Fire Shut Up In My Bones

Fire Shut UpBy Charles M. Blow

“”Fire Shut Up in My Bones” is a luminous memoir that digs deep into territory I’ve longed to read about in black men’s writing into the horror of being submerged in a vast drowning swirl of racial, spiritual, and sexual complexity, only to somehow find one’s self afloat, though gasping for breath, and then, at long last and at great cost, swimming. I believe both Ancestors and Descendants will cheer.”
–ALICE WALKER

Year of No Sugar

YearNoSugarBy Eve O. Schaub

Did you know that there’s sugar in your organic chicken broth, tortellini, smoked salmon, bacon, crackers, salad dressing, and baby food? Sugar is everywhere, spreading sickness and obesity, and we’re just coming to realize it. In an age when sugar is continuously unmasked as a health villain, this memoir chronicles the story of the Schaub family’s twelve months without added sugar of any sort.

My Salinger Year

My Salinger YearBy Joanna Rakoff

Poignant, keenly observed, and irresistibly funny: a memoir about literary New York in the late nineties, a pre-digital world on the cusp of vanishing, where a young woman finds herself entangled with one of the last great figures of the century.

At twenty-three, after leaving graduate school to pursue her dreams of becoming a poet, Joanna Rakoff moves to New York City and takes a job as assistant to the storied literary agent for J. D. Salinger. She spends her days in a plush, wood-paneled office, where Dictaphones and typewriters still reign and old-time agents doze at their desks after martini lunches. At night she goes home to the tiny, threadbare Williamsburg apartment she shares with her socialist boyfriend. Precariously balanced between glamour and poverty, surrounded by titanic personalities, and struggling to trust her own artistic instinct, Rakoff is tasked with answering Salinger’s voluminous fan mail. But as she reads the candid, heart-wrenching letters from his readers around the world, she finds herself unable to type out the agency’s decades-old form response. Instead, drawn inexorably into the emotional world of Salinger’s devotees, she abandons the template and begins writing back. Over the course of the year, she finds her own voice by acting as Salinger’s, on her own dangerous and liberating terms.

Rakoff paints a vibrant portrait of a bright, hungry young woman navigating a heady and longed-for world, trying to square romantic aspirations with burgeoning self-awareness, the idea of a life with life itself. Charming and deeply moving, filled with electrifying glimpses of an American literary icon, My Salinger Year is the coming-of-age story of a talented writer. Above all, it is a testament to the universal power of books to shape our lives and awaken our true selves.

Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines

TweakBy Nic Sheff

This New York Times-bestselling memoir of a young man’s addiction to methamphetamine tells a raw, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful tale of the road from relapse to recovery and complements his father’s parallel memoir, Beautiful Boy.

Nic Sheff was drunk for the first time at age eleven. In the years that followed, he would regularly smoke pot, do cocaine and Ecstasy, and develop addictions to crystal meth and heroin. Even so, he felt like he would always be able to quit and put his life together whenever he needed to. It took a violent relapse one summer in California to convince him otherwise. In a voice that is raw and honest, Nic spares no detail in telling us the compelling, heartbreaking, and true story of his relapse and the road to recovery. As we watch Nic plunge the mental and physical depths of drug addiction, he paints a picture for us of a person at odds with his past, with his family, with his substances, and with himself. It’s a harrowing portrait – but not one without hope.

Report From the Interior

Report from the InteriorBy Paul Auster

“In the beginning, everything was alive. The smallest objects were endowed with beating hearts…”

Having recalled his life through the story of his physical self in Winter Journal, internationally acclaimed novelist Paul Auster now remembers the experience of his development from within through the encounters of his interior self with the outer world in Report from the Interior.

From his baby’s-eye view of the man in the moon, to his childhood worship of the movie cowboy Buster Crabbe, to the composition of his first poem at the age of nine, to his dawning awareness of the injustices of American life, Report from the Interior charts Auster’s moral, political, and intellectual journey as he inches his way toward adulthood through the postwar 1950s and into the turbulent 1960s.

Auster evokes the sounds, smells, and tactile sensations that marked his early life – and the many images that came at him, including moving images (he adored cartoons, he was in love with films), until, at its unique climax, the book breaks away from prose into pure imagery: The final section of Report from the Interior recapitulates the first three parts, told in an album of pictures. At once a story of the times – which makes it everyone’s story – and the story of the emerging consciousness of a renowned literary artist, this four-part work answers the challenge of autobiography in ways rarely, if ever, seen before.

For All of Us, One Today

For All of UsBy Richard Blanco, 2013 inaugural poet

For All of Us, One Today is a fluid, poetic account of Richard Blanco’s life-changing experiences as the inaugural poet in 2013. In this brief and evocative narrative, he shares the story of the call from the White House committee and all the exhilaration and upheaval of the days that followed. For the first time, he reveals the inspiration and challenges – including his experiences as a Latino immigrant and gay man – behind the creation of the inaugural poem, One Today, as well as two other poems commissioned for the occasion (Mother Country and What We Know of Country), published here for the first time ever, alongside translations of all three of those poems into his native Spanish. Finally, Blanco reflects on his new role as a public voice, his vision for poetry’s place in our nation’s consciousness, his spiritual embrace of Americans everywhere, and his renewed understanding of what it means to be an American as a result of the inauguration. Like the inaugural poem itself, For All of Us, One Today speaks to what makes this country and its people great, marking a historic moment of hope and promise in our evolving American landscape.

Hyperbole and a Half

Hyperbole and a HalfHyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened

By Allie Brosh

Every time Allie Brosh posts something new on her hugely popular blog Hyperbole and a Half the internet rejoices.

Touching, absurd, and darkly comic, Allie Brosh’s highly anticipated book Hyperbole and a Half showcases her unique voice, leaping wit, and her ability to capture complex emotions with deceptively simple illustrations.

This full-color, beautifully illustrated edition features more than fifty percent new content, with ten never-before-seen essays and one wholly revised and expanded piece as well as classics from the website like, “The God of Cake,” “Dogs Don’t Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving,” and her astonishing, “Adventures in Depression,” and “Depression Part Two,” which have been hailed as some of the most insightful meditations on the disease ever written.

Brosh’s debut marks the launch of a major new American humorist who will surely make even the biggest scrooge or snob laugh. We dare you not to.

FROM THE AUTHOR:

This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative – like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it – but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

  • Pictures
  • Words
  • Stories about things that happened to me
  • Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
  • Eight billion dollars*
  • Stories about dogs
  • The secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!

A Soldier’s Sketchbook

By Joseph FarrisA Soldier's Sketchbook cover

An illustrated memoir from a World War II soldier is drawn from the letters, sketches, snapshots, and mementos of Pvt. Farris, who left his home of Danbury, Connecticut, and set off to war aboard the U.S.S. “General Gordon” in October 1944, bound for France as part of Company M, 398th Infantry.

 

 

This watercolor shows one of the most dangerous moments in our battle for the Maginot Line. The Germans had bracketed our position, and we anxiously feared the next shell would zero in on us. p. 120

This is an illustration by Joseph Farris from his powerful memoir A Soldier’s Sketchbook.

PERMITTED USE: This image may be downloaded or is otherwise provided at no charge for one-time use for coverage or promotion of the “A SOLDIER’S SKETCHBOOK” dated 2011 and exclusively in conjunction thereof. No copying, distribution or archiving permitted. Sublicensing, sale or resale is prohibited.

REQUIRED CREDIT AND CAPTION: All image uses must bear the copyright notice and be properly credited to the relevant photographer, as shown in this metadata, and must be accompanied by a caption which makes reference to the “A SOLDIER’S SKETCHBOOK.” Any uses in which the image appears without proper copyright notice, photographer credit and a caption referencing the “A SOLDIER’S SKETCHBOOK” are subject to paid licensing.

 

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese

Telling RoomBy Michael Paterniti

In the picturesque village of Guzman, Spain, in a cave dug into a hillside on the edge of town, an ancient door leads to a cramped limestone chamber known as “the telling room.” Containing nothing but a wooden table and two benches, this is where villagers have gathered for centuries to share their stories and secrets–usually accompanied by copious amounts of wine.

It was here, in the summer of 2000, that Michael Paterniti found himself listening to a larger-than-life Spanish cheesemaker named Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras as he spun an odd and compelling tale about a piece of cheese. An unusual piece of cheese. Made from an old family recipe, Ambrosio’s cheese was reputed to be among the finest in the world, and was said to hold mystical qualities. Eating it, some claimed, conjured long-lost memories. But then, Ambrosio said, things had gone horribly wrong…

By the time the two men exited the telling room that evening, Paterniti was hooked. Soon he was fully embroiled in village life, relocating his young family to Guzman in order to chase the truth about this cheese and explore the fairy tale-like place where the villagers conversed with farm animals, lived by an ancient Castilian code of honor, and made their wine and food by hand, from the grapes growing on a nearby hill and the flocks of sheep floating over the Meseta.

What Paterniti ultimately discovers there in the highlands of Castile is nothing like the idyllic slow-food fable he first imagined. Instead, he’s sucked into the heart of an unfolding mystery, a blood feud that includes accusations of betrayal and theft, death threats, and a murder plot. As the village begins to spill its long-held secrets, Paterniti finds himself implicated in the very story he is writing.

Equal parts mystery and memoir, travelogue and history, The Telling Room is an astonishing work of literary nonfiction by one of our most accomplished storytellers. A moving exploration of happiness, friendship, and betrayal, The Telling Room introduces us to Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras, an unforgettable real-life literary hero, while also holding a mirror up to the world, fully alive to the power of stories that define and sustain us.

Bootstrapper

BootstrapperBootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm by Mardi Jo Link

Poignant, irreverent, and hilarious: a memoir about survival and self-discovery, by an indomitable woman who never loses sight of what matters most.

It’s the summer of 2005, and Mardi Jo Link’s dream of living the simple life has unraveled into debt, heartbreak, and perpetually ragged cuticles. She and her husband of nineteen years have just called it quits, leaving her with serious cash-flow problems and a looming divorce. More broke than ever, Link makes a seemingly impossible resolution: to hang on to her century-old farmhouse in northern Michigan and continue to raise her three boys on well water and wood chopping and dirt. Armed with an unfailing sense of humor and three resolute accomplices, Link confronts blizzards and foxes, learns about Zen divorce and the best way to butcher a hog, dominates a zucchini-growing contest and wins a year’s supply of local bread, masters the art of bargain cooking, wrangles rampaging poultry, and withstands any blow to her pride in order to preserve the life she wants.

With an infectious optimism that would put Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm to shame and a deep appreciation of the natural world, Link tells the story of how, over the course of one long year, she holds on to her sons, saves the farm from foreclosure, and finds her way back to a life of richness and meaning on the land she loves.

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