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Summer Reading 2021 Biography & Memoir Recommendations

See the full list of great reading recommendations for Summer 2021 here.

My Broken Language: A Memoir by Quiara Alegría Hudes

Of no surprise, award-winning playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes’s memoir is a work of lyrical genius. It is a full sensory reading experience—the lilt and flow, the words that pop off the page, infusing a richness and ease into her ’80s Philly childhood, her path to adulthood, and her Puerto Rican family of strong women, these same words that honor the struggles. My Broken Language is a coming-of-age story, of finding one’s voice; it is the voice itself. And like a song, I could listen on repeat. — Melinda

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My Broken Language: A Memoir By Quiara Alegría Hudes Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399590047
Availability: Hard to Find - Believed to be Out of Stock Indefinitely
Published: One World - April 6th, 2021

Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir by Natasha Trethewey

Natasha Trethewey was just 19 years old when her former stepfather shot and killed her mother. In this melancholy and deeply introspective memoir, Trethewey examines the traumatic murder and the indelible impact it has had on her life. The author’s writing is imbued with her poetic tendencies and the descriptions of her childhood are veiled in an aura of nostalgia, like flipping through an old photo album. Trethewey’s grief seeps through the pages, but she has managed to take something truly tragic and make it a thing of beauty. — Jade 

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Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir By Natasha Trethewey Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062248589
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - June 1st, 2021

I Am a Girl from Africa by Elizabeth Nyamayaro

Uplifting and deeply moving, Nyamayaro’s memoir intertwines gender equality, perseverance, and social justice. It is a story of solidarity and the African concept of ubuntu: I am because we are. When we work united and bring up those around us, we succeed together. From her childhood home in Zimbabwe to launching the UN’s HeForShe campaign, Nyamayaro has spent decades as a champion for change. I Am A Girl from Africa is a beautiful and thought-provoking celebration of empowering women, inclusive education, and the importance of human kindness. — Charlotte

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I Am a Girl from Africa By Elizabeth Nyamayaro Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982113018
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - April 20th, 2021

Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson

While dark at times, Broken (in the best possible way) nonetheless had me giggling, if not outright laughing, for more than half the book, and reading entire chapters out loud to my partner, too good not to share. If you love Jenny Lawson already, you’ll continue to find her trademark hilarious, too-outrageous-not-to-be-true stories and more of her soul-searing honesty about struggles with physical and mental health. If it’s your first time, buckle up. You’ll be coming back for more. — Jocelyn

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Broken (in the best possible way) By Jenny Lawson Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250077035
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - April 6th, 2021

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Michelle Zauner, best known as the musician behind Japanese Breakfast, creates an intimate portrayal of loss spun together with vivid food imagery in her memoir. Although the narrative focuses on the loss of her mother to cancer, Zauner also delves into her identity struggles of being half-Korean. Told in the same kind of careful, lyrical voice she uses in her music, Crying in H Mart is a lovely homage to her mother, Korean food, and the desire of belonging that one can only know as a person of color. — Andrea

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Crying in H Mart: A Memoir By Michelle Zauner Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525657743
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - April 20th, 2021

Officer Clemmons: A Memoir by Dr. François S. Clemmons

What a thoughtful, joyous memoir by Officer Clemmons of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame. In companionable prose, Clemmons gives us an intimate glimpse of his relationship with Fred Rogers, and of his own fascinating story, from a childhood in a troubled home, through his career in music, to an authentic spiritual practice. He addresses the complexity of being the first Black cast member on a national children’s show and a gay man cautioned to remain closeted, wielding these truths with a grace and compassion worthy of Mr. Rogers himself. — Melinda

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Officer Clemmons: A Memoir By Dr. Francois S. Clemmons Cover Image
ISBN: 9781646220571
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Catapult - May 4th, 2021

Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir by Akwaeke Emezi

After receiving high praise for their award- winning novels, Akwaeke Emezi’s first nonfiction piece is an intimate and sincere reflection on their life as an ogbanje—an embodied spirit of the Igbo African ontology. Through a series of letters addressed to friends, loved ones, strangers, and almost-family, Emezi openly discusses the process of survival, authorship, and “worldbending” as a multidimensional being. A truly inspiring and instructive memoir for writers young and old. — Juj 

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Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir By Akwaeke Emezi Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593329191
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - June 8th, 2021

Every Day Is a Gift: A Memoir by Tammy Duckworth

In Every Day Is a Gift, Tammy Duckworth tells her gripping and remarkable story—from growing up overseas as a biracial child to developing a tireless work ethic in her teens, from joining the Army and losing both legs in combat to becoming a US senator. Hers is an inspirational tale to be sure, but she writes without sanctimony, so her determination and grit are what shine. “When the only obstacle is effort, then there is no obstacle,” she writes. I don’t think I’ve read of a more courageous life. — S.B.

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Every Day Is a Gift: A Memoir By Tammy Duckworth Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538718506
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Twelve - March 30th, 2021

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