The Fifth Act: America's End in Afghanistan by Elliot AckermanWhat it's about: In the summer of 2021, combat veteran Elliot Ackerman found himself pulled back into the war in Afghanistan as the country fell to the Taliban.
What happened next: Ackerman and a makeshift network of journalists, fellow veterans, and colleagues coordinated evacuation efforts for hundreds of Afghans stranded at the Kabul airport.
Read it for: a haunting and thought-provoking indictment of the foreign policy failures behind America's longest war.
Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe by David MaranissWhat it is: a well-researched and insightful biography of multi-hyphenate athlete Jim Thorpe, the first Indigenous American to win Olympic gold for the United States (though he was later stripped of his medals).
Why you should read it: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Maraniss looks at the man beyond the myth, exploring how Thorpe grappled with racist treatment, poverty and alcoholism, and fraught family relationships amid his career triumphs.
Did you know? Thorpe made headlines in July when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) reinstated his medals after 110 years.
A Place in the World: Finding the Meaning of Home by Frances MayesWhat it's about: "what home means, how it hooks the past and pushes into the future."
What's inside: Under the Tuscan Sun author Frances Mayes' evocative reflections of the places she's lived throughout her life, including Fitzgerald, GA; Cortona, Italy; San Francisco, CA; and Hillsborough, NC.
Who it's for: Homebodies and wanderers alike will find much to appreciate in Mayes' poignant and lyrical latest.
Acceptance by Emi NietfeldWhat it is: a page-turning coming-of-age memoir from Harvard-educated software engineer Emi Nietfeld, who fought many hard-won battles on her unlikely path to success.
Is it for you? Nietfeld's unflinching debut tackles difficult topics, including her parents' abuse and her placement in foster care, periods of homelessness, and suicide attempts.
Reviewers say: "a radical probe into our society's insistence on resiliency through unthinkable struggles" (Booklist).
Diary of a Misfit: A Memoir and a Mystery by Casey ParksHow it began: In 2002, Casey Parks was disowned by her family after coming out as a lesbian, though her empathetic grandmother shared that in childhood, she had grown up next door to a trans man named Roy.
What happened next: Parks set out to learn more about Roy's life, and in the process made some surprising discoveries about herself.
Book buzz: Prior to its publication, Parks' moving debut won the 2021 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.
Focus on: Hispanic Heritage Month
The Soul of a Woman: On Impatient Love, Long Life, and Good Witches by Isabel AllendeWhat it is: beloved author Isabel Allende's intimate and lyrical reflections on the role that feminism has played in her life.
Topics include: Allende's career beginnings as a journalist in 1960s Chile; the roadblocks she encountered while attempting to publish her first novel, 1982's The House of the Spirits; aging, sex, and family life.
Who it's for: fans of Allende's work will appreciate this empowering memoir/manifesto and the lessons shared within.
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."
Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America by Maria HinojosaWhat it's about: Mexico-born journalist Maria Hinojosa's immigrant experiences and her time spent reporting on others' immigration stories.
Read it for: a thought-provoking and impassioned exploration of the failures of U.S. immigration policy.
Book buzz: Once I Was You was named a Best Book of 2020 by NPR and Real Simple.
I Am These Truths: A Memoir of Identity, Justice, and Living Between Worlds by Sunny HostinWhat it's about: The View co-host and ABC News legal analyst Sunny Hostin's life and career.
Topics include: Hostin's loving yet dysfunctional childhood; her Afro Latina identity; making a name for herself in an industry that isn't always hospitable to women of color.
Reviewers say: "inspiring" (Booklist); "educational" (Kirkus Reviews).
Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood by Danny Trejo with Donal LogueWhat it is: an inspiring, no-holds-barred memoir from perennial Hollywood bad guy Danny Trejo, whose remarkable career has spanned more than 400 film and TV appearances.
Topics include: the "macho Chicanismo" of Trejo's youth; his addiction battles and stints in Folsom and San Quentin prisons; finding faith, sobriety, and success in the entertainment industry.
Want a taste? "A bad day on a movie will always be a million times better than your best day in prison."
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