Biography and Memoir
Renoir's Dancer: The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon by Catherine HewittWhat it's about: A famous muse to Auguste Renoir and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, model Suzanne Valadon was an unconventional painter in her own right. Headstrong, impoverished and with no formal training, Valadon rejected the confines of the male-dominated art world, becoming the first woman painter to have her work accepted into the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.
Reviewers say: "A must for art lovers and scholars, it will also appeal to readers of serious historical biographies" (Library Journal).
The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton with Lara Love HardinWhat it's about: Imprisoned for crimes he didn't commit, Anthony Ray Hinton served 30 years in solitary confinement on Alabama's death row, maintaining his innocence and an unshakable faith in God. With the help of the Equal Justice Initiative, Hinton's case was brought to the Supreme Court and he was released from prison in 2015.
Don't miss: Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of the 2014 bestseller Just Mercy, provides a powerful foreword.
Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times by Joel Richard PaulWhat it is: an absorbing and comprehensive biography of Founding Father John Marshall, chronicling his professional triumphs as a soldier, statesman, and our longest serving Chief Justice.
Why you should read it: Author Joel Richard Paul humanizes Marshall's legacy by detailing Marshall's strained relationships with cousin Thomas Jefferson and a wife who disliked his workaholic ways.
Further reading: Jean Edward Smith's John Marshall: Definer of a Nation.
Educated: A Memoir by Tara WestoverWhat it's about: Raised in a fundamentalist Mormon family who prepped for the "end of days," Tara Westover grew up without an education. Hungering for knowledge, she began educating herself, eventually pursuing an elite academic career at Harvard and Cambridge.
Why you might like it: "With no real comparison memoir" (Library Journal), Educated stands in a class all its own, though fans of The Glass Castle and Hillbilly Elegy should appreciate it.
Read it for: Westover's wrenching, vivid exploration of her family history, rendered in evocative and unsparing prose.
Eat the Apple: A Memoir by Matt YoungWhat it's about: In his bold debut, Matt Young recounts his experiences as a Marine, from his enlistment at age 18 to his three tours in Iraq. At turns darkly humorous and shocking, Eat the Apple frankly reflects Young's transformation from rebellious teen to damaged man.
What's inside: Now a creative writing professor, Young puts his considerable skills to use in fragmenting the narrative: short chapters are punctuated by drawings, conversations between past and present selves, switching points of view, screenplays, and even an apology letter.
In the Water They Can't See You Cry: A Memoir by Amanda BeardWhat it's about: Former Olympian Amanda Beard chronicles her swimming career and her battles with depression, self-harm, and addiction in this triumphant memoir of resilience and renewal.
About the author: Beard is a seven-time Olympic medalist and one of the youngest Olympic medalists in American swimming history, winning three medals at the age of 14.
Reviewers say: This engaging memoir "resonates with readers by addressing real-life issues, not just those facing Olympic athletes" (Library Journal).
Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty CopelandWhat is it: a page-turning and inspirational account of Misty Copeland's rise to ballet stardom, candidly recounting how she overcame bias, self-doubt, and family troubles to become the first African American soloist in the American Ballet Theatre.
Why you should read it: Copeland's prose is as graceful and as self-assured as her dancing.
You might also like: Mallaria Tallchief's self-titled memoir about becoming America's first Native American prima ballerina.
My Fight, Your Fight by Ronda RouseyWhat it is: a fiery and engrossing autobiography in which mixed martial artist champion Ronda Rousey recounts her rocky path to stardom, dispensing advice and encouragement to readers along the way.
Did you know? Rousey was the first American woman to earn an Olympic medal in judo.
Reviewers say: "Rousey is a fierce yet endearing role model -- and a woman possessed" (Kirkus Reviews).
Sum It Up: 1,098 Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective by Pat SummittWhat it's about: In the wake of her Alzheimer's diagnosis, Pat Summitt, the NCAA's winningest basketball coach, reveals her triumphs, both personal (raising a son, a drive instilled in her by her father) and professional (eight national championships, a 100% graduation rate of her players).
Is it for you? Summitt's humorous anecdotes about players and recollections of strategies from key games make this a must-read for any sports fan; readers whose lives have been touched by illness will appreciate Summitt's candor in confronting her disease.
Forward: A Memoir by Abby WambachWhat it is: a heartfelt, conversational chronicle of Abby Wambach's perseverance in the face of gender discrimination, homophobia, and substance abuse to become soccer's highest goal scorer of all time (male or female) and one of its most beloved players.
Why you might like it: Forward is as much about Wambach's relationships off the field as it is about hers on the field, as she grapples with balancing private and public selves.
Book buzz: Sheryl Sandberg, bestselling author of Lean In, calls Forward "the powerful story of an athlete who has inspired girls all over the world to believe in themselves."
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