Biographies & Memoirs
Gladys Poles Todd, long-time Fredericksburg resident, died recently at the age of 101, having witnessed and been a part of the city’s changeover from its days of segregation. She lived to see schools and lunch counters integrated, and she was an important force behind making that happen. Among her many works, Mrs. Todd organized sit-ins, led voter registration drives, and supervised night study programs.
Her obituary gives a goodly number of details from her long and generous life, but you may also wish to read more about her in Fitzgerald’s A Different Story: A Black History of Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Spotsylvania.
In 1997, she and other local leaders in the Civil Rights era got together for a forum at the library to discuss those difficult days. Fortunately, the program, Civil Rights: Fredericksburg’s Story, was recorded in DVD format and can be checked out.
Besides a historic legacy to be shared by the community, Mrs. Todd also left a personal record of her life. Her oral history, part of HFFI’s Pieces of Our Past series, is available to read in the Virginiana Room of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.
Photo courtesy of The Free Lance-Star
Writer and artist Box Brown tracked down interviews with professional wrestlers to craft a graphic novel that celebrates the legend of Andre the Giant while also acknowledging the foibles of this fascinating figure.
This readalike is in response to a customer'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.
Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found by Jennifer Lauck: "Lauck's heartbreaking and inspiring memoir...tells how an ordinary child growing up under the blue skies of Carson City, Nevada, in the early 1970s lost her childhood after her world became unhinged by family tragedy." (Book Summary)
If you enjoyed this book for the author's engaging writing, you may enjoy these titles:
Change Me Into Zeus's Daughter by Barbara Robinette Moss
"With an unflinching voice, Barbara Robinette Moss chronicles her family's chaotic, impoverished survival in the red-clay hills of Alabama. A wild-eyed, alcoholic father and a humble, heroic mother along with a shanty full of rambunctious brothers and sisters fill her life to the brim with stories that are gripping, tender, and funny." (Amazon.com)
Driving with Dead People: A Memoir by Monica Holloway
"Holloway's candid story starts out innocently enough as she describes her eccentric family, especially her father, who loved "talking gore" and kept a movie camera in his pick-up for filming gruesome wrecks. Monica, too, has an obsession with death, and revels in her friendship with a mortician's daughter and their access to postmortems. When Monica reaches her teen years, her parents divorce. Her mother then decides it's "her turn," and she goes back to college, often leaving Monica and her next oldest sister alone. Holloway perceptively writes about hurtful moments embedded in her memory, such as her parents repeatedly telling her that her birth was a "mistake," and her mother's selfish refusal to pay for treatment for a kidney infection. The final piece of this dysfunctional family's puzzle falls into place when the oldest sister begins to remember being molested by their father; so, too, does Monica. Amidst a burgeoning number of abuse memoirs, Holloway's shines because of her deft handling of the small details while painstakingly assembling the larger picture." (Booklist)
“...the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” - Jack Kerouac's On the Road
The Beats: A Graphic History tackles the generation of post-World War II writers who revealed an untold side of America while pushing censors' boundaries with their writing style.
Ivan Doig’s This House of Sky is a memoir set in the rugged, sheep-raising terrain of Montana. It was a time when the last of the small-town ranchers were on their way out, pushed along by the Great Depression and rich men buying up failed farms to add to their own.
The author’s people were not of the rich kind. They were scrappy, immigrant stock. Ivan’s grandfather came with family from Scotland. They ran sheep til their luck ran out. Then they worked for the big ranchers. Ivan’s father was a little guy, but he broke broncos—sometimes breaking his own bones doing it -- rode herd on sheep, bossed the other hands, and fell in love with a 16-year-old girl.
The ten Boom family lived a quiet, respectable life in the Dutch town of Haarlem. Corrie and her father made and repaired clocks. Her sister was their housekeeper. They were loved by the community. But in neighboring countries, Nazi Germany was rising, and soon it would sweep into the Netherlands.
Hip Hop Family Tree Volume 2 picks up right where Ed Piskor's first phenomenal graphic novel left off. By 1981, the record industry has started to capitalize on the raw talent of urban youth. The sounds are slicker and the rhymes are tighter, but Piskor manages to find and highlight the raw edges of the musical movement.
March: Book One is the beautifully constructed graphic novel biography of Civil Rights activist and Congressman John Lewis. Relying only on black and white imagery, it is quiet in its form and presentation. Lewis' struggle of growing up in the Deep South, fighting to go to college, and helping to organize lunch counter sit-ins speaks volumes and needs no distraction.