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While some memoirs are incredibly complex and intrinsically difficult to categorize, most of the ones I’ve read tend to fit in one of two general groups: the experience-driven and the persona-driven. Avi Steinberg’s Running the Books exemplifies the experience-driven category. Steinberg was an unknown when his memoir was published, and that relative obscurity meant that most readers were not drawn to the book because of his persona or celebrity. It was the topic of the autobiography that caught the public’s attention--the fact that this young man had worked in a prison library and found a way to describe the disorienting experience with both clarity and depth.
On her wedding night, Cordelia Grey catches the last train to leave Union, Ohio. With her is her slight but talented friend Letty Haubstadt. Their destination is the end of the line: fabulous, roarin’ New York City. Both girls are escaping their boring, unhappy lives in Ohio and fleeing to New York where they hope to find what they are looking for. Cordelia seeks her father, whom she believes to be the infamous bootlegger Darius Grey. Letty wants nothing more than a microphone before her, a dazzling dress to wear and an enraptured audience to sing to. Set in New York City in the final year of the Roaring Twenties, Anna Godbersen’s Bright Young Things focuses on three young women who, like the rest of the United States, are on the verge of a terrible encounter with reality.
This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse the book matches here.
Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson: "In the early 21st century, things are beginning to change in Antarctica. Scientists still come down to the American base at McMurdo to do research, but they now bump shoulders with tourists hoping to retrace the treks of early explorers. More seriously, with the world's oil fields almost depleted, multinational corporations are jockeying for position, conducting secret explorations for oil and spending millions to defeat the renewal of the Antarctic Treaty, which has reserved the continent for purely scientific research for half a century. And other, even more secretive groups apparently haunt the Antarctic outback as well: feral human societies and radical environmentalists whose motives are only partly understood. Antarctica is undergoing major climactic change, too, perhaps the most dramatic example of the global warming that has turned much of the world's former temperate zone into a steam bath. The Ross Ice Shelf has largely broken up and the enormously greater Antarctic icesheet may be about to follow suit."
If you like Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson, you may also like these titles that feature adventure at the South or North Poles:
Black Ice by Matt Dickinson
"Deep beneath the Antarctic ice cap, scientist Lauren Burgess has discovered a secret that could change the face of human knowledge. Then a desperate mayday call comes in. Two explorers, one of them the legendary Julian Fitzgerald, are stranded out on the ice and a rescue is their only hope. Lauren puts the ground breaking scientific work on hold as she leads a dangerous rescue mission into the frozen void. But after returning to the base, the pressure of isolation gradually takes its toll on Fitzgerald and his true dark nature is revealed. Lauren and her scientific team must fight for their very lives. On the run with injured members of the team, sub-zero conditions and a madman on the loose, the odds are against them and time is running out."-catalog summary
Choosers of the Slain by James H. Cobb
"Cobb brings feminism and environmentalism to the naval thriller and does it remarkably well in this lightning-paced and well-informed tale of a lone U.S. destroyer holding off an Argentine incursion into Antarctica. Amanda Garrett captains the USS Cunningham, a stealthy, well-armed vessel with the best technology available in the year 2006.
The ship is on patrol off Antarctica when a surprise invasion by Argentina (seeking mineral wealth and prepared to abrogate existing international treaties) leaves her as the only defense for treaty partners and for the ecologically fragile continent itself. As captain, Amanda uses her seamanship and her knowledge of the talents of her staff in a breathtaking sea battle fought in one of the most challenging environments on earth. Cobb not only demonstrates his control of action and plot but also incorporates intriguing military and political topics that couldn't be more timely. Best of all, he allows Amanda to command her ship as a woman, not as a manly soul in a woman's body."-Publisher's Weekly review
Do you like learning about mummies? Well, Bodies From the Bog, by James M. Deem, tells us about a type of mummy that you have probably never heard of before. One morning in April 1952, Danish workmen digging in a peat bog made an astonishing discovery. Their shovels struck the head of a dead man – his face flattened by the weight of the peat and his skin as brown as the earth in which he lay. Who was he and how had he come to be there?
In her stunning new novel, State of Wonder, Ann Patchett captures the claustrophobic nature of the dense jungle where danger--in the form of poisonous insects and snakes--is present at every turn and a person’s daily existence depends only upon a few bare essentials.
Dr. Annick Swenson has spent a major portion of her life in the Amazon researching potential medical cures. When she and her mentor discover a tribe whose women can regularly conceive children well into their seventies and beyond, Vogel Pharmaceuticals agrees to fund the ground-breaking study. But Dr. Swenson goes rogue, cutting off all communication with the company executives. To make matters infinitely worse, no outsider has the slightest idea where in the jungle the research compound is located.
Sometimes life takes us in a direction that unexpectedly changes everything and alters all our future plans. Happily, this is just what happened to Conor Grennan, the author of Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal. It is necessary for me to state now that I know Conor and my daughter and her husband play the smallest of roles in Conor’s memoir. Perhaps because of this I took particular pleasure in reading this book, but I think personal interest was quickly overtaken by the value of his touching story.
Conor planned a long, world-wide trip after working in Prague for a couple of years. His adventure begins in Nepal at the Little Princes Children’s Home, where he volunteered to help the “orphans." The children turned out not to be orphans, but victims of child traffickers.