Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons by John Paul BrammerWhat it is: the debut memoir-in-essays from popular Substack queer advice columnist John Paul Brammer.
What's inside: Brammer's funny and frank reflections on his mixed-race identity, Oklahoma upbringing, coming out experiences, and more.
Essays include: "How to Be a Real Mexican;" "How to Fall in and out of Love;" "How to Chat with Your Childhood Bully over a Gay Dating App."
Somebody's Daughter by Ashley C. FordWhat it's about: writer and podcaster Ashley C. Ford's coming of age in 1990s Indiana, where she navigated fraught relationships with her incarcerated father, neglectful mother, and tough-love grandmother.
Read it for: a moving and heartwrenching portrait of generational trauma, survival, and reconciliation.
Book buzz: Ford's bestselling debut has been called a "classic in the making" by author John Green and has received starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly.
Better, Not Bitter: Living on Purpose in the Pursuit of Racial Justice by Yusef SalaamWhat it's about: In 1989, 15-year-old Yusef Salaam and four other teen boys were falsely accused of raping a white woman in a case that made national headlines. Imprisoned at Rikers Island for nearly a decade, Salaam spent his time behind bars earning an education and becoming a spiritual leader before his conviction was overturned in 2002.
Why you should read it: Salaam's inspirational memoir marks the first time a member of the Exonerated Five (previously known as the Central Park Five) has told his story in his own words.
House of Sticks by Ly TranWhat it is: Ly Tran's heartbreaking yet hopeful account of her impoverished upbringing in New York City after her family immigrated from Vietnam in the 1990s.
For fans of: coming-of-age books that explore the complex impact of the Vietnam War on Southeast Asian immigrant families.
Try this next: Ocean Vuong's novel On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous or Thi Bui's graphic memoir The Best We Could Do.
She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman by Erica Armstrong DunbarWhat it is: a short, conversational biography of heroic Underground Railroad conductor, Union Army spy, and abolitionist Harriet Tubman.
Why you might like it: Filled with photographs and eye-catching illustrations and sidebars, this engaging, pop-culture infused read "will leave even the least historically inclined readers in awe" (Booklist).
The King of Confidence: A Tale of Utopian Dreamers, Frontier Schemers, True Believers... by Miles HarveyIntroducing: Lawyer and committed atheist James Strang, who disappeared from his small New York town in 1843 only to reemerge as part of the fledgling Latter-Day Saint movement, eventually declaring himself Joseph Smith's successor.
Read it for: the surprising moments of dark humor that come from the farcical nature of Strang's story, including forgery, piracy, and creating a private kingdom for himself on an island in Lake Michigan.
Stranger in the Shogun's City: A Japanese Woman and Her World by Amy StanleyWho it's about: Tsuneno, a woman in early 19th-century Japan who endured three failed marriages before leaving her rural village in search of independence and adventure in the city of Edo (present-day Tokyo).
Featuring: Tsuneno's letters and diary entries; atmospheric descriptions of Japanese life and culture during a transformative era.
Awards buzz: Stranger in the Shogun's City won the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography.
The Mystery of Charles Dickens by A.N. WilsonWhat it is: an engaging biography of Charles Dickens that plumbs the author's hidden complexities and contradictions, published in 2020 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of his death.
What sets it apart: Award-winning author A.N. Wilson's incisive "art imitates life" investigation offers fresh insights on Dickens' legacy.
Reviewers say: "A marvelous exploration by an author steeped in the craft of his subject's elastic, elusive work" (Kirkus Reviews).
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