Biography and Memoir
Officer Clemmons by Dr. François S. ClemmonsWhat it is: a heartwarming memoir from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood cast member François S. Clemmons, who famously broke down racial barriers by sharing a foot bath with Rogers in a 1969 episode.
Topics include: Clemmons' Grammy Award-winning music career, which began at Oberlin College in the 1960s; his life-affirming 30-year friendship with Rogers, which was tested when the latter advised the openly gay Clemmons to repress his sexuality to avoid scandal.
Did you know? Clemmons was the first African American performer to have a recurring role on a children's TV program.
Hollywood Park by Mikel JollettWhat it's about: indie musician Mikel Jollett's traumatic 1970s childhood in the Synanon cult; after escaping, his family battled poverty, mental illness, addiction, and abuse, and Jollett later found solace in music.
Read it for: Jollett's richly detailed account of self-discovery and healing.
For fans of: candid memoirs of surviving cults (like Ruth Wariner's The Sound of Gravel) and family dysfunction (like Tara Westover's Educated).
The Fixed Stars by Molly WizenbergWhat it is: bestselling food writer Molly Wizenberg's thought-provoking journey toward understanding her sexual fluidity.
How it began: Surprised by the revelation that she was attracted to another woman, Wizenberg and her husband Brandon agreed to an open relationship, an arrangement that left Wizenberg confronting what she thought she knew about herself -- and what she wanted from her life.
Reviewers say: "This is a spirited, terrifyingly courageous, and searingly honest memoir of discovering sexual identity and strength" (Booklist).
Books You Might Have Missed
The Toni Morrison Book Club by Juda Bennett, Winnifred Brown-Glaude, Cassandra Jackson, and Piper Kendrix Williams Starring: a diverse quartet of College of New Jersey English professors who formed a book club to discuss the enduring relevance of beloved novelist Toni Morrison's works.
On the reading list: The Bluest Eye; Song of Solomon; Beloved; A Mercy.
Read it for: the authors' intimate musings on how the themes in Morrison's novels (including racism, xenophobia, police brutality, and the fetishization of black bodies) relate to their own lives.
Becoming a Man: The Story of a Transition by P. CarlWhat it is: an incisive memoir in essays chronicling author P. Carl's midlife gender transition.
What's inside: Carl's conflicted reckoning with the white male privilege he now experiences, as well as how his understanding of toxic masculinity changed post-transition.
Want a taste? "What do I know about America's fraught relationship with gender having inhabited these two bodies?"
American Queenmaker: How Missy Meloney Brought Women Into Politics by Julie Des JardinsWho it's about: influential early 20th-century journalist and social reformer Marie "Missy" Mattingly Meloney, who championed causes that advanced women's roles in society.
What sets it apart: This first-ever biography of Meloney offers an engaging and evenhanded appraisal of an overlooked political powerhouse "who should be a household name" (Kirkus Reviews).
For Joshua: An Ojibwe Father Teaches His Son by Richard WagameseWhat it is: Originally published in Canada in 2002, this moving memoir is a series of letters to Richard Wagamese's then six-year-old-son, from whom he was estranged.
Why you might like it: Wagamese's hard-won wisdom, pulled from Ojibwe traditions, a childhood spent in foster homes, and his battles with addiction, will resonate with readers who enjoy redemption narratives.
Author alert: The late Wagamese was the award-winning author of Indian Horse.
The House of Yan: A Family at the Heart of a Century in Chinese History by Lan YanWhat it's about: how three generations of Lan Yan's well-to-do family navigated the tumultuous changes of 20th-century China, including the Cultural Revolution that led to their persecution.
Reviewers say: "a deeply personal, accessible, and worthy introduction to modern Chinese history" (Booklist).
Try this next: Jung Chang's Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister: Three Women at the Heart of Twentieth-Century China.
Contact your librarian for more great books!