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Biography

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide. Her life story is told in the documentary film And Still I Rise, as seen on PBS’s American Masters.

Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

In 1951, a 30-year-old black woman was diagnosed with cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. The cells biopsied from Henrietta Lacks’ tumor, dubbed HeLa cells, soon became the basis for decades of crucial medical research: The polio vaccine, IVF techniques, and advancements in gene mapping all owe their success to the HeLa cells taken from Lacks’ body. Skloot’s impeccably reported book tells a remarkable story of scientific development but also makes an impassioned argument about the way medicine has always used black and poor bodies.

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood

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.

Educated

Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag". In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Jeanette Winterson’s bold and revelatory novels have earned her widespread acclaim, establishing her as a major figure in world literature. She has written some of the most admired books of the past few decades, including her internationally best-selling first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, the story of a young girl adopted by Pentecostal parents, that is now often required reading in contemporary fiction classes.

I Miss You When I Blink: Essays

A charmingly relatable and wise memoir-in-essays by acclaimed writer and bookseller Mary Laura Philpott, the modern day reincarnation ofNora Ephron, Erma Bombeck, Jean Kerr, and Laurie Colwinall rolled into one (The Washington Post), about what happened after she checked off all the boxes on a successful lifes to-do list and realized she might need to reinvent the list—and herself.

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls: A Memoir

Acclaimed literary essayist T Kira Madden's raw and redemptive debut memoir is about coming of age and reckoning with desire as a queer, biracial teenager amidst the fierce contradictions of Boca Raton, Florida, a place where she found cult-like privilege, shocking racial disparities, rampant white-collar crime and powerfully destructive standards of beauty hiding in plain sight.  

All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto

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.

Free Lunch

Instead of giving him lunch money, Rex’s mom has signed him up for free meals. As a poor kid in a wealthy school district, better-off kids crowd impatiently behind him as he tries to explain to the cashier that he’s on the free meal program. The lunch lady is hard of hearing, so Rex has to shout.