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March: The Complete Series

From the first page of these compelling graphic memoirs, you'll be hooked. Congressman John Lewis shares his life story, from growing up on a farm in Alabama to the infamous march in Selma on Bloody Sunday. His personal journey provides an inside look at the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. With familiar faces (Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X) and lesser known figures who made incredible contributions, Lewis presents a gripping history lesson.

The black and white artwork by award winning artist Nate Powell enhances the words and emotions of Lewis' story and the nonviolent resistance movement. The words and the art complement each other immensely.There is so much to discuss—it makes a great book club pick.

Read March: Book One (2013), March: Book Two (2015), and March: Book Three (2016). Check out the graphic memoirs immediately from Hoopla. For more titles on timely issues, check out our lists: Antiracism for Adults, Social Justic & Systemic Racism, and Black Voices: Memoirs, Essays, & Poetry.

We’re Going to Need More Wine

Actress Gabrielle Union shares her truth in an honest, frank, and funny way. Some stories will unexpectedly cause you to burst out laughing, while others will bring you to tears. Topics run the gamut of filming and Hollywood life (from a nostalgic look at 10 Things I Hate About You to the frustration of not having a hairstylist on set who had done Black hair), racism and colorism, family and friends, love and trauma. Her essay on raising Black boys is especially poignant.

We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True (2017) is candid, relevant, and engaging. Give this book a listen—Union narrates her story. Both the audiobook and ebook are available on Hoopla today.

We've got two lists of books that may be of interest if you enjoy this book: Celebrity Memoirs Read by the Author and Black Voices: Memoirs, Essays, & Poetry.



You Can't Touch My Hair

Half of the podcast (and show)Two Dope Queens (her partner Jessica Williams provides the foreword), comedian Phoebe Robinson's infectious personality is on display in her debut collection of essays. She shares personal and professional experiences in a humorous and moving way in You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain (2016).

I highly recommend listening to Robinson narrate the audiobook (available via Overdrive) to hear her take on being a Black woman in America, racism and sexism in the workplace, and current and classic pop culture topics. It's funny and engaging social commentary. If you prefer to read the memoir, that's on Overdrive too.

We've got a list of Black Voices: Memoirs, Essays, & Poetry. Check it out.



Toil & Trouble

In his latest memoir, Augusten Burroughs, once again, delivers a story filled with laughter, heartache, and yes...magic. In this story of moving from the big city to the country, he reveals that he is a witch. Yes, a witch! Yes, I was a bit thrown over this revelation, but through his candid telling of his own life, I grew to appreciate him even more.

As always, he includes a fantastic cast of characters you really can connect to. If you are a fan of his work, you will not be disappointed. In Toil & Trouble (2019), he reveals much more of himself to his fans than just being a witch.

Visit Overdrive to read the ebook or listen to the audiobook.

The Rural Diaries

Hilarie Burton Morgan's book The Rural Diaries (2020) is like catching up with an old friend over coffee.
I have been a fan since she played Peyton Sawyer on One Tree Hill. I didn't follow her personal life much until a year ago when I started following the cast on Instagram. Hilarie seemed well-grounded and normal. I wondered if it was an act for Instagram or if this was actually her.

After reading her book, I'm pleased to say, it's all her. She's so normal. It's refreshing. Her words are real and authentic. She uses bad four-letter words occasionally. Her stories are heartwarming and relatable. She shares tips for gardening, recipes, and home improvement. And speaking of home improvement, she loves Home Depota girl after my own heart. She talks about being a friend, a mother, a wife, and a woman.

She is married to actor, Jeffery Dean Morgan, who I had a mad crush on when he played Denny Duquette on Grey's Anatomy. And, she co-owns a candy store in a small New York town with actor, Paul Rudd. How did this all happen? I don't want to spoil it for you. Read the book. It's just another one of the heartwarming stories that she tells. Trust me; you'll enjoy it.

I'm so glad I listened to Hilarie narrate the book. I think hearing her words, spoken by her, made her stories more enjoyable. Like I said, catching up with an old friend over coffee.

If you're a fan of Hilarie, read (I mean, listen to) the book. Even if you're not a fan, it's a truly enjoyable memoir that in a nutshell, is about a girl, her life, and a farm. Check out The Rural Diaries: Love, Livestock, and Big Life Lessons Down on Mischief Farm today. Visit Overdrive to listen to the audiobook or read the ebook.



Hey Kiddo

This memoir is a moving, sad, but also hopeful story of a family affected by loss and addiction. Hey Kiddo: How I Lost my Mother, Found my Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction (2018) tells a story of how families can come in all shapes and sizes, messy and ugly, but also loving and forgiving. Throughout, Jarrett J. Krosoczka found hope and a sense of love and support. Others will feel less alone in their own struggles.
The audiobook is amazing! Using music and sound effects, this very personal audiobook is narrated by the author with family members and friends voicing the rest of the characters. In the author's notes, he gives us more insight into his family and childhood. Listen to the audiobook on Hoopla today.

The author uses mixed media art with actual letters included in with his drawings. The burnt orange undertones and pineapple wallpaper are a beautiful part of the story as the author explains in notes on his art.This powerful and unforgettable graphic novel is heartbreaking yet uplifting.

Hey Kiddo is a memoir not to be missed. Read the ebook on Overdrive.

Hey Kiddo is a National Book Award Finalist, a 2021 Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (Abe), and a Top Ten Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults.

This Is Me

Chrissy Metz writes in a relatable way. This Is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today (2018) is an inspiring and heartwarming read. Through her story, you learn that you can change and achieve what you desire in life, simply by being your best self.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the woman behind the character Kate on This Is Us. It was heartbreaking to read of her abuse and uplifting how she treated those who bullied her.

Chrissy Metz writes in a way that makes you feel like you're sitting and talking with a good friend. She does a wonderful job of inspiring others to be themselves.

Read the ebook or listen to the audiobook on Overdrive today.



Me

I really enjoyed reading the book Me by Elton John (2019). It was incredibly interesting learning about his entire life, from his humble beginnings to his extravagant rock star life. There are many twists and turns along his life's journey. He describes in detail the many places and people he encountered along the way.

Elton writes about how and why certain songs were written and the meaning behind many of them. He recalls the many famous friends he had from rock stars to royalty, to average people that he met along the way. The stories he lived are unbelievable and are a joy to learn about. I found this to be very inspirational in finding love and a purpose in life.

Check out the autobiography on Overdrive—you can read or listen to the memoir today.



Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns)

Mindy Kaling (star of The Mindy Project and numerous other TV and film credits) gives us a hilarious inside look at her life. Kaling not only shares stories of what it is like being a strong woman in Hollywood, she also dishes on her childhood, including what it was like for her growing up with immigrant parents. She also invites us to take an in-depth look at her personal life, which includes dating anecdotes, buying her first house, and admirable and envious work ethic.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns) (2011) is a well written, laugh out loud book that moves with seamless transitions and is the perfect way to bring your spirits up. Borrow it today from Overdrive—read or listen.

Also check out our list of Celebrity Memoirs Read by the Author for inside peeks into the lives of other stars.



Where Am I Now?

Did you enjoy Matilda, Mrs. Doubtfire, or the remake of Miracle on 34th Street? These 90s films feature a delightful performance by the adorable Mara Wilson. She's all grown up now, and has written an engaging series of essays. In Where Am I Now?True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame (2016), Wilson covers her childhood in the spotlight (both good and bad), her struggles with OCD and depression, and coming of age as an aspiring storyteller in New York City.

Don't let the childhood stardom fool you. Wilson pursued the creative arts (both performing and writing) in high school and in college at NYU. She is a gifted writer and experienced storyteller, and those talents shine throughout her memoir. It is full of heart, featuring both heartbreaking and humorous stories.

Listen to her memoir via Overdrive. Watch a video with Mara on mental health for Project UROK. 



The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton (2018)

An unforgettable, haunting, and especially inspirational memoir by Anthony "Ray" Hinton, an innocent man who spent almost 30 years in solitary confinement on death row. What makes The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row so powerful is his enduring faith, hope, and compassion while living in the depths of "hell."

His friendships, family, and capacity to forgive are on display in this compelling work. His best friend, Lester, visited him every week for 30 years! Ray adopted the other death row inmates as his new family. He brought inspiration, laughter, and faith to them, and started a book club, which encouraged many of them to read.

Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, eventually became Ray's lawyer and was instrumental in getting his release. I especially appreciate Stevenson's quote: "I believe that each of us is more than the worst thing we've ever done." Listen to his TED Talk to get an inspiring and personal glimpse into his motivation for his life work. 

There are many disturbing and heartbreaking elements to this story as well – deep-seated racism and discrimination, inhumane treatment of prisoners, and our damaged, and often corrupt, judicial system, to name a few. However, Hinton's positive inspiration definitely outweighs the negative details. I highly recommend this book, which was also one of Oprah's Book Club Picks.




Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (2016)

Trevor Noah has a gift for storytelling (which makes it no surprise that he is now a comedian). I would have liked this book more if it were told in chronological order, but ultimately, I assume the order in which it is presented goes back to the fact that he's a comedian and likely thinks anecdotally vs. chronologically. That said, Noah tells such fascinating stories of his childhood, teen years, and young adult life, all while intertwining the cultural setting of South Africa while he was growing up. I highly recommend the audio to fully appreciate both the variety of languages Noah references and the emotion and humor in his storytelling.

Check out Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood and other titles on this year's 2019 Lincoln Award (PDF): Illinois Teen Readers' Choice nominee list.

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover (2018)

educatedTara Westover’s Educated is the fascinating true story of a young woman raised in a survivalist family in the southern mountains of Idaho. Throughout her childhood, Tara’s father uses end-of-days fear, isolation, and the threat of eternal damnation to maintain control over his family. Every decision the family makes is informed by their father’s religious doctrine, so formal education is out of the question. Tara’s interest in the outside world combined with a desire to escape a life of working in the family’s scrapyard leads her to challenge her father’s ideas and, eventually, the lifestyle her family leads.

This compelling book is at times both heartbreaking and horrifying, but Westover’s matter-of-fact style of storytelling makes the reader feel right at home in this extreme, unfamiliar world.

 
 
 
 

Ugly by Robert Hoge (2016)

uglyhogeIn this real-life Wonder story, Robert Hoge describes his early life being born with not only a large tumor on his face affecting the placement of his facial features, but also legs which were underdeveloped. While he addresses some of the surgeries he underwent as baby up through high school, this autobiography centers around his family life and his determined spirit, despite challenges with his physical appearance and abilities along the way. I highly suggest the audiobook, read by the author himself.

Check out Ugly and other titles on this year's 2019 Bluestem nominee list targeted for grades 3-5.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (2016)

51v55l2fxflWhen I checked out Born a Crime, I knew vaguely that Trevor Noah was a comedian. I even remembered sharing a post of his on social media since I thought it was funny. Yet somehow, I did not expect to have to pull my car over to the shoulder to finish listening to one of Noah's stories. I was laughing so hard, I was crying.

And if that's not a ringing endorsement of an audiobook, I don't know what is.

I highly recommend listening to the audiobook version of this book because you hear Noah speaking the different South African languages with accuracy. And you get to hear Noah's voice imitation of his mother, among other people in his memoir.

Oh? And the story I had to pull over to finish on the road? I've been telling it to everyone, convincing them to read the book. If you do read Born a Crime, stop by the K&T desk upstairs and see if you can guess which story made me laugh so hard I cried.