Biography and Memoir
Places and Names: Reflections on War, Revolution, and Returning by Elliot AckermanWhat it is: a reflective memoir in essays detailing former marine Elliot Ackerman's five tours of duty in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Don't miss: Ackerman's unlikely friendship with a former jihadi.
About the author: A National Book Award finalist for the novel Dark at the Crossing, Ackerman has also earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart for his military service.
Formation: A Woman's Memoir of Stepping Out of Line by Ryan Leigh DostieWhat it is: a sobering account of army linguist Ryan Leigh Dostie's rape by a fellow soldier, and the isolation and PTSD she endured after her superior officers mishandled the case.
Why it matters: With more than 25% of women in the military reporting sexual assault (and with numbers on the rise), Dostie's resonant memoir illuminates the systemic bias and injustice women continue to face in the male-dominated military.
Definitely Hispanic: Growing Up Latino and Celebrating What Unites Us by LeJuan JamesWhat it's about: YouTuber LeJuan James' upbringing in Puerto Rico and the United States, and the culture clashes he navigated as the U.S.-born son of Puerto Rican and Dominican parents.
Read it for: an introspective guide to embracing one's identity.
Is it for you? James' broad sense of humor may not be for everyone, though fans of his videos will appreciate his candid musings.
Grinnell: America's Environmental Pioneer and His Restless Drive to Save the West by John TaliaferroWhat it is: an absorbing biography of conservationist George Bird Grinnell (1849-1938).
Notable accomplishments: Grinnell formed the Audubon Society, spearheaded efforts to establish national parks, lobbied for Native American rights, and saved Yosemite and Yellowstone from developers.
Why you might like it: John Taliaferro draws on Grinnell's correspondence and diaries to present an engaging portrait of an advocate who fought tirelessly to preserve America's natural beauty.
More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) by Elaine Welteroth; foreword by Ava DuVernayWhat it's about: Former Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Elaine Welteroth's breakthrough in the predominantly white worlds of fashion and media, and the setbacks she endured on her path to success.
Did you know? Welteroth is the youngest person and the 2nd African American to be named editor-in-chief in magazine publisher Condé Nast's 110-year history.
Reviewers say: "The millennial Becoming...inspiring and empowering" (Entertainment Weekly).
How to Write An Autobiographical Novel: Essays by Alexander CheeWhat it's about: how novelist Alexander Chee's identities as a gay man, a Korean American, and an activist inform his life and writing career.
What sets it apart: Boasting numerous awards and accolades, Chee's unconventional yet immersive narrative is as wide-ranging as it is intimate.
For fans of: reflective writing memoirs like Where the Past Begins by Amy Tan and The Writing Life by Annie Dillard (a mentor of Chee's).
Mothers of Sparta: A Memoir in Pieces by Dawn DaviesWhat it is: a humorous, moving, and non-linear glimpse into essayist Dawn Davies' life that touches on topics like her troubled childhood, parenting three children, postpartum depression, and divorce.
Don't miss: the title essay, which explores Davies' complicated feelings about parenting a son with autism.
Reviewers say: "Readers will laugh and cry, probably at the same time" (Booklist).
Essays After Eighty by Donald HallWhat it is: a witty and reflective collection from America's 14th Poet Laureate and National Medal of Arts recipient Donald Hall.
Essays include: "Garlic with Everything," a passionate ode to Hall's favorite food; "Rejection and Resurrection," which tackles professional ambition and legacy.
Further reading: Hall's posthumous follow-up, Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety, was published only two weeks after his death.
Maeve in America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else by Maeve HigginsStarring: Maeve Higgins, an Irish comedian and podcaster living in New York.
What it is: a collection of funny yet thoughtful essays about Higgins' time in the United States that discusses everything from the Irish immigrant experience in America to renting expensive clothing for formal affairs.
Don't miss: "Pen as Gun," describing a comedy workshop in Iraq.
A Field Guide to Awkward Silences by Alexandra PetriWhat it's about: 20-something Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri's comic misadventures in young adulthood, including a disastrous speed-dating event at a Star Wars convention and a failed audition for America's Next Top Model.
Why you might like it: Petri's breezy witticisms will make you feel like you're chatting with your best friend.
Want a taste? "I could hold a tune, but only the way you hold a stranger's cat: not closely and not long."
Contact your librarian for more great books!
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