Biography and Memoir
Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces by Michael ChabonWhat it's about: In his signature stylish prose, Pulitzer Prize winner (and father of four) Michael Chabon reflects on parenting and his relationship with his own father in this breezy collection of essays.
Don't miss: "Adventures in Euphemism," about how Chabon grappled with racial epithets during bedtime readings of Mark Twain.
Want a taste? "You are born into a family and those are your people, and they know you and they love you, and if you are lucky, they even on occasion manage to understand you."
Inseparable: The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous with American History by Yunte HuangWhat it's about: In 1829, conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker immigrated from Thailand to America, making careers as "human oddities" in sideshow attractions around the world. Their lives offstage were just as sensational: they married white sisters (inciting racist tabloid gossip) and fathered 21 children between the two of them.
Read it for: Yunte Huang's timely examination of "otherness" as inseparable from American identity and history -- much like the Bunkers' own conjoined existence.
True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness: A Feminist Coming of Age by Christine LahtiWhat it is: a bawdy and intimate collection of essays from actor Christine Lahti, touching on her fractious childhood, her feminist awakening in college, parenthood and aging, and career highs and lows.
Did you know? Lahti is an Academy, Emmy, and Golden Globe Award winner, and was famously in the bathroom when she was awarded the Golden Globe in 1998.
Chapters include: "What I Wish I'd Known About Love Scenes;" "Dear Pregnant Women of a Certain Age."
Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed the World by Eileen McNamaraWhat it is: an insightful portrait of the Stanford-educated Kennedy -- the 5th of Joseph and Rose's nine children -- whose efforts helped advance the disability rights movement.
About the author: Eileen McNamara is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and director of the Journalism Program at Brandeis University.
Why it's significant: Shining a light on an overlooked member of the Kennedy dynasty, McNamara argues that Eunice's political legacy rivals that of her more famous brothers.
Hell's Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men by Harold SchechterWhat it's about: In early 1900s Indiana, Norwegian American widow Belle Gunness lured as many as 40 men to their deaths at her "murder farm," becoming one of the most prolific female serial killers in history.
What's in a name? Newspapers at the time described Gunness as "a modern Lady Macbeth," "Lady Bluebeard," and "Indiana Ogress."
Reviewers say: "A fascinating and dramatic page-turner that will be a new favorite among true-crime fans" (Kirkus Reviews).
Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage... by Debbie Cenziper and Jim ObergefellWhat it is: a moving, suspenseful account of the plaintiffs and legal teams involved in the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
About the authors: Debbie Cenziper is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist; Jim Obergefell was the plaintiff in the landmark case.
Why you might like it: Love Wins' timely, empowering narrative makes it an ideal book club selection.
Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage by Barney FrankWhat it's about: In this sharp and engaging memoir, former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank candidly reflects on his four-decade political career, including his decision in 1987 to come out as gay (becoming the first member of Congress to do so).
Topics include: Frank's role in voting rights campaigns in the 1960s and the 2010 repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell;" his reflections on the Iraq War and the fight for marriage equality.
Logical Family: A Memoir by Armistead MaupinWhat it's about: After brief stints in law school and the military, beloved author Armistead Maupin (Tales of the City) eschewed his conservative Southern upbringing for the freewheeling San Francisco of the 1970s, finding a community in the burgeoning LGBTQ rights movement.
Is it for you? With a nonlinear yet nuanced narrative, Logical Family will appeal to Maupin's fans and general readers alike.
Want a taste? "Sooner or later, we have to venture beyond our biological family to find our logical one, the one that actually makes sense for us."
Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet MockWhat it is: a courageous memoir from trans activist Janet Mock, foregrounding her transition and coming-of-age against the larger societal plight of trans women of color.
Reviewers say: "An enlightening, much-needed perspective on transgender identity" (Kirkus Reviews).
Further reading: Mock published a follow-up memoir, Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me, in 2017.
Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space by Lynn SherrWhat it is: an intimate biography of the astronaut and icon, whose heavily guarded personal life remained a secret until her death in 2012, when her obituary revealed her as a lesbian survived by her partner of 27 years.
What sets it apart: Written with the cooperation of Ride's partner, family, and colleagues, journalist (and longtime friend of Ride) Lynn Sherr's sensitive, thoroughly researched portrait celebrates Ride's life and legacy.
Contact your librarian for more great books!
Somerset County Library System of New Jersey1 Vogt Drive
P.O. Box 6700
Bridgewater, New Jersey 08807