Readers familiar with Jenny Lawson, as either The Bloggess or the author of the 2012 bestseller Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, are aware that she has created a tribe of perfectly flawed followers by telling hilarious stories about some of the darkest times in her life. Furiously Happy is similar in focus—you’ll find taxidermy, riotous fights with husband Victor and funny if slightly scary family stories—but Lawson’s latest book is even more open about the challenges posed by illness. It will make you laugh to the point of tears, but it could also help you make it through the toughest stuff life has to offer.
When you look at the father-daughter photo on the cover of Kelly Carlin’s raw and reflective memoir, A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up With George, you wonder what it would have been like to grow up in the shadow of the fast-talking, fast-thinking and fast-living comedian George Carlin. And then you begin reading, and you realize that Kelly’s reports from the trenches sound familiar to anyone who grew up amid the whirlwind social changes of the 1960s and ’70s.
Imagine being a tall, Swedish redheaded mother of two young girls―the apparent picture of health―but for years living with constant chest pressure, severe fatigue and difficulty breathing. In Beautiful Affliction, Lene Fogelberg explains how, for much of her life, she feared she was about to die because of what she called "the monster" pounding against her ribs.
James Joyce once wished for an “ideal reader with an ideal case of insomnia”; a reader of Joyce Carol Oates similarly needs an ideal insomnia to plow through the 50-plus novels of this legendarily prolific writer. As it turns out, Oates herself suffers from insomnia, and has since she was a girl, using her night hours productively and well. Her new book, The Lost Landscape: A Writer’s Coming of Age, offers an exquisitely rendered glimpse of her own childhood in rural upstate New York.
Stuart Stevens grew up going to Ole Miss games with his father. In 1962, in the midst of tumultuous battles over civil rights on campus, Stevens and his father cheered the Rebels to a perfect season and a national championship. More than 50 years later, having just finished leading an exhausting and unsuccessful presidential campaign for Mitt Romney, Stevens “wakes up” and realizes that what he wants most in the world is one more season, “with my father and football and the Ole Miss Rebels.”
Negroland is not a geographic locale. It’s the name Margo Jefferson gives to the place, time and circumstances of her upbringing in the upper echelons of black society. Her memoir, which reads with the blast force of a prose poem, looks back with love and no small amount of anger at a life spent navigating the freedoms of class while flirting with, and occasionally skirting, the imposed limits of race.
A beloved true story of adventure, a harrowing story of underground survival and an artfully woven historical make for great group discussion this month.
Novels- and memoirs-in-verse are always welcome additions to the young adult canon, especially those that show world history through diverse voices. In Enchanted Air, poet Margarita Engle introduces readers to her “Two countries / Two families / Two sets of words” and her own “two selves.”
In her new memoir-in-verse, Newbery Honor-winning poet Margarita Engle introduces readers to her “Two countries / Two families / Two sets of words” and her own “two selves.” We spoke with the author about Enchanted Air and how traveling between her two countries has turned the "chasm [of biculturalism] into a bridge."