2021 Staff Picks: Biographies and Memoirs

By Skokie Staff Advisory Services

Our expert staff members look back at the year and share their favorite titles.

  • You Got Anything Stronger?: Stories

    2021 by Union, Gabrielle

    Union's writing style allows the reader to feel like they're catching up with an old friend. Her self-reflections are very on point and show a great deal of maturity. Recommended by Brooke.

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  • Poet Warrior: A Memoir

    2021 by Harjo, Joy

    Don’t miss this memoir from three-term U.S. poet laureate Joy Harjo, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the first Native American to hold this post. Poet Warrior is written in gorgeous prose and poetry, and I was struck by the heartache and loss as well as compassion and inspiration. She gives the reader a lot to think about. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Crying in H Mart: A Memoir

    2021 by Zauner, Michelle

    This book broke us down and put us back together, which is always a good sign for a memoir, right? As any child of immigrant parents understands, relationships with parents can be complex to say the least. Zauner's look into her relationship with her dying mother and the Korean food that carried her through life resonates across cultures. Recommended by Leslie and Emily.

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  • My Broken Language: A Memoir

    2021 by Hudes, Quiara Alegría

    After I thoroughly enjoyed watching the film adaptation of In the Heights, I had to seek out its playwright's memoir. In this equally joyful, celebratory, and thought-provoking work, Quiara Alegría Hudes recounts her life navigating between two different cultures and learning their languages, along with the language of music and writing. Recommended by Rummanah.

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  • We're Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation

    2021 by Garcia, Eric

    I've had to rethink certain areas of my life since reading this book. A journalist by training (and Skokie native!), Garcia isn't afraid to question inspirational stories, his own included, as he examines the way the "Spectrum Generation" of younger activists are challenging a world that continues to treat them as abnormal individuals. Easily the best broad survey of autism and American society since Neurotribes by Steve Silberman. Recommended by Andrew.

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  • The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times

    2021 by Goodall, Jane

    A hopeful book for troubled times. Listening to Jane Goodall's measured, wise voice feels absolutely therapeutic. I can’t think of a more timely book! Recommended by Megan.

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  • The Wreckage of My Presence: Essays

    2021 by Wilson, Casey

    Very rarely do I laugh out loud when I am reading or listening to a book, but I laughed, I cried, and I smiled while reading this. Recommended by Brooke.

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  • Diary of a Young Naturalist

    2021 by McAnulty, Dara

    Nothing I read in 2021 blew me away like Dara McAnulty's account of his 14th year. It's a love letter to the Northern Irish countryside as well as a chronicle of an extraordinary young man finding his voice as an author and activist. You will fall in love with Dara's neurodiverse family. Recommended by Andrew.

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  • Orwell's Roses

    2021 by Solnit, Rebecca

    A beautifully written book about the life and work of George Orwell but also about Orwell's garden, the botany of roses, the Spanish War, a Stalinist regime, labor movements, and many other tangential, but somehow always interesting, subjects. Rebecca Solnit is a wonder at making you care about whatever shows up in her writing. Recommended by Megan.

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