Biographies & Memoirs

03/06/2017 - 8:25am
If you like Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

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.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of A Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
Vance, a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, provides an account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America's white working class. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm. J.D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. Author of Hillbilly Elegy, J.A. Vance

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.'s grandparents were "dirt poor and in love," and moved north from Kentucky's Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance's grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. (catalog summary)



Are you either waiting or finished with Hillbilly Elegy? Check out these similar titles to Vance's epic biography.

 

​Allegheny Front: The Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction Selected by Lydia Millet, authored by Matthew Neill NullAllegheny Front: The Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction Selected by Lydia Millet, authored by Matthew Neill Null
The deceptively powerful stories in Null's first collection, after his debut novel Honey from the Lion, create a map not only of the geography of rural West Virginia but also of its people. These are characters inhabiting places largely ignored by the outside world. In "Mates," a man kills an endangered bald eagle on his land, believing himself to be above the law, and is then stalked and tormented by the eagle's mate. In "Gauley Season," a group of ex-miners turn to operating rafting companies after their mining jobs disappear, but the promising new industry quickly leads to tragedy. The rugged lives of a group of log drivers in the late 1800s are chronicled in "The Slow Lean of Time." In the astonishing "Telemetry," a young scientist's camp on Back Allegheny Mountain is visited by a local man and his daughter, their presence forcing the scientist to confront her relationship to her own origins, which becomes a recurring theme in the collection. Violence is inevitable in these stories-guns are almost always present, and they aren't just decoration-but there is plenty of beauty, too. Landscape is an essential element, as well as the constant presence of wild animals, but Null focuses on the ways that a setting can shape how we identify with the world. The scope of the collection contains voices from multiple generations, and the result is a kaleidoscopic portrait of a distinctive region of North America, as well as an exercise in finding the universal in the particular. (catalog summary)
 

03/03/2017 - 12:44am
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

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.

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
Before John Glenn orbited the earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as "human computers" used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South's segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America's aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam's call, moving to Hampton Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. Even as Virginia's Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley's all-black "West Computing" group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens. (catalog summary)
 

Have you read our Rappahannock Read, Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly? If you have and you're looking for more titles like Hidden Figures, check these out! These selections include: history of the Space Race and women's achievements in science and other fields of STEM.


 

The Astronaut Wives Club: A True StoryThe Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel
As America's Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, appeared on the cover of Life magazine, and quickly grew into fashion icons. Annie Glenn, with her picture-perfect marriage, was the envy of the other wives; platinum-blonde Rene Carpenter was proclaimed JFK's favorite; and licensed pilot Trudy Cooper arrived on base with a secret. Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, meeting regularly to provide support and friendship. Many became next-door neighbors and helped to raise each other's children by day, while going to glam parties at night. As their celebrity rose—and as divorce and tragic death began to touch their lives—they continued to rally together, and the wives have now been friends for more than fifty years. (catalog summary)
 


05/23/2017 - 11:34am
Leo and Diane Dillon: An Artful Marriage

Leo Dillon was fascinated by Diane Sorber before he ever laid eyes on her. It was one of her paintings that caught his attention. For he did not know of any other student who had that deft, expressive technique. He was curious and a little jealous. He had a rival, and he knew it.

03/01/2017 - 12:43am
Cover to Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave Ona Judge

In traditional biographies of the Washingtons, the subject of slavery rarely comes up, or, if it does, it is given a paragraph or perhaps a chapter to explain the “peculiar institution” as it related to the first First Family. There is nothing like a personal story—a slave’s personal and true story—to get a deeper perspective. In Erica Armstrong Dunbar’s Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave Ona Judge, that is exactly what we have.

03/02/2017 - 8:58am
CRRL Guest Picks: Principal Harold Morton

March's guest reader is a longtime educator with very local roots. Harold Morton has been the principal of Salem Elementary School for 15 years. He enjoys sports, movies, and school, and he says the best parts of his day are greeting students as they arrive at school and reading bedtime stories to his daughters at night.

02/21/2017 - 10:03am
Thomas Armat: Fredericksburg Native Was an Inventor of the Motion Picture Projector

Most Fredericksburg cinephiles have to content themselves with a life far removed from the gaudy glamour of the flashy film world that is now at its yearly peak as “award season” takes over Hollywood. However, if not for the ingenuity and tenacity of Fredericksburg-born entrepreneur and movie projector inventor Thomas Armat (1866-1948), the movie magic viewers take for granted today may have had a very different history.

02/01/2017 - 3:36pm
Author of the Month: Langston Hughes

"I was unhappy for a long time, and very lonesome, living with my grandmother. Then it was that books began to happen to me, and I began to believe in nothing but books and the wonderful world in books — where if people suffered, they suffered in beautiful language, not in monosyllables, as we did in Kansas." (From The Big Sea, one of Hughes’ autobiographies) 

02/24/2017 - 10:08am
CRRL Guest Picks: Storyteller Daisy Howard-Douglas

February’s guest reader is Daisy Howard-Douglas, an educator, author, storyteller, and community treasure. She spent years as a teacher in Richmond schools, but she always maintained a strong connection with her childhood. Raised in the island town of Morgan City, Louisiana—and truly raised by a village—"Miss Daisy" enjoys sharing stories that draw on her wonderful early years, surrounded and supported by people in different generations.

01/31/2017 - 11:44am
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

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.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
As London is emerging from the shadow of World War II, writer Juliet Ashton discovers her next subject in a book club on Guernsey a club born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi after its members are discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island. (catalog summary)

If you like epistolary fiction (letter writing) like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, check out these other titles as well.
 

The Antagonist



The Antagonist by Lynn Coady (General Fiction)
A man of enormous size and strength, Gordon Rankin, Jr., has been plagued with misfortune his entire life, which culminates in an old, trusted college friend publishing a novel that borrows freely from the traumatic events of Rank's own life. (catalog summary)

 


 

Dear Committee Members
Dear Committee Members
by Julie Schumacher (Humor, General Fiction)
Jason Fitger is a beleaguered professor of creative writing and literature at Payne University, a small and not very distinguished liberal arts college in the Midwest. His department is facing draconian cuts and squalid quarters; his writing career is in the doldrums; his life is a tale of woe. In a series of letters of recommendation that Fitger is endlessly called upon by his students and colleagues to produce, he creates small masterpieces of high dudgeon, low spirits, and passive-aggressive strategies. (catalog summary)

 

02/22/2017 - 12:52pm
Our Stories: A Panel Discussion Inspired by Hidden Figures

As fascinating and inspirational as we find the trials and triumphs of the African American women mathematicians profiled in our Rappahannock Reads selection, Hidden Figures, there are many, many such stories that our own friends and neighbors can tell us. We’ve invited some of those friends and neighbors to join us on Thursday, February 23, 7:00, at Headquarters Library for a lively panel discussion and to share with us their stories that parallel, in ways both large and small, those of the women of Hidden Figures. The stories may describe our past, but they will illuminate our present day and inform our future. Our panel members include: Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater, Daisy Howard-Douglas, Dorothy Jackson, Johnny Johnson, Sandra and Donald Manigault, Cynthia Montague, Xavier Richardson, and Frank White.  Our moderator will be DeShawn Robinson-Chew.

Come to the library, and join the discussion. We’ll even serve refreshments! Read more about the panel members below.

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