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For Readers: Blog

Walk a mile in someone else's shoes

by Book Geniuses on 2021-11-02T13:50:01-05:00 in Books & Reading | Comments

A well-written memoir or autobiography is a transformative experience, letting you gain hard-earned wisdom from someone else's experiences, without getting up from your chair. Memoir and autobiography are broad headings, collecting books as varied as their authors. These new releases run the gamut from science to sports, reveal the personal histories of familiar figures, or paint a picture of a life so unexpected that reality feels like fiction.

Covers of Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang; Three Girls from Bronzeville by Dawn Turner; Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard

In Beautiful Country, civil rights attorney Qian Julie Wang reflects on a childhood marked by poverty and secrecy as an undocumented immigrant. Fleeing harsh Communist rule in China for the freedom of New York, Wang’s parents found their experience as professors held no weight here. They were pushed into exhausting, low-paying work, while the odds were against Wang in the public schools. Inspiring, emotional, and at times heartbreaking, this memoir shines a light on the dignity and courage of immigrants in the face of unimaginable challenges and xenophobia. [e-book | print]

Closer to home, Three Girls from Bronzeville by Dawn Turner is a candid and thoughtful look at how three Black girls navigated growing up in the 1970s in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood. Intertwining her experiences with those of her younger sister and her best friend, the author juxtaposes their struggles and successes, placing them within the societal pressures on the community at large. Turner’s roots in journalism are clear in her beautiful writing; she creates compelling portraits of each girl and explores the meaning of friendship, sisterhood, loss, and resilience. [e-book | print]

Forest ecologist Suzanne Simard seamlessly combines memoir and nature writing in Finding the Mother Tree, a peek into the world of tree communication and intelligence. Simard clearly explains the groundbreaking discoveries about unexpected forest societies. She also delves into her own captivating journey from young tree-lover to minor science celebrity (she even inspired a character in Richard Powers’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Overstory). Finding the Mother Tree is an eye-opening work about the wonders of nature, our unique bond with the environment, and the risks of scientific discovery. [e-book | print]

Covers of Taste by Stanley Tucci; Run by John Lewis; All In by Billie Jean King

Despite his years as a wildly successful actor and director, Stanley Tucci has shown that he isn’t defined only by his cinematic career. Over the past few years, he has quietly branched out into the culinary world, writing cookbooks and creating a travel special. In his memoir Taste, he tells his life story through the lens of his passion for food, and he does so with his signature charm and wit. From childhood dinners with his Italian American family to his roles in foodie films, Tucci explains how food has brought him closer to the most important people in his life. [e-book | print | audiobook | large type]

After the successful March series, which chronicles the early days of the civil rights movement, John Lewis and Andrew Aydin collaborate again on Run, a continuation of Lewis’s remarkable life story. Focusing on the period after the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, this thought-provoking memoir in graphic novel form draws readers into the conflicts between the previously unified activists. As chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Lewis had a front-row seat to the ideological changes among the organizers as they grappled with questions of integration, nonviolence, and war. [e-book | print]

Whether you admire her passion for tennis or are interested in her activism, All In by Billie Jean King is an intimate, honest autobiography of a formidable opponent on and off the court. From a young age, King noticed the gender inequality in the world of sports. With fame came the opportunity to do something about it, from the famous Battle of the Sexes matches onward. But stardom also brought challenges, most notably a lawsuit that led to her traumatic outing and threatened her career and stability. Through it all, King found ways to triumph and channel her energy into fighting for equal rights in numerous arenas. [e-book | print]


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