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Biography & Memoir

Assata by Assata Shakur

From the front lines of the Black liberation struggle to the underground torture chambers of Riker’s Island Correctional facility, Shakur’s harrowing autobiography details the systemic injustice and brutality of American society. Gracefully weaving together poetic brilliance, a pure love for humanity, and an uncompromising commitment to the struggle for liberation, Assata is among the most important books concerning the American experience ever written. - Travis

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By Assata Shakur, Angela Davis (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781556520747
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Lawrence Hill Books - November 1st, 1999

Riverine by Angela Palm

With some of the most beautiful writing I have ever read, Palm tells the story of growing up alongside the Kankakee river in Indiana. Poetically retracing her path to adulthood and escape from her hometown, her tale is countered by that of her childhood love - now serving a life sentence for murder. These two hauntingly distinct narratives serve as a reminder of the impact our geographies forever have on us. - Magnolia

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ISBN: 9781555977467
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - August 16th, 2016

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

Be prepared to stay up all night reading Carmen Maria Machado’s latest masterpiece. How can a book about abuse be so beautiful? Part memoir, part poem, part fever dream, In the Dream House contains so much searing honesty, such heart-crunching truth, that it will never leave you once you’ve read it. - Jess

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ISBN: 9781644450383
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - December 1st, 2020

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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ISBN: 9780399590047
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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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ISBN: 9780062248589
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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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ISBN: 9781982113018
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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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ISBN: 9781250077035
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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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ISBN: 9780525657743
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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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ISBN: 9781646220571
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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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ISBN: 9780593329191
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Published: Riverhead Books - June 8th, 2021


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