A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom by Brittany K. BarnettWhat it is: lawyer and Buried Alive Project co-founder Brittany K. Barnett's impassioned memoir of the cases that helped define her career as a criminal justice reform advocate.
Read it for: an intimate and galvanizing narrative exploring racial bias in the American criminal justice system.
For fans of: Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy.
Eat a Peach by David ChangWhat it's about: chef, Momofuku restaurateur, and Ugly Delicious host David Chang's path to culinary stardom.
Topics include: Chang's upbringing in a religious Korean American family; his battles with bipolar disorder and suicidal ideation; career triumphs and missteps; his friendship with the late Anthony Bourdain.
Don't miss: the author's self-deprecating sense of humor, which he reveals in playful prose, cheeky footnotes, and rules for becoming a chef.
Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America by Laila LalamiWhat it is: an unflinching examination of how immigrants and naturalized citizens in America are dehumanized.
What sets it apart: In this incisive essay collection, Pulitzer Prize finalist Laila Lalami offers eye-opening insights from her experiences as a Moroccan American Muslim woman navigating post-9/11 Islamophobia.
Try this next: For another thought-provoking own voices memoir about immigration, check out Dina Nayeri's The Ungrateful Refugee.
The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne and Tamara PayneWhat it is: a richly detailed revisionist biography of Malcolm X that reveals previously unexplored aspects of his life and legacy.
What's inside: interviews with Malcolm X's colleagues, adversaries, family, and friends; archival materials from the FBI and NYPD.
Author alert: Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Les Payne spent nearly three decades working on The Dead Are Arising before his death in 2018; his daughter and co-researcher Tamara finished his work.
Crazy Brave by Joy HarjoWhat it is: a reflective memoir from Muscogee poet, musician, and Native Writers' Circle Lifetime Achievement Award winner Joy Harjo.
Topics include: the author's fraught family dynamics and single teenage motherhood; her schooling at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.
What sets it apart: Harjo's candid, lyrical writing conveys the "intricate and metaphorical language of my ancestors."
Children of the Land by Marcelo Hernandez CastilloWhat it's about: the author's traumatic coming of age as an undocumented immigrant, which was compounded by frequent ICE raids, his father's deportation back to Mexico, and the rigidity of the U.S. immigration system.
Want a taste? "We were still trying to cross, still moving in maddening helplessness, a revolving door without an exit."
Awards buzz: Children of the Land is a 2020 International Latino Book Award finalist.
I'm Telling the Truth, But I'm Lying: Essays by Bassey IkpiWhat it is: a candid memoir in essays by spoken word poet Bassey Ikpi (HBO's Def Poetry Jam) that chronicles the author's battles with depression and anxiety.
Did you know? Ikpi is the creator of #NoShameDay, which advocates for the destigmatization of mental illness in the Black community.
Try this next: For another lyrical memoir by a poet of Nigerian descent tackling mental health issues, check out Yrsa Daley-Ward's The Terrible.
Priestdaddy by Patricia LockwoodWhat it's about: When lapsed Catholic and prize-winning poet Patricia Lockwood and her husband fell on hard times, they moved back into the Kansas City rectory where Patricia grew up.
Featuring: Patricia's gun-toting, married priest father, content to live life wearing only his boxers; and her sweet but scatterbrained mother, whose devotion to the church doesn't keep her from making lewd jokes.
Is it for you? Lockwood's irreverent memoir of religion, family, and identity offers racy humor and eloquent reflections in equal measure.
The Argonauts by Maggie NelsonWhat it is: a 2015 New York Times Notable Book that offers a thought-provoking exploration of gender, sexuality, and parenthood.
What sets it apart: Poet Maggie Nelson's genre-defying, fourth-wall breaking memoir unfolds in fragments and incorporates poetry and quotes from noted gender theorists, philosophers, and psychologists.
Reviewers say: "A book that will challenge readers as much as the author has challenged herself" (Kirkus Reviews).
The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father by Kao Kalia YangWhat it is: author Kao Kalia Yang's tribute to her father, Bee Yang, a Hmong song poet who passed on the traditions and culture of his Laotian homeland to his children through his kwv txhiaj (storytelling songs).
Why you might like it: the first half of Yang's moving memoir is written in the voice of her father; the second is told from her own perspective.
Author alert: Yang chronicled her family's immigration to America in her debut memoir The Latehomecomer.
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