2023 Staff Picks: Memoir and Biography

By Skokie Staff Advisory Services

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

  • How to Say Babylon: A Memoir

    2023 by Sinclair, Safiya

    We loved the imagery and lyrical language in Safiya Sinclair's memoir. It captures the beauty of Jamaica as well as the burden of being female in a male-dominated culture. This is our favorite memoir of the year. Suggested by Brenna, Michelle, and Rummanah.

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  • Fatty Fatty Boom Boom: A Memoir of Food, Fat, and Family

    2022 by Chaudry, Rabia

    We admire Rabia Chaudry's ability to be candid and vulnerable in tackling sensitive issues such as fatphobia, body shaming, abusive relationships, and her journey of self acceptance. We also recommend the audiobook, which is narrated by the author. Suggested by Farishta and Rummanah.

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  • Nobody Needs to Know: A Memoir

    2023 by Pagonis, Pidgeon

    I loved the engaging way the author tells the story of growing up intersex and the struggles they have faced and continue to face. The author examines the way the medical system still struggles to acknowledge and do right by intersex individuals. Suggested by Susanne.

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  • Pageboy: A Memoir

    2023 by Page, Elliot

    I really appreciated the opportunity to hear Elliot Page tell his own coming-of-age story as a trans guy in Hollywood. I'm a fan of his acting and activism, and I'm also just a nosy lady who loves a celebrity memoir. Suggested by Laurel.

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  • Better Living through Birding: Notes from A Black Man in the Natural World

    2023 by Cooper, Christian

    Christian Cooper describes himself as a “Black gay activist birder.” In 2020, his video showing an encounter with a woman in Central Park went viral. Part nature writing, part memoir, and part travelog, this is beautifully written, engaging, and thought-provoking. Suggested by Sharon.

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  • Tell Me Everything: A Memoir

    2023 by Kelly, Minka

    What Minka went through growing up, the survival strategies she had to have, and how hard she had to work to heal and build a better life make for a powerful, gut-wrenchingly vulnerable book that I could not put down. I cried for that little girl, and for all little girls who didn't have what they needed and deserved. Suggested by Christie.

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  • Once upon a Tome: The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller, Wherein the Theory of the Profession Is Partially Explained, with a Variety of Insufficient Examples

    2023 by Darkshire, Oliver

    A good sense of humor and a high tolerance for inefficiency and eccentricity are absolutely essential if you want to be a rare book dealer in one of London’s oldest firms. At least that’s the impression I received from Oliver Darkshire’s delightfully witty memoir. Suggested by Steven.

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  • Quietly Hostile: Essays

    2023 by Irby, Samantha

    Samantha Irby's writing is raw, hilarious, and relatable. She is quite possibly the funniest person on earth, and her essays will make you cackle out loud. If you are an anxious person (really, who isn't?), and enjoy awkward and embarrassing scenarios, this collection of essays may be for you. Plus, it's always fun to read something from a local author. Suggested by Susanne and Sheena.

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  • To Name the Bigger Lie: A Memoir in Two Stories

    2023 by Viren, Sarah

    Originally a viral New York Times Magazine article and now expanded to a blend of philosophy, true crime, and memoir, Viren questions the impact of trust, truth, and conspiracy in her own life. I found it extremely compelling and thought provoking. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Inverse Cowgirl: A Memoir

    2023 by Weigel, Alicia Roth

    The author is an intersex activist, working to raise awareness and to protect the rights of intersex individuals. This memoir touches a lot on current events and politics, and so much more. She’s forthright, humorous, insightful, and inspiring. Suggested by Sharon.

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  • Hijab Butch Blues: A Memoir

    2023 by H, Lamya

    A hopeful, thoughtful examination of faith and sexuality in a memoir written as essays. I appreciated how the author tried to find a way to reevaluate her life and forge a connection with her faith. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • King: A Life

    2023 by Eig, Jonathan

    So much has been written about MLK that I initially hesitated before reading this latest biography. However, this monumental new work brings valuable new details to King’s life and shines a new and much needed light and nuance on Coretta Scott King and other women involved in King’s short, heroic life. Suggested by Chris.

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  • After the Miracle: The Political Crusades of Helen Keller

    2023 by Wallace, Max

    The 20th Century’s most famous deafblind woman had an irreverent spirit and a passion for progressive causes (and the extensive FBI file that went with it) that never quite fit the nonthreatening secular sainthood projected upon her. Max Wallace appropriately ends the book by looking at how modern deafblind activists are dealing with Keller’s complicated legacy. Suggested by Andrew.

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  • Lou Reed: The King of New York

    2023 by Hermes, Will

    I loved this magisterial, accessible, and propulsive biography of Lou Reed and his times. Hermes' narrative moves through the songwriting factories, the stages, studios, and abodes of this divisive cultural linchpin. A whole host of characters--major and minor--enrich the story of a bygone era and one-of-a-kind artist. Suggested by Adam.

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  • Easily Slip Into Another World: A Life in Music

    2023 by Threadgill, Henry

    Henry Threadgill, a Chicago-born and raised composer and saxophonist, tells stories like few others can. This spirited, immensely entertaining autobiography takes readers through his groundbreaking life in music, improvisation, composition, and the rewards of living a deeply committed creative life. Suggested by Chris.

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