Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of... by Leslie BrodyWhat it is: an engrossing and well-researched biography of Harriet the Spy author Louise Fitzhugh (1928-1974).
Read it for: a compelling portrait of a woman who rejected mid-century social and gender norms -- Fitzhugh lived openly as a lesbian among the Greenwich Village set and created a queer-coded heroine who has resonated with LGBTQIA readers for more than 50 years.
About the author: Leslie Brody is an award-winning playwright who adapted Harriet the Spy for the stage.
All the Young Men: A Memoir of Love, AIDS, and Chosen Family in the American South by Ruth Coker Burks with Kevin Carr O'LearyWhat it's about: In 1980s Hot Springs, Arkansas, young single mom Ruth Coker Burks became an outcast in her conservative community when she began caring for dying AIDS patients.
Why you should read it: Coker Burks' candid account of her life in activism offers a bittersweet front-line perspective on the AIDS crisis.
Don't miss: The author burying men in her family's cemetery after their own families wouldn't claim them, eventually earning the moniker "Cemetery Angel" for her efforts.
Aftershocks by Nadia OwusuWhat it's about: Abandoned by her Armenian American mother as a toddler, Nadia Owusu spent her childhood globetrotting due to her Ghanaian father's United Nations career, never feeling like she fit in anywhere: "I have perpetually been a them rather than an us."
Read it for: a moving account of reckoning with trauma and finding a second chance at happiness.
Try this next: For another coming-of-age memoir by a woman navigating biracial identity and family dysfunction, check out T Kira Madden's Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls.
Dancing in the Mosque: An Afghan Mother's Letter to Her Son by Homeira Qaderi; translated by Zaman S. StanizaiWhat it is: Afghan women's rights activist Homeira Qaderi's heartwrenching life story, dictated to the young son she was forced to leave behind after her divorce.
Topics include: growing up in Soviet-occupied Herat in the 1980s; secretly homeschooling children in defiance of Taliban law; a happy marriage marred by her husband's desire to take a second wife.
Book buzz: Dancing in the Mosque was named a Kirkus Best Nonfiction Book of 2020.
Focus on: Black History Month
I Don't Want to Die Poor: Essays by Michael ArceneauxWhat it is: the sardonic latest essay collection from New York Times bestselling author Michael Arceneaux (I Can't Date Jesus) that chronicles the author's post-college financial woes.
Who it's for: Readers who've navigated college loan debt will commiserate with Arceneaux as he candidly details how the debt from his Howard University education has impacted his life.
Reviewers say: "unflinchingly smart and wickedly funny" (Booklist).
Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother's Time, My Mother's Time, and... by Emily BernardWhat it is: a lyrical memoir in essays that examines author Emily Bernard's relationship to her Blackness and her Southern heritage.
Topics include: Bernard's interracial marriage and her adoption of twin girls from Ethiopia; her grandmother's Jim Crow-era Mississippi childhood.
Want a taste? "I am black -- and brown, too. Brown is the body I was born into. Black is the body of the stories I tell."
The Book of Delights by Ross GayWhat it is: National Book Critics Circle Award-winning poet Ross Gay's wide-ranging collection of 102 "essayettes" celebrating life's big and small joys.
Why it matters: Gay's engaging reflections on everything from race and masculinity to hobbies and popular culture offer a thought-provoking rejoinder to narratives that center on Black suffering.
This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist... by Morgan JerkinsWhat it is: the debut essay collection from ZORA editor Morgan Jerkins exploring the trials and triumphs of contemporary Black womanhood.
Why you should read it: Jerkins' thoughtful memoir offers a much-needed perspective on misogynoir in mainstream feminist spaces.
Try this next: Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper.
Prince of Darkness: The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street's First... by Shane White(Re)introducing: Jeremiah Hamilton, Haiti-born Wall Street broker and America's richest Black man at the time of his death in 1875.
Read it for: a rags-to-riches tale largely forgotten by history.
Book buzz: Employing "superb scholarship and sprightly style" (Kirkus Reviews), Australian historian Shane White vividly depicts Hamilton and the cutthroat circles in which he operated.
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