Biography

Oct 6, 2021

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou is a memoir. Maya talks about her experiences growing up as an African American. She has to face discrimination and family problems, and tries to find her place in society. Finally, she is able to break certain barriers that society has created. Is she truly able to find her place?


The best part of this book was how the author weaved in pieces of wisdom from mentors in her life. However, certain parts of the book were disturbing and not pleasant to picture. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading about the history of

Sep 1, 2021

When you start tuning in to winter, you realise that we live through a thousand winters in our lives--some big, some small.


Sometimes you find yourself reading a book so full of interesting, exciting ideas that the author has found a way to express so clearly and exquisitely that they are both familiar and revelatory, that the book continuously sparks moments of resonant discovery so that you find yourself stopping to have your own related ideas, pondering your own life in light of the new perspectives just gained from the reading, marking passages to revisit, taking notes to develop later

Aug 23, 2021

Poet Gay decided he would adopt a practice for a year of paying attention to what delighted him and writing a daily "essayette" recording his related thoughts. This is his compilation of those journal entries. He writes in the prologue how the habit helped him develop a kind of "delight radar," as he became more aware of the delightful aspects of life at all times and happier for it, and his joy is apparent on every page.


Gay writes with an intentionally free-flowing, rambling style (see the excerpt below). It captures the personality and spontaneity of his process, and readers come to know

Jul 20, 2021

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an autobiography by Maya Angelou. The story revolves around a young girl named Marguerite, who is also known as Maya Angelou, the author. Marguerite lives in Stamps, Arkansas. She is a black girl, living with her Uncle Willie and her grandmother, who she soon calls Momma. Marguerite has one brother named Bailey.


I believe that Maya Angelou’s autobiography was well-written. I enjoyed reading this book because it includes many events and details about what has happened to Marguerite. It shows her hard work and determination to do things. The book also shows

Educated by Tara Westover

Educated

4
Rated by
Jun 22, 2021

Educated is the memoir of Tara Westover who grew up in a sheltered Mormon home in Idaho. Westover was born into a family led by the orders of her father; a man who believes in constantly preparing for the end times and keeping his children a secret from the government. As a child, Westover and her siblings were not allowed to attend school and instead forced to work at the family junkyard. When Westover was seventeen years old she taught herself the material required to take the ACT and get into college. She eventually got into multiple prestigious universities and excelled in her separation

Jun 18, 2021

In this true story, a white man, journalist John Howard Griffin, decides to become a Negro to see how it feels like. At the beginning of the book, he meets with his friend and tells him his idea. Regardless of what others thought, John goes to New Orleans and consults with doctors. He changes his skin color to see how one would treat a negro. However, he learns that some still treat black men without equality. John decides to change that.


I think this book starts very slowly, but I grew interested as I read. It teaches people equality, and I find this book pretty good. I do not usually read

May 5, 2021

The Dog Who Could Fly is the true story of a German Shepherd who was rescued by a Chezhslovakian WWII airman. The dog, who was named Antis, formed an unbelievably close relationship with Robert, his master. When Robert was on missions flying, Antis would wait beside the runway till he returned, refusing food and water till his master was back. He became the good luck charm of Robert’s plane and teammates in the British Air Force. One day, he was missing from the runway, and after takeoff he was discovered at Robert’s place in the plane. After that, he became a regular member of the crew, and

May 1, 2021

Led by Faith is the incredible true story of Immaculee Ilabagiza. She was a Tutsi tribe member during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which the Hutu majority attempted to stamp out the Tutsi ‘cockroaches,’ as they called them. She came from a family of four children, of which she was the only girl. Out of the six members in her family, only she and one of her brothers survived. Immaculee hid in a small bathroom with seven other women for ninety one days, all the while hearing the killers outside hunting down the Tutsis. Throughout this time, she formed a deep relationship with God, and she says

Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook

Banned Book Club

By Kim Hyun Sook
4
Rated by Josh N.
Apr 28, 2021

About halfway through reading this biographical graphic novel, it struck me just how little I knew about the history of the Republic of Korea. I'm not a fan of not knowing things. This led me on a dive into at least a surface reading on South Korea’s political and cultural history, fascinating and sometimes turbulent. Imagine living in a country where the leader of the nation wages a war on intellectual thought, educational inquiry, and popular culture; where citizens are beaten and gassed by the police for protesting peacefully; where corrupt politicians are only arrested and imprisoned after

Apr 27, 2021

Lone Survivor is a true eyewitness account of Operation Redwing written by SEAL Marcus Luttrell. In it, he tells the remarkable and tragic story of how he became the only surviving member of SEAL team ten. Near the beginning of the book, to help explain the phenomenal stamina, strength, and courage SEALs have, the author describes his experiences in SEAL training. Both the physical and mental capacity of those who make it through must be enormous, as only six percent of those who attempt to pass the extremely physically demanding exercises, sleep deprivation, and stressful environment actually

Feb 24, 2021

Just Mercy is a first-person account of Bryan Stevenson, a black lawyer, who helps prisoners that did not receive fair trials as part of a non-profit organization. Stevenson writes about various clients that he has worked for over the years and how the justice system has failed them.


Living in Johnson County, racism and prejudice can seem like a distant thing. Just Mercy is so powerful because it uses stats and facts to show just how prevalent it really is. This book is one of my favorites because it opened my eyes to the failings of our justice system. These tragedies of cases were

Feb 7, 2021

How About Never--is Never Good for You? ​is Bob Mankoff’s engrossing memoir that focuses primarily on his experiences as a cartoonist and editor of The​ New Yorker​ magazine. Wryly funny and a little tongue-in-cheek, this book is a quick and enjoyable tidbit. The story initially focuses on Bob Mankoff’s life, but gradually shifts to his professional experiences and the cartoons of The New Yorker​. As someone who has never read nor thought much about The New Yorker ​and its comics, ​How About Never--is Never Good for You? ​provided a fascinating introduction into that world. The book not only

Jan 14, 2021

The Battle for Room 314 by Ed Boland, published in 2016, tells the compelling story of his year teaching in an inner-city high school in New York City. As a young man, Boland worked for Project Advance, a non-profit working to place low-income, inner-city students in elite boarding schools and eventually Ivy League universities; however, he begins to feel unfulfilled and wants to widen his impact to help more deserving students. Therefore, he goes back to school to get his teaching degree and ends up getting hired in an inner-city high school –this story follows the trials and tribulations of

Nov 5, 2020

John Urschel played professional football and is completing his Ph.D. at Harvard University in Mathematics. This memoir reveals John’s challenges of living with divorced parents, trying to become a math major and earning a Ph.D., and making it to the National Football League. Mr. Urschel’s biography is heart-warming and shows the ups and downs of his journey of making it to the NFL and earning a Ph.D. Urschel was interested in math at a very young age and loved solving math problems. It wasn’t until later in middle school that Urschel became interested in football. The story is told in

Jul 8, 2020

I say "graphic books" because not all are novels, and the ones I am most often drawn to are the graphic nonfiction--bios, memoirs, history lessons. I am not an expert on graphic books; I do not have boxes of comic collections accumulated since childhood (though I do fondly remember reading some of my older brother's X-Men comics as a kid--intrigued by smart, strong females like Storm, Jubilee, Rogue); but perhaps because I approach graphic books from a more literary view, I can translate their value to those who might otherwise relegate "comics" to their not-to-be-read shelf.

Jul 2, 2020

British aristocracy has an interesting hold on many people around the world, the closer to the Royal Family and the more intense this interest and scrutiny becomes. 


Lady Glenconner served as a maid of honor at the Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953, and was Extra Lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth II's sister, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, from 1971 until the Princess died in 2002.


Life among the titled is not all high teas and hunting parties; as this book will show, titles and privilege do not always guarantee a happy life, although more often than not, it is an interesting

Apr 1, 2020

The past two months of quarantine shutdown have been bizarre to say the least. Surprised by how hard it's been to focus on simple tasks and know how to deal with whatever each day might bring, I turned to another time in history where the whole world was under threat and people had to deal with a cloud of confusion that hung over everything--World War II. Obviously COVID-19 is not the same as WWII by any means, but I was inspired and encouraged to read the stories of how women in particular faced the challenges of such a world-impacting crisis.


I think my favorite book was A Woman of No

Orange is the New Black

By Piper Kerman
5
Rated by Megan K.
Dec 6, 2019

Many of you may be familiar with Piper Kerman’s story but I’ll give you a quick summary: in 1993, 24 year old Piper smuggled money for her then-girlfriend who was involved in an international drug ring. Following the money smuggling incident, she cut off all ties to the people involved and got started on a new life. However, her past caught up to her and Piper was indicted for her involvement in 1998. Six years later, in 2004, she was sent to Danbury, a minimum-security facility to serve 15 months. Piper ended up serving 13 months, and detailed her experience in this book.


It is important

Aug 26, 2019

Mighty Moe is a story that highlights the true essence of women's empowerment: incredible achievements and minimal recognition for said achievements. This is the story of a female named Maureen who, in the face of misogyny, ignorance, and conflict, achieved a record-breaking marathon time. The most compelling aspect of the book was that it is a true story. This book promotes empowerment and perseverance in the face of challenges. I was not disappointed with the book for any reason.

Once More We Saw Stars

By Jayson Greene
3
Rated by Lisa A.
Jul 12, 2019

Once More We Saw Stars is a story no one wants to tell, one of a two-year-old daughter’s death and how her parents try to move in the world after their world—their daughter—has died. While it is, in the end, hopeful and filled with love, the journey this book takes the reader on is one of genuine, visceral loss: there’s anguish, anger, fighting, and desperation.


This story is painful, to say the least, and it’s not something I can comment on. As Greene writes in the part about going to grief counseling: no one else gets it. No one else can. I can read his story and weep for his loss and

Jun 26, 2019

T Kira Madden's debut memoir in essays is brutal in the best way: gorgeously written, relentlessly honest, and impossible to put down. If you're into stories about daughters who love and struggle with imperfect parents, read this. If you relate to families filled with dysfunction, read this. If you love someone who is queer, read this. If you have a soft spot for essays that make you cry at work, read this. Seriously--I could find a reason for everyone to read this book. Been touched somehow by adoption? By trauma? By being a lost teenager? By having to leave home to find it again? This book

Apr 5, 2019

"Never underestimate the power of nerds."  Self proclaimed nerd Mallory O'Meara pours her heart and three years of her life into The Lady From The Black Lagoon,  a biography to uncover the lost legacy of Milicent Patrick.  


Sadly, but not surprisingly, I was unfamiliar with Milicent Patrick and her work.  I knew nothing of her time at Disney as an animator or her work at Universal Studios making monsters come to life for the big screen.  In reading this book I was struck by how hard it must have been to work in a male dominated field in which no matter how talented you are most of your male

Feb 28, 2019

Eleanor Roosevelt served as her husband’s eyes and ears throughout his twelve years in office; she knew every corner of the United States from personal visits and meetings with locals without a cocoon of Secret Service protection. Starting in 1941, the very hands-on First Lady solved the personal problems of worried Americans while she traversed the continent. Ladies’ Home Journal included her first of several advice columns, entitled “If You Ask Me,” which shares both its name and content with this book. Collected from over twenty years of columns, Ms. Roosevelt’s writing exudes purpose

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

By Morgan Neville, Caryn Capotosto, Nicholas Ma
5
Rated by Heather McCartin
Jan 15, 2019

As a child of the early '90s, I grew up with classic PBS children's programming - programming that may look very different from the current PBS Kids programs that are currently airing.  One of my go-to, can't miss programs was Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.  He was my preschool teacher before I attended school and he was my guidance counselor before I knew such a title existed.  While he didn't devote time to ABCs and 123s (that was more Sesame Street's specialty), he introduced the concepts of feelings, emotion, and self-worth, all while showcasing places, people, and events from all around the

Goodbye, Sweet Girl

By Kelly Sundberg
5
Rated by Cheryl M.
Oct 22, 2018

Kelly Sundberg's beautifully written memoir, Goodbye, Sweet Girl: A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival, is about her almost decade-long marriage to her husband Caleb. But it is more than a story of domestic violence and systematic abuse.  It's also about love, leaving, and moving from victim to victor.  Sundberg holds a PhD in Creative Nonfiction and before publishing her memoir worked as an essayist.  Her essay, "It Will Look Like a Sunset," was her first attempt at examining her marriage and telling the world about her abuse. This essay's literary success and Sundberg's desire to tell

Aug 10, 2018

Life is hard enough being a teenager. But when you and your family are secretly illegal immigrants from Iran, things can get even more complicated. Sara's parents fled Iran when she was only two years old, and she didn't learn her undocumented status until her sister tried to apply for an after-school job, but couldn't because she didn't have a social security number. This memoir follows her teenage experiences with her family and at school as well as her progress toward getting her green card. This story follows her constant fear of being deported as well as her wishes of getting a green card

Jane (DVD)

By Brett Morgen
5
Rated by LeeAnn B.
Jun 27, 2018

Jane Goodall is a living legend and one of the women I most admire. Her chimpanzee research during the 1960’s at the Gombe National Park in Tanzania is the subject of this National Geographic documentary. The film features never-before-seen footage from her early years of research. 


This documentary by Brett Morgen captures some of what it must have been like for a young Ms. Goodall to embark as an untrained, female researcher and make astonishing discoveries about chimpanzees living in the wild. She was the first to observe them using tools to search for food. Morgen also touches on Ms

Jun 24, 2018

In her immigrant's memoir told in graphic novel form, Thi Bui explores the saga of her family's escape from Vietnam in the 1970's to the United States.


Her debut opens with the birth of her first child in 2005. Will she be a good mother? How is she different from her mother? What was her mother's experience? How was her mother shaped after losing family, her country? How did her father's childhood shape his fathering abilities? And how has her own experience as a refugee, coming to a country she had to assimilate into that she was culturally so different from, as well as being confronted

Hillbilly Elegy : A Memoir

By J.D. Vance
4
Rated by Amanda C.
May 26, 2018

Hillbilly Elegy is unlike anything I've ever listened to. J.D. Vance grew up in the rust belt of America and was the first from his nuclear family to graduate from college. He speaks about growing up there and tells you extensively about the journey his family (grandparents and mother) made before today. 


He details some gritty stuff like an alcoholic grandfather and an abusive mom. I congratulate Vance for working so hard to create something for himself despite coming from a family that was torn apart by some challenging circumstances and, at the same time, held together by a grandparents'

Love and Trouble

By Claire Dederer
4
Rated by Michelle H.
May 24, 2018

As a raggedy child of the 1970s in the liberal northwest, author Claire Dederer found herself steering life by way of drifting, a method using random hazard and profound reflection as the tools for guidance. In Love and Trouble she writes about her life at middle age and compares it with herself as a young woman with the repeated observation that she is reverting back to the craptastic – her word – girl she was. She had a few vices, and she wants them back.


Her writing is clear and precise, and she’s candid and funny. Most remarkably, she avoids sugar coating age. If you’re looking for a