Special Collections

Memorable Memoirs

Description: A great memoir takes a reader into a different world, bringing them along as the author faces struggles big and small. This collection is for adults who like to delve into the lives of the famous, infamous, or the average person made extraordinary! #adults


Showing 1 through 25 of 25 results

The Woman Warrior

by Maxine Hong Kingston

In her award-winning book The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston created an entirely new form—an exhilarating blend of autobiography and mythology, of world and self, of hot rage and cool analysis.

First published in 1976, it has become a classic in its innovative portrayal of multiple and intersecting identities—immigrant, female, Chinese, American.

As a girl, Kingston lives in two confounding worlds: the California to which her parents have immigrated and the China of her mother’s “talk stories.”

The fierce and wily women warriors of her mother’s tales clash jarringly with the harsh reality of female oppression out of which they come.

Kingston’s sense of self emerges in the mystifying gaps in these stories, which she learns to fill with stories of her own.

A warrior of words, she forges fractured myths and memories into an incandescent whole, achieving a new understanding of her family’s past and her own present.

Date Added: 04/04/2018


Yes, Chef

by Marcus Samuelsson

It begins with a simple ritual: Every Saturday afternoon, a boy who loves to cook walks to his grandmother’s house and helps her prepare a roast chicken for dinner. The grandmother is Swedish, a retired domestic. The boy is Ethiopian and adopted, and he will grow up to become the world-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson. This book is his love letter to food and family in all its manifestations.

Yes, Chef chronicles Samuelsson’s journey, from his grandmother’s kitchen to his arrival in New York City, where his outsize talent and ambition finally come together at Aquavit, earning him a New York Times three-star rating at the age of twenty-four. But Samuelsson’s career of chasing flavors had only just begun—in the intervening years, there have been White House state dinners, career crises, reality show triumphs, and, most important, the opening of Red Rooster in Harlem.

At Red Rooster, Samuelsson has fulfilled his dream of creating a truly diverse, multiracial dining room—a place where presidents rub elbows with jazz musicians, aspiring artists, and bus drivers. It is a place where an orphan from Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, living in America, can feel at home.

Date Added: 04/04/2018


The World in Flames

by Jerald Walker

A memoir of growing up with blind, African-American parents in a segregated cult preaching the imminent end of the world.

When The World in Flames begins, in 1970, Jerry Walker is six years old. His consciousness revolves around being a member of a church whose beliefs he finds not only confusing but terrifying. Composed of a hodgepodge of requirements and restrictions (including a prohibition against doctors and hospitals), the underpinning tenet of Herbert W. Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God was that its members were divinely chosen and all others would soon perish in rivers of flames.

The substantial membership was ruled by fear, intimidation, and threats. Anyone who dared leave the church would endure hardship for the remainder of this life and eternal suffering in the next. The next life, according to Armstrong, would arrive in 1975, three years after the start of the Great Tribulation. Jerry would be eleven years old.

Jerry's parents were particularly vulnerable to the promise of relief from the world's hardships. When they joined the church, in 1960, they were living in a two-room apartment in a dangerous Chicago housing project with the first four of their seven children, and, most significantly, they both were blind, having lost their sight to childhood accidents. They took comfort in the belief that they had been chosen for a special afterlife, even if it meant following a religion with a white supremacist ideology and dutifully sending tithes to Armstrong, whose church boasted more than 100,000 members and more than $80 million in annual revenues at its height.

When the prophecy of the 1972 Great Tribulation does not materialize, Jerry is considerably less disappointed than relieved. When the 1975 end-time prophecy also fails, he finally begins to question his faith and imagine the possibility of choosing a destiny of his own.

Date Added: 04/04/2018


What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

by Haruki Murakami

An intimate look at writing, running, and the incredible way they intersect, from the incomparable, bestselling author Haruki Murakami.While simply training for New York City Marathon would be enough for most people, Haruki Murakami's decided to write about it as well. The result is a beautiful memoir about his intertwined obsessions with running and writing, full of vivid memories and insights, including the eureka moment when he decided to become a writer. By turns funny and sobering, playful and philosophical, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is rich and revelatory, both for fans of this masterful yet guardedly private writer and for the exploding population of athletes who find similar satisfaction in athletic pursuit.From the Trade Paperback edition.playful and philosophical, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is rich and revelatory, both for fans of this masterful yet guardedly private writer and for the exploding population of athletes who find similar satisfaction in running.From the Hardcover edition.

Date Added: 04/04/2018


The Rules Do Not Apply

by Ariel Levy

A gorgeous memoir about a woman overcoming dramatic loss and finding reinvention—for readers of Cheryl Strayed and Joan Didion When thirty-eight-year-old New Yorker writer Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true. Levy picks you up and hurls you through the story of how she built an unconventional life and then watched it fall apart with astonishing speed. Like much of her generation, she was raised to resist traditional rules—about work, about love, and about womanhood. “I wanted what we all want: everything. We want a mate who feels like family and a lover who is exotic, surprising. We want to be youthful adventurers and middle-aged mothers. We want intimacy and autonomy, safety and stimulation, reassurance and novelty, coziness and thrills. But we can’t have it all.” In this profound and beautiful memoir, Levy chronicles the adventure and heartbreak of being “a woman who is free to do whatever she chooses.” Her own story of resilience becomes an unforgettable portrait of the shifting forces in our culture, of what has changed—and of what is eternal. Advance praise for The Rules Do Not Apply“I read The Rules Do Not Apply in one long, rapt sitting. Unflinching and intimate, wrenching and revelatory, Ariel Levy’s powerful memoir about love, loss, and finding one’s way shimmers with truth and heart on every page.”—Cheryl Strayed “Every deep feeling a human is capable of will be shaken loose by this profound book. Ariel Levy has taken grief and made art out of it.”—David Sedaris “Ariel Levy is a writer of uncompromising honesty, remarkable clarity, and surprising humor gathered from the wreckage of tragedy. Her account of life doing its darnedest to topple her, and her refusal to be knocked down, will leave you shaken and inspired. I am the better for having read this book.”—Lena Dunham “A great memoir is not a trip through someone else’s life but a series of long looks into your own. Ariel Levy’s book—grieving, hopeful, painful, funny—is that.”—Amy Bloom “It’s become a truism that feminists are living out our mothers’ unlived lives. But Ariel Levy seems to be living out the unlived lives of an entire generation of women, simultaneously. Free to do whatever she chooses, she chooses everything. While reinventing work, marriage, family, pregnancy, sex, and divorce for herself from the ground up, Levy experiences devastating loss. And she recounts it all here with searing intimacy and an unsentimental yet openhearted rigor.”—Alison Bechdel “The Rules Do Not Apply is heartbreaking, brilliant, and disarming, the kind of book that may change you. Ariel Levy writes with a beauty that is ferociously honest and with the fervor of an explorer. No one else has written so insightfully about the current legacy of feminism’s ‘lavish gift’ of freedom. Levy has a voice unlike any other. This is a devastating and inspired book.”—René Steinke

Date Added: 04/04/2018


Rabbit

by Jeannine Amber and Patricia Williams

They called her Rabbit.

Patricia Williams (aka Ms. Pat) was born and raised in Atlanta at the height of the crack epidemic. One of five children, Pat watched as her mother struggled to get by on charity, cons, and petty crimes. At age seven, Pat was taught to roll drunks for money. At twelve, she was targeted for sex by a man eight years her senior. By thirteen, she was pregnant. By fifteen, Pat was a mother of two.

Alone at sixteen, Pat was determined to make a better life for her children. But with no job skills and an eighth-grade education, her options were limited. She learned quickly that hustling and humor were the only tools she had to survive. Rabbit is an unflinching memoir of cinematic scope and unexpected humor. With wisdom and humor, Pat gives us a rare glimpse of what it’s really like to be a black mom in America.

Date Added: 04/04/2018


Perfect Is Boring

by Tyra Banks and Carolyn London

Supermodel and super CEO of our time Tyra Banks and her mother Carolyn show readers why when you kick perfection to the curb and showcase your unique beauty ain't nobody gonna stop you!

In Perfect Is Boring, Tyra Banks and her mother, Carolyn, get raw, real and cray-in-a-good-way as they share what they’ve learned on Tyra’s journey from insecure preteen to supermodel and entrepreneurial powerhouse.

Though she’ll be the first to tell you she is not her daughter’s best friend—‘cause she ain’t that kinda mama!—there’s no doubt that Carolyn’s signature mix of pep talks and tough love got Tyra to where she is today, and here they pay it forward to empower readers with a reminder that perfect really isn’t all that.

Whether they’re writing about watching Tyra’s most imperfect moment go viral (Does “Be Quiet Tiffany!” ring any bells?), no-holds-barred sex talks or how they’ve overcome everything from fashion industry discrimination to media fat-shaming and a misguided attempt at a music career, they never lose their sense of humor or we-got-your-back-spirit.

Full of smart, wise, and often hilarious lessons for mothers, daughters, fathers and sons everywhere—including “Take Responsibility for Yourself,” “Lip Gloss + Pizza Sauce = Boss,” and “Fix It or Flaunt It”—Perfect Is Boring is a must-read for anyone who needs a kick in the booty, a pat on the back, or a good reason to laugh-out-loud.

Date Added: 04/04/2018


No Barriers

by Erik Weihenmayer and Buddy Levy

Erik Weihenmayer is the first and only blind person to summit Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. Descending carefully, he and his team picked their way across deep crevasses and through the deadly Khumbu Icefall; when the mountain was finally behind him, Erik knew he was going to live. His expedition leader slapped him on the back and said something that would affect the course of Erik’s life: “Don’t make Everest the greatest thing you ever do.”

No Barriers is Erik’s response to that challenge. It is the moving story of his journey since descending Mount Everest: from leading expeditions around the world with blind Tibetan teenagers to helping injured soldiers climb their way home from war, from adopting a son from Nepal to facing the most terrifying reach of his life: to solo kayak the thunderous whitewater of the Grand Canyon.Along the course of Erik’s journey, he meets other trailblazers—adventurers, scientists, artists, and activists—who, despite trauma, hardship, and loss, have broken through barriers of their own. These pioneers show Erik surprising ways forward that surpass logic and defy traditional thinking.

Like the rapids of the Grand Canyon, created by inexorable forces far beneath the surface, No Barriers is a dive into the heart and mind at the core of the turbulent human experience. It is an exploration of the light that burns in all of us, the obstacles that threaten to extinguish that light, and the treacherous ascent towards growth and rebirth.

Date Added: 04/04/2018


Negroland

by Margo Jefferson

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
Winner of the Heartland Prize
A New York Times Notable Book
One of the Best Books of the Year: The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Time, Vanity Fair, Marie Claire, Time Out New York, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Kansas City Star, Men’s Journal, Oprah.com

At once incendiary and icy, mischievous and provocative, celebratory and elegiac--here is a deeply felt meditation on race, sex, and American culture through the prism of the author's rarefied upbringing and education among a black elite concerned with distancing itself from whites and the black generality while tirelessly measuring itself against both.

Pulitzer Prize–winning cultural critic Margo Jefferson was born in 1947 into upper-crust black Chicago. Her father was head of pediatrics at Provident Hospital, while her mother was a socialite. In these pages, Jefferson takes us into this insular and discerning society: “I call it Negroland,” she writes, “because I still find ‘Negro’ a word of wonders, glorious and terrible.”

Negroland’s pedigree dates back generations, having originated with antebellum free blacks who made their fortunes among the plantations of the South. It evolved into a world of exclusive sororities, fraternities, networks, and clubs—a world in which skin color and hair texture were relentlessly evaluated alongside scholarly and professional achievements, where the Talented Tenth positioned themselves as a third race between whites and “the masses of Negros,” and where the motto was “Achievement. Invulnerability. Comportment.” Negroland is a landmark work on privilege, discrimination, and the fallacy of post-racial America.

Date Added: 04/04/2018


Mindhunter

by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker

Discover the classic, behind-the-scenes chronicle of John E. Douglas’ twenty-five-year career in the FBI Investigative Support Unit, where he used psychological profiling to delve into the minds of the country’s most notorious serial killers and criminals—the basis for the upcoming Netflix original series.

In chilling detail, the legendary Mindhunter takes us behind the scenes of some of his most gruesome, fascinating, and challenging cases—and into the darkest recesses of our worst nightmares.

During his twenty-five year career with the Investigative Support Unit, Special Agent John Douglas became a legendary figure in law enforcement, pursuing some of the most notorious and sadistic serial killers of our time: the man who hunted prostitutes for sport in the woods of Alaska, the Atlanta child murderer, and Seattle's Green River killer, the case that nearly cost Douglas his life.

As the model for Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs, Douglas has confronted, interviewed, and studied scores of serial killers and assassins, including Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, and Ed Gein, who dressed himself in his victims' peeled skin. Using his uncanny ability to become both predator and prey, Douglas examines each crime scene, reliving both the killer's and the victim's actions in his mind, creating their profiles, describing their habits, and predicting their next moves.

Date Added: 04/04/2018


The Year of Magical Thinking

by Joan Didion

Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill with what seemed at first flu, then pneumonia, then complete septic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later, the night before New Year's Eve, the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John Gregory Dunne suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of forty years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LAX, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Center to relieve a massive hematoma.

This powerful book is Didion's attempt to make sense of the weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea she ever had about death, about illness, about marriage and children and memory, about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 04/04/2018


Mean Little Deaf Queer

by Terry Galloway

In 1959, the year Terry Galloway turned nine, the voices of everyone she loved began to disappear. No one yet knew that an experimental antibiotic given to her mother had wreaked havoc on her fetal nervous system, eventually causing her to go deaf. As a self-proclaimed "child freak," she acted out her fury with her boxy hearing aids and Coke-bottle glasses by faking her own drowning at a camp for crippled children. Ever since that first real-life performance, Galloway has used theater, whether onstage or off, to defy and transcend her reality. With disarming candor, she writes about her mental breakdowns, her queer identity, and living in a silent, quirky world populated by unforgettable characters. What could have been a bitter litany of complaint is instead an unexpectedly hilarious and affecting take on life.

Date Added: 04/04/2018


Love, Loss, and What We Ate

by Padma Lakshmi

Long before Padma Lakshmi ever stepped onto a television set, she learned that how we eat is an extension of how we love, how we comfort, how we forge a sense of home—and how we taste the world as we navigate our way through it. Shuttling between continents as a child, she lived a life of dislocation that would become habit as an adult, never quite at home in the world. And yet, through all her travels, her favorite food remained the simple rice she first ate sitting on the cool floor of her grandmother’s kitchen in South India.

Poignant and surprising, Love, Loss, and What We Ate is Lakshmi’s extraordinary account of her journey from that humble kitchen, ruled by ferocious and unforgettable women, to the judges’ table of Top Chef and beyond. It chronicles the fierce devotion of the remarkable people who shaped her along the way, from her headstrong mother who flouted conservative Indian convention to make a life in New York, to her Brahmin grandfather—a brilliant engineer with an irrepressible sweet tooth—to the man seemingly wrong for her in every way who proved to be her truest ally. A memoir rich with sensual prose and punctuated with evocative recipes, it is alive with the scents, tastes, and textures of a life that spans complex geographies both internal and external.

Love, Loss, and What We Ate is an intimate and unexpected story of food and family—both the ones we are born to and the ones we create—and their enduring legacies.

Date Added: 04/04/2018


A Long Way Gone

by Ishmael Beah

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 absorbing account by a young man who, as a boy of 12, gets swept up in Sierra Leone's civil war goes beyond even the best journalistic efforts in revealing the life and mind of a child abducted into the horrors of warfare. Beah's harrowing journey transforms him overnight from a child enthralled by American hip-hop music and dance to an internal refugee bereft of family, wandering from village to village in a country grown deeply divided by the indiscriminate atrocities of unruly, sociopathic rebel and army forces.

Beah then finds himself in the army-in a drug-filled life of casual mass slaughter that lasts until he is 15, when he's brought to a rehabilitation center sponsored by UNICEF and partnering NGOs. The process marks out Beah as a gifted spokesman for the center's work after his "repatriation" to civilian life in the capital, where he lives with his family and a distant uncle. When the war finally engulfs the capital, it sends 17-year-old Beah fleeing again, this time to the U.S., where he now lives. (Beah graduated from Oberlin College in 2004.)

Told in clear, accessible language by a young writer with a gifted literary voice, this memoir seems destined to become a classic firsthand account of war and the ongoing plight of child soldiers in conflicts worldwide.

Date Added: 04/04/2018


Just Kids

by Patti Smith

Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max's Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous- the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, they would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years. Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists' ascent, a prelude to fame.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 04/04/2018


Hunger

by Roxane Gay

From the New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist: a searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself. “I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe.”

In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.

With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved—in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.

A New York Times Bestseller

Date Added: 04/04/2018


Heart Berries

by Terese Marie Mailhot

Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in British Columbia. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bipolar II, Terese Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot's mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father--an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist--who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame.

Mailhot "trusts the reader to understand that memory isn't exact, but melded to imagination, pain and what we can bring ourselves to accept." Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people and to her place in the world.

A New York Times Bestseller

Date Added: 04/04/2018


Good Things Happen Slowly

by Fred Hersch

Jazz could not contain Fred Hersch. Hersch’s prodigious talent as a sideman—a pianist who played with the giants of the twentieth century in the autumn of their careers, including Art Farmer and Joe Henderson—blossomed further in the eighties and beyond into a compositional genius that defied the boundaries of bop, sweeping in elements of pop, classical, and folk to create a wholly new music.

Good Things Happen Slowly is his memoir. It’s the story of the first openly gay, HIV-positive jazz player; a deep look into the cloistered jazz culture that made such a status both transgressive and groundbreaking; and a profound exploration of how Hersch’s two-month-long coma in 2007 led to his creating some of the finest, most direct, and most emotionally compelling music of his career.

Remarkable, and at times lyrical, Good Things Happen Slowly is an evocation of the twilight of Post-Stonewall New York, and a powerfully brave narrative of illness, recovery, music, creativity, and the glorious reward of finally becoming oneself.

Date Added: 04/04/2018


Fever Pitch

by Nick Hornby

In America, it is soccer.

But in Great Britain, it is the real football. No pads, no prayers, no prisoners. And that's before the players even take the field.

Nick Hornby has been a football fan since the moment he was conceived. Call it predestiny. Or call it preschool. Fever Pitch is his tribute to a lifelong obsession.

Part autobiography, part comedy, part incisive analysis of insanity, Hornby's award-winning memoir captures the fever pitch of fandom--its agony and ecstasy, its community, its defining role in thousands of young men's coming-of-age stories. Fever Pitch is one for the home team. But above all, it is one for everyone who knows what it really means to have a losing season.

Date Added: 04/04/2018


Educated

by Tara Westover

An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University.

Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills” bag. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged metal in her father’s junkyard.

Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent.

When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and history, learning for the first time about pivotal world events like the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement.

Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home. Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing one’s closest ties.

With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

A New York Times Bestseller

Date Added: 04/04/2018


The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater

by Alanna Okun

The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater is a memoir about life truths learned through crafting.People who craft know things. They know how to transform piles of yarn into sweaters and scarves. They know that some items, like woolen bikini tops, are better left unknit. They know that making a hat for a newborn baby isn’t just about crafting something small but appreciating the beginnings of life, which sometimes helps make peace with the endings. They know that if you knit your boyfriend a sweater, your relationship will most likely be over before the last stitch.Alanna Okun knows that crafting keeps her anxiety at bay. She knows that no one will ever be as good a knitting teacher as her beloved grandmother. And she knows that even when we can’t control anything else, we can at least control the sticks, string, and fabric right in front of us.Okun lays herself bare and takes readers into the parts of themselves they often keep hidden. Yet at the same time she finds humor in the daily indignities all crafters must face (like when you catch the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome and can’t possibly finish the second in a pair). Okun has written a book that will speak to anyone who has said to themselves, or to everyone within earshot, “I made that.”

Date Added: 04/04/2018


The Color of Water

by James Mcbride

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. With candor and immediacy, Ruth describes her parents' loveless marriage; her fragile, handicapped mother; her cruel, sexually-abusive father; and the rest of the family and life she abandoned.

At seventeen, after fleeing Virginia and settling in New York City, Ruth married a black minister and founded the all- black New Brown Memorial Baptist Church in her Red Hook living room. "God is the color of water," Ruth McBride taught her children, firmly convinced that life's blessings and life's values transcend race. Twice widowed, and continually confronting overwhelming adversity and racism, Ruth's determination, drive and discipline saw her dozen children through college—and most through graduate school. At age 65, she herself received a degree in social work from Temple University.

Interspersed throughout his mother's compelling narrative, McBride shares candid recollections of his own experiences as a mixed-race child of poverty, his flirtations with drugs and violence, and his eventual self- realization and professional success. The Color of Water touches readers of all colors as a vivid portrait of growing up, a haunting meditation on race and identity, and a lyrical valentine to a mother from her son.

Date Added: 04/04/2018


C'mon Papa

by Ryan Knighton

Ryan Knighton's humorous and perceptive tales of fatherhood take us inside an unusual new family, one bound by its father's particular darkness and light.

C'mon Papa is Ryan Knighton's heartbreaking and hilarious voyage through the first year of fatherhood. Becoming a father is a stressful, daunting rite of passage to be sure, but for a blind father, the fears are unimaginably heightened. Ryan will have to find novel ways to adapt to nearly every aspect of parenting: the most basic skills are nearly impossible to contemplate, let alone master. And how will Ryan get to know this pre-verbal bundle of coos and burps when he can't see her smile, or look into her eyes for hints of the person to come? But this is no pity party, and Ryan has no time for sentimentality.

Tackling these hurdles with grace and humour, Ryan is determined to do his part -- and this is where the fun starts. From holding his daughter as she wails into the night to their first nerve-wracking walk to the cafe, no activity between father and daughter is without its pitfalls. In his struggle to "see" Tess, Ryan reimagines the relationship between father and child during that first chaotic year.

Date Added: 04/04/2018


The Bright Hour

by Nina Riggs

An exquisite memoir about how to live—and love—every day with “death in the room,” from poet Nina Riggs, mother of two young sons and the direct descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, in the tradition of When Breath Becomes Air.

“We are breathless, but we love the days. They are promises. They are the only way to walk from one night to the other.”

Nina Riggs was just thirty-seven years old when initially diagnosed with breast cancer—one small spot. Within a year, the mother of two sons, ages seven and nine, and married sixteen years to her best friend, received the devastating news that her cancer was terminal.

How does one live each day, “unattached to outcome”? How does one approach the moments, big and small, with both love and honesty?

Exploring motherhood, marriage, friendship, and memory, even as she wrestles with the legacy of her great-great-great grandfather, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nina Riggs’s breathtaking memoir continues the urgent conversation that Paul Kalanithi began in his gorgeous When Breath Becomes Air. She asks, what makes a meaningful life when one has limited time?

Brilliantly written, disarmingly funny, and deeply moving, The Bright Hour is about how to love all the days, even the bad ones, and it’s about the way literature, especially Emerson, and Nina’s other muse, Montaigne, can be a balm and a form of prayer. It’s a book about looking death squarely in the face and saying “this is what will be.”

Especially poignant in these uncertain times, The Bright Hour urges us to live well and not lose sight of what makes us human: love, art, music, words.

Date Added: 04/04/2018


The Bridge Ladies

by Betsy Lerner

A fifty-year-old Bridge game provides an unexpected way to cross the generational divide between a daughter and her mother. Betsy Lerner takes us on a powerfully personal literary journey, where we learn a little about Bridge and a lot about life.

After a lifetime defining herself in contrast to her mother's "don't ask, don't tell" generation, Lerner finds herself back in her childhood home, not five miles from the mother she spent decades avoiding. When Roz needs help after surgery, it falls to Betsy to take care of her. She expected a week of tense civility; what she got instead were the Bridge Ladies. Impressed by their loyalty, she saw something her generation lacked. Facebook was great, but it wouldn't deliver a pot roast.

Tentatively at first, Betsy becomes a regular at her mother's Monday Bridge club. Through her friendships with the ladies, she is finally able to face years of misunderstandings and family tragedy, the Bridge table becoming the common ground she and Roz never had. By turns darkly funny and deeply moving, The Bridge Ladies is the unforgettable story of a hard-won--but never-too-late--bond between mother and daughter.

Date Added: 04/04/2018



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