Biography and Memoir
Black is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother's Time, My Mother's Time, and... by Emily BernardWhat it is: a lyrical memoir in essays that examines author Emily Bernard's relationship to her blackness and her Southern heritage.
Topics include: Bernard's interracial marriage and adoption of twin girls from Ethiopia; her grandmother's Jim Crow-era Mississippi childhood.
Want a taste? "I am black -- and brown, too. Brown is the body I was born into. Black is the body of the stories I tell."
Shortest Way Home: One Mayor's Challenge and a Model for America's Future by Pete ButtigiegWhat it's about: the inspiring political rise of two-term South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, a former Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Navy veteran who recently announced his 2020 presidential bid.
Did you know? Buttigieg is the first openly gay Democratic candidate to run for president.
Try this next: For another engaging memoir by a young Democratic politician and Afghanistan veteran, try Jason Kander's Outside the Wire: Ten Lessons I've Learned in Everyday Courage.
The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother's Life in the Detroit Numbers by Bridgett M. DavisWhat it's about: the Detroit Numbers, an underground lottery popular in African American neighborhoods throughout the 1960s and '70s.
Starring: Numbers bookie Fannie Davis, who parlayed her wits and talents into a successful 34-year business to support her family and community.
Author alert: Baruch College journalism professor and novelist Bridgett M. Davis (Into the Go-Slow) penned this heartfelt tribute to her mother.
Joy Enough by Sarah McCollWhat it's about: the year Sarah McColl spent grappling with her mother's impending death from cancer and the dissolution of her own marriage.
For fans of: candid memoirs of loss, such as Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking and C.S. Lewis' A Grief Observed.
Why you might like it: Despite its difficult subject matter, Pushcart Prize nominee McColl's introspective debut is ultimately hopeful.
Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison --Solitary Confinement, A Sham Trial... by Jason RezaianWhat it is: a powerful, briskly paced memoir chronicling Iranian American journalist Jason Rezaian's 18-month imprisonment in Tehran.
What happened: Arrested on trumped-up espionage charges, Rezaian's release was used as a bargaining chip in Iran's nuclear deal negotiations with the Obama administration.
Read it for: frank discussions concerning U.S.-Iran relations and Rezaian's complicated relationship with his family's homeland.
Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf by Helene CooperWho it's about: Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the 24th Liberian President and Africa's first female elected head of state.
Topics include: Sirleaf's exile following her failed presidential run during the First Liberian Civil War; her handling of the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
Is it for you? Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Helene Cooper's mostly flattering biography spares her subject from in-depth criticisms.
Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme... by Linda HirshmanWhat it is: an engaging and evenhanded dual biography of the first two female Justices of the United States Supreme Court.
Read it for: the revealing glimpses of how the pair's disparate approaches to law impacted a number of women's rights issues, including workplace sexual harassment and reproductive rights.
Further reading: First: Sandra Day O'Connor by Evan Thomas; Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life by Jane Sherron De Hart.
Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America's First Female Rocket... by George D. MorganWho it's about: Mary Sherman Morgan, the first (and only) woman employed as a rocket scientist at North American Aviation, where she worked alongside 900 male colleagues during the Space Race era.
Claim to fame: Morgan invented hydyne, the fuel used to launch the Explorer 1 satellite in 1958.
Author alert: George D. Morgan is Mary Sherman Morgan's son; he wrote a 2008 play (also named Rocket Girl) about her.
Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press by James McGrath MorrisWho it's about: pioneering journalist and activist Ethel Payne, who covered the civil rights movement for the Chicago Defender.
Notable achievements: Payne was the first African American Vietnam correspondent, the first African American reporter invited to China, and the first female African American radio/tv commentator to work for CBS.
Did you know? Payne was a witness to the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; President Johnson gifted her the pen used to sign the law.
The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville by Clare MulleyWhat it is: the previously untold story of Polish-born Christine Granville, the first woman to serve as a British intelligence officer during WWII.
Don't miss: Granville's heroic (and suspenseful) feats, which included skiing the Carpathian Mountains to deliver intel, parachuting into occupied France to aid the Resistance, and bribing the Gestapo to release three of her compatriots scheduled for execution.
For fans of: Ian Fleming's James Bond novels; Granville is rumored to be the inspiration for the first Bond Girl, Casino Royale's Vesper Lynd.
Contact your librarian for more great books!