All boys aren't blue : a memoir-manifesto book cover

All boys aren't blue : a memoir-manifesto

Johnson, George M. (George Matthew), 1985-

306.7662 /Johnson

In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.

Anne M's picture

Documented challenges: 86; Challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and containing text considered sexually explicit -Anne M

Tegan and Sara : junior high book cover

Tegan and Sara : junior high

Tegan Quin

Music, Graphic Novels, Memoir

"Before Tegan and Sara took the music world by storm, the Quins were just two identical twins trying to find their place in a new home and new school. From first crushes to the perils of puberty, surviving junior high is something the sisters plan to face side by side, just like they've always faced things. But growing up also means growing apart, as Tegan and Sara make different friends and take separate paths to understanding their queerness. For the first time ever, they ask who one sister is without the other"--

Mari's picture

Kids, and Millennials in their 30s :), will love this portrayal of junior high, and for me the fact that it was written by one of my favorite bands of my teens and 20s makes it even better! Tillie Walden is such a wonderful comic artist, and the semi-autobiographical story of twins Tegan and Sara as 7th graders in a new school quickly had me invested. The feelings and experiences felt authentic, and as a twin I could relate to a lot their relationship as sisters and best friends in the same class at school. Over the course of a year of pretty typical teenager moments including a lot of self-discovery, the story also loosely depicts their beginnings as a band. A must read for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Shannon Hale, Hope Larson and Jennifer Holm. -Mari

Hijab butch blues : a memoir book cover

Hijab butch blues : a memoir

Lamya H


"Fourteen years old and growing up in the Middle East, Lamya is an overachiever and a class clown, qualities that help her hide in plain sight when she realizes she has a crush on her teacher--her female teacher. She's also fourteen when she reads a passage in Quran class about Maryam, known as the Virgin Mary in the Christian Bible, that changes everything. Lamya learns that Maryam was untempted by an angelically handsome man, and later, when told she is pregnant, insists no man has touched her. Could Maryam be... like Lamya? Spanning childhood to an elite college in the US and early adult life in New York City, each essay places Lamya's struggles and triumphs in the context of some of the most famous stories in the Quran. She juxtaposes her coming out with Musa liberating his people from the Pharoah; asks if Allah, who is neither male nor female, might instead be nonbinary; and, drawing strength from the faith and hope of Nuh building his ark, begins to build a life of her own--all the while discovering that her identity as a queer, immigrant devout Muslim is, in fact, the answer to her quest for safety and belonging"--

Bailey's picture

This is one of the best memoirs I've read in a long time. This is about Lamya figuring out her identity and finding people who accept both parts of what many see as contradictory. It's about dating and finding love while gay and Muslim and it's about the unbreakable love for family that Lamya will never sacrifice. I loved the way this book is structured, with stories of her life interspliced with stories from the Quran and I highly recommend it to anyone, but especially those who feel like they don't quite fit in a singular box. -Bailey

How to Stand Up to a Dictator: The Fight for Our Future book cover

How to Stand Up to a Dictator: The Fight for Our Future

Maria Ressa

OverDrive eBook
Technology, Memoir, Political, History

Introduction by Amal ClooneyFrom the recipient of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, an impassioned and inspiring memoir of a career spent holding power to account.Maria Ressa is one of the most renowned international journalists of our time. For decades, she challenged corruption and malfeasance in her native country, the Philippines, on its rocky path from an authoritarian state to a democracy. As a reporter from CNN, she transformed news coverage in her region, which led her in 2012 to create a new and innovative online news organization, Rappler. Harnessing the emerging power of social media, Rappler crowdsourced breaking news, found pivotal sources and tips, harnessed collective action for climate change, and helped increase voter knowledge and participation in elections.But by their fifth year of existence, Rappler had gone from being lauded for its ideas to being targeted by the new Philippine government, and made Ressa an enemy of her country's most powerful man: President Duterte. Still, she did not let up, tracking government seeded disinformation networks which spread lies to its own citizens laced with anger and hate. Hounded by the state and its allies using the legal system to silence her, accused of numerous crimes, and charged with cyberlibel for which she was found guilty, Ressa faces years in prison and thousands in fines.There is another adversary Ressa is battling. How to Stand Up to a Dictator is also the story of how the creep towards authoritarianism, in the Philippines and around the world, has been aided and abetted by the social media companies. Ressa exposes how they have allowed their platforms to spread a virus of lies that infect each of us, pitting us against one another, igniting, even creating, our fears, anger, and hate, and how this has accelerated the rise of authoritarians and dictators around the world. She maps a network of disinformation—a heinous web of cause and effect—that has netted the globe: from Duterte's drug wars to America's Capitol Hill; Britain's Brexit to Russian and Chinese cyber-warfare; Facebook and Silicon Valley to our own clicks and votes.Democracy is fragile. How to Stand Up to a Dictator is an urgent cry for Western readers to recognize and understand the dangers to our freedoms before it is too late. It is a book for anyone who might take democracy for granted, written by someone who never would. And in telling her dramatic and turbulent and courageous story, Ressa forces readers to ask themselves the same question she and her colleagues ask every day: What are you willing to sacrifice for the truth?

Annie's picture

An inspiring, fact-filled, and necessary read from 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa, journalist and co-founder of the Philippines' leading digital media company Rappler. Ressa recounts interactions with Big Tech executives and politicians that will make you feel frustrated at tech companies' prioritization of money and "growth" over stopping the spread of disinformation and misinformation. Read this to learn more about how social media can define our thoughts, actions, and feelings and how to embrace and understand our intellectual freedoms before it's too late. -Annie

The mountain and the fathers: growing up on the Big Dry: a memoir book cover

The mountain and the fathers: growing up on the Big Dry: a memoir

Joe Wilkins

FICTION Wilkins Joe

Depicts the author's life in the harsh, drought-striken world of the Bull Mountains of eastern Montana, raised by his young, widowed mother and elderly grandfather amidst the violence, confusion, and rural poverty rampant in the area.

Heidi K's picture

This book is beautifully written! It's a rewarding reflection on masculinity in the rural Great Plains, and how the history and landscape of a place can impact our own stories. -Heidi K

Heretic : a memoir book cover

Heretic : a memoir

Jeanna Kadlec

277.3 /Kadlec
Memoir, Religion

Jeanna Kadlec knew what it meant to be faithful--in her marriage to a pastor's son, in the comfortable life ahead of her, in her God--but there was no denying the truth that lived under that conviction: she was queer and, if she wanted to survive, she would need to leave behind the church and every foundational building block she knew. Heretic is a memoir of rebirth. Within, Kadlec reckons with religious trauma and Midwestern values, as a means of unveiling how evangelicalism directly impacts every American--religious or not--and has been a major force in driving our democracy towards fascism. From the story of Lilith to celebrity purity rings, Kadlec interrogates how her indoctrination and years of piety intersects with her Midwest working-class upbringing. As she navigated graduate school, a new home on the East Coast, and a new marriage, another insidious truth began to reveal itself --that conservative Christianity has both built and undermined our political power structures, poisoned our pop culture, and infected how we interact with one another in ways that the secular population couldn't see. Weaving the personal with powerful critique, Heretic explores how we can radically abandon these painful systems by taking a sledgehammer to the comfortable.

Amanda's picture

Even though the author and I have lived very differently, I still found a lot of common ground with her, starting with our shared Midwest roots. You may recognize similarities in her story, too. -Amanda

Fatherland : a memoir of war, conscience, and family secrets book cover

Fatherland : a memoir of war, conscience, and family secrets

Burkhard Bilger

940.5343 /Bilger
History, Memoir

"What do we owe the past? How to make peace with a dark family history? Burkhard Bilger hardly knew his grandfather growing up. His parents immigrated to Oklahoma from Germany after World War II, and though his mother was an historian, she rarely talked about her father or what he did during the war. Then one day a packet of letters arrived from Germany, yellowing with age, and a secret history began to unfold. Karl Gönner was a schoolteacher and Nazi party member from the Black Forest. In 1940, he was sent to a village in occupied France and tasked with turning its children into proper Germans. A fervent Nazi when the war began, he grew close to the villagers over the next four years, till he came to think of himself as their protector, shielding them from his own party's brutality. Yet he was arrested in 1946 and accused of war crimes. Was he guilty or innocent? A vicious collaborator or just an ordinary man, struggling to atone for his country's crimes? Bilger goes to Germany to find out"--

Anne M's picture

As Bilger asserts in his family memoir, Fatherland, everyone will find something haunting in their own family tree. His own is his grandfather. Karl Gönner, a member of the Nazi party and schoolteacher was sent to Alsace in occupied France to "reeducate" the children of Bartenheim. He was promoted to head of the Nazi party in the town overseeing required work assignments. Grappling with this information, Bilger returns to the region, researching and seeking what his grandfather did, trying to find why he would participate. With all of these things, it's complicated. Bilger writes thoughtfully and openly, taking on a painful, hurtful subject. -Anne M

East winds : a global quest to reckon with marriage book cover

East winds : a global quest to reckon with marriage

Rachel K. Rueckert

BIOGRAPHY Rueckert, Rachel K.

"Rachel panicked as she lay awake on the first night of her year-long honeymoon-a backpacking trip around the world. Though young and in love, she wasn't sure she actually believed in marriage, let alone the lofty Mormon ideal of eternal marriage. This unconventional honeymoon felt like a brief reprieve from the crushing expectations for a Mormon bride. But this trip also offered opportunities: the chance to study wedding traditions in other cultures and the space to confront what marriage--including her own--meant to her. Along the way, she got kicked out of Peru, escaped rabid dogs in the Amazon, stumbled upon democracy protests in Hong Kong, launched an unlucky lantern in Thailand, and trekked five hundred miles across Spain in sandals. These experiences helped Rachel confront her tumultuous past, question her inherited relationship models, and embrace her restless nature within marriage--exchanging faith in certainty for faith in the day-to-day choice of partnership and faith in herself."

Amanda's picture

I couldn't put this book down! The journey the author and her new spouse take was fascinating, and the last section of the memoir that focuses on a pilgrimage was especially poignant. You learn how many cultures view and live marriage, and it offers you the space to reflect on your feelings as well. A lovely story. -Amanda

Gender Queer book cover

Gender Queer

Maia Kobabe


In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia's intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

Zach's picture

My friend first recommended this book to me because she was reading it while in a class on queer literature. I found it fascinating to hear what she told her and her classmates were able to discuss about the book. It was super quick, but my favorite part were these discussions, they helped me see more of the queer community here in Iowa City, and made me realize more closely what I actually want to do with my life. -Zach

Fatty fatty boom boom : a memoir of food, fat, and family book cover

Fatty fatty boom boom : a memoir of food, fat, and family

Rabia Chaudry

BIOGRAPHY Chaudry, Rabia

"A memoir about food, body image, and growing up in a loving but sometimes oppressively concerned Pakistani immigrant family"--

Amanda's picture

I couldn't stop giggling through most of this book! She has amazing descriptions of Pakistani food, and you're going to adore her family with all their foibles. A marvelous immigrant story with a food journey as well. -Amanda