Naked At The Feast: A Biography of Josephine Baker
by Lynn Haney
While known primarily as a vaudevillian and muse to the likes of Pablo Picasso, the fabulous Josephine Baker also stood up for Civil Rights and La Resistance and smashed glass ceilings for women of African descent in Europe and America.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
by Harriet Jacobs
The true story of an individual’s struggle for self-identity, self-preservation, and freedom, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl remains among the few extant slave narratives written by a woman. This autobiographical account chronicles the remarkable odyssey of Harriet Jacobs (1813–1897) whose dauntless spirit and faith carried her from a life of servitude and degradation in North Carolina to liberty and reunion with her children in the North.
by Saint Augustine
Augustine undertook his greatest piece of writing with the conviction that God wanted him to make this confession. The book in fact is an extended poetic, passionate and intimate prayer. The Confessions is considered to be the greatest Christian classic. Augustine’s notorious life before his baptism raised questions about the genuineness of his conversion. It is his honest struggle with the faith which has given The Confessions such timeless appeal over the last sixteen centuries. “Augustine’s Confessions has been much translated: but it is no exaggeration to say that Sister Maria Boulding’s version is of different level of excellence from practically anything else on the market.” (Rowan Williams – Archbishop of Canterbury)
Empire of the Summer Moon
by S.C. Gwynne
Empire of the Summer Moon spans two astonishing stories. The first traces the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history. The second entails one of the most remarkable narratives ever to come out of the Old West: the epic saga of the pioneer woman Cynthia Ann Parker and her mixed-blood son, Quanah, who became the last and greatest chief of the Comanches.
Cod: A Biography Of The Fish That Changed The World
by Mark Kurlansky
I know what you’re thinking: it’s a fish. Big deal. But, this biography shows how the most humble of creatures can affect civilization. Cod, it turns out, is the reason Europeans set sail across the Atlantic, and it is the only reason they could. What did the Vikings eat in icy Greenland and on the five expeditions to America recorded in the Icelandic sagas? Cod, frozen and dried in the frosty air, then broken into pieces and eaten like hardtack. What was the staple of the medieval diet? Cod. In this lovely, thoughtful history, Mark Kurlansky, winner of a 1999 James Beard Award, ponders the question: Is the fish that changed the world forever changed by the world’s folly?
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
by Jeanette Winterson
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is a memoir about a life’s work to find happiness. It is a book full of stories: about a girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night; about a religious zealot disguised as a mother who has two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the dresser, waiting for Armageddon; about growing up in a north England industrial town now changed beyond recognition; about the universe as a cosmic dustbin. It is the story of how a painful past, which Winterson thought she had written over and repainted, rose to haunt her later in life, sending her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her biological mother. It is also a book about other people’s literature, one that shows how fiction and poetry can form a string of guiding lights, a life raft that supports us when we are sinking.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
by Haruki Murakami
While training for the New York City Marathon, Haruki Murakami decided to keep a journal of his progress. The result is a memoir about his intertwined obsessions with running and writing, full of vivid recollections and insights, including the eureka moment when he decided to become a writer. By turns funny and sobering, playful and philosophical, here is a rich and revelatory work that elevates the human need for motion to an art form.
Barbara Jordan: American Hero
by Mary Beth Rogers
Barbara Jordan was the first African American to serve in the Texas Senate since Reconstruction, the first black woman elected to Congress from the South, and the first to deliver the keynote address at a national party convention. Yet Jordan herself remained a mystery, a woman so private that even her close friends did not know the name of the illness that debilitated her for two decades until it struck her down at the age of fifty-nine.
by Margot Lee Shetterly
Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff.
The Life You Save May Be Your Own
by Paul Elie
In the mid-twentieth century four American Catholics came to believe that the best way to explore the questions of religious faith was to write about them-in works that readers of all kinds could admire. The Life You Save May Be Your Own is their story-a vivid and enthralling account of great writers and their power over us. Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk in Kentucky; Dorothy Day the founder of the Catholic Worker in New York; Flannery O’Connor a “Christ-haunted” literary prodigy in Georgia; Walker Percy a doctor in New Orleans who quit medicine to write fiction and philosophy. A friend came up with a name for them-the School of the Holy Ghost-and for three decades they exchanged letters, ardently read one another’s books, and grappled with what one of them called a “predicament shared in common.”
The Wives of Henry VIII
by Antonia Fraser
You may know the old rhyme: “Divorce. Beheaded. Died. Divorced. Beheaded. Survived. But there is far more to the story of Henry VIII’s six wives. From Catherine of Aragon, the scholar-queen who steadfastly refused to grant a divorce to her royal husband; to Anne Boleyn, absolved of everything but a sharp tongue and an inability to produce a male heir; to Catherine Parr, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, and the youthful naivete that led to Katherine Howard’s fatal indiscretions.
And when theater comes back, be sure to catch the hip-hop story of the wives of Henry VIII in, “Six.”
A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea
by Melissa Fleming
Adrift in a frigid sea, no land in sight―just debris from the ship’s wreckage and floating corpses all around―nineteen-year-old Doaa Al Zamel floats with a small inflatable water ring around her waist and clutches two children, barely toddlers, to her body. The children had been thrust into Doaa’s arms by their drowning relatives, all refugees who boarded a dangerously overcrowded ship bound for Sweden and a new life. For days, Doaa floats, prays, and sings to the babies in her arms. She must stay alive for these children. She must not lose hope.
by W.E.B. DuBois
A moving cultural biography of abolitionist martyr John Brown, by one of the most important African-American intellectuals of the twentieth century. In the history of slavery and its legacy, John Brown looms large as a hero whose deeds partly precipitated the Civil War. As Frederick Douglass wrote: “When John Brown stretched forth his arm … the clash of arms was at hand.” DuBois’s biography brings Brown stirringly to life and is a neglected classic.
Invisible: The Forgotten Story of The Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Gangster
by Stephen L. Carter
She was black and a woman and a prosecutor, a graduate of Smith College and the granddaughter of slaves, as dazzlingly unlikely a combination as one could imagine in New York of the 1930s―and without the strategy she devised, Lucky Luciano, the most powerful Mafia boss in history, would never have been convicted. When special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey selected twenty lawyers to help him clean up the city’s underworld, she was the only member of his team who was not a white male.
The Lost City of Z
by David Grann
In 1925, the legendary British explorer Percy Fawcett ventured into the Amazon jungle, in search of a fabled civilization. He never returned. Over the years countless perished trying to find evidence of his party and the place he called “The Lost City of Z.” In this masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, journalist David Grann interweaves the spellbinding stories of Fawcett’s quest for “Z” and his own journey into the deadly jungle, as he unravels the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century.
by Sonia Nazario
Enrique’s Journey recounts the unforgettable quest of a Honduran boy looking for his mother, eleven years after she is forced to leave her starving family to find work in the United States. Braving unimaginable peril, often clinging to the sides and tops of freight trains, Enrique travels through hostile worlds full of thugs, bandits, and corrupt cops. But he pushes forward, relying on his wit, courage, hope, and the kindness of strangers.
Wrapped In Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neal Hurston
by Valerie Boyd
A woman of enormous talent and remarkable drive, Zora Neale Hurston published seven books, many short stories, and several articles and plays over a career that spanned more than thirty years. Today, nearly every black woman writer of significance—including Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker—acknowledges Hurston as a literary foremother, and her 1937 masterpiece Their Eyes Were Watching God has become a crucial part of the modern literary canon.
The Stranger In The Woods
by Michael Finkel
Think a few weeks of social distancing takes its toll? Check out this story of a man who became a hermit and didn’t speak to another human…for decades! Many people dream of escaping modern life. Most will never act on it—but in 1986, twenty-year-old Christopher Knight did just that when he left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the woods. He would not have a conversation with another person for the next twenty-seven years.
Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo:
by Zora Neal Hurston
In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation’s history. Hurston was there to record Cudjo’s firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States. Based on those interviews, Barracoon masterfully illustrates the tragedy of slavery and of one life forever defined by it.
Empire State Of Mind
by Zack O’Malley Greenburg
Forbes senior editor Zack O’Malley Greenburg reveals the story of Jay Z’s legendary rise from the Marcy Projects of Brooklyn to stages and corner offices worldwide. He draws on over 100 interviews with those who knew Jay Z from the beginning: his classmates at George Westinghouse High School; the childhood friend who got him into the drug trade; and the DJ who convinced him to stop dealing and focus on the music. Also bearing witness are the artists who worked alongside him, including J. Cole and Alicia Keys.
Where Men Win Glory
by Jon Krakauer
Pat Tillman walked away from a multimillion-dollar NFL contract to join the Army and became an icon of post-9/11 patriotism. When he was killed in Afghanistan two years later, a legend was born. But the real Pat Tillman was much more remarkable, and considerably more complicated than the public knew.
Washington: A Life
by Ron Chernow
Celebrated biographer Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of our nation and the first president of the United States. With a breadth and depth matched by no other one volume biography of George Washington, this crisply paced narrative carries the reader through his adventurous early years, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention, and his magnificent performance as America’s first president. In this groundbreaking work, based on massive research, Chernow shatters forever the stereotype of George Washington as a stolid, unemotional figure and brings to vivid life a dashing, passionate man of fiery opinions and many moods.
The Boys in the Boat
by Daniel James Brown
It was an unlikely quest from the start. With a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler. The emotional heart of the tale lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but also to find a real place for himself in the world.
by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty
“Not only is there more to life than basketball, there’s a lot more to basketball than basketball.” –Phil Jackson. In his thought-provoking memoir, the Chicago Bulls’ and L.A. Lakers’ coach reveals how he directs his players to act with a clear mind–not thinking, just doing; to respect the enemy and be aggressive without anger or violence; to live in the moment and stay calmly focused in the midst of chaos; to put the “me” in service of the “we”–all lessons applicable to any person’s life, not just a professional basketball player’s.
by Alfred Lansing
In August 1914, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton boarded the Endurance and set sail for Antarctica, where he planned to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. In January 1915, after battling its way through a thousand miles of pack ice and only a day’s sail short of its destination, the Endurance became locked in an island of ice.
By Jim Bouton
When Ball Four was published in 1970, it created a firestorm. Bouton, a major league pitcher who told the truth about what it was like to be a professional pitcher was called a Judas, a Benedict Arnold, and a “social leper” for having violated the “sanctity of the clubhouse.” Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn tried to force Bouton to sign a statement saying the book wasn’t true. Ballplayers, most of whom hadn’t read it, denounced the book. It was even banned by a few libraries. And it’s one of the best baseball books ever written.
Catcher in the Wry
by Bob Uecker
No, not the book you’re thinking of. This is the story of a barely-staying-on-the-roster big-league-back-up catcher who tells the what it’s like to be the 25th most popular person on a baseball team. One of the funniest sports nooks you’ll ever read. And an inspiration, considering he spent six years in the majors and decades as an announcer while barely (literally) even hitting his weight.
by Kathryn Stockett
Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who’s always taken orders quietly, but lately she’s unable to hold her bitterness back. Her friend Minny has never held her tongue but now must somehow keep secrets about her employer that leave her speechless. White socialite Skeeter just graduated college. She’s full of ambition, but without a husband, she’s considered a failure.
Together, these seemingly different women join together to write a tell-all book about work as a black maid in the South, that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town…
by Francisco Jiménez
At the age of fourteen, Francisco Jiménez, together with his older brother Roberto and his mother, are caught by la migra. Forced to leave their home in California, the entire family travels all night for twenty hours by bus, arriving at the U.S. and Mexican border in Nogales, Arizona. In the months and years that follow during the late 1950s-early 1960s, Francisco, his mother and father, and his seven brothers and sister not only struggle to keep their family together, but also face crushing poverty, long hours of labor, and blatant prejudice.
The House of Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros
Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.
The Last Lecture
by Randy Pausch
When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give a lecture on legacy, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave, ‘Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams’, wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because time is all you have and you may find one day that you have less than you think). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
by Christopher McDougall
Isolated by Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons, the blissful Tarahumara Indians have honed the ability to run hundreds of miles without rest or injury. In a riveting narrative, award-winning journalist and often-injured runner Christopher McDougall sets out to discover their secrets. In the process, he takes his readers from science labs at Harvard to the sunbaked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultra-runners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to a climactic race in the Copper Canyons that pits America’s best ultra-runners against the tribe.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
by Maya Angelou
Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.
The Snowball: Warren Buffet and the Business of Life
by Alice Schroeder
This is a personally revealing and complete biography of the man known everywhere as “The Oracle of Omaha.” Warren Buffett is one of the most respected businesspeople of our time, but his life has been a mix of strengths and frailties. As revealed in this book, Buffett’s legacy will not be his ranking on the scorecard of wealth — it will be his principles and ideas.
I Love Capitalism
by Ken Langone
The life of Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone is a perfect portrayal of the American Dream. He recounts how a poor boy from Long Island became one of the most successful businessmen in America. In this memoir, Langone walks readers through how he struggled to get an education, broke into Wall Street, and scrambled for an MBA.
by Walter Isaacson
Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and incredibly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.
by Ed Catmull
As a young man, Ed Catmull had a dream: to make the first computer-animated movie. He nurtured that dream as a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah, where many computer science pioneers got their start, and then forged a partnership with George Lucas that led, indirectly, to his co-founding Pixar in 1986. Nine years later, Toy Story was released, changing animation forever. The essential ingredient in that movie’s success—and in the thirteen movies that followed—was the unique environment that Catmull and his colleagues built at Pixar, based on leadership and management philosophies that protect the creative process and defy convention
by Tina Fey
From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon this is the often hysterical story of one of America’s favorite TV comedians.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life
by Jane Sherron de Hart
This book covers it all, from Ruth’s days as a baton twirler at Brooklyn’s James Madison High School, to Cornell University, Harvard and Columbia Law Schools (first in her class), to being a law professor at Rutgers University (one of the few women in the field and fighting pay discrimination), hiding her second pregnancy so as not to risk losing her job; founding the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, writing the brief for the first case that persuaded the Supreme Court to strike down a sex-discriminatory state law, then at Columbia (the law school’s first tenured female professor); becoming the director of the women’s rights project of the ACLU, persuading the Supreme Court in a series of decisions to ban laws that denied women full citizenship status with men.
A Well-Read Woman
by Kate Stewart
Growing up under Fascist censorship in Nazi Germany, Ruth Rappaport absorbed a forbidden community of ideas in banned books. After fleeing her home in Leipzig at fifteen and losing both parents to the Holocaust, Ruth drifted between vocations, relationships, and countries, searching for belonging and purpose. When she found her calling in librarianship, Ruth became not only a witness to history but an agent for change as well.
Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Ghandi
by Katherine Frank
Indira Gandhi’s life, from her birth in 1917, through partition and up to her assassination in 1984, was dominated by the politics of her country. Always directly involved in India’s turbulent 20th-century history, once she accepted the mantle of power, she became one of the world’s most powerful and significant women. This biography focuses on Gandhi’s role as a female leader of men in one of the most chauvinistic, complex and politicized cultures in the world.
Autobiography of a Yogi
by Paramahansa Yogananda
In this book, Yogananda offers a stunning account of the ‘cosmic consciousness’ reached on the upper levels of yogic practice, and numerous interesting perspectives on human nature from the yogic and Vedantic points of view.
The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers
by Maxwell King
Based on original interviews, oral histories, and archival documents, The Good Neighbor traces Rogers’s personal, professional, and artistic life through decades of work. It includes his surprising decision to walk away from the show in 1976 to make television for adults, only to return to the neighborhood to help children face complex issues such as divorce, discipline, mistakes, anger, and competition. The Good Neighbor is the definitive portrait of a beloved figure.
The Story of my Life
by Helen Keller
Helen Keller’s triumph over blindness and deafness has inspired people for more than a century. And while this book was first published in 1903, it is still a monument to the human spirit. This autobiography details Helen’s early life, especially her experiences with Anne Sullivan.
Whiskey in a Teacup: What Growing Up In the South Taught Me About Life, Love, and Baking Biscuits
by Reese Witherspoon
Reese’s southern heritage informs her whole life, and she loves sharing the joys of southern living with practically everyone she meets. It’s reflected in how she entertains, decorates her home, and makes holidays special for her kids—not to mention how she talks, dances, and does her hair. Reese loves sharing her grandmother Dorothea’s most delicious recipes as well as her favorite southern traditions, from midnight barn parties to backyard bridal showers, magical Christmas mornings to rollicking honky-tonks.
Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business
by Barbara Corcoran
After failing at twenty-two jobs, Barbara Corcoran borrowed $1,000 from a boyfriend, quit her job as a diner waitress, and started a tiny real estate office in New York City. Using the unconventional lessons she learned from her homemaker mom, she gradually built it into a $6 billion dollar business. Now Barbara’s even more famous for the no-nonsense wisdom she offers to entrepreneurs on Shark Tank, ABC’s hit reality TV show.