Rocket Girl: the Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, American’s First Female Rocket Scientist
By George D. Morgan
Mary Morgan was an enigma to her children. It seemed that she had erased all of her past, and it was never a subject for discussion. Following her death, her son George was tasked with writing her obituary. He knew from bits and pieces of conversation that his mother had worked on secret Cold War projects. But the obituary information could not be independently verified, and the Los Angeles Times would not print it. Thus began George’s quest to fill in the blanks about his mother’s past. The author refers to the book as “creative nonfiction.” The reader will be drawn into the remarkable life of Mary Morgan, a story that never would have seen the light of day but for one determined son. (Format: Print)
Twelve Years a Slave
By Solomon Northrup
Twelve Years a Slave is the harrowing account of a black man, born free in New York State, who was drugged, kidnapped, and sold into slavery in 1841. Having no way to contact his family, and fearing for his life if he told the truth, Solomon Northup was sold from plantation to plantation in Louisiana, toiling under cruel masters for twelve years before meeting Samuel Bass, a Canadian who finally put him in touch with his family, and helped start the process to regain his freedom. (Formats: Print; E-Book; Book-on-CD)
World’s Strongest Librarian: a Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family
By Josh Hanagarne
Diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome when he was a high school freshman, Josh Hanagarne tried every remedy until an autistic strongman taught him to "throttle" his symptoms. Illuminating the mysteries of this little- understood disorder as well as his very different roles as strongman and librarian with humor and candor, this unlikely hero traces his journey to overcome his disability-- and navigate his wavering Mormon faith-- to find love and create a life worth living. (Formats: print; Large Type)
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
By Alexandra Fuller
In this sequel to 'Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight', Alexandra Fuller returns to Africa and the story of her unforgettable family. In ‘Cocktail Hour’ we see the Africa of her mother's childhood; the boiled cabbage grimness of her father's English childhood; and the civil war- torn Africa of Alexandra’s own childhood. At its heart, this is the story of Fuller's mother, Nicola. Born on the Scottish Isle of Skye and raised in Kenya, Nicola holds dear the kinds of values most likely to get you hurt or killed in Africa: loyalty to blood, passion for land, and a holy belief in the restorative power of all animals. We see Nicola and Tim Fuller in their lavender-colored honeymoon period, when east Africa lies before them with all its promise, even as the British empire in which they both believe wanes. But in short order, an accumulation of mishaps and tragedies bump up against history until the couple finds themselves in a world they hardly recognize. An unforgettable story of survival and madness, love and war, loyalty and forgiveness.
By George Howe Colt
Colt writes about his own brothers and various brothers in history in this extremely well-researched blend of memoir and history. Colt believe he is what he is today because of the family dynamics of growing up with three brothers. Colt parallels his quest to understand how his siblings shaped his life by looking at relationships between other brothers such as the Booths, the Van Goghs, and the Marx Brothers. It’s fascinating reading about how the inner working of family shape and mold us.
Destiny of the Republic: a Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President
By Candice Millard
James A. Garfield was one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president. Born into abject poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, and a renowned and admired reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he engaged in a fierce battle with the corrupt political establishment. But four months after his inauguration, a deranged office seeker tracked Garfield down and shot him in the back. But the shot didn't kill Garfield. The drama of what happened subsequently is a powerful story of a nation in turmoil. The unhinged assassin's half-delivered strike shattered the fragile national mood of a country so recently fractured by civil war, and left the wounded president as the object of a bitter behind-the-scenes struggle for power--over his administration, over the nation's future, and, hauntingly, over his medical care. A team of physicians administered shockingly archaic treatments, to disastrous effect. As his condition worsened, Garfield received help: Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, worked around the clock to invent a new device capable of finding the bullet. Meticulously researched, epic in scope, and pulsating with an intimate human focus and high-velocity narrative drive, The Destiny of the Republic is a classic of narrative history.
Below Stairs: the Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir That Inspired “Upstairs, Downstairs” and “Downtown Abbey”
By Heather McElhatton
If you are a fan of Downton Abbey, or Upstairs, Downstairs, you will want to read Powell’s book. It was first published in 1968, and it is Margaret Powell’s memoir of her years spent in domestic service in early 20th century England. Like many young girls of that time period, the author left home at age 14 and “went into service”, working for the upper class in England to earn an income. The bottom rung of the ladder in domestic service was the kitchen maid, and that‘s where Powell started. But early on she was determined to climb rapidly to the top of the ladder. She would quickly become a Cook in the household; the Cook had all the respect in the kitchen; she was the “boss” of the domestic servants. Powell is feisty, but mindful of the distinctions between the upper and working classes; she tells her story with a keen wit.
Good Son: the Life of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini
By Mark Kriegel
The book tells the story of Ray Mancini, the lightweight boxing champ from Youngstown. It’s a story of family, fights, fame, and a fall from the pinnacle of boxing success. Mancini went into boxing with noble intentions – to win the title that his father, a lightweight contender himself, could not after taking shrapnel from a German mortar in World War II. For Boom Boom, success followed success. The entire nation was in love with this spunky kid from a mobbed-up former steel town. Then it all fell apart after a nationally-televised fight during which Mancini’s opponent was knocked unconscious and later died. The author tracks the story across generations, delving deep into the Mancini family and delivering a “warts and all” portrait that will keep the reader glued to the book until the last page.
Making Piece: a Memoir of Love, Loss, and Pie
By Beth M. Howard
Beth Howard’s husband died unexpectedly at age 43. Wracked by guilt (Beth had just asked for a divorce) and consumed by overwhelming grief, Beth turned to the one constant in her life – making pies. In the process of her pie journey, she meets others who have experienced loss and who have made peace with it. Beth learns that death is a part of life, and pie can be the catalyst for healing. The reader will want to purchase pie-making ingredients in advance, as all of the details about the taste of pie in this true story will send them into the kitchen to create!
Harold: The Boy Who Became Mark Twain
by Hal Holbrook
The story of Holbrook’s life through age 34 is an intimate and sometimes painful look at a life examined. Holbrook’s memoir chronicles his struggle in early life: he was raised by grandparents after being abandoned at age 2 by his parents. After WW II, Holbrook stumbled into acting. From that time forward, he continued to hone his craft although wracked by self-doubt and loneliness. Holbrook today is a celebrated actor and a five-time Emmy Award winner. One hopes that he will tell us the rest of his story in a future book.
Return to the Recommended Reads page.