At turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, Trevor Noah’s candid memoir is a powerful, moving story of his life as a mixed race child growing up during apartheid. Told in vignettes, Born a Crime documents his relationship with his mother, his childhood and teenage antics, and his struggle to fit into a world that considered him a crime (at the time of his birth, interracial relationships were illegal). Perhaps best known as the host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, Noah does infuse humor into his stories, but this is not your typical comedian’s memoir. Listen to the audiobook: the author’s command of multiple languages and skill at impersonations shine in his engaging narration.
Dr. Eben Alexander was close to death for a week. The memories from that week have changed his life and the way he thinks about life after death. In Proof of Heaven, Alexander pulls the reader into his drama and can cause a life changing shift in perspective. Listening to Alexander's own voice recount his experiences made it all the more powerful a message.
Scrappy Little Nobody is everything I wanted out of Anna Kendrick’s first memoir: childhood stories, breaking into show business (on stage and on screen), behind-the-scenes memories, and funny anecdotes and asides. The stories range from unique and humorous—such as the time she and her brother went to NYC as young teens for an audition and her parents faxed over their credit card number to the hotel, promising that their children definitely weren’t unattended minors—to personal, as was the case with remembering her grandmother’s funeral. Kendrick toes the line of “stars: they’re just like us!” presenting scenes from the Oscars, as well as a chapter on why she’ll never call herself a real adult. The author herself reads the audiobook and does so splendidly. This is a perfect read for fans of Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? or Felicia Day’s You’re Never Weird on the Internet.
A lot of things are going well for Shonda Rhimes—she is, after all, Shonda Rhimes, the woman who rules Thursday night, the woman behind shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. She gets invited to award ceremonies, presidential dinners, and talk shows—but as her sister points out one Thanksgiving, she never actually does any of these things. She gets invited and she talks about them, but Shonda never, ever says yes. Her sister’s words sit with her for months until suddenly she wakes up on her birthday and realizes she wants to finally do something. Shonda decides, for one year, she will start saying yes to everything that scares her. Year of Yes is about that journey. It’s partially a memoir of her time in show business, but more than that, Year of Yes is about how saying “yes” changed her life, not just in that she was suddenly making college commencement speeches and losing weight, but also in how she began to think about the world and connect with her family. This short read makes for an excellent self-help book for anyone who has ever felt stuck in their lives and wanted to do more, but was never sure how. It’s encouraging, inspiring, and most of all, fun.
Lucy Knisley’s graphic memoir about growing up with a mom who is a chef and a father who is a food-snob will trigger memories of favorite foods, of cooking successes and failures, and of times spent sharing meals (delicious and not so delicious) lovingly prepared by someone for us. Relish is recommended for those who live to eat!
Although blind from a very young age and without any formal legal training, Chen Guangcheng became known as the “barefoot lawyer” from his persistent assertion of legal rights for ordinary Chinese citizens. Chen was a thorn in the side of local authorities when first he insisted on free public transportation and tax exemptions for the disabled, obtained a grant for a deep water well from British funding, and then opposed what he believed to be excessive enforcement of China’s one child policy. Local Chinese authorities seem to ignore published law when subjected to party pressure, but Chen persisted in favor of those he wants to help. When a rally against the one child policy disrupts traffic and property is damaged, Chen is arrested and sentenced to four years in prison. After his release, he and his family are kept under house arrest from 2010 to 2012 when he makes a daring escape and with the help of friends seeks refuge in the U. S. embassy in Beijing. After some stressful negotiations and a stay in a Beijing hospital, Chen is accepted as a visiting scholar in the U.S where he remains and has written this memoir The Barefoot Lawyer. With the U.S. presidential election on the horizon, will political bloggers take interest in the actions of the U.S. State Department towards Chen?
Proclaimed the Queen of the Geeks, Felicia Day is a well-known internet personality, who has appeared in many television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and is perhaps best known for her role as Penny in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog. In this memoir, Day shares her strange childhood in which she was “home schooled” by way of taking any type of lessons available, reading anything she could get her hands on, and then skipping over a high school diploma in favor of starting college at 16 to pursue dual degrees in math and violin. After moving to L.A. and balancing her acting career with her online gaming addiction, Day eventually combined the two to create The Guild, one of the internet’s first web series. She now runs Geek and Sundry, one of the biggest online networks for gaming culture and independent web series. You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) provides an interesting look at the life and rise to fame of nerd culture icon Felicia Day which provides no shortage of geeky references and funny anecdotes. Day herself reads the audiobook in a casual style that feels both friendly and familiar.
Mindy Kaling is back with the follow-up to her first memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and the second book may be even better than the first. The creator and star of The Mindy Project provides a hilarious look at her life in television, being a woman of color in Hollywood, her attempts at finding love, relationship with BJ Novak, and what it takes to be beautiful. Kaling’s humor is always on point, especially as she reads the audiobook herself, but it does not overshadow the weight of her words or the clever observations made. Why Not Me? is a fun read that will make you laugh out loud and hope for nothing more than for Kaling to become your best friend.
This true life adventure is almost too over the top to be believed. The movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio pales in comparison to the book. At a very young age, Frank Abagnale set out on a life of crime that took him all over the world as he impersonated a Pan Am pilot, masqueraded as a supervising resident of a hospital, and practiced law without a license. He cashed over $2.5 million in forged checks and was known by the police of 26 foreign countries and all fifty states as "The Skywayman." His descriptions of narrowly escaping capture will make your jaw drop. When he is ultimately captured, he pays a heavy price. Catch Me If You Can is an exciting real story which will keep you on the edge of your seat.