Biographies & Memoirs

Rurally Screwed: My Life Off the Grid with the Cowboy I Love by Jessie Knadler

Rurally Screwed: My Life Off the Grid with the Cowboy I Love by  Jessie Knadler

Jessie Knadler, transplanted from Montana, is living a less than satisfying life in the Big Apple. She’s just been laid off from her position as a magazine editor; she recently learned that her lover has a proclivity for (really) young girls; and she’s certain that her late nights spent drinking into the wee hours will not prolong her life. When she’s offered a freelance opportunity to return to Montana to write a story on a popular rodeo event, Jessie figures she’s got nothing better to do…plus there’s always the nagging fact of needing cash. In Rurally Screwed: My Life Off the Grid with the Cowboy I Love, Jessie’s trip back West will dramatically change her life.

If you like Breaking Night by Liz Murray

Breaking Night by Liz Murray
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.
 
Breaking Night by Liz Murray: "The memoir of a young woman who at age 15 was living on the streets but survived to make it to Harvard. Murray's story was featured in the Lifetime Original Movie 'Homeless to Harvard.'" 
 
If you enjoyed this title and are looking for similar nonfiction titles, here are some books you may enjoy:
 
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
The author chronicles his impoverished childhood and early experiences in the Catholic church, and describes his father's alcoholism and talent for storytelling, as well as the challenges and tragedies his mother faced, balancing painful memories with humor. (catalog description)
 
 
 
 
Another Place at the Table by Kathy Harrison
For more than a decade, Kathy Harrison has sheltered a shifting cast of troubled youngsters-the offspring of prostitutes and addicts; the sons and daughters of abusers; and teenage parents who can't handle parenthood. What would motivate someone to give herself over to constant, largely uncompensated chaos? How does she manage her extraordinary blended family? Why would anyone voluntarily take on her job? (catalog description)
 
 
 

If you like The Places In Between by Rory Stewart

The Places In Between
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.
 
The Places In Between by Rory Stewart: "In January 2002 Rory Stewart walked across Afghanistan-surviving by his wits, his knowledge of Persian dialects and Muslim customs, and the kindness of strangers. By day he passed through mountains covered in nine feet of snow, hamlets burned and emptied by the Taliban, and communities thriving amid the remains of medieval civilizations. By night he slept on villagers' floors, shared their meals, and listened to their stories of the recent and ancient past" (Book Description).
 
If you enjoyed this book, here are some other titles you may enjoy:
 
Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger
Wilfred Thesiger, repulsed by what he saw as the softness and rigidity of Western life - 'the machines, the calling cards, the meticulously aligned streets' - spent years exploring in and around the vast, waterless desert that is the 'Empty Quarter' of Arabia. Travelling amongst the Bedu people, he experienced their everyday challenges of hunger and thirst, the trials of long marches beneath the relentless sun, the bitterly cold nights and the constant danger of death if it was discovered he was a Christian 'infidel'. He was the first European to visit most of the region, and just before he left the area the process that would change it forever had begun - the discovery of oil. (catalog description)
 
Author recounts his travels through thirteen Muslim countries in the Middle East: the ordinary people, the conflicts, and the land. (worldcat.org)
 
 
 
 
 

Have You Seen Marie? by Sandra Cisneros, Illustrated by Ester Hernandez

Have You Seen Marie? cover

Have You Seen Marie? is a picture book, but it is aimed at adults. The author and illustrator created it as an attempt to help them deal with their grief, for each of them has lost a parent. 

The story is about Sandra Cisneros who suffered from depression after her mother’s death. Her doctor encouraged the author to take antidepressants, but she resisted taking medication. Her friend came to visit her and while there lost her cat, Marie. The act of trying to find her friend’s cat forced Cisneros out of the house and into the world again in order to help her friend. This picture book introduces all of her colorful neighbors as she tries to find Marie.

The Late Shift by Bill Carter

The Late Shift by Bill Carter

When New York Times reporter Bill Carter recently broke the story that NBC was planning on gently escorting Tonight Show host Jay Leno out the door for a younger, fresher face, it felt a little like déjà vu. That's because the same decision happened about ten years ago.

Carter's definitely the most qualified person to reveal such information. The news made me seek out his book, The Late Shift. The title is a breakthrough account of the shake-up at NBC after Johnny Carson surprisingly announced his plan to retire within a year. The network famously snubbed their Late Night host, David Letterman by hiring Leno, who had been a successful guest host for the legendary Carson.

Ruth Coder Fitzgerald: A Life Filled with Determination

Ruth Coder Fitzgerald: A Life Filled with Determination

“She was always very generous with her time and hospitality to me, and I loved working with her. She helped me with my walking tour as well. I have not been in touch with her over the past several years, but to this day whenever I give one of my walking tours downtown, I make sure that all on the tour with me are made aware that the basis for most of the information shared on the walking tour is the result of the great work and passion of one Ruth Coder Fitzgerald and her book -- A Different Story. In my view, Ruth was always a caring and powerful voice for the underdog, the ‘little guy,’ and her lifelong commitment to inform, to teach, and advocate for that particular constituent speaks volumes about her makeup, her sense of fairness for all, and her heart of gold. My admiration and love for Ruth, and what she stood for, is never-ending.”

--Jervis Hairston, former City Planner and local historian

On April 10, 2013, a highly-regarded pioneer in local African American history died at her home in downtown Fredericksburg. Ruth Coder Fitzgerald was well-known throughout the community for her historical research and writings as well as for her championing of an important cause for Vietnam veterans.

Three Cups of Deceit by Jon Krakauer

Three Cups of Deceit by Jon Krakauer

One of the most popular humanitarian nonfiction books of the 2000s was Greg Mortenson’s best seller Three Cups of TeaThree Cups of Tea was marketed as a call for humanitarian aid to impoverished Central Asian nations such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, but Mortenson’s life story of dedicating himself to providing education to the people of Central Asia was the emotional connection that sold many readers on the book.  Mortenson traveled across the U.S., giving lectures, setting up charities to provide money for his Central Asia Institute (CAI), and appearing on numerous talk shows to promote his book.  As beautiful as his humanitarian mission seemed, it was ultimately revealed as too good to be true by writer Jon Krakauer, whose expose Three Cups of Deceit explored the lies in Mortenson’s story and the lack of effectiveness in the CAI’s schools program.  Although Three Cups of Deceit can be a depressing read at times, it also makes for a fascinating study in media awareness and image manipulation.

Lee Bennett Hopkins: Poetry for Everyone

Young Lee Bennett Hopkins was an unlikely candidate to go down in the Guinness Book of World Records for having edited the most poetry anthologies ever.  He spent half his childhood in the projects of Scranton, New Jersey, and hated school.  His father left the family when Lee was fourteen, leaving him to look after his younger brother and sister.  His mother had her own problems, but she did love her children.

What made the difference for him was a special teacher who gave him hope.  In eighth grade, Mrs. Ethel Kite McLaughlin encouraged him in his writing and urged him to go to as many plays as possible, some of which he managed to see by slipping into the theatres during intermission and catching this second act. This opened a new perspective for Lee, and he was soon on different path, away from the poverty and street life he had known.

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

"Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying.”

Will Schwalbe comes from a family where everyone is always reading—and sharing their opinions about—a book. So asking his mother, “What are you reading?” was a fairly commonplace sort of question. Except that it was posed in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and his mother, Mary Anne, was about to start chemotherapy for advanced pancreatic cancer. During Mary Anne’s treatments and while she is convalescing at home, Will finds that discussing books strengthens the connection between them and allows them to safely explore such sensitive topics as regret, dying, and faith. His book, The End of Your Life Book Club, is both an amazing tribute to his mother and to the books they both cherished.

Great Lives Lecture Series: Arthur Ashe

Book cover of Days of Grace: A Memoir by Arthur Ashe and Arnold Rampersad

The University of Mary Washington's 2013 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Thursday, February 21, with a lecture on Arthur Ashe by Arnold Rampersad, co-author (with Ashe) of Days of Grace: A Memoir:

An inspiring memoir of a remarkable man who was the true embodiment of courage, elegance, and the spirit
to fight: Arthur Ashe--tennis champion, social activist, and person with AIDS. Frank, revealing, touching -
Days of Grace is the story of a man felled to soon.
 
Find out more about this lecture on the University of Mary Washington's web site.
 
All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are held at 7:30pm, in Dodd Auditorium, George
Washington Hall, and are free and open to the public.
 
For more on this topic, check out these items from the library:
 
African American Trailblazers directed by Eric Allan Futterman (DVD)
[An] homage to the significant contributions and accomplishments of twelve heroic African Americans from
Virginia honoring those who exemplify the inspiring characteristics of the African American Trailblazers.
(catalog summary)