Memoir

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

Beastie Boys book book cover

Beastie Boys book

1965- author Mike D

781.649092 /Beastie
Memoir

Formed as a New York City hardcore band in 1981, Beastie Boys followed a path to global hip hop superstardom. Here is their story, told for the first time in the words of the band. Adam "ADROCK" Horovitz and Michael "Mike D" Diamond reveal their transition from teenage punks to budding rappers through their evolution as musicians and social activists over the course of their albums; and more. The band has had an inescapable and indelible influence on popular culture, and their book exhibits a style as distinctive and eclectic as a Beastie Boys album. -- adapted from information supplied

Meredith's picture

Mike D and Ad-Rock’s essays are more than the story of how they became the Beastie Boys. They’re a love letter to punk, early rap, NYC in the 80s, livin' large in LA and band mate Adam Yauch. They drop names like Run-DMC, Madonna and Russell Simmons, and seem just as in awe as the reader that they get to do that. They don’t take themselves too seriously, remind the reader often that they were 3 white boys blessed with teenagers’ lack of sense and self awareness which is the only explanation for why they did what they did, and give each other a hard time for inside jokes that started 30+ years ago. The story of Adam Yauch basically chasing Joe Perry backwards around a stage during his and Steven Tyler’s performance with Run-DMC makes me wish YouTube existed in 1986. I listened to the audiobook and enjoyed the scrapbook that is the print version. They got people like Maya Rudolph, LL Cool J, Rosie Perez, Wanda Sykes, Tim Meadows, Spike Jonze and Amy Poehler to read on the audio, and it’s delightful. You can tell how much the guys loved each other then and still do now, and how much they miss MCA. The Beastie Boys Book is totally worth the 550+ print pages/12+ hours audio commitment. -Meredith

The only street in Paris : life on the Rue des Martyrs book cover

The only street in Paris : life on the Rue des Martyrs

Elaine Sciolino

944.361 /Sciolino
Nonfiction, Memoir

Rue des Martyrs is more than just a street, it's an enchanting and bustling community in Paris. At just over half a mile long, spanning between the Ninth and 18th arrondissements, this street is filled with four- and five-story buildings of varying architectural designs, with picturesque wrought-iron balconies and shuttered windows and small businesses at street level. As the author (La Seduction), a former Paris bureau chief for the New York Times, explores her neighborhood, she describes its fascinating history, from ancient churches and the saints and martyrs the street may be named after to the 19th-century Cirque Medrano. The quaint cafés and shops remain locally owned, per Paris law, and their merchants and artisans are the leading characters of the book--and of the street. There's Roger Henri, who pushes a cart with a bell offering his knife-sharpening services; Michou, the owner and creator of the transvestite cabaret at No. 80; and Laurence Gillery, the woman who restores antique barometers, the last of her kind. The atmosphere on rue des Martyrs is refreshing and enticing in our modern world.

Candice's picture

Elaine Sciolino's book is a lovely paean to the Rue des Martrys, a street that runs north-south through the 9th arrondisement of Paris, and into the village of Montmartre. She chronicles the lives and activities of the storefronts and shopkeepers who live and work there, as well as the life and changing nature of the street itself. The assortment of shops--many of them providing fresh foods and personal services--help to create a sense of community among the residents that seems uniquely Parisian, and possibly of a bygone era. -Candice

The sun does shine : how I found life and freedom on death row book cover

The sun does shine : how I found life and freedom on death row

Anthony Ray Hinton

364.66 /Hinton
Memoir

"A powerful, revealing story of hope, love, justice, and the power of reading by a man who spent thirty years on death row for a crime he didn't commit"--

Meredith's picture

I recently read Bryan Stevenson's book, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, and had The Sun Does Shine on my TBR list not knowing it was written by one of the innocent people Stevenson and his Equal Justice Initiative fought to free. Hinton was wrongly convicted of a crime he did not commit and was sentenced to death. The evidence proving his innocence was overwhelming, but a racist system paid no attention and an innocent man spent years waiting for death. Hinton's inner strength is incredible. He has every right to be angry, to be bitter. He has every right to hate the people who did this to him. And yet he remained hopeful, never giving in despite a system that looks at color before facts. To read his story in his own words is so amazingly heart-breaking and frustrating, and so incredibly difficult at times. I wanted to stop, but I couldn't. Closing our eyes to reality doesn't make the injustice go away. There are more people like Hinton than we want to believe and they deserve the fairness we've been told our justice system is built upon. Unfortunately, reality paints a different picture. -Meredith

Heavy : an American memoir book cover

Heavy : an American memoir

Kiese Laymon

BIOGRAPHY Laymon, Kiese
Memoir

"Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about the physical manifestations of violence, grief, trauma, and abuse on his own body. He writes of his own eating disorder and gambling addiction as well as similar issues that run throughout his family. Through self-exploration, storytelling, and honest conversation with family and friends, Heavy seeks to bring what has been hidden into the light and to reckon with all of its myriad sources, from the most intimate--a mother-child relationship--to the most universal--a society that has undervalued and abused black bodies for centuries"--

Meredith's picture

The honesty in Kiese Laymon's writing is powerful. It will make you uncomfortable, but it will also make you think. -Meredith

Wild : from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail book cover

Wild : from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Cheryl Strayed

917.9 /Strayed
Memoir

A powerful, blazingly honest, inspiring memoir: the story of a 1,100 mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe--and built her back up again.

Meredith's picture

I don't know why I waited so long to read this book, but I'm so glad I did! I loved nearly every part of it, from her relationship to her mother and the need to do something different, to the honest truth that she was totally unprepared for her journey and still she walked. There were a few instances that kind of dragged, but they were few and far between. She was walking for miles on end; what did I expect? -Meredith

Hey, kiddo book cover

Hey, kiddo

Jarrett Krosoczka

362.2913 /Krosoczka
Graphic Novels, Memoir, Young Adult

"In kindergarten, Jarrett Krosoczka's teacher asks him to draw his family, with a mommy and a daddy. But Jarrett's family is much more complicated than that. His mom is an addict, in and out of rehab, and in and out of Jarrett's life. His father is a mystery -- Jarrett doesn't know where to find him, or even what his name is. Jarrett lives with his grandparents -- two very loud, very loving, very opinionated people who had thought they were through with raising children until Jarrett came along"--

Angie's picture

This book is getting rave reviews and was easy to see why. Hey, Kiddo is the graphic memoir of author-illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Raised by his colorful grandparents, who adopted him because his mother was an incarcerated heroin addict, Krosoczka didn't know his father's name until he saw his birth certificate when registering for a school ski trip. Hey, Kiddo traces Krosoczka's search for his father, his difficult interactions with his mother, his day-to-day life with his grandparents, and his path to becoming an artist. The artwork does, as intended, look like a memory or dream sequence and adds to the intensity of the book. It is a very honest description of his life growing up and at times can be very dark. Knowing the books he now writes and illustrates for children, it is amazing to see him overcome his upbringing to be the success he is today, it proves to be a very powerful message for everyone to take away. -Angie

The Victorian and the romantic : a memoir, a love story, and a friendship across time book cover

The Victorian and the romantic : a memoir, a love story, and a friendship across time

Nell Stevens

BIOGRAPHY Stevens, Nell
Memoir

"History meets memoir in two true-life love stories between two sets of writers--one unfolding in nineteenth century Rome, one in present-day Paris and London--which both reveal the longings and ambitions of the very contemporary Nell Stevens. In 1857, English novelist Elizabeth Gaskell completed her most famous work: the biography of her dear friend, the recently deceased Charlotte Bronte. As publication loomed Elizabeth was keen to escape the reviews and, leaving her wholesome, dull minister husband at home, traveled with her daughters to Rome. And it was there that she met the American writer and critic, Charles Eliot Norton. Seventeen years her junior, he was the love of her life. She knew they could never be together--it would be an unthinkable breach--but when she returned home to Mr. Gaskell, she discovered to her horror that while she was gone he had betrayed her--betrayed her work--in a way that she is not sure she can ever forgive. In 2013 Nell Stevens is in a PhD program in London, halfheartedly pursuing a post in academia to keep her afloat while she follows her true vocation as a writer. Her dissertation on the artistic expatriate community of nineteenth-century Rome isn't quite coming together. But questions of scholarly methodology take a back seat to her budding romance with Max, a soulful American with an unfinished screenplay. That is, until their relationship begins to founder, and the echoes between Nell's life and that of her historical subject become too strong to ignore. As these two storylines meet up in delightful, funny, and unexpected ways, The Victorian and the Romantic evokes the bittersweet ache of lost love and the consolations of female writerly ambition"--

Heidi L's picture

An in depth look at one slice of Elizabeth Gaskell's life, in the context of a similar modern-day situation. Author Nell Stevens writes beautifully, and you probably wouldn't guess from the subject matter that this book is a page-turner. Recommended for Gaskell fans. -Heidi L