Biography and Memoir
These Fevered Days: Ten Pivotal Moments in the Making of Emily Dickinson by Martha AckmannWhat it is: a unique biography of poet Emily Dickinson that captures ten different days from her life -- some ordinary, some extraordinary -- to reveal the depths of her ambition and creativity.
Who it's for: Though it's far from comprehensive, Guggenheim Fellow Martha Ackmann's engaging portrait reads like a novel and will appeal to both Dickinson devotees and causal readers.
The Last Negroes at Harvard: The Class of 1963 and the 18 Young Men Who Changed Harvard... by Kent Garrett and Jeanne EllsworthThen: In 1959, Harvard University admitted 18 black male students, among them author Kent Garrett. At the time, it was the largest incoming class of black students the university had ever seen.
Now: More than 50 years after graduation, Garrett interviews 14 of his former classmates, who candidly discuss the triumphs and trials they experienced at Harvard and in their subsequent careers.
Reviewers say: "this outstanding retrospective deserves to be widely read" (Publishers Weekly).
The Second Chance Club: Hardship and Hope After Prison by Jason HardyWhat it is: Jason Hardy's thought-provoking and insightful memoir of the four years he spent working as a probation officer in his hometown of New Orleans, where he was assigned more than 200 parolees (four times the recommended caseload).
Read it for: empathetic profiles of seven parolees with whom Hardy worked closely; an unvarnished look at the failings and frustrations of the American criminal justice system.
Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: A True (as Told to Me) Story by Bess KalbStarring: spirited Jewish New Yorker Bobby Bell, Jimmy Kimmel Live! writer Bess Kalb's beloved grandmother, who died in 2017.
What sets it apart: This amusing and bittersweet family history is "narrated" by Bell herself, and includes cheeky wisdom, photographs, and excerpts from her voicemails to Kalb.
Want a taste? "San Francisco is for people who wear polar fleece to restaurants and try to convince each other to go camping."
Unbecoming: A Memoir of Disobedience by Anuradha BhagwatiWhat it's about: Eager to buck the expectations of her strict Indian parents, Anuradha Bhagwati enlisted in the United States Marines after college, where she quickly found her rose-colored view of military life challenged by a toxic culture of racism, sexism, and homophobia.
Read it for: a no-holds-barred account of what it's like to be a bisexual woman of color in the armed services.
Author alert: Bhagwati is the founder of advocacy group Service Women's Action Network (SWAN) and has inspired policy reforms with her activism.
The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love with Me by Keah BrownWhat it is: #DisabledAndCute creator Keah Brown's frank and witty memoir in essays about surviving -- and thriving -- in an ableist society.
Why you might like it: Brown's conversational tone will resonate with readers regardless of whether or not they can relate to her experiences.
Want a taste? "I am a black woman with cerebral palsy who loves herself now, and most days that feels like a revolutionary act."
On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope by DeRay MckessonWhat it is: a thoughtful call to action from civil rights activist, Black Lives Matter organizer, and Pod Save the People host DeRay Mckesson.
Book buzz: A Lambda Literary Award finalist, On the Other Side of Freedom was also a Library Journal 2018 Best Book.
Don't miss: the poignant reason why Mckesson always wears the same blue Patagonia down vest.
Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me by Janet MockWhat it's about: In the follow-up to her bestselling memoir Redefining Realness, transgender icon Janet Mock candidly recounts her decade of self-discovery after gender reassignment surgery at age 18.
Topics include: Mock's job as a stripper, which helped put her through college; her supportive first marriage; finding her voice as a journalist.
Reviewers say: "highly recommended for all readers" (Library Journal).
Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story by Jacob TobiaWhat it is: the hilarious debut from nonbinary writer and actor Jacob Tobia, an LGBTQIA rights activist who has made appearances on the Forbes 30 Under 30 and OUT 100 lists.
Read it for: a frank and funny journey toward self-acceptance: highlights include Tobia wearing their first pair of heels to church as a teen and their college years at Duke, where they were the "Big Queen on Campus."
Reviewers say: "deserves a place in every library" (Booklist).
You Have the Right to Remain Fat by Virgie TovarWhat it is: fat activist Virgie Tovar's impassioned takedown of diet culture and fatphobia, drawn from her own experiences as a queer Mexican American woman.
What sets it apart: Tovar's intersectional approach to fat studies explores the ways in which understandings of fatness are shaped by race, gender, and class, and how the body positivity movement prioritizes whiteness and heterosexuality.
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