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.
Never heard of Jacob Fugger? That’s probably because he was born in Augsburg in 1459, the grandson of a Swabian peasant. But by the time he died in 1525, Fugger had become, according to author Greg Steinmetz (who compared the net worth of wealthy people with the size of the economy in which they operated), the richest man who ever lived.
le of magazines in the spare room or perhaps the mountain of unused sporting equipment in the garage? You won’t find a much better incentive than reading Mess, Barry Yourgrau’s lighthearted account of his two-year quest to clean out his New York apartment.
Rambunctious and poignant, Blaine Lourd’s moseying coming-of-age memoir, Born on the Bayou, takes readers to the swampy, misty marshes of his youth in New Iberia, Louisiana.
Dan-el Padilla Peralta’s new memoir does more than chronicle his contrasting lives in the two very different worlds he simultaneously occupied. Undocumented gives the Dominican-born, American-raised Peralta a voice and, perhaps, more importantly, it gives readers a figure they can understand and empathize with.
Raw and revealing, Amy Seek’s unflinching memoir, God and Jetfire: Confessions of a Birth Mother, opens up the world of adoption with a candor that both challenges and comforts all players in this most fraught of family dramas.
In 1993, Mardi Jo Link was a 31-year-old wife and mother of two and a bar waitress with a college degree. Just before sunrise on an October Michigan morning, Link and three friends set off on what would become an annual get-the-hell-out-of-Dodge adventure to the isolated refuge of Drummond Island on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In 1993, Link was the newest member of the sorority, but she eventually became the chronicler of the highs and lows of the annual island weekend.
When Barton Swaim read a column by his state’s governor, he promptly sat down and wrote him, “I know how to write, and you need a writer.” He got the job, but his writing skills went to waste as the governor insisted on a “voice” that bore only a slight resemblance to proper English.
Laughter can tighten your abs, soothe your mind and increase your empathy. Lighten up your summer reading with two funny new books that have both heart and brains.
It’s no surprise that Alfred Lansing’s 1959 book, Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, is still in print. The harsh reality of survival near the Poles continues to make gripping reading, especially from the safety of our own homes.