Biography and Memoir
Mama's Boy: A Story from Our Americas by Dustin Lance BlackWhat it's about: Dustin Lance Black's conservative Mormon upbringing in Texas and his complicated relationship with his mother, a headstrong polio and abuse survivor.
Author alert: LGBTQIA activist Black is the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Milk.
Reviewers say: "terrifically moving" (Kirkus Reviews); "belongs in every library" (Booklist).
All That You Leave Behind by Erin Lee CarrWhat it is: a poignant elegy for Erin Lee Carr's late father, New York Times journalist David Carr, who died from lung cancer in 2015; an incisive look at the ravages of multigenerational addiction.
What's inside: texts, emails, and letters exchanged between Carr and her father that offer an insightful view into the pair's relationship.
Further reading: David Carr's award-winning 2008 memoir Night of the Gun, which chronicles his own struggles with addiction and his life as a single father.
What My Mother and I Don't Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence by Michele Filgate (editor)What it is: a diverse collection of essays that illuminate the complicated relationships between the authors and their mothers.
Contributors include: Kiese Laymon, Alexander Chee, Carmen Maria Machado, and Nayomi Munaweera.
Is it for you? Haunting and lyrical, this anthology unflinchingly explores topics like abuse, estrangement, and mental illness.
Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination by Brian Jay JonesWhat it is: a comprehensive and entertaining biography of ad man-turned-beloved children's book author and cartoonist Dr. Seuss.
Don't miss: the balanced appraisal of Seuss' legacy -- though he was known for championing causes like environmentalism, he also employed racial stereotypes in his works.
Who it's for: Seuss fans and lovers of page-turning biographies.
African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan by Thomas Lockley and Geoffrey GirardWho it's about: Yasuke, the 16th-century African slave who served as a vassal to powerful warlord Oda Nobunaga and became Japan's first foreign-born samurai.
Read it for: the action-packed narrative; the evocative depiction of feudal Japan.
Movie buzz: Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman is set to play Yasuke in a forthcoming film.
The Incredible True Story of Blondy Baruti: My Unlikely Journey from the Congo to Hollywood by Blondy Baruti with Joe LaydenWhat it is: an inspiring chronicle of author Blondy Baruti's life, from his impoverished childhood in the Democratic Republic of Congo to his success as a college basketball player and actor.
Author alert: Baruti made his film debut as villain Huhtar in 2017's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.
Why you might like it: Short chapters and a friendly, conversational tone make this a quick and uplifting read.
Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon's Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the... by James R. Doty, MDWhat it's about: how James Doty survived a childhood of abuse to become a revered neurosurgeon and the director of Stanford University's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE).
Featuring: well-researched mindfulness and visualization techniques.
Is it for you? Squeamish readers may want to steer clear of Doty's graphic descriptions of brain surgery.
Butterfly: From Refugee to Olympian, My Story of Rescue, Hope, and Triumph by Yusra MardiniWhat it is: a moving account of swimmer Yusra Mardini's flight from war-torn Syria in 2015 and her subsequent asylum in Germany.
About the author: At age 18, Mardini was a member of the Refugee Olympic Athletes Team at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Reviewers say: "A rousing, exciting true story of remarkable resilience" (Kirkus Reviews).
Empress of the East: How a European Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire by Leslie PeirceStarring: Ruthenian slave Roxelana, the concubine-turned-wife of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, who became one of her husband's most influential political advisers thanks to her shrewd knack for philanthropy and diplomacy.
Why you might like it: Empress of the East traces Roxelana's rise to power with evocative descriptions of 16th-century Turkish culture, customs, and politics.
A Curious Man: The Strange & Brilliant Life of Robert "Believe It or Not!" Ripley by Neal ThompsonWho it's about: eccentric playboy and cartoonist Robert Ripley, who parlayed his curiosity for all things weird into the successful multimedia empire "Believe It or Not!"
What's inside: chapter breaks interspersed with fun "Believe It!" facts.
Did you know? In his lifetime Ripley visited 150 countries, amassing oddities such as torture devices from around the world.
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