Biography and Memoir
The Wind in My Hair: My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iran by Masih AlinejadWhat it's about: Exiled Iranian journalist and women's rights advocate Masih Alinejad chronicles her life spent resisting the Islamic republic in this captivating and informative memoir.
Did you know? Alinejad is the creator of the social media movement My Stealthy Freedom, which encourages women to defy Iran's compulsory hijab laws by sharing photographs of themselves without their head scarves.
There Are No Grown-Ups: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story by Pamela DruckermanWhat it is: part memoir, part self-help guide, this witty and lighthearted collection of 25 essays explores American expat life in Paris, the realities of aging, and family relationships.
Want a taste? "You know you're a fortysomething parent when you've decided that swimming counts as a shower."
Chapters include: "How to Have a Midlife Crisis;" "How to Plan a Ménage à Trois;" and "How to Think in French."
Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zora Neale HurstonWhat it's about: In 1927, author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston interviewed Cudjo Lewis (c. 1841-1935), one of the last known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade; the transcript of their conversation was only recently discovered.
Read it for: Hurston's folkloristic preservation of Lewis's West African vernacular and storytelling.
Is it for you? Lewis' clear account of his capture and enslavement is both graphic and illuminating.
The Destiny Thief: Essays on Writing, Writers, and Life by Richard RussoWhat it is: a moving and insightful peek into the creative process and everyday life of a prolific writer, leisurely told in a series of nine essays.
About the author: Novelist Richard Russo's Empire Falls won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2002; this is his first essay collection.
Don't miss: The poignant "Imagining Jenny" originally appeared as the afterword to Jennifer Boylan's 2003 memoir She's Not There and discusses how Russo's friendship with Boylan changed after the latter's gender-reassignment surgery.
Focus on: Prison and Captivity
Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard by Laura BatesWhat it is: a powerful, eye-opening account of a group-study "Shakespeare in Shackles" program at a maximum security prison and the transformative effect it had on both instructor and students.
About the author: Laura Bates is a literature professor at Indiana State University and a graduate of the Shakespeare Institute.
Try this next: Michelle Kuo's Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship.
A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara CorbettWhat it's about: In 2008, 25-year-old Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout was captured by Somali rebels in Mogadishu and held for ransom for 15 months.
Don't miss: the urgent and evocative prose.
Is it for you? Though the memoir has an upbeat ending, Lindhout's harrowing descriptions of the violence she endured may be too disturbing for some readers.
The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State by Nadia MuradWhat it is: the raw yet inspiring story of Nadia Murad's escape from captivity by the Islamic State, for whom she was forced to serve as a "sabiya" (or sex slave) after her Yazidi village in Iraq was destroyed in 2014.
About the author: Nadia Murad is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.
Guantánamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould SlahiWhat it is: a riveting and reflective account of the human rights abuses perpetuated at the Guantánamo Bay military prison.
What sets it apart: Guantánamo Diary is the first book on the subject to be written by a detainee during his imprisonment.
Book buzz: Written in 2005, Guantánamo Diary remained classified for almost ten years; earlier editions of the book were heavily redacted. This Restored Edition reconstructs previously redacted text and includes a new introduction by Slahi.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan StevensonWhat it's about: In 1994, lawyer and social justice activist Bryan Stevenson founded the Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal representation to inmates on Alabama's death row -- many of whom face miscarriages of justice.
Further reading: Stevenson provides the foreword to Anthony Ray Hinton's heartwrenching and hopeful memoir (and Oprah's latest Book Club selection) The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row, which chronicles his 30 years of false imprisonment.
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