 2022
Publication Date: 1992-01-08
A work of great personal courage and a literary tour de force, this bestseller is Styron's true account of his descent into a crippling and almost suicidal depression. Styron is perhaps the first writer to convey the full terror of depression's psychic landscape, as well as the illuminating path to recovery.
Kitchen Privileges by
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- DECEMBER 2021
Publication Date: 2002-11-19
In her long-awaited memoir, Mary Higgins Clark, America's beloved and bestselling Queen of Suspense, recounts the early experiences that shaped her as a person and influenced her as a writer. Even as a young girl, growing up in the Bronx, Mary Higgins Clark knew she wanted to be a writer. The gift of storytelling was a part of her Irish ancestry, so it followed naturally that she would later use her sharp eye, keen intelligence, and inquisitive nature to create stories about the people and things she observed. Along with all Americans, those who lived in New York City's borough of the Bronx suffered during the Depression. So it followed that when Mary's father died, her mother, deciding to open the family home to boarders, placed a discreet sign next to the front door that read, FURNISHED ROOMS. KITCHEN PRIVILEGES. Very shortly the first in a succession of tenants arrived: a couple dodging bankruptcy who moved in with their wild-eyed boxer; a teacher who wept endlessly over her lost love; a deadbeat who tripped over a lamp while trying to sneak out in the middle of the night.
The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- NOVEMBER 2021
Publication Date: 2011-01-11
The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his. In December 2000, the Baltimore Sun ran a small piece about Wes Moore, a local student who had just received a Rhodes Scholarship. The same paper also ran a series of articles about four young men who had allegedly killed a police officer in a spectacularly botched armed robbery. The police were still hunting for two of the suspects who had gone on the lam, a pair of brothers. One was named Wes Moore. Wes just couldn't shake off the unsettling coincidence, or the inkling that the two shared much more than space in the same newspaper. After following the story of the robbery, the manhunt, and the trial to its conclusion, he wrote a letter to the other Wes, now a convicted murderer serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. His letter tentatively asked the questions that had been haunting him: Who are you? How did this happen? That letter led to a correspondence and relationship that have lasted for several years. Over dozens of letters and prison visits, Wes discovered that the other Wes had had a life not unlike his own: Both had had difficult childhoods, both were fatherless; they'd hung out on similar corners with similar crews, and both had run into trouble with the police. At each stage of their young lives they had come across similar moments of decision, yet their choices would lead them to astonishingly different destinies. Told in alternating dramatic narratives that take readers from heart-wrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption.
JELL-O Girls: A Family History by
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- OCTOBER 2021
Publication Date: 2018-07-24
A memoir that braids the evolution of one of America's most iconic branding campaigns with the stirring tales of the women who lived behind its façade - told by the inheritor of their stories. In 1899, Allie Rowbottom's great-great-great-uncle bought the patent to Jell-O from its inventor for $450. The sale would turn out to be one of the most profitable business deals in American history, and the generations that followed enjoyed immense privilege - but they were also haunted by suicides, cancer, alcoholism, and mysterious ailments. More than 100 years after that deal was struck, Allie's mother Mary was diagnosed with the same incurable cancer, a disease that had also claimed her own mother's life. Determined to combat what she had come to consider the "Jell-O curse" and her looming mortality, Mary began obsessively researching her family's past, determined to understand the origins of her illness and the impact on her life of Jell-O and the traditional American values the company championed. Before she died in 2015, Mary began to send Allie boxes of her research and notes, in the hope that her daughter might write what she could not.
True Crimes: A Family Album by
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- SEPTEMBER 2021
Publication Date: 2016-04-05
In True Crimes, conventional ideas of love, loss, forgiveness, and memory are transformed--complicated, upended, and reimagined by one of the foremost memoirists of our time. In essays written over the course of more than a decade, Kathryn Harrison has created a beautifully detailed and rigorously honest family album. With tenderness and wisdom, compassion and humor, Harrison writes about the things we don't always discuss, casting light on what lurks beneath the surface of everyday life, sifting through the artifacts of memory to find what haunts and endures. Both serious and surprising, these essays capture the moments and impulses that shape a family.
Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love by
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- AUGUST 2021
Publication Date: 2020-01-28
A memoir about the staggering family secret uncovered by a genealogy test: an exploration of the urgent ethical questions surrounding fertility treatments and DNA testing, and a profound inquiry of paternity, identity, and love. In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had casually submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her beloved deceased father was not her biological father. Over the course of a single day, her entire history--the life she had lived--crumbled beneath her. Inheritance is a book about secrets. It is the story of a woman's urgent quest to unlock the story of her own identity, a story that had been scrupulously hidden from her for more than fifty years. It is a book about the extraordinary moment we live in, a moment in which science and technology have outpaced not only medical ethics but also the capacities of the human heart to contend with the consequences of what we discover. Dani Shapiro's memoir unfolds at a breakneck pace--part mystery, part real-time investigation, part rumination on the ineffable combination of memory, history, biology, and experience that makes us who we are. Inheritance is a devastating and haunting interrogation of the meaning of kinship and identity, written with stunning intensity and precision.
All over but the Shoutin' by
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- JULY 2021
Publication Date: 1998-09-08
It is the story of Rick Bragg, who grew up dirt-poor in northeastern Alabama, seemingly destined for either the cotton mills or the penitentiary, and instead became a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times. It is the story of Bragg's father, a hard-drinking man with a murderous temper and the habit of running out on the people who needed him most. But at the center of this soaring memoir is Bragg's mother, who went eighteen years without a new dress so that her sons could have school clothes and picked other people's cotton so that her children wouldn't have to live on welfare alone. Evoking these lives--and the country that shaped and nourished them--with artistry, honesty, and compassion, Rick Bragg brings home the love and suffering that lie at the heart of every family. The result is unforgettable.
The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity and My Fight Against the Islamic State by
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- JUNE 2021
Publication Date: 2018-10-16
WINNER OF THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE Nadia Murad was born and raised in Kocho, a small village of farmers and shepherds in northern Iraq. A member of the Yazidi community, she and her brothers and sisters lived a quiet life. Nadia had dreams of becoming a history teacher or opening her own beauty salon. On August 15th, 2014, when Nadia was just twenty-one years old, this life ended. Islamic State militants massacred the people of her village, executing men who refused to convert to Islam and women too old to become sex slaves. Six of Nadia's brothers were killed, and her mother soon after, their bodies swept into mass graves. Nadia was taken to Mosul and forced, along with thousands of other Yazidi girls, into the ISIS slave trade.
Black Boy by
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom - MAY 2021
Publication Date: 2020-02-18
Wright's once controversial, now celebrated autobiography measures the raw brutality of the Jim Crow South against the sheer desperate will it took to survive as a Black boy. Enduring poverty, hunger, fear, abuse, and hatred while growing up in the woods of Mississippi, Wright lied, stole, and raged at those around him--whites indifferent, pitying, or cruel and Blacks resentful of anyone trying to rise above their circumstances. Desperate for a different way of life, he made his way north, eventually arriving in Chicago, where he forged a new path and began his career as a writer. At the end of Black Boy, Wright sits poised with pencil in hand, determined to "hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo."
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- APRIL 2021
Publication Date: 2012-11-13
A gripping memoir and medical suspense story about a young New York Post reporter's struggle with a rare and terrifying disease, opening a new window into the fascinating world of brain science. One day in 2009, twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. A wristband marked her as a "flight risk," and her medical records--chronicling a month-long hospital stay of which she had no memory at all--showed hallucinations, violence, and dangerous instability. Only weeks earlier, Susannah had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: a healthy, ambitious college grad a few months into her first serious relationship and a promising career as a cub reporter at a major New York newspaper. Who was the stranger who had taken over her body? What was happening to her mind? In this swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her inexplicable descent into madness and the brilliant, lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn't happen.
When I Was Puerto Rican by
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- MARCH 2021
Publication Date: 1994-10-11
Magic, sexual tension, high comedy, and intense drama move through an enchanted yet harsh autobiography, in the story of a young girl who leaves rural Puerto Rico for New York's tenements and a chance for success.
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- FEBRUARY 2021
Publication Date: 2018-05-29
David Sedaris returns with his most deeply personal and darkly hilarious book. If you've ever laughed your way through David Sedaris's cheerfully misanthropic stories, you might think you know what you're getting with Calypso. You'd be wrong. When he buys a beach house on the Carolina coast, Sedaris envisions long, relaxing vacations spent playing board games and lounging in the sun with those he loves most. And life at the Sea Section, as he names the vacation home, is exactly as idyllic as he imagined, except for one tiny, vexing realization: it's impossible to take a vacation from yourself.
Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- JANUARY 2021
Publication Date: 2004-05-11
Bestselling author Ann Patchett's first work of nonfiction chronicling her decades-long friendship with the critically acclaimed and recently deceased author, Lucy Grealy. Ann Patchett and the late Lucy Grealy met in college in 1981, and, after enrolling in the Iowa Writer's Workshop, began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work. In Grealy's critically acclaimed and hugely successful memoir, Autobiography of a Face, she wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, years of chemotherapy and radiation, and endless reconstructive surgeries. In Truth & Beauty, the story isn't Lucy's life or Ann's life, but the parts of their lives they shared together.
Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- DECEMBER 2020
Publication Date: 2016-11-17
In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast's memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents. When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the crazy closet-with predictable results-the tools that had served Roz well through her parents' seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed.
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- NOVEMBER 2020- Author Attended
Publication Date: 2020-03-03
As a young child in North Carolina, Jacob Tobia wasn't the wrong gender, they just had too much of the stuff. Barbies? Yes. Playing with bugs? Absolutely. Getting muddy? Please. Princess dresses? You betcha. Jacob wanted it all, but because they were "a boy," they were told they could only have the masculine half. Acting feminine labelled them "a sissy" and brought social isolation. It took Jacob years to discover that being "a sissy" isn't something to be ashamed of. It's a source of pride. Following Jacob through bullying and beauty contests, from Duke University to the United Nations to the podiums of the Methodist church--not to mention the parlors of the White House--this unforgettable memoir contains multitudes. A deeply personal story of trauma and healing, a powerful reflection on gender and self-acceptance, and a hilarious guidebook for wearing tacky clip-on earrings in today's world, Sissy guarantees you'll never think about gender--both other people's and your own--the same way again.
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood by
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- OCTOBER 2020
Publication Date: 2003-03-11
Though it is a diary of an unruly life in an often inhospitable place, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight is suffused with Fuller's endearing ability to find laughter, even when there is little to celebrate. Fuller's debut is unsentimental and unflinching but always captivating. In wry and sometimes hilarious prose, she stares down disaster and looks back with rage and love at the life of an extraordinary family in an extraordinary time. From 1972 to 1990, Alexandra Fuller--known to friends and family as Bobo--grew up on several farms in southern and central Africa. Her father joined up on the side of the white government in the Rhodesian civil war, and was often away fighting against the powerful black guerilla factions. Her mother, in turn, flung herself at their African life and its rugged farm work with the same passion and maniacal energy she brought to everything else. Though she loved her children, she was no hand-holder and had little tolerance for neediness. She nurtured her daughters in other ways: She taught them, by example, to be resilient and self-sufficient, to have strong wills and strong opinions, and to embrace life wholeheartedly, despite and because of difficult circumstances. And she instilled in Bobo, particularly, a love of reading and of storytelling that proved to be her salvation.
The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life, Freedom and Justice by
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- SEPTEMBER 2020
Publication Date: 2019-06-04
A powerful, revealing story of hope, love, and justice. In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Stunned, confused, and only twenty-nine years old, Hinton knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed that the truth would prove his innocence and ultimately set him free. But with no money and a different system of justice for a poor black man in the South, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution. He spent his first three years on Death Row at Holman State Prison in agonizing silence--full of despair and anger toward all those who had sent an innocent man to his death. But as Hinton realized and accepted his fate, he resolved not only to survive, but find a way to live on Death Row. For the next twenty-seven years he was a beacon--transforming not only his own spirit, but those of his fellow inmates, fifty-four of whom were executed mere feet from his cell. With the help of civil rights attorney and bestselling author of Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson, Hinton won his release in 2015.
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- AUGUST 2020
Publication Date: 2017-05-02
Father Greg Lockwood is unlike any Catholic priest you have ever met--a man who lounges in boxer shorts, loves action movies, and whose constant jamming on the guitar reverberates "like a whole band dying in a plane crash in 1972." His daughter is an irreverent poet who long ago left the Church's country. When an unexpected crisis leads her and her husband to move back into her parents' rectory, their two worlds collide. In Priestdaddy, Lockwood interweaves emblematic moments from her childhood and adolescence--from an ill-fated family hunting trip and an abortion clinic sit-in where her father was arrested to her involvement in a cultlike Catholic youth group--with scenes that chronicle the eight-month adventure she and her husband had in her parents' household after a decade of living on their own. Lockwood details her education of a seminarian who is also living at the rectory, tries to explain Catholicism to her husband, who is mystified by its bloodthirstiness and arcane laws, and encounters a mysterious substance on a hotel bed with her mother.
I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- JULY 2020
Publication Date: 2019-02-26
For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area. Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called "the Golden State Killer." Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was. I'll Be Gone in the Dark--the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death--offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman's obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Utterly original and compelling, it has been hailed as a modern true crime classic--one which fulfilled Michelle's dream: helping unmask the Golden State Killer.
Once More We Saw Stars by
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- JUNE 2020
Publication Date: 2019-05-14
As the book opens: two-year-old Greta Greene is sitting with her grandmother on a park bench on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. A brick crumbles from a windowsill overhead, striking her unconscious, and she is immediately rushed to the hospital. But although it begins with this event and with the anguish Jayson and his wife, Stacy, confront in the wake of their daughter's trauma and the hours leading up to her death, Once More We Saw Stars quickly becomes a narrative that is as much about hope and healing as it is about grief and loss. Jayson recognizes, even in the midst of his ordeal, that there will be a life for him beyond it--that if only he can continue moving forward, from one moment to the next, he will survive what seems unsurvivable. With raw honesty, deep emotion, and exquisite tenderness, he captures both the fragility of life and absoluteness of death, and most important of all, the unconquerable power of love. This is an unforgettable memoir of courage and transformation--and a book that will change the way you look at the world.
The Job: True Tales From A New York City Cop by
Call Number: Discussed on Zoom- MAY 2020
Publication Date: 2015-04-21
Steve Osborne is the real deal, people: the tough, streetwise New York cop of your dreams, one with a big, big heart. Kojak? NYPD Blue? Law & Order? Fuggedaboudem! The Job blows them out of the water. Steve Osborne has seen a thing or two in his years in the NYPD--some harmless, some definitely not. In "Stakeout," Steve and his partner mistake a Manhattan dentist for an armed robbery suspect, and reduce the man to a puddle of snot and tears when questioning him. In "Mug Shot," the mother of a suspected criminal makes a strange request and provides a sobering reminder of the humanity at stake in his profession. And in "Home," the image of Steve's family provides the adrenaline he needs to fight for his life when assaulted by two armed and violent crackheads. From stories about his days as a rookie cop to the time spent patrolling in the Anti-Crime Unit--and his visceral, harrowing recollections of working during the weeks after 9/11--The Job: True Tales from the Life of a New York City Cop captures the humanity, the absurdity, and the dark humor of police work, as well as the bravery of those who do it. These stories will speak to those nostalgic for the New York City of the 1980s and '90s, a bygone era when the city was a crazier, more dangerous (and possibly more interesting) place.
The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories From My Life by
Call Number: Discussed APRIL 2020
Publication Date: 2017-09-05
From his years serving in British Intelligence during the Cold War, to a career as a writer that took him from war-torn Cambodia to Beirut on the cusp of the 1982 Israeli invasion to Russia before and after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, le Carré has always written from the heart of modern times. In this, his first memoir, le Carré is as funny as he is incisive, reading into the events he witnesses the same moral ambiguity with which he imbues his novels. Whether he's writing about the parrot at a Beirut hotel that could perfectly mimic machine gun fire or the opening bars of Beethoven's Fifth; visiting Rwanda's museums of the unburied dead in the aftermath of the genocide; celebrating New Year's Eve 1982 with Yasser Arafat and his high command; interviewing a German woman terrorist in her desert prison in the Negev; listening to the wisdoms of the great physicist, dissident, and Nobel Prize winner Andrei Sakharov; meeting with two former heads of the KGB; watching Alec Guinness prepare for his role as George Smiley in the legendary BBC TV adaptations Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley's People; or describing the female aid worker who inspired the main character in The Constant Gardener, le Carré endows each happening with vividness and humor, now making us laugh out loud, now inviting us to think anew about events and people we believed we understood.
The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by
Call Number: Discussed MARCH 2020
Publication Date: 2018-05-08
Before Alex Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, they think their position is clear. The child of two lawyers, they are staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley's face flashes on the screen as they review old tapes--the moment they hear him speak of his crimes -- they are overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by their reaction, they dig deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar. Crime, even the darkest and most unsayable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alex pores over the facts of the murder, they find themself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky's childhood. And by examining the details of Ricky's case, they are forced to face their own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors their view of Ricky's crime. But another surprise awaits: They weren't the only one who saw their life in Ricky's. An intellectual and emotional thriller that is also a different kind of murder mystery, THE FACT OF A BODY is a book not only about how the story of one crime was constructed -- but about how we grapple with our own personal histories.
A House in the Sky by
Call Number: Discussed FEBRUARY 2020
Publication Date: 2014-06-17
As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself visiting its exotic locales. At the age of nineteen, working as a cocktail waitress, she began saving her tips so she could travel the globe. Aspiring to understand the world and live a significant life, she backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each adventure, went on to Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a television reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Somalia--"the most dangerous place on earth." On her fourth day, she was abducted by a group of masked men along a dusty road. Held hostage for 460 days, Amanda survives on memory--every lush detail of the world she experienced in her life before captivity--and on strategy, fortitude, and hope. When she is most desperate, she visits a house in the sky, high above the woman kept in chains, in the dark.
Life Itself by
Call Number: Discussed JANUARY 2020
Publication Date: 2011-09-13
Roger Ebert is the best-known film critic of our time. He has been reviewing films for the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967, and was the first film critic ever to win a Pulitzer Prize. He has appeared on television for four decades. In 2006, complications from thyroid cancer treatment resulted in the loss of his ability to eat, drink, or speak. But with the loss of his voice, Ebert has only become a more prolific and influential writer. And now, for the first time, he tells the full, dramatic story of his life and career. In this candid, personal history, Ebert chronicles it all: his loves, losses, and obsessions; his struggle and recovery from alcoholism; his marriage; his politics; and his spiritual beliefs. He writes about his years at the Sun-Times, his colorful newspaper friends, and his life-changing collaboration with Gene Siskel. He shares his insights into movie stars and directors like John Wayne and Martin Scorsese. This is a story that only Roger Ebert could tell. Filled with the same deep insight, dry wit, and sharp observations that his readers have long cherished, this is more than a memoir -- it is a singular, warm-hearted, inspiring look at life itself.
Until We Are Free: My Fight for Human Rights in Iran by
Call Number: Discussed DECEMBER 2019
Publication Date: 2016-03-08
The first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Shirin Ebadi has inspired millions around the globe through her work as a human rights lawyer defending women and children against a brutal regime in Iran. Now Ebadi tells her story of courage and defiance in the face of a government out to destroy her, her family, and her mission: to bring justice to the people and the country she loves. For years the Islamic Republic tried to intimidate Ebadi, but after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rose to power in 2005, the censorship and persecution intensified. The government wiretapped Ebadi's phones, bugged her law firm, sent spies to follow her, harassed her colleagues, detained her daughter, and arrested her sister on trumped-up charges. It shut down her lectures, fired up mobs to attack her home, seized her offices, and nailed a death threat to her front door. Despite finding herself living under circumstances reminiscent of a spy novel, nothing could keep Ebadi from speaking out and standing up for human dignity. But it was not until she received a phone call from her distraught husband--and he made a shocking confession that would all but destroy her family--that she realized what the intelligence apparatus was capable of to silence its critics.
The Rules Do Not Apply by
Call Number: Discussed NOVEMBER 2019
Publication Date: 2018-04-03
All her life, Ariel Levy was told that she was too fervent, too forceful, too much. As a young woman, she decided that becoming a writer would perfectly channel her strength and desire. She would be a professional explorer--"the kind of woman who is free to do whatever she chooses." Levy moved to Manhattan to pursue her dream, and spent years of adventure, traveling all over the world writing stories about unconventional heroines, following their fearless examples in her own life. But when she experiences unthinkable heartbreak, Levy is forced to surrender her illusion of control.
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by
Call Number: Discussed OCTOBER 2019
Publication Date: 2017-06-13
A searing, deeply moving memoir about family, love, loss, and forgiveness from the critically acclaimed, bestselling National Book Award-winning author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Family relationships are never simple. But Sherman Alexie's bond with his mother Lillian was more complex than most. She plunged her family into chaos with a drinking habit, but shed her addiction when it was on the brink of costing her everything. She survived a violent past, but created an elaborate facade to hide the truth. She selflessly cared for strangers, but was often incapable of showering her children with the affection that they so desperately craved. She wanted a better life for her son, but it was only by leaving her behind that he could hope to achieve it. It's these contradictions that made Lillian Alexie a beautiful, mercurial, abusive, intelligent, complicated, and very human woman. When she passed away, the incongruities that defined his mother shook Sherman and his remembrance of her. Grappling with the haunting ghosts of the past in the wake of loss, he responded the only way he knew how: he wrote.
Born a Crime by
Call Number: Discussed SEPTEMBER 2019
Publication Date: 2016-11-15
Trevor Noah's unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents' indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa's tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.
When Breath Becomes Air by
Call Number: Discussed AUGUST 2019
Publication Date: 2016-01-12
A profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living? At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade's worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi's transformation from a naïve medical student "possessed," as he wrote, "by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life" into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by
Call Number: Discussed JULY 2019
Publication Date: 2013-03-12
Jeanette Winterson's bold and revelatory novels have earned her widespread acclaim, establishing her as a major figure in world literature. She has written some of the most admired books of the past few decades, including her internationally best-selling first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, the story of a young girl adopted by Pentecostal parents, that is now often required reading in contemporary fiction classes. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is a memoir about a life's work to find happiness. It is a book full of stories: about a girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night; about a religious zealot disguised as a mother who has two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the dresser, waiting for Armageddon; about growing up in a north England industrial town now changed beyond recognition; about the universe as a cosmic dustbin. It is the story of how a painful past, which Winterson thought she had written over and repainted, rose to haunt her later in life, sending her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her biological mother. It is also a book about other people's literature, one that shows how fiction and poetry can form a string of guiding lights, a life raft that supports us when we are sinking. Witty, acute, fierce, and celebratory, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is a tough-minded search for belonging--for love, identity, home, and a mother.
Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia by
Call Number: Discussed JUNE 2019
Publication Date: 2010-01-01
Sultana is a Saudi Arabian princess, a woman born to fabulous, uncountable wealth. She has four mansions on three continents, her own private jet, glittering jewels, designer dresses galore. But in reality she lives in a gilded cage. She has no freedom, no control over her own life, no value but as a bearer of sons. Hidden behind her black floor-length veil, she is a prisoner, jailed by her father, her husband, her sons, and her country.Sultana is a member of the Saudi royal family, closely related to the king. For the sake of her daughters, she has decided to take the risk of speaking out about the life of women in her country, regardless of their rank. She must hide her identity for fear that the religous leaders in her country would call for her death to punish her honesty. Only a woman in her position could possibly hope to escape from being revealed and punished, despite her cloak and anonymity.
The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by
Call Number: Discussed MAY 2019
Publication Date: 2017-09-05
Acclaimed journalist Douglas Preston takes readers on a true adventure deep into the Honduran rainforest in this riveting narrative about the discovery of a lost civilization -- culminating in a stunning medical mystery. Since the days of conquistador Hernán Cortés, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. Indigenous tribes speak of ancestors who fled there to escape the Spanish invaders, and they warn that anyone who enters this sacred city will fall ill and die. In 1940, swashbuckling journalist Theodore Morde returned from the rainforest with hundreds of artifacts and an electrifying story of having found the Lost City of the Monkey God-but then committed suicide without revealing its location. Three quarters of a century later, bestselling author Doug Preston joined a team of scientists on a groundbreaking new quest. In 2012 he climbed aboard a rickety, single-engine plane carrying the machine that would change everything: lidar, a highly advanced, classified technology that could map the terrain under the densest rainforest canopy. In an unexplored valley ringed by steep mountains, that flight revealed the unmistakable image of a sprawling metropolis, tantalizing evidence of not just an undiscovered city but an enigmatic, lost civilization. Venturing into this raw, treacherous, but breathtakingly beautiful wilderness to confirm the discovery, Preston and the team battled torrential rains, quickmud, disease-carrying insects, jaguars, and deadly snakes. But it wasn't until they returned that tragedy struck: Preston and others found they had contracted in the ruins a horrifying, sometimes lethal-and incurable-disease.
A Three Dog Life by
Call Number: Discussed APRIL 2019
Publication Date: 2007-09-10
When Abigail Thomas's husband, Rich, was hit by a car, his brain shattered. Subject to rages, terrors, and hallucinations, he must live the rest of his life in an institution. He has no memory of what he did the hour, the day, the year before. This tragedy is the ground on which Abigail had to build a new life. How she built that life is a story of great courage and great change, of moving to a small country town, of a new family composed of three dogs, knitting, and friendship,of facing down guilt and discovering gratitude. It is also about her relationship with Rich, a man who lives in the eternal present, and the eerie poetry of his often uncanny perceptions. This wise, plainspoken, beautiful book enacts the truth Abigail discovered in the five years since the accident: You might not find meaning in disaster, but you might, with effort, make something useful of it.
Call Number: Discussed MARCH 2019
Publication Date: 2010-09-13
David Small, a best-selling and highly regarded children's book illustrator, comes forward with this unflinching graphic memoir. Remarkable and intensely dramatic, Stitches tells the story of a fourteen-year-old boy who awakes one day from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he has been transformed into a virtual mute--a vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot. From horror to hope, Small proceeds to graphically portray an almost unbelievable descent into adolescent hell and the difficult road to physical, emotional, and artistic recovery.
10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head by
Call Number: Discussed FEBRUARY 2019
Publication Date: 2014-12-30
After having a nationally televised panic attack, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. A lifelong nonbeliever, he found himself on a bizarre adventure involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists. Eventually, Harris realized that the source of his problems was the very thing he always thought was his greatest asset: the incessant, insatiable voice in his head, which had propelled him through the ranks of a hypercompetitive business, but had also led him to make the profoundly stupid decisions that provoked his on-air freak-out. Eventually Harris stumbled upon an effective way to rein in that voice, something he always assumed to be either impossible or useless: meditation, a tool that research suggests can do everything from lower your blood pressure to essentially rewire your brain. 10% Happier takes readers on a ride from the outer reaches of neuroscience to the inner sanctum of network news to the bizarre fringes of America's spiritual scene, and leaves them with a takeaway that could actually change their lives.
The Astor Orphan by
Call Number: Discussed JANUARY 2019
Publication Date: 2014-04-08
The Astor Orphan is an unflinching debut memoir by a direct descendant of John Jacob Astor, Alexandra Aldrich. She brilliantly tells the story of her eccentric, fractured family; her 1980s childhood of bohemian neglect in the squalid attic of Rokeby, the family's Hudson Valley Mansion; and her brave escape from the clan. Aldrich reaches back to the Gilded Age when the Astor legacy began to come undone, leaving the Aldrich branch of the family penniless and squabbling over what was left. Illustrated with black-and-white photographs that bring this faded world into focus, The Astor Orphan is written with the grit of The Glass Castle and set amid the aristocratic decay of Grey Gardens.
Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love and Writing by
Call Number: Discussed DECEMBER 2018
Publication Date: 2017-06-06
Jennifer Weiner is many things: a bestselling author, a Twitter phenomenon, and an "unlikely feminist enforcer" (The New Yorker). She's also a mom, a daughter, and a sister, a clumsy yogini, and a reality-TV devotee. In this "unflinching look at her own experiences" (Entertainment Weekly), Jennifer fashions tales of modern-day womanhood as uproariously funny and moving as the best of Nora Ephron and Tina Fey. No subject is off-limits in these intimate and honest essays: sex, weight, envy, money, her mother's coming out of the closet, her estranged father's death. From lonely adolescence to hearing her six-year-old daughter say the F word--fat--for the first time, Jen dives into the heart of female experience, with the wit and candor that have endeared her to readers all over the world.
Brother, I'm Dying by
Call Number: Discussed NOVEMBER 2018
Publication Date: 2008-09-09
From the age of four, award-winning writer Edwidge Danticat came to think of her uncle Joseph as her "second father," when she was placed in his care after her parents left Haiti for America. And so she was both elated and saddened when, at twelve, she joined her parents and youngest brothers in New York City. As Edwidge made a life in a new country, adjusting to being far away from so many who she loved, she and her family continued to fear for the safety of those still in Haiti as the political situation deteriorated. In 2004, they entered into a terrifying tale of good people caught up in events beyond their control. Brother I'm Dying is an astonishing true-life epic, told on an intimate scale by one of our finest writers.
The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son by
Call Number: Discussed OCTOBER 2018
Publication Date: 2013-10-29
In this powerful and intimate memoir, the beloved bestselling author of The Prince of Tides and his father, the inspiration for The Great Santini, find some common ground at long last. Pat Conroy's father, Donald Patrick Conroy, was a towering figure in his son's life. The Marine Corps fighter pilot was often brutal, cruel, and violent; as Pat says, "I hated my father long before I knew there was an English word for 'hate.'" As the oldest of seven children who were dragged from military base to military base across the South, Pat bore witness to the toll his father's behavior took on his siblings, and especially on his mother, Peg. She was Pat's lifeline to a better world--that of books and culture. But eventually, despite repeated confrontations with his father, Pat managed to claw his way toward a life he could have only imagined as a child. Pat's great success as a writer has always been intimately linked with the exploration of his family history. While the publication of The Great Santini brought Pat much acclaim, the rift it caused with his father brought even more attention. Their long-simmering conflict burst into the open, fracturing an already battered family. But as Pat tenderly chronicles here, even the oldest of wounds can heal.
Call Number: Discussed SEPTEMBER 2018
Publication Date: 2013-01-29
Before Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update," before "Sarah Palin," Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. She has seen both these dreams come true. At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon -- from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence. Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy.
The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by
Call Number: Discussed AUGUST 2018
Publication Date: 2011-08-02
Edmund de Waal is a world-famous ceramicist. Having spent thirty years making beautiful pots--which are then sold, collected, and handed on--he has a particular sense of the secret lives of objects. When he inherited a collection of 264 tiny Japanese wood and ivory carvings, called netsuke, he wanted to know who had touched and held them, and how the collection had managed to survive. And so begins this extraordinarily moving memoir and detective story as de Waal discovers both the story of the netsuke and of his family, the Ephrussis, over five generations. A nineteenth-century banking dynasty in Paris and Vienna, the Ephrussis were as rich and respected as the Rothchilds. Yet by the end of the World War II, when the netsuke were hidden from the Nazis in Vienna, this collection of very small carvings was all that remained of their vast empire.
Lab Girl by
Call Number: Discussed JULY 2018
Publication Date: 2016-04-05
An illuminating debut memoir of a woman in science; a moving portrait of a longtime friendship; and a stunningly fresh look at plants that will forever change how you see the natural world . Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she's studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book is a revelatory treatise on plant life--but it is also so much more. Lab Girl is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren's remarkable stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom's labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done "with both the heart and the hands"; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work. Yet at the core of this book is the story of a relationship Jahren forged with a brilliant, wounded man named Bill, who becomes her lab partner and best friend. Their sometimes rogue adventures in science take them from the Midwest across the United States and back again, over the Atlantic to the ever-light skies of the North Pole and to tropical Hawaii, where she and her lab currently make their home.
Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea's Elite by
Call Number: Discussion JUNE 2018
Publication Date: 2015-10-13
A haunting account of teaching English to the sons of North Korea's ruling class during the last six months of Kim Jong-il's reign Every day, three times a day, the students march in two straight lines, singing praises to Kim Jong-il and North Korea: Without you, there is no motherland. Without you, there is no us. It is a chilling scene, but gradually Suki Kim, too, learns the tune and, without noticing, begins to hum it. It is 2011, and all universities in North Korea have been shut down for an entire year, the students sent to construction fields--except for the 270 students at the all-male Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), a walled compound where portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il look on impassively from the walls of every room, and where Suki has gone undercover as a missionary and a teacher. Over the next six months, she will eat three meals a day with her young charges and struggle to teach them English, all under the watchful eye of the regime. Life at PUST is lonely and claustrophobic, especially for Suki, whose letters are read by censors and who must hide her notes and photographs not only from her minders but from her colleagues--evangelical Christian missionaries who don't know or choose to ignore that Suki doesn't share their faith. As the weeks pass, she is mystified by how easily her students lie, unnerved by their obedience to the regime. At the same time, they offer Suki tantalizing glimpses of their private selves--their boyish enthusiasm, their eagerness to please, the flashes of curiosity that have not yet been extinguished.
Chasing Shackleton: Re-creating the World's Greatest Journey of Survival by
Call Number: Discussed MAY 2018
Publication Date: 2014-01-07
In this extraordinary adventure memoir and tie-in to the PBS documentary, Tim Jarvis, one of the world's leading explorers, describes his modern-day journey to retrace, for the first time ever--and in period clothing and gear--the legendary 1914 expedition of Sir Ernest Shackleton. In early 1914, British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his team sailed for Antarctica, attempting to be the first to reach the South Pole. Instead of glory, Shackleton and his crew found themselves in an epic struggle for survival: a three-year odyssey on the ice and oceans of the Antarctic that endures as one of the world's most famous tales of adventure, endurance, and leadership ever recorded. In the winter of 2013, celebrated explorer Tim Jarvis, a veteran of multiple polar expeditions, set out to recreate Sir Ernest Shackleton's treacherous voyage over sea and mountain, outfitted solely with authentic equipment--clothing, boots, food, and tools--from Shackleton's time, a feat that has never been successfully accomplished.
South Mountain Road: A Daughter's Journey of Discovery by
Call Number: Discussed APRIL 2018
Publication Date: 2000-03-08
"My mother killed herself on the first day of spring." So begins "South Mountain Road," Hesper Anderson's elegant, wrenching memoir of death and deception, family secrets and memories, and of a young girl's trauma of self-discovery. When Hesper Anderson, the daughter of famed Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Maxwell Anderson "(What Price Glory?, Winterset, Key Largo, The Bad Seed)," got the phone call informing her that her mother, the beautiful, enigmatic Mab, had committed suicide, she knew that her world would be forever changed. A woman of baffling remoteness and alienating beauty, Mab Anderson had been the dominant figure in her daughter's life. What Hesper did not realize, however, was that beyond the inevitable devastation of loss lay a whole chain of discoveries that would link her irrevocably both to her mother's past and to secrets that would turn her world upside down.
Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir that Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey" by
Call Number: Discussed MARCH 2018
Publication Date: 2012-01-03
Brilliantly evoking the long-vanished world of masters and servants portrayed in Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs, Margaret Powell's classic memoir of her time in service, Below Stairs, is the remarkable true story of an indomitable woman who, though she served in the great houses of England, never stopped aiming high. Powell first arrived at the servants' entrance of one of those great houses in the 1920s. As a kitchen maid - the lowest of the low - she entered an entirely new world; one of stoves to be blacked, vegetables to be scrubbed, mistresses to be appeased, and bootlaces to be ironed. Work started at 5.30am and went on until after dark. It was a far cry from her childhood on the beaches of Hove, where money and food were scarce, but warmth and laughter never were. Yet from the gentleman with a penchant for stroking the housemaids' curlers, to raucous tea-dances with errand boys, to the heartbreaking story of Agnes the pregnant under-parlormaid, fired for being seduced by her mistress's nephew, Margaret's tales of her time in service are told with wit, warmth, and a sharp eye for the prejudices of her situation. Margaret Powell's true story of a life spent in service is a fascinating "downstairs" portrait of the glittering, long-gone worlds behind the closed doors of Downton Abbey and 165 Eaton Place.
Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening by
Call Number: Discussed FEBRUARY 2018
Publication Date: 2017-02-07
An extraordinary memoir about the cutting-edge brain therapy that dramatically changed the life and mind of John Elder Robison, the New York Times bestselling author of Look Me in the Eye. Imagine spending the first forty years of your life in darkness, blind to the emotions and social signals of other people. Then imagine that someone suddenly switches the lights on. It has long been assumed that people living with autism are born with the diminished ability to read the emotions of others, even as they feel emotion deeply. But what if we've been wrong all this time? What if that "missing" emotional insight was there all along, locked away and inaccessible in the mind? In 2007 John Elder Robison wrote the international bestseller Look Me in the Eye, a memoir about growing up with Asperger's syndrome. Amid the blaze of publicity that followed, he received a unique invitation: Would John like to take part in a study led by one of the world's foremost neuroscientists, who would use an experimental new brain therapy known as TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation, in an effort to understand and then address the issues at the heart of autism? Switched On is the extraordinary story of what happened next.
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by
Call Number: Discussed JANUARY 2018
Publication Date: 2012-06-19
Catalyzed by the loss of her sister, a mother of four spends one year savoring a great book every day, from Thomas Pynchon to Nora Ephron and beyond. In the tradition of Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project and Joan Dideon's A Year of Magical Thinking, Nina Sankovitch's soul-baring and literary-minded memoir is a chronicle of loss, hope, and redemption. Nina ultimately turns to reading as therapy and through her journey illuminates the power of books to help us reclaim our lives.
Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter by
Call Number: Discussed DECEMBER 2017
Publication Date: 2010-09-14
A riveting memoir of a girl's painful coming-of-age in a wealthy Chinese family during the 1940s. Adeline's affluent, powerful family considers her bad luck after her mother dies giving birth to her. Life does not get any easier when her father remarries. She and her siblings are subjected to the disdain of her stepmother, while her stepbrother and stepsister are spoiled. Although Adeline wins prizes at school, they are not enough to compensate for what she really yearns for -- the love and understanding of her family.
Dimestore: A Writer's Life by
Call Number: Discussed NOVEMBER 2017
Publication Date: 2016-03-22
For the inimitable Lee Smith, place is paramount. For forty-five years, her fiction has lived and breathed with the rhythms and people of the Appalachian South. But never before has she written her own story. Set deep in the mountains of Virginia, the Grundy of Lee Smith's youth was a place of coal miners, tent revivals, mountain music, drive-in theaters, and her daddy's dimestore. It was in that dimestore--listening to customers and inventing adventures for the store's dolls--that she became a storyteller. Even when she was sent off to college to earn some "culture," she understood that perhaps the richest culture she might ever know was the one she was driving away from--and it's a place that she never left behind.
The Tender Bar by
Call Number: Discussed OCTOBER 2017
Publication Date: 2006-08-01
In the tradition of This Boy's Life and The Liar's Club, a raucous, poignant, luminously written memoir about a boy striving to become a man, and his romance with a bar. J.R. Moehringer grew up captivated by a voice. It was the voice of his father, a New York City disc jockey who vanished before J.R. spoke his first word. Sitting on the stoop, pressing an ear to the radio, J.R. would strain to hear in that plummy baritone the secrets of masculinity and identity. Though J.R.'s mother was his world, his rock, he craved something more, something faintly and hauntingly audible only in The Voice. At eight years old, suddenly unable to find The Voice on the radio, J.R. turned in desperation to the bar on the corner, where he found a rousing chorus of new voices. The alphas along the bar--including J.R.'s Uncle Charlie, a Humphrey Bogart look-alike; Colt, a Yogi Bear sound-alike; and Joey D, a softhearted brawler--took J.R. to the beach, to ballgames, and ultimately into their circle. They taught J.R., tended him, and provided a kind of fathering-by-committee. Torn between the stirring example of his mother and the lurid romance of the bar, J.R. tried to forge a self somewhere in the center. But when it was time for J.R. to leave home, the bar became an increasingly seductive sanctuary, a place to return and regroup during his picaresque journeys.
The Liars' Club by
Publication Date: 2005-05-31
The dazzling, prizewinning, wickedly funny tale of Mary Karr's hardscrabble Texas childhood--the book that sparked a renaissance in memoir. When it was published in 1995, Mary Karr's The Liars' Club took the world by storm and raised the art of the memoir to an entirely new level, as well as bringing about a dramatic revival of the form. Karr's comic childhood in an east Texas oil town brings us characters as darkly hilarious as any of J. D. Salinger's--a hard-drinking daddy, a sister who can talk down the sheriff at twelve, and an oft-married mother whose accumulated secrets threaten to destroy them all.
The Sound of Gravel by
Call Number: Discussed AUGUST 2017
Publication Date: 2016-01-05
The thirty-ninth of her father's forty-two children, Ruth Wariner grew up in polygamist family on a farm in rural Mexico. In The Sound of Gravel, she offers an unforgettable portrait of the violence that threatened her community, her family's fierce sense of loyalty, and her own unshakeable belief in the possibility of a better life. An intimate, gripping tale of triumph and courage,The Sound of Gravel is a heart-stopping true story.
The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by
Call Number: Discussed JULY 2017
Publication Date: 2016-06-07
The Oregon Trail is an epic account of traveling the 2,000-mile length of the Oregon Trail the old-fashioned way in a covered wagon with a team of mules that has captivated readers, critics, and booksellers from coast to coast. Simultaneously a majestic journey across the West, a significant work of history, and a moving personal saga, Buck's chronicle is a laugh-out-loud masterpiece.
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by
Call Number: Discussed JUNE 2017
Publication Date: 2001-05-01
When Chef Anthony Bourdain wrote "Don't Eat Before You Read This" in The New Yorker, he spared no one's appetite, revealing what goes on behind the kitchen door. In Kitchen Confidential, he expanded that appetizer into a deliciously funny, delectable shocking banquet that lays out his 25 years of sex, drugs, and haute cuisine. From his first oyster in the Gironde to the kitchen of the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center, from the restaurants of Tokyo to the drug dealers of the East Village, from the mobsters to the rats, Bourdain's brilliantly written, wild-but-true tales make the belly ache with laughter.
All Who Go Do Not Return by
Call Number: Discussed MAY 2017
Publication Date: 2015-03-24
A moving and revealing exploration of ultra-Orthodox Judaism and one man's loss of faith Shulem Deen was raised to believe that questions are dangerous. As a member of the Skverers, one of the most insular Hasidic sects in the US, he knows little about the outside world; only that it is to be shunned. His marriage at eighteen is arranged and several children soon follow. Deen's first transgression turning on the radio's small, but his curiosity leads him to the library, and later the Internet. Soon he begins a feverish inquiry into the tenets of his religious beliefs, until, several years later, his faith unravels entirely. Now a heretic, he fears being discovered and ostracized from the only world he knows. His relationship with his family at stake, he is forced into a life of deception, and begins a long struggle to hold on to those he loves most: his five children.
It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War by
Call Number: Discussed APRIL 2017
Publication Date: 2016-11-08
Lynsey Addario was just finding her way as a young photographer when September 11 changed the world. One of the few photojournalists with experience in Afghanistan, she gets the call to return and cover the American invasion. She decides to set out across the world, face the chaos of crisis, and make a name for herself. Addario finds a way to travel with a purpose. She photographs the Afghan people before and after the Taliban reign, the civilian casualties and misunderstood insurgents of the Iraq War, as well as the burned villages and countless dead in Darfur. She exposes a culture of violence against women in the Congo and tells the riveting story of her headline-making kidnapping by pro-Qaddafi forces in the Libyan civil war. As a woman photojournalist determined to be taken as seriously as her male peers, Addario fights her way into a boys' club of a profession. Rather than choose between her personal life and her career, Addario learns to strike a necessary balance. In the man who will become her husband, she finds at last a real love to complement her work, not take away from it, and as a new mother, she gains an all the more intensely personal understanding of the fragility of life. Watching uprisings unfold and people fight to the death for their freedom, Addario understands she is documenting not only news but also the fate of societies.
Fairy Tale Interrupted: A Memoir of Life, Loss and Love by
Call Number: Discussed MARCH 2017- AUTHOR ATTENDED
Publication Date: 2012-07-10
From the moment RoseMarie Terenzio unleashed her Italian temper on the entitled nuisance commandeering her office in a downtown New York PR firm, an unlikely friendship bloomed between the blue-collar girl from the Bronx and John F. Kennedy Jr. Many books have sought to capture John F. Kennedy Jr.'s life. None has been as intimate or as honest as Fairy Tale Interrupted. Recalling the adventure of working as his executive assistant for five years, RoseMarie portrays the man behind the icon; patient, protective, surprisingly goofy, occasionally thoughtless and self-involved, yet capable of extraordinary generosity and kindness. She reveals how he dealt with dating, politics, and the paparazzi, and describes life behind the scenes at George magazine. Captured here are her memories of Carolyn Bessette, how she orchestrated the ultra-secretive planning of John and Carolyn's wedding on Cumberland Island; and the heartbreak of their deaths on July 16, 1999, after which RoseMarie's whole world came crashing down around her. Only now does she feel she can tell her story in a book that stands as a fitting personal tribute to a unique boss.
Fire Shut up in My Bones by
Call Number: Discussed FEBRUARY 2017
Publication Date: 2015-09-01
Charles M. Blow's mother was a fiercely driven woman with five sons, brass knuckles in her glove box, and a job plucking poultry at a factory near their segregated Louisiana town, where slavery's legacy felt close. When her philandering husband finally pushed her over the edge, she fired a pistol at his fleeing back, missing every shot, thanks to "love that blurred her vision and bent the barrel." Charles was the baby of the family, fiercely attached to his "do-right" mother. Until one day that divided his life into Before and After--the day an older cousin took advantage of the young boy. The story of how Charles escaped that world to become one of America's most innovative and respected public figures is a stirring, redemptive journey that works its way into the deepest chambers of the heart.
Little Failure by
Call Number: Discussed JANUARY 2017
Publication Date: 2014-10-07
Little Failure is the all too true story of an immigrant family betting its future on America, as told by a lifelong misfit who finally finds a place for himself in the world through books and words. In 1979, a little boy dragging a ginormous fur hat and an overcoat made from the skin of some Soviet woodland creature steps off the plane at New York's JFK International Airport and into his new American life. His troubles are just beginning. For the former Igor Shteyngart, coming to the United States from the Soviet Union is like stumbling off a monochromatic cliff and landing in a pool of Technicolor. Careening between his Soviet home life and his American aspirations, he finds himself living in two contradictory worlds, wishing for a real home in one.
Girl in the Dark by
Call Number: Discussed DECEMBER 2016
Publication Date: 2015-03-03
A gorgeous memoir of an unthinkable life: a young woman writes of the sensitivity to light that has forced her to live in darkness, and of the love that has saved her. Anna was living a normal life. She was ambitious and worked hard; she had just bought an apartment; she was falling in love. But then she started to develop worrying symptoms: her face felt like it was burning whenever she was in front of the computer. Soon this progressed to an intolerance of fluorescent light, then of sunlight itself. The reaction soon spread to her entire body. Now, when her symptoms are at their worst, she must spend months on end in a blacked-out room, losing herself in audio books and elaborate word games in an attempt to ward off despair. During periods of relative remission she can venture cautiously out at dawn and dusk, into a world that, from the perspective of her normally cloistered existence, is filled with remarkable beauty. And throughout there is her relationship with Pete. In many ways he is Anna's savior, offering her shelter from the light in his home. But she cannot enjoy a normal life with him, cannot go out in the day, and even making love is uniquely awkward. Anna asks herself "By continuing to occupy this lovely man while giving him neither children nor a public companion nor a welcoming home--do I do wrong?" With gorgeous, lyrical prose, Anna brings us into the dark with her, a place from which we emerge to see love, and the world, anew.
The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones by
Call Number: Discussed NOVEMBER 2016
Publication Date: 2015-05-04
In a voice that is wry, disarming, and totally candid, Sandra Tsing Loh tells the moving and laugh-out-loud tale of her roller coaster through "the change." This is not your grandmother's menopause story. Loh chronicles utterly relatable, everyday perils: raising preteen daughters, weathering hormonal changes, and the ups and downs of a career and a relationship. She writes also about an affair and the explosion of her marriage, while managing the legal and marital hijinks of her eighty-nine-year-old dad. The upbeat conclusion: it does get better.
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by
Call Number: Discussed OCTOBER 2016
Publication Date: 2014-06-03
A guy walks into a bar car and... From here the story could take many turns. When the guy is David Sedaris, the possibilities are endless, but the result is always the same: he will both delight you with twists of humor and intelligence and leave you deeply moved. Sedaris remembers his father's dinnertime attire (shirtsleeves and underpants), his first colonoscopy (remarkably pleasant), and the time he considered buying the skeleton of a murdered Pygmy. The common thread? Sedaris masterfully turns each essay into a love story: how it feels to be in a relationship where one loves and is loved over many years, what it means to be part of a family, and how it's possible, through all of life's absurdities, to grow to love oneself.
Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by
Call Number: Discussed SEPTEMBER 2016
Publication Date: 2012-11-13
A New York Times bestseller in hardcover, a chronicle of A.J. Jacob's mission to radically improve every element of his body and mind; from his brain to his fingertips to his abs. From the bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically and The Know-It-All comes the truly hilarious story of one person's quest to become the healthiest man in the world. Hospitalized with a freak case of tropical pneumonia and ashamed of a middle-aged body best described as a python that swallowed a goat, A.J. Jacobs felt compelled to change his ways and get healthy. To accomplish this epic task, he consulted an army of experts and subjected himself to dozens of different workouts, diets, and devices from Finger Fitness to Strollercize sessions, veganism to extreme chewing. The story of his transformation is not only brilliantly entertaining, but it just may be the healthiest book ever written. It will make you laugh until your sides split and endorphins flood your bloodstream. It will move you emotionally and get you moving physically in surprising ways. It will serve you up today's best health advice. And it will give you occasion to reflect on the body's many mysteries and the ultimate pursuit of health: a well-lived life.
Call Number: Discussed JULY 2016
Publication Date: 2013-12-31
In 2004, at a beach resort on the coast of Sri Lanka, Sonali Deraniyagala and her family--parents, husband, sons--were swept away by a tsunami, only Sonali survived to tell their tale. This is her account of the nearly incomprehensible event and its aftermath.
Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir by
Call Number: Discussed JUNE 2016
Publication Date: 2015-03-31
A lyrical and evocative memoir from Frances Mayes, the Bard of Tuscany, about coming of age in the Deep South and the region's powerful influence on her life. The author of three beloved books about her life in Italy, including Under the Tuscan Sun and Every Day in Tuscany, Frances Mayes revisits the turning points that defined her early years in Fitzgerald, Georgia. With her signature style and grace, Mayes explores the power of landscape, the idea of home, and the lasting force of a chaotic and loving family. From her years as a spirited, secretive child, through her university studies--a period of exquisite freedom that imbued her with a profound appreciation of friendship and a love of travel--to her escape to a new life in California, Mayes exuberantly recreates the intense relationships of her past, recounting the bitter and sweet stories of her complicated family: her beautiful yet fragile mother, Frankye; her unpredictable father, Garbert; Daddy Jack, whose life Garbert saved; grandmother Mother Mayes; and the family maid, Frances's confidant Willie Bell.
A Moveable Feast by
Call Number: Discussed MAY 2016
Publication Date: 2010-07-20
Ernest Hemingway's classic memoir of Paris in the 1920's.
Comfort Me with Apples by
Call Number: Discussed APRIL 2016
Publication Date: 2010-05-25
In this delightful sequel to her bestseller Tender at the Bone, Ruth Reichl returns with more tales of love, life, and marvelous meals. Comfort Me with Apples picks up Reichl's story in 1978, when she puts down her chef's toque and embarks on a career as a restaurant critic. Her pursuit of good food and good company leads her to New York and China, France and Los Angeles, and her stories of cooking and dining with world-famous chefs range from the madcap to the sublime. Through it all, Reichl makes each and every course a hilarious and instructive occasion for novices and experts alike. She shares some of her favorite recipes while also sharing the intimacies of her personal life in a style so honest and warm that readers will feel they are enjoying a conversation over a meal with a friend.
The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by
Call Number: Discussed MARCH 2016
Publication Date: 2006-04-01
"I hope The Long Walk will remain as a memorial to all those who live and die for freedom, and for all those who for many reasons could not speak for themselves."--Slavomir Rawicz In 1941, the author and six other fellow prisoners escaped a Soviet labor camp in Yakutsk--a camp where enduring hunger, cold, untended wounds, untreated illnesses, and avoiding daily executions were everyday feats. Their march--over thousands of miles by foot--out of Siberia, through China, the Gobi Desert, Tibet, and over the Himalayas to British India is a remarkable statement about man's desire to be free.
The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to his White Mother by
Call Number: Discussed FEBRUARY 2016
Publication Date: 2006-02-07
The New York Timesbestselling story from the author of The Good Lord Bird, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction. Who is Ruth McBride Jordan? A self-declared "light-skinned" woman evasive about her ethnicity, yet steadfast in her love for her twelve black children. James McBride, journalist, musician, and son, explores his mother's past, as well as his own upbringing and heritage, in a poignant and powerful debut, The Color Of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother. The son of a black minister and a woman who would not admit she was white, James McBride grew up in "orchestrated chaos" with his eleven siblings in the poor, all-black projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn. "Mommy," a fiercely protective woman with "dark eyes full of pep and fire," herded her brood to Manhattan's free cultural events, sent them off on buses to the best (and mainly Jewish) schools, demanded good grades, and commanded respect. As a young man, McBride saw his mother as a source of embarrassment, worry, and confusion—and reached thirty before he began to discover the truth about her early life and long-buried pain. In The Color of Water, McBride retraces his mother's footsteps and, through her searing and spirited voice, recreates her remarkable story. The daughter of a failed itinerant Orthodox rabbi, she was born Rachel Shilsky (actually Ruchel Dwara Zylska) in Poland on April 1, 1921. Fleeing pogroms, her family emigrated to America and ultimately settled in Suffolk, Virginia, a small town where anti-Semitism and racial tensions ran high.
Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times by
Call Number: Discussed JANUARY 2016
Publication Date: 2012-08-29
The highest-rated drama in BBC history, Call the Midwife will delight fans of Downton Abbey. Viewers everywhere have fallen in love with this candid look at post-war London. In the 1950s, twenty-two-year-old Jenny Lee leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in London's East End slums. While delivering babies all over the city, Jenny encounters a colorful cast of women; from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lives, to the woman with twenty-four children who can't speak English, to the prostitutes of the city's seedier side. Based on Jennifer Worth's bestselling memoirs, Call the Midwife is the true story behind the beloved PBS series.
The Snow Leopard by
Call Number: Discussed DECEMBER 2015
Publication Date: 2008-09-30
An unforgettable spiritual journey through the Himalayas by renowned writer Peter Matthiessen (1927-2014), the National Book Award-winning author of the new novel, In Paradise. In 1973, Peter Matthiessen and field biologist George Schaller traveled high into the remote mountains of Nepal to study the Himalayan blue sheep and possibly glimpse the rare and beautiful snow leopard. Matthiessen, a student of Zen Buddhism, was also on a spiritual quest to find the Lama of Shey at the ancient shrine on Crystal Mountain. As the climb proceeds, Matthiessen charts his inner path as well as his outer one, with a deepening Buddhist understanding of reality, suffering, impermanence, and beauty.
Coming Clean by
Call Number: Discussed NOVEMBER 2015
Publication Date: 2014-05-20
Kim Miller is an immaculately put-together woman with a great career, a loving boyfriend, and a tidy apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. You would never guess that Kim grew up behind the closed doors of her family's idyllic Long Island house, navigating between teetering stacks of aging newspapers, broken computers, and boxes upon boxes of unused junk festering in every room-the product of her father's painful and unending struggle with hoarding. In this moving coming-of-age story, Kim brings to life her rat-infested home, her childhood consumed by concealing her father's shameful secret from friends, and the emotional burden that ultimately led to an attempt to take her own life. And in beautiful prose, Miller sheds light on her complicated yet loving relationship with her parents that has thrived in spite of the odds. Coming Clean is a story about recognizing where we come from and the relationships that define us-and about finding peace in the homes we make for ourselves.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by
Call Number: Discussed OCTOBER 2015
Publication Date: 2015-09-28
Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty--a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre--took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life's work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humor and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased.Smoke Gets in Your Eyes tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters and unforgettable scenes. Caring for dead bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, Caitlin soon becomes an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead. She describes how she swept ashes from the machines (and sometimes onto her clothes) and reveals the strange history of cremation and undertaking, marveling at bizarre and wonderful funeral practices from different cultures.Her eye-opening, candid, and often hilarious story is like going on a journey with your bravest friend to the cemetery at midnight. She demystifies death, leading us behind the black curtain of her unique profession. And she answers questions you didn't know you had: Can you catch a disease from a corpse? How many dead bodies can you fit in a Dodge van? What exactly does a flaming skull look like?Honest and heartfelt, self-deprecating and ironic, Caitlin's engaging style makes this otherwise taboo topic both approachable and engrossing. Now a licensed mortician with an alternative funeral practice, Caitlin argues that our fear of dying warps our culture and society, and she calls for better ways of dealing with death (and our dead).
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by
Call Number: Discussed SEPTEMBER 2015
Publication Date: 2008-08-05
My new friends have begun to suspect I haven't told them the full story of my life. "Why did you leave Sierra Leone?" "Because there is a war." "You mean, you saw people running around with guns and shooting each other?" "Yes, all the time." "Cool." I smile a little. "You should tell us about it sometime." "Yes, sometime." This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived. In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he'd been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty.
Gypsy Boy: My Life in the Secret World of the Romany Gypsies by
Call Number: Discussed AUGUST 2015
Publication Date: 2013-01-15
An Eye-Opening Memoir of Growing Up Gypsy Mikey Walsh was born into a Romany Gypsy family. They live in a secluded community, and little is known about their way of life. After centuries of persecution, Gypsies are wary of outsiders, and if you choose to leave you can never come back. This is something Mikey knows only too well. Growing up, he didn't go to school, he seldom mixed with non-Gypsies, and the caravan became his world. It was a rich and unusual upbringing, but although Mikey inherited a vibrant and loyal culture, his family's legacy was bittersweet, with a hidden history of violence and grief. Eventually Mikey was forced to make an agonizing decision--to stay and keep secrets, or escape and find somewhere to belong. Gypsy Boy shows, for the first time, what life is really like among the Romany Gypsies. A surprise #1 bestseller in Great Britain, this is a one-of-a-kind memoir of a little-seen world, one both fascinating and heartbreaking.
Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by
Call Number: Discussed JULY 2015
Publication Date: 2012-01-24
Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with an oily wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; Hamilton's own kitchen at Prune, with its many unexpected challenges; and the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton's idyllic past and her own future family--the result of a prickly marriage that nonetheless yields lasting dividends.