Spirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon through North America's Stolen Land by Noé ÁlvarezWhat it is: a lyrical debut memoir by the son of Mexican immigrants that chronicles his working-class Washington State upbringing and his 2004 participation in the four-month, 6,000-mile Indigenous people's Peace and Dignity Journey, a relay-style run from Canada to South America.
What's inside: dangers (a mountain lion, unfriendly motorists, injuries); tensions between the runners; gatherings with Native American/First Nation groups; thoughtful musings about running and place.
Young Heroes of the Soviet Union: A Memoir and a Reckoning by Alex HalberstadtWhat it's about: Raised in New York City from the age of nine by his divorced Russian Jewish mother and her parents, journalist Alex Halberstadt returned to his Russian birthplace in his mid-thirties. In Moscow, he visited the father he'd rarely seen and dug into his family's past, and in Ukraine, he met for the first time his 93-year-old grandfather, who'd been one of Stalin's bodyguards.
What sets it apart: thoughts about identity and the inheritance of trauma; a compelling, keen-eyed combination of travelogue, memoir, Soviet history, and journalism.
American Harvest: God, Country, and Farming in the Heartland by Marie Mutsuki MockettWhat it's about: After inheriting her Nebraska-born father’s 7,000-acre family wheat farm, the nonreligious Japanese American author spent a season accompanying the itinerant group of Christian wheat harvesters from Pennsylvania who'd reaped her family's fields for years. As they worked and made their way from Texas to Idaho, she pondered faith, farming, food, and family.
Why you might like it: Offering a poetic, evocative look at the heartland, it provides a kindhearted, thoughtful look at divisions, from science and faith to rural and urban and more.
Notes from an Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back by Mark O'ConnellWhat happened: Feeling the tension between the hope of fatherhood and anxiety about climate change, Irish author Mark O'Connell traveled the globe seeking answers on how to come to grips with the future.
Places visited: New Zealand, where some billionaires plan to retreat to in the event of a global collapse; survival bunkers in South Dakota; a Mars colonization conference in Los Angeles; a Scottish Highlands wilderness retreat; the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
Reviewers say: "smart, funny, irreverent, and philosophically rich" (Wall Street Journal).
Road Trips with Relatives
Driving Miss Norma: An Inspirational Story About What Really Matters at the End of Life by Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie LiddleStarring: charming nonagenarian Norma; her retired son, Tim; his personable wife, Ramie; and their standard poodle, Ringo.
What happened: After receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis the same week her husband died, Norma decided to forgo a nursing home and invasive chemotherapy to embark on a lively tour of the country with Tim, Ramie, and Ringo in their Airstream RV.
Adventures include: hot air balloon rides, NBA courtside seats, a fêted appearance at the Boston St. Patrick's Day parade, and more.
Love that Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me about... by Ron FournierWhat it is: a candid, thoughtful memoir recounting a former White House correspondent's father-son road trips with his history-obsessed 13-year-old, who'd recently been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.
Locations include: the White House; Teddy Roosevelt's former home of Sagamore Hill; Monticello; several presidential libraries.
What sets it apart: research and interviews about parental expectations in general; Fournier's own hard-won parenting insights; long visits with former presidents (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush) and a White House party with Barack and Michelle Obama.
Once More to the Rodeo: A Memoir by Calvin HennickWhat it's about: White journalist Calvin Hennick and his five-year-old biracial son Nile left the rest of their small family and their suburban Boston home to spend ten days on the road. They drove to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Niagara Falls, Chicago, and more as they made their way to Hennick's Iowa hometown and its annual rodeo.
What's inside: This honest, heartfelt, and funny memoir offers thoughtful looks at Hennick's fatherless childhood, his alcohol addiction, fatherhood, masculinity, identity, and racism.
Award Buzz: This acclaimed debut won Pushcart's 2019 Editor's Book Award.
Don't Make Me Pull Over! An Informal History of the Family Road Trip by Richard RatayWhat it is: a funny, nostalgic, and informative history of family road trips in the U.S. set against the backdrop of the author's time in the backseat of the family car in the 1970s.
What's inside: seat belt-free riding, Fuzzbusters, CB radios, and sibling squabbles as well as details on the beginnings of the interstate highway system, Howard Johnson's, Stuckey's, Holiday Inn, Disneyland, quirky roadside attractions, and more.
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