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Biography & Memoir Best Sellers, Apr. 2021 | Most In-Demand in Libraries & Bookstores

PREMIUM

Twilight Man: Love and Ruin in the Shadows of Hollywood and the Clark Empire

This is a definite must-read for fans of early Hollywood, and those interested in LGBTQ history, with plenty of scandals and gossip to grab interest.
PREMIUM

Kin

Rodenberg writes with an evocative and unflinching style, despite sometimes jarring shifts in narrative. This is a richly nuanced portrait of people and place, along with the bounds of forgiveness. Good for biography readers eager to explore the complexities of family relationships, or readers interested in women’s lives in Appalachia.

The Profession: A Memoir of Community, Race, and the Arc of Policing in America

A candid, even-handed account that is highly recommended for popular collections. A natural fit for libraries where The Turnaround circulated well.

Abolitionist Leaders | Social Sciences Reviews

PREMIUM

Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell

Based on interviews and ideas replete in Sowell’s innumerable books, this biography is seasoned with selections from the economist’s sardonic quips. While many will disagree with his proposals, few should disregard his impact.
PREMIUM

Susan, Linda, Nina & Cokie: The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR

Readers interested in feminism, women’s history, and biography will be rewarded with a great story that deserves to be widely known.
PREMIUM

How to Be Human: An Autistic Man’s Guide to Life

A unique memoir showing the importance of diversity of thought. Fleming also makes clear the lasting impacts of language. An ideal complement to I Have Been Buried under Years of Dust, by Valerie Gilpeer and Emily Grodin.
PREMIUM

Besharam: On Love and Other Bad Behaviors

A phenomenal debut, ideal for readers interested in women’s issues and women’s voices.
PREMIUM

Low Country

Jones’s gift for spinning a tale is readily apparent, and her intertwining the history of the Low Country with her own familial history gives the book depth. A haunting memoir with poetic prose that will appeal to a large audience, owing to its interesting subject and skillful writing.
PREMIUM

Permission to Dream

This fable-like tale, which blends biography and self-help, is an inspirational reminder to dream big and dream often. Gardner’s latest memoir will especially resonate with readers of Mitch Albom and Paulo Coelho.
PREMIUM

Crying in H Mart

Zauner has created a memoir that is distinctly her own, but it will leave a mark on anyone who reads it
PREMIUM

Everything Is Fine

Granata’s skills, as a writer and former English teacher, shine here; he not only brings a personal perspective to living alongside a family member with mental illness, but also shows that there isn’t a right way to grieve. A welcome memoir.
PREMIUM

The Beauty of Living Twice

A welcome memoir of finding your way when life doesn’t go according to plan. Stone’s vulnerability and rediscovery will resonate with many readers.

Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing

Although presented in essay format, this reads as a poignant, gripping memoir. A page-turning account of belonging and not belonging, and what it means to start over.
PREMIUM

Sensational: The Hidden History of America’s “Girl Stunt Reporters.”

Todd’s comprehensive account rightly sheds light on the many women who changed the face of journalism and helped jump-start the newspaper industry. Her accessible writing draws in readers from the first page.
PREMIUM

Little Matches: A Memoir of Grief and Light

O’Hara shares her sorrow with honesty and elegance, and her compelling story will resonate with anyone seeking a light in the darkest depths of grief.

Lilyville: Mother, Daughter, and Other Roles I’ve Played

A vivid, charming memoir and reflection on an expansive career and family, which will delight memoir fans. This book will appeal to performing arts enthusiasts and fans of witty family memoirs. Readers who enjoy peeking into the personal and professional lives of performers may also enjoy Home Work by Julie Andrews.

My Broken Language: A Memoir

Hudes has written a can’t-miss love letter, in the form of a memoir, about the people and city that shaped her.

William Still: The Underground Railroad and the Angel at Philadelphia

Based on extensive primary research, this biography adds a much-needed layer to existing scholarship about the era. An essential work that is a must-read for those interested in the Underground Railroad and Black history in the U.S.
PREMIUM

Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend: Notes from the Other Side of the Fist Bump

Philippe has created a funny, and at times harrowing, memoir of his experience as a Black man. Fans of similar memoirs, such as Damon Young’s What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker, will enjoy the irreverence and recognize themselves in these pages.
PREMIUM

The First Ten Years: Two Sides of the Same Love Story

Proving that there are two sides to every story, Bashwiner and Fink succeed in sharing theirs with the world. A recommended purchase for libraries where Fink’s previous books (Welcome to Night Vale; Alice Isn’t Dead) circulate well. This memoir is primarily for longtime fans of either of the authors.
PREMIUM

Send a Runner: A Navajo Honors the Long Walk

This memoir is a solid read for patrons who would like to learn more about the Long Walk, and for patrons who would like to know more about Diné culture.

Literary Lives| Arts & Humanities Reviews

PREMIUM

Unstoppable: Siggi B. Wilzig’s Astonishing Journey from Auschwitz Survivor and Penniless Immigrant to Wall Street Legend

A must-read that hopefully will be adapted for the screen. Greene lets Wilzig’s effervescent spirit shine through, and his story will appeal to a wide variety of readers.

PREMIUM

The Triumph of Nancy Reagan

A thoroughly researched, evenhanded treatment of the most loyal and most important of Ronald Reagan’s influencers; likely to be popular in both subject collections and public libraries
PREMIUM

A Season with Mom: Love, Loss, and the Ultimate Baseball Adventure

A recommended memoir about the bond between mother and daughter, with a dash of baseball thrown in.
PREMIUM

A Coat of Yellow Paint: Moving through the Noise To Love the Life You Live

A self-serving view of white motherhood that will primarily interest Davis’s loyal Instagram followers; readers who aren’t already dazzled by this social media darling can probably sit this one out.
PREMIUM

The Next Everest: Surviving the Mountain’s Deadliest Day and Finding the Resilience To Climb Again

Davidson’s latest will appeal to readers interested in Everest and mountain climbing and to those seeking stories about overcoming setbacks.
PREMIUM

Buses Are a Comin’: Memoir of a Freedom Rider

Person’s engagingly rendered, intimate testimony offers a look at the power of character and conviction among grassroots activists who paid the painful price of direct action to penetrate America’s consciousness. His words call for continuing efforts to “do something.”
PREMIUM

Churchill & Son

A comprehensive account for those who like biographies about important historical figures.
PREMIUM

Elizabeth & Margaret: The Intimate World of the Windsor Sisters

Morton’s insightful analysis of the complex relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret succeeds in humanizing two extremely public figures and the myths surrounding them. It will engage history buffs, biography readers, and especially fans of The Crown.

Blow Your House Down: A Story of Family, Feminism, and Treason

Uncompromisingly fearless in its candor, this memoir / feminist manifesto is a powerful account of a woman’s self-acceptance that deserves a place among the best literary memoirs of the last decade. Frangello’s groundbreaking testimony sets itself apart.
PREMIUM

The Officer’s Daughter: A Memoir of Family and Forgiveness

A powerful meditation on the long aftermath of violent crime that will engage a variety of readers.
PREMIUM

The Wild Silence

Winn’s writing beautifully evokes the natural world, whether she is describing a doe rummaging in an orchard or her innermost conflicted feelings. This is a perfect “what happened next” memoir that gives closure to readers of the first book, and which both fans and new readers will enjoy.

Every Day Is a Gift

An excellent work that will allow readers to get to know one of today’s most unique political voices. Readers from a wide range of backgrounds will find something to relate to in Duckworth’s story.

Heart of Fire: An Immigrant Daughter’s Story

Hirono offers an astoundingly compelling glance into U.S. politics, and also provides an honest look at how much grit it takes for people from less privileged backgrounds to make it in American politics and make a difference in their community. A must-read that demands a broad audience.
PREMIUM

The Unfit Heiress: The Tragic Life and Scandalous Sterilization of Ann Cooper Hewitt

Expertly blending biography and history, and using the life of Ann Cooper Hewitt as a backdrop, Farley has created an absorbing biography effectively explaining how the legacy of eugenics still persists today. Hewitt’s story will engage anyone interested in women’s history.

Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said

While there is a great deal of theory in this sweeping biography, Brennan has succeeded in writing an account that is both an act of love and a solid study of a fascinating man.
PREMIUM

I Have Been Buried under Years of Dust: A Memoir of Autism and Hope

In the epilogue, Grodin writes, “I am with you.” And now, because of this book, she is with all of us. An impactful memoir of self-discovery.
PREMIUM

Pop Song

Though it doesn’t always come together as a whole, Pham’s work features a promising voice. Readers with a strong interest in the visual arts will likely get the most out of this book, especially where Pham writes about finding meaning in the work of artists like Agnes Martin and James Turrell; and Gen Z and younger millennial readers might find Pham’s experiences and relationship dynamics to be particularly relatable.
PREMIUM

Eva and Eve: A Search for My Mother’s Lost Childhood and What a War Left Behind

Well-researched and engagingly written, this book offers up an interesting mix of memoir and family history. Recommended for readers who enjoy any of those topics, it should also appeal to those with an interest in World War II, Jewish history, and narrative nonfiction.

It’s in the Action: Memories of a Nonviolent Warrior

A book that all should pick up and read, as there is still much to be learned about the civil rights movement that should not be forgotten.
PREMIUM

Leave Out the Tragic Parts: A Grandfather’s Search for a Boy Lost to Addiction

This book serves as both an insightful look into the transient world of freewheeling American drifters while also being a vulnerable and open exploration of what it means to be a family watching a loved one struggling with addiction. Kindred’s frequent thoughts of "what if?" will resonate with many.

PREMIUM

The Kennedys in the World: How Jack, Bobby, and Ted Remade America’s Empire

This extensively researched and engaging book will appeal to anyone interested in post-war American history, foreign policy, and the Kennedy family.

PREMIUM

Ida B. the Queen: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells

Engagingly written and beautifully designed, this would be a powerful introduction to Ida B. Wells for any budding historian, journalist, or activist.

PREMIUM

Dusk Night Dawn: On Revival and Courage

Another standout from Lamott that will have wide appeal.
PREMIUM

Walk in My Combat Boots: True Stories from America’s Bravest Warriors

Readers of military service accounts will be absorbed.
PREMIUM

Mixed Plate: Chronicles of an All-American Combo

A beautiful exploration of finding hope, humor, and a voice. A must-read for fans of memoirs.

Calhoun: American Heretic

This well-researched book offers a definitive account of Calhoun, and will appeal to anyone interested in early American history.
PREMIUM

Refugee

With this heartfelt account, Mbolela succeeds in humanizing often-forgotten people trying to live a more fruitful and safe existence. A welcome memoir.
PREMIUM

The Soul of a Woman

Those looking for in-depth stories of Allende’s earlier life will need to turn to her earlier works, but this passionate memoir presents a vibrant portrait of the current-day author and her thoughts on the future of women, and will be highly appreciated by fans of her works.

George Washington: The Political Rise of America’s Founding Father

In this lively and admirable study, Stewart offers a balanced and thoughtfully well-written appreciation of George Washington’s life and leadership. A must for fans of biographies.
PREMIUM

Broken (in the Best Possible Way)

Lawson already has thousands of fans, and she’s bound to pick up more with this latest memoir. Recommended for all public libraries.

Between Two Kingdoms

The author’s book title is a nod to Susan Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor, in which she asserts that there is a “kingdom of the well” and a “kingdom of the sick.” Jaouad does a beautiful job of writing from this place of “dual citizenship,” where she finds pain but also joy, kinship, and possibility.

PREMIUM

The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto

Blow, who has followed his own advice and moved to the South, will find a readership in like-minded individuals who are seeing his argument play out in Georgia.
PREMIUM

Love Is an Ex-Country

Readers interested in the queer Arab American experience may be better served by Samra Habib’s We Have Always Been Here. Recommended for fans of the author’s previous work.
PREMIUM

Eleanor in the Village: Eleanor Roosevelt’s Search for Freedom and Identity in New York’s Greenwich Village

This biography of Eleanor Roosevelt concisely covers her life and connection to the Village, but it would have benefited from more time spent there. Primarily for supplement research on the Roosevelts.
PREMIUM

Unfinished

This is a wonderful memoir of self-discovery for anyone interested in Chopra Jonas as a person, or those who just enjoy the connection to the Jonas Brothers.
PREMIUM

Black Magic: What Black Leaders Learned from Trauma and Triumph

This unique book gives attention to Black entrepreneurs and highlights communities that are often missing in popular narratives of business culture. Readers will find it frustrating, inspiring, and revelatory.
PREMIUM

Never Enough: A Navy SEAL Commander on Living a Life of Excellence, Agility, and Meaning

This useful distillation of the life philosophy of Navy SEALs can be used by anyone. Combining biography, business, and self-help, Hayes’s account will be welcome in library collections where patrons are looking for personal and professional guidance.
PREMIUM

Kamala’s Way: An American Life

This book will find its audiences among Harris fans and California politics readers. Those seeking more details about Harris’s personal life will relish her memoir, The Truths We Hold.
PREMIUM

Grace & Steel: Dorothy, Barbara, Laura, and the Women of the Bush Dynasty

Similar to Taraborrelli’s other books, this is a gossipy read for those who enjoy biography.
PREMIUM

Consent

Springora widens her scope to indict not only Matzneff, but the French cultural elite that so readily enables and excuses his behavior. A fierce account from a woman hoping to wrest her story back. Recommended reading.
PREMIUM

A Window to Heaven: The Daring First Ascent of Denali: America’s Wildest Peak

From the Texas frontier to North America’s tallest peak, this balanced biography of Hudson Stuck offers provide plenty of adventure, setbacks, turmoil, and seeking a way to impact the world, and will engage
PREMIUM

Black Boy Out of Time

An unflinchingly honest assessment of the ways in which the lives and experiences of Black children are devalued. Recommended for readers interested in anti-racism.

Three Books on Space Exploration | Science Reviews

PREMIUM

The Last Queen: Elizabeth II’s Seventy Year Battle to Save the House of Windsor

A gossipy, yet critical look at the monarchy by a skillful writer who knows his subject well. Fans of The Crown will especially enjoy.
PREMIUM

Sanctuary

A must for fans of Rapp’s previous memoirs and for any reader trying to better understand grief and trauma. This poignant account will be of particular interest for those who have grieved the loss of a child.
PREMIUM

Thaddeus Stevens

Easily the most detailed and important account of Stevens, this well-written biography belongs in every academic library and all other libraries with an emphasis on American history.

PREMIUM

American Daughter

In this sharp, heartrending work, Plymale reconciles with the truth of her mother’s life, finding forgiveness, hope, and even pride. Her testimony, while painful to read, is vital.

So-Called Normal: A Memoir of Family, Depression and Resilience

While it may be a difficult read for some, this book is a wonderful and redemptive prize to finish. A definite recommendation for those who want to better support their loved ones with mental health issues, and a great start for further discussion.
PREMIUM

The Empathy Diaries

This genre-bending memoir is recommended for readers interested in Turkle’s work or in the interplay between technology and self.
PREMIUM

The Ratline: The Exalted Life and Mysterious Death of a Nazi Fugitive

Full of twists and turns, cover-ups and complicity, this gripping historical thrill ride will appeal to fans of John le Carré.
PREMIUM

Speak, Okinawa

A can’t-miss memoir that will stay with readers after they finish the last page.

Harnessing Grief: A Mother’s Quest for Meaning and Miracles

A stunning, candid memoir. Those seeking a relatable story as they process grief and fans of personal memoir will appreciate this book equally for its honest, insightful storytelling.
PREMIUM

Against the Hounds of Hell: A Life of Howard Thurman

This thoroughly researched and well-written biography of an influential African American preacher and teacher shines a light on the origins of the civil rights movement by concentrating on one who lived and preached his Christian beliefs in his own personal way.

A Promised Land

An eloquently written, enjoyable, and important memoir that will have a wide readership. Highly recommended for all collections.
PREMIUM

Blindfold: A Memoir of Capture, Torture, and Enlightenment

An optional purchase for specialized Mideast collections.

More Than a Woman

Moran brings readers along during her fallible and human days, showing how we can all relate to feelings of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. A must-read.

Stalin: Passage to Revolution

This impressively researched biography provides remarkable and reliable details on the first part of Stalin’s life, along with the many fissures among the Left Communists. An important accomplishment.
PREMIUM

Shaking the Gates of Hell: A Search for Family and Truth in the Wake of the Civil Rights Revolution

A powerful reflection on the influences of family and community and the ability to act justly in tumultuous times. Biography readers, especially those interested in reconciling the past, will be captivated by Archibald’s honest, conversational style.
PREMIUM

Dog Flowers

An introspective reflection on the complexities of family relationships that will engage fans of memoirs.
PREMIUM

The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation

This compassionate book skillfully introduces three people who have had an important impact on the world but whose lives receive little attention. Readers will complete the book feeling their time was well spent.

With Her Fist Raised: Dorothy Pitman Hughes and the Transformative Power of Black Community Activism

This essential, well-written biography fills a huge gap in the history of American feminism.
PREMIUM

Surviving the White Gaze

Though sometimes uneven, this personal account may engage fans of memoirs or readers interested in personal stories of adoptees.
PREMIUM

The Secret Life of Dorothy Soames

There are no easy resolutions in Cowan’s story, but this title should appeal to readers interested in family histories and complex mother-daughter relationships.
PREMIUM

True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee

Covering similar ground as 2019’s A Marvelous Life, this work by Riesman provides additional insight into Lee’s family dynamic and details about Lee’s business associates. For comics and Stan Lee fans looking for a critical take on this cultural icon.
PREMIUM

Dancing in the Mosque: An Afghan Mother’s Letter to Her Son

A shocking, heartbreaking tale of the wars and gender inequality in Afghanistan. This personal story, centered on Qaderi’s unquenchable spirit in the face of overwhelming odds, will appeal to a vast audience.
PREMIUM

The Night Lake: A Young Priest Maps the Topography of Grief

A stunning introspective memoir recommended for general readers, especially those dealing with grief.
PREMIUM

Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight

A perceptive consideration of an often-understudied First Lady and her lasting legacy. For public and academic libraries everywhere.

Best Biographies and Memoirs of 2020

PREMIUM

Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now

This useful account will help readers understand Biden’s mindset and suggests a blueprint for the next four years. For more in-depth, but pre–2020 campaign accounts, see Steven Levingston’s Barack And Joe and Jules Witcover’s Joe Biden.
PREMIUM

All About the Story: News, Power, Politics, and the Washington Post

With the recent denigration of journalists by government officials and purveyors of fringe media, stories such as Downie’s are important. Aspiring journalism students and readers of the Post would especially appreciate this biography.

Centering Black Livelihoods | Social Sciences Reviews

Focusing on Collective Memory | Social Sciences Reviews

The Good American: The Epic Life of Bob Gersony, the U.S. Government’s Greatest Humanitarian

A must read for anyone interested in humanitarian work, foreign policy, and biography.

Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America

This riveting account will appeal to anyone with an interest in the history of immigration and current U.S. policies.

All the Young Men

A must-read for anyone interested in narratives of front-line responses to the early AIDS crisis as well as personal accounts of kindness and determination.

PREMIUM

Sylvia Pankhurst: Natural Born Rebel

Pankhurst's life is ripe for discovery by new readers and a younger generation. However, this biography is often so dense that her story often gets lost within its pages.

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