Biography and Memoir
The Truths We Hold: An American Journey by Kamala HarrisWhat it is: a candid and inspiring memoir from California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris, who recently announced her 2020 presidential run.
Topics include: Harris' immigrant parents and her Oakland upbringing; her tenure as the District Attorney for San Francisco and the Attorney General of California.
Who it's for: readers interested in Harris' solutions to tackling some of the most divisive issues in American politics, including immigration, national security, income inequality, and the opioid crisis.
Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie LandWhat it's about: Single mom Stephanie Land struggles to make a living as a housecleaner and dreams of attending college to become a writer.
Is it for you? Though it does not speak to the impact of poverty on marginalized communities, Land's memoir is intimate and affecting.
Reviewers say: "An important memoir that should be required reading for anyone who has never struggled with poverty" (Kirkus Reviews).
The Man Who Would Be Sherlock: The Real-Life Adventures of Arthur Conan Doyle by Christopher SandfordWhat it is: an engrossing biography that investigates the similarities between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his famous creation, such as their shared penchant for crime-solving and quirky deduction methods.
Did you know? Doyle helped exonerate two falsely convicted men --Oscar Slater was tried for murder; George Edalji for animal mutilation.
Try this next: Margalit Fox's extensively researched Conan Doyle for the Defense dramatically tackles the Oscar Slater case.
Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani ShapiroWhat it's about: After submitting her DNA for analysis on a whim, Dani Shapiro discovered that her long-deceased dad was not her biological father. Grappling with the consequences of this shocking family secret, she set out to uncover the true story of her parentage.
Book buzz: Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Goon Squad) calls Inheritance "a gripping genetic detective story;" Julie Buntin (Marlena) says it's a "read-in-one-sitting kind of memoir."
The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After by Julie Yip-WilliamsWhat it is: a poignant and page-turning memoir of Julie Yip-Williams' five-year battle with Stage IV colon cancer.
Read it for: moving anecdotes of the author's early life; born with congenital cataracts to an impoverished Chinese family in Vietnam, she barely survived infancy after her grandmother suggested a potion to help her "sleep forever."
About the author: Harvard-educated lawyer Yip-Williams died in March 2018, leaving behind a husband and two young daughters.
The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss by Anderson Cooper & Gloria VanderbiltWhat it is: an intimate year-long email correspondence between journalist Anderson Cooper and his fashion designer mother Gloria Vanderbilt, which began after Vanderbilt became gravely ill in 2015.
Read it for: the growing closeness that develops between the pair.
Further reading: Will Schwalbe's reflective memoir The End of Your Life Book Club similarly explores a relationship with an ailing parent.
Mockingbird Songs: My Friendship with Harper Lee by Wayne FlyntWhat it's about: historian Wayne Flynt's 20-year-long, late-in-life friendship with author Harper Lee, nurtured primarily via their witty and admiring letters to each other.
What sets it apart: This concise and touching work arranges the duo's letters thematically as well as chronologically.
Chapters include: "Celebrity, Kinship, and Calamity;" "Imperfect Fathers, Imperfect Towns;" "An Author Shapes Her Own Identity"
Autumn by Karl Ove KnausgaardWhat it is: Written as a "Letter to an Unborn Daughter," each section of this perceptive free-association memoir eschews traditional storytelling conventions to find the extraordinary in the mundane.
Want a taste? "The little tooth, sharply white, dark red with blood at the root, is thrown into almost obscenely sharp relief against my pinkish palm."
Series alert: Autumn is the first volume in award-winning Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard's Seasons Quartet.
Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise ParkerWhat it is: a lyrical and nostalgic collection of letters addressed (but never sent) to the men (both real and hypothetical) who have impacted Mary-Louise Parker's life.
Author alert: Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress Parker is best known for her starring role in the television series Weeds.
Don't miss: Parker's touching letter to her deceased father: "To convey in any existing language how much I miss you isn't possible. It would be like blue trying to describe the ocean."
Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home by Nina StibbeWhat it's about: While working as a 20-year-old nanny in early 1980s London, Nina Stibbe wrote gossipy letters home detailing life with her charges and their famous parents.
Featuring: Stibbe's employers, London Review of Books editor Mary-Kay Wilmers and film director Stephen Frears; playwright Alan Bennett, a frequent dinner guest.
For fans of: quirky British humor and snappy dialogue.
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