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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Reading Widely: Memoirs

As the holiday season approaches, many people like to dig into a good solid work of nonfiction. Here are some excellent memoirs from a wide variety of authors for your holiday reading pleasure!

Men We Reaped by Mississippi Native Jesmyn Ward is a reflection on how, in five years, she lost five black men in her life to death. This is her exploration of why this happened. A reflection on community, race, and economic struggle, Men We Reaped was nominated for multiple awards for nonfiction writing. Anyone that's already a fan of Ward's fiction will like this one.

Michaela DePrince was born in war-torn West Africa, and is now one of ballet's rising stars. A memoir written with a young adult audience in mind, this story tells the story of her journey from war orphan to star of the ballet world. This one, though aimed at young adults, will be enjoyed by anyone that's a fan of DePrince herself or ballet in general.

Originally published in French, Abirached's memoir is a work of graphic nonfiction recounting her time as a child during the Lebanese Civil War. She recalls ordinary events and regular days living in a war zone. The stark colors and lines of the comic underscore the serious subject matter but also insert a little levity. Comic fans will like this one, and so will people interested in the Middle East or war stories.

Azadeh Moaveni had always felt a pull between her two cultures--daughter of Iranian exiles and typical California girl. Her two cultures had always clashed, and after college, she moved to Iran as a journalist. Her exploration of the two sides of herself also coincides with the reformist movement in Iran, and she also takes the reader into modern underground Tehran, in a time desperate for change. Anyone interested in the Middle East or identity narratives will enjoy this one.

Gus Lee's first work of nonfiction takes the reader through his family history in China, taking the reader through four generations, through family affairs and major historical events. It's  a story of a unification of two Chinese families, of a Chinese family coming to America, and also of the journey to America itself. If you have any interest in Asian history, this family history will absolutely fascinate you.

Written by multiple award winning author Walter Dean Myers, this memoir (aimed at younger audiences) tells the story of his coming of age in 1940s and 1950s Harlem, New York. Myers was hugely prolific in his career and kids and adults alike that enjoyed his work will enjoy the story of his early years.

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