Just mercy : a story of justice and redemption book cover

Just mercy : a story of justice and redemption

Bryan Stevenson

340.092 /Stevenson
Black Lives Matter, Nonfiction, Memoir, Political

The founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama recounts his experiences as a lawyer working to assist those desperately in need, reflecting on his pursuit of the ideal of compassion in American justice.

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Born a crime : stories from a South African childhood book cover

Born a crime : stories from a South African childhood

Trevor Noah

791.45028092 /Noah
Black Lives Matter, Memoir, Nonfiction

Trevor Noah's unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents' indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa's tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle. Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man's relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life. The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother's unconventional, unconditional love.

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The autobiography of Malcolm X book cover

The autobiography of Malcolm X

Malcolm X

Black Lives Matter, Black History, Nonfiction, Biographies

In the searing pages of this classic autobiography, originally published in 1964, Malcolm X, the Muslim leader, firebrand, and anti-integrationist, tells the extraordinary story of his life and the growth of the Black Muslim movement. His fascinating perspective on the lies and limitations of the American Dream, and the inherent racism in a society that denies its nonwhite citizens the opportunity to dream, gives extraordinary insight into the most urgent issues of our own time. The Autobiography of Malcolm X stands as the definitive statement of a movement and a man whose work was never completed but whose message is timeless. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand America.

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Rise of the rocket girls : the women who propelled us, from missiles to the moon to Mars book cover

Rise of the rocket girls : the women who propelled us, from missiles to the moon to Mars

Nathalia Holt

629.4 /Holt
Nonfiction, History

During World War Il, when the brand-new minted Jet Propulsion Laboratory needed quick-thinking mathematicians to calculate jet velocities and plot missile trajectories, they recruited an elite group of young women--known as "computers"--who, with only pencil, paper, and mathematical prowess, transformed rocket design and helped bring about America's first ballistic missiles. But they were never interested in developing weapons--their hearts lay in the dream of space exploration. So when JPL became part of a new agency called NASA, the computers worked on the first probes to the moon, Venus, Mars, and beyond. Later, as digital computers largely replaced human ones, JPL was unique in training and retaining its brilliant pool of women. They became the first computer programmers and engineers, and through their efforts, we launched the ships that showed us the contours of our solar system. For the first time, this book tells the stories of these women who charted a course not only for the future of space exploration but also for the prospects of female scientists. Based on extensive research and interviews with the living members of the team, Rise of the Rocket Girls offers a unique perspective on the role of women in science, illuminating both where we've been and the far reaches of where we're heading.--Adapted from dust jacket.

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This was a delightful and fascinating read! We follow a few key women throughout the decades, following the progression of the space program and the role of women in the sciences. The author throws in some fun anecdotes, like when a couple of the women decided it was acceptable to finally wear pant suits, along with the struggles many of these women had in the early days of getting married, getting pregnant, and facing the choice of leaving a job you loved or attempt the fine balancing act of being a working mother. Just enough science is covered to give the reader an idea of what's going on in the profession without being overwhelming. Great companion read with Hidden Figures! -Amanda

Stamped : racism, antiracism, and you book cover

Stamped : racism, antiracism, and you

Ibram X. Kendi

Black Lives Matter, Read Woke, Young Adult, Nonfiction

"A history of racist and antiracist ideas in America, from their roots in Europe until today, adapted from the National Book Award winner Stamped from the Beginning"--

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The diary of a bookseller book cover

The diary of a bookseller

Shaun Bythell

BIOGRAPHY Bythell, Shaun
Nonfiction, Biographies

When Bythell first thought of taking over the bookstore in the remote Scottish village of Wigtown, it seemed like a book-lover's paradise. Here he details his experiences at the helm of The Book Shop, Scotland's largest second hand bookstore: the delightfully unusual staff members, eccentric customers, odd townsfolk and surreal buying trips to old estates and auctions. As he struggled to build his business-- and be polite-- he is seduced by the charm of small-town life, and the peculiar characters he meets. -- adapted from jacket

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Being a former bookseller I could relate to a lot of this, and found the author’s observations on his co-workers and customers acerbic and amusing. And since it’s a diary, it’s a very easy book to pick up and put down as necessary, and no matter where you are in it you’ll find something delightful to chuckle at. -Amanda

Denmark Vesey's garden : slavery and memory in the cradle of the Confederacy book cover

Denmark Vesey's garden : slavery and memory in the cradle of the Confederacy

Ethan J. Kytle

975.703 /Kytle
Nonfiction, History

A book that strikes at the heart of the recent flare-ups over Confederate symbols in Charlottesville, New Orleans, and elsewhere, Denmark Vesey's Garden reveals the deep roots of these controversies and traces them to the heart of slavery in the United States: Charleston, South Carolina, where almost half of the U.S. slave population stepped onto our shores, where the first shot at Fort Sumter began the Civil War, and where Dylann Roof shot nine people at Emanuel A.M.E. Church, the congregation of Denmark Vesey, a black revolutionary who plotted a massive slave insurrection in 1822. As early as 1865, former slaveholders and their descendants began working to preserve a romanticized memory of the antebellum South. In contrast, former slaves, their descendants, and some white allies have worked to preserve an honest, unvarnished account of slavery as the cruel system it was. Examining public rituals, controversial monuments, and whitewashed historical tourism, Denmark Vesey's Garden tracks these two rival memories from the Civil War all the way to contemporary times, where two segregated tourism industries still reflect these opposing impressions of the past, exposing a hidden dimension of America's deep racial divide. Denmark Vesey's Garden joins the small bookshelf of major, paradigm-shifting new interpretations of slavery's enduring legacy in the United States. --inside jacket.

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Though this is an excellent read for a Charleston lover like me, it also makes for a microcosm of slavery, Lost Cause mythology, and racism in the South in general. The book traces the many filters the question of slavery has been put through over the past few centuries, and how it's evolved and been remembered. Highly recommend for the history buff! -Amanda

You never forget your first : a biography of George Washington book cover

You never forget your first : a biography of George Washington

Alexis Coe

BIOGRAPHY Washington, George
Nonfiction, Biographies, History

"In a genre overdue for a shakeup, Alexis Coe takes a closer look at our first--and finds he's not quite the man we remember Young George Washington was raised by a struggling single mother, demanded military promotions, chased rich young women, caused an international incident, and never backed down--even when his dysentery got so bad he had to ride with a cushion on his saddle. But after he married Martha, everything changed. Washington became the kind of man who named his dog Sweetlips and hated to leave home. He took up arms against the British only when there was no other way, though he lost more battles than he won. Coe focuses on his activities off the battlefield--like espionage and propaganda. After an unlikely victory in the Revolutionary War, Washington once again shocked the world by giving up power, only to learn his compatriots wouldn't allow it. The founders pressured him into the presidency--twice. He established enduring norms but left office heartbroken over the partisan nightmare his backstabbing cabinet had created. Back on his plantation, the man who fought for liberty finally confronted his greatest hypocrisy--what to do with the hundreds of men, women, and children he owned--before succumbing to a brutal death. Alexis Coe combines rigorous research and unsentimental storytelling, finally separating the man from the legend."--

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This is the first biography of Washington I’ve read since grade school, and was refreshing in its stories of Washington’s relationship to the women in his life and other human foibles that frequently get brushed over. Of course, everything involving the Founders these days gets colored through the lens of Hamilton the Musical, so being able to make those connections was also enjoyable. If you’re looking for a solid biography of Washington that doesn't intimidate, this is a great pick. -Amanda

The queer advantage : Conversations with LGBTQ+ Leaders on the Power of Identity book cover

The queer advantage : Conversations with LGBTQ+ Leaders on the Power of Identity

Andrew Gelwicks

LGBTQ+, Nonfiction, Self Help, Biographies

The people who are creating national public policy, running billion-dollar tech enterprises, and winning Olympic medals. Andrew Gelwicks interviews the leaders who have forged their own paths and changed the world. From Troye Sivan to Margaret Cho, George Takei to Billie Jean King, Shangela to Adam Rippon, each person credits their queer identity with giving them an edge in their paths to success. Their stories brim with the hard-won lessons gained over their careers. Collecting incisive, deeply personal conversations with LGBTQ+ trailblazers about how they leveraged the challenges and insights they had as relative outsiders to succeed in the worlds of business, tech, politics, Hollywood, sports and beyond, The Queer Advantage celebrates the unique, supercharged power of queerness.

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Beyond magenta : transgender teens speak out book cover

Beyond magenta : transgender teens speak out

Susan Kuklin

LGBTQ+, Nonfiction, Young Adult, Biographies

Shares insights into the teen transgender experience, tracing six individual's emotional and physical journey as it was shaped by family dynamics, living situations, and the transition each teen made during the personal journey.

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