2021 Staff Picks: Biographies and Memoirs
Our expert staff members look back at the year and share their favorite titles.
You Got Anything Stronger?: Stories2021 by Union, GabrielleGet this item
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.
Poet Warrior: A Memoir2021 by Harjo, JoyGet this item
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.
Crying in H Mart: A Memoir2021 by Zauner, MichelleGet this item
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.
My Broken Language: A Memoir2021 by Hudes, Quiara AlegríaGet this item
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.
We're Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation2021 by Garcia, EricGet this item
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.
The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times2021 by Goodall, JaneGet this item
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.
The Wreckage of My Presence: Essays2021 by Wilson, CaseyGet this item
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.
Diary of a Young Naturalist2021 by McAnulty, DaraGet this item
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.
Orwell's Roses2021 by Solnit, RebeccaGet this item
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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