Memoir

Proud : living my American dream book cover

Proud : living my American dream

Ibtihaj Muhammad

796.862092 /Muhammad
Nonfiction, Young Adult, Memoir

Shares the life story of the Olympic fencer, including how she overcame feeling out of place in her sport and how she became the first American woman to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab.

Morgan's picture

Fascinating life story of Ibtihaj Muhammad, Olympic medal-winning fencer and Muslim-American role model. I love learning about the experiences of others, and this was a page-turning read. -Morgan

Shout : a poetry memoir book cover

Shout : a poetry memoir

Laurie Halse Anderson

811.6 /Anderson
Young Adult, Memoir, Poetry

When she was thirteen years old, Anderson was a shy, bookish girl who was raped by a boy she trusted. She has since become known for the unflinching way she writes about, and advocates for, survivors of sexual assault. Inspired by her fans and enraged by how little in our culture has changed in the years since, she has written a poetry memoir that shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she's never written about before. -- adapted from jacket

Morgan's picture

If you read Laurie Halse Anderson's "Speak" and were moved, you must check out "Shout." This is not a sequel, instead it is the spiritual successor to "Speak," following Anderson's difficult childhood, her traumatic rape, and her activism for changing the conversation about sexual assault. This book will get readers thinking about generational trauma and censorship, and what they can do to break the cycle of abuse. -Morgan

The Ravenmaster : my life with the ravens at the Tower of London book cover

The Ravenmaster : my life with the ravens at the Tower of London

Christopher Skaife

942.15 /Skaife
Memoir, Animals

"For centuries, the Tower of London has been home to a group of famous avian residents: the ravens. Each year they are seen by millions of visitors, and they have become as integral a part of the Tower as its ancient stones. But their role is even more important than that--legend has it that if the ravens should ever leave, the Tower will crumble into dust, and great harm will befall the kingdom. One man is personally responsible for ensuring that such a disaster never comes to pass--the Ravenmaster. The current holder of the position is Yeoman Warder Christopher Skaife, and in this fascinating, entertaining, and touching book he memorably describes the ravens' formidable intelligence, their idiosyncrasies, and their occasionally wicked sense of humor. Over the years in which he has cared for the physical and mental well-being of these remarkable birds, Christopher Skaife has come to know them like no one else. They are not the easiest of charges--as he reveals, they are much given to mischief, and their escapades have often led him into unlikely, and sometimes even undignified, situations. Now, in the first intimate behind-the-scenes account of life with the ravens of the Tower, the Ravenmaster himself shares the folklore, history, and superstitions surrounding both the birds and their home. [This] is a compelling, inspiring, and irreverent story that will delight and surprise anyone with an interest in British history or animal behavior."--Dust jacket.

Heidi L's picture

I liked this book on so many levels: it's well-written and funny in lots of places; many years ago I went to the Tower of London and remember well the ravens there; and I found it interesting to read the author's account of working--and living, 24/7--in such a public place. The best parts, though, are the ravens and their personalities and actions. By the end of the book, I was on a first-name basis with them and I hope that I can return to the Tower someday to see them again. -Heidi L

All the Wild Hungers book cover

All the Wild Hungers

Karen Babine

616.994 /Babine
Memoir, Literary Nonfiction

“My sister is pregnant with a Lemon this week, Week 14, and this is amusing. My mother’s uterine tumor, the size of a cabbage, is Week 30, and this is terrifying.” When her mother is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Karen Babine—a cook, collector of thrifted vintage cast iron, and fiercely devoted daughter, sister, and aunt—can’t help but wonder: feed a fever, starve a cold, but what do we do for cancer? And so she commits herself to preparing her mother anything she will eat, a vegetarian diving headfirst into the unfamiliar world of bone broth and pot roast. In these essays, Babine ponders the intimate connections between food, family, and illness. What draws us toward food metaphors to describe disease? What is the power of language, of naming, in a medical culture where patients are too often made invisible? How do we seek meaning where none is to be found—and can we create it from scratch? And how, Babine asks as she bakes cookies with her small niece and nephew, does a family create its own food culture across generations? Generous and bittersweet, All the Wild Hungers is an affecting chronicle of one family’s experience of illness and of a writer’s culinary attempt to make sense of the inexplicable.

Melody's picture

Really beautiful language and emotionally gripping. -Melody

I'm still here : black dignity in a world made for whiteness book cover

I'm still here : black dignity in a world made for whiteness

Austin Channing Brown

305.896 /Brown
Memoir, Biographies

The author's first encounter with a racialized America came at age seven, when her parents told her they named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. She grew up in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches, and has spent her life navigating America's racial divide as a writer, a speaker, and an expert helping organizations practice genuine inclusion. While so many institutions claim to value diversity in their mission statements, many fall short of matching actions to words. Brown highlights how white middle-class evangelicalism has participated in the rise of racial hostility, and encourages the reader to confront apathy and recognize God's ongoing work in the world.

Anne M's picture

Brown's powerful memoir dives deep into her experience as a black woman in the United States. She takes a holistic approach in describing interactions and relationships with white people from interviews to neighborhoods to school. Brown is a writer and lecturer on Christianity and she addresses race and religion in this book. -Anne M

Sign my name to freedom : a memoir of a pioneering life book cover

Sign my name to freedom : a memoir of a pioneering life

Betty Reid Soskin

979.4 /Soskin
Memoir, Biographies

"In Betty Reid Soskin's 96 years of living, she has been a witness to a grand sweep of American history. When she was born in 1921, the lynching of African-Americans was a national epidemic, blackface minstrel shows were the most popular American form of entertainment, white women had only just won the right to vote, and most African-Americans in the Deep South could not vote at all. From her great-grandmother, who had been enslaved until her mid-20s, Betty heard stories of slavery and the times of terror and struggle for black folk that followed. In her lifetime, Betty has watched the nation begin to confront its race and gender biases when forced to come together in the World War II era; seen our differences nearly break us apart again in the upheavals of the civil rights and Black Power eras; and, finally, lived long enough to witness both the election of an African-American president and the re-emergence of a militant, racist far right. Blending together selections from many of Betty's hundreds of blog entries with interviews, letters, and speeches, Sign My Name to Freedom invites you along on that journey, through the words and thoughts of a national treasure who has never stopped looking at herself, the nation, or the world with fresh eyes"--

Anne M's picture

For another memoir spanning the 20th Century, check out National Park Ranger and nonagenarian Betty Reid Soskin’s “Sign My Name to Freedom: a Memoir of a Pioneering Life.” -Anne M

I will not fear : my story of a lifetime of building faith under fire book cover

I will not fear : my story of a lifetime of building faith under fire

Melba Beals

379.263 /Beals
Memoir, Biographies

In I Will Not Fear, Beals takes you on an unforgettable journey through terror, oppression, and persecution, highlighting the kind of faith we all need to survive in a world full of heartbreak and anger. She shows how the deep faith we develop during our most difficult moments is the kind of faith that can change our families, our communities, and even the world.

Anne M's picture

Journalist Melba Beals, also part of the Little Rock Nine, has a new autobiography “I Will Not Fear: My Story of a Lifetime of Building Faith under Fire.” She explores how her faith helped her face everyday realities as a person of color, on top of being involved in the integration of Little Rock Central High School. -Anne M

Becoming book cover

Becoming

Michelle Obama

BIOGRAPHY Obama, Michelle
Memoir, Biographies

"An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States. When she was a little girl, Michelle Robinson's world was the South Side of Chicago, where she and her brother, Craig, shared a bedroom in their family's upstairs apartment and played catch in the park, and where her parents, Fraser and Marian Robinson, raised her to be outspoken and unafraid. But life soon look her much further afield, from the halls of Princeton, where she learned for the first time what if felt like to be the only black woman in a room, to the glassy office tower where she worked as a high-powered corporate lawyer--and where, one summer morning, a law student named Barack Obama appeared in her office and upended all her carefully made plans. Here, for the first time, Michelle Obama describes the early years of her marriage as she struggles to balance her work and family with her husband's fast-moving political career. She takes us inside their private debate over whether he should make a run for the presidency and her subsequent role as a popular but oft-criticized figure during his campaign. Narrating with grace, good humor, and uncommon candor, she provides a vivid, behind-the-scenes account of her family's history-making launch into the global limelight as well as their life inside the White House over eight momentous years--as she comes to know her country and her country comes to know her. [This book] takes us through modest Iowa kitchens and ballrooms at Buckingham Palace, through moments of heart-stopping grief and profound resilience, bringing us deep into the soul of a singular, groundbreaking figure in history as she strives to live authentically, marshaling her personal strength and voice in service of a set of higher ideals. In telling her story with honesty and boldness, she issues a challenge to the rest of us: Who are we and who do we want to become?"--Dust jacket.

Anne M's picture

The most popular book at the Iowa City Public Library right now is Michelle Obama’s new memoir, “Becoming.” Obama gives an intimate account of her life growing up in a working class family in Chicago to serving as the First Lady of the United States—a life of contrasts. Her memoir is honest and real, making the life of an American icon tangible. -Anne M

Black is the body : stories from my grandmother's time, my mother's time, and mine book cover

Black is the body : stories from my grandmother's time, my mother's time, and mine

Emily Bernard

305.48896 /Bernard
Memoir, Literary Nonfiction, Biographies

An extraordinary, exquisitely written memoir (of sorts) that looks at race--in a fearless, penetrating, honest, true way--in twelve telltale, connected, deeply personal essays that explore, up-close, the complexities and paradoxes, the haunting memories and ambushing realities of growing up black in the South with a family name inherited from a white man, of getting a PhD from Yale, of marrying a white man from the North, of adopting two babies from Ethiopia, of teaching at a white college and living in America's New England today. From the acclaimed editor of Remember Me to Harlem: The Letters of Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten ("A major contribution," Henry Louis Gates; "Magnificent," Washington Post).

Anne M's picture

Emily Bernard’s acclaimed memoir, “Black is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine,” is a collection of personal essays documenting experiences from her own life. These stories follow her time growing up in the South, getting an education at Yale, and teaching at a college in northern New England. The poetic memoir illustrates how her experiences are formed and framed through the lens of race. She writes, "I am black--and brown, too. Brown is the body I was born into. Black is the body of the stories I tell." It is incredibly personal and beautifully written. -Anne M

Shrill : notes from a loud woman book cover

Shrill : notes from a loud woman

Lindy West

BIOGRAPHY West, Lindy
Nonfiction, Memoir

"Presents a series of essays by the American writer and comedian, dealing with issues of body image, popular culture, feminism, and social justice,"--NoveList.

Jason's picture

A six-episode series is coming to Hulu based on Lindy West's feminist memoir of the same name. -Jason