An outstanding memoir can rev up any reading group. These four authors share their incredible stories in expertly crafted narratives.
In Small Fry, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, daughter of artist Chrisann Brennan and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, looks back at her turbulent California upbringing. When the author was a child, Jobs wouldn’t acknowledge her as his daughter, and she and her mother struggled to make ends meet. Over time, she grew closer to her father, but his remote and thorny personality brought consistent friction to their relationship. This electrifying narrative provides an up-close look at Jobs while exploring timeless questions about family, loyalty and love.
In 1921, Françoise Frenkel established a French-language bookstore in Berlin. The Nazis ascended to power, and in the late 1930s she managed to flee to France and eventually to Switzerland. In 1945, she published A Bookshop in Berlin, a chronicle of her terrifying journey to escape persecution due to her Jewish heritage. The work was rediscovered more than six decades later and first published in the United States in 2019. This spellbinding and suspenseful memoir will prompt discussions on history, morality and human rights.
In Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law, Haben Girma tells her remarkable story. From a young age, Haben, the daughter of Eritrean refugees, was determined to make the world a better place for people like herself. In describing her experiences in school—she was the first deafblind student to graduate from Harvard Law—and as an advocate for those with disabilities, she offers inspiring anecdotes and life lessons with humor and heart.
Albert Woodfox’s Solitary is an unforgettable account of the author’s 40-plus years in solitary confinement. Woodfox, a member of the Black Panther Party, was doing time for armed robbery in Angola Prison in 1972 when a white guard there was murdered. Along with a fellow Black Panther, Woodfox was blamed for the killing, despite a clear lack of evidence, and sentenced to life in solitary confinement. His courageous memoir is an excellent jumping-off point for important conversations about race and the history of the American penal system. Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, it’s at once an invaluable critique and an outstanding personal narrative.