In alphabetical order -
Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow - As a real-life thriller about how one journalist, along with the courageous women who came forward, took down sexual predators in the workplace, like Harvey Weinstein, this book lives up to the hype. A big part of the book is about Farrow’s investigation into the media mogul’s alleged sexual misconduct and rapes, but beyond that, it highlights how the powers that be tried to squelch the actual investigation and cover up for men behaving badly. Along the way, he and others were followed and threatened, but their story prevailed, launching a social movement. #metoo.
Furious Hours by Casey Cep - This is an incredible true crime thriller/courtroom drama of a murderous reverend in the Deep South in the 70s. Justice alluded him for many years, allowing him to get away with five murders, including two wives. While the reverend was in the courtroom, he was shot and killed by a relative of his last crime. Sitting in that very courtroom at that time was famed author, Harper Lee. This launched her into an investigation of the circumstances that led to that fateful day- the Reverend’s history, racial politics of the era, the murders and botched investigations. Although her research was never published, Cep delves into Lee’s findings and then some. It is fascinating!
Here We Are by Aarti Namdev Shahani - In this moving memoir, Shahani gives a humane account of her family’s immigration from Casablanca to Queens, NY and their challenges in being undocumented and then documented. An addition to being an immigration story, it is also a coming-of-age story of a dutiful daughter who grew up to be an accomplished NPR journalist.
How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones - This is a gritty and raw coming-of-age memoir of Jones as he grew up in the South as black, gay man. Much of his youth he was in denial of or confusion about his sexual orientation, unable to comfortably come out to his mother who raised him on her own. Although he had hoped to go to New York for college, thinking he could be free to be himself, it did not happen. Finances dictated that he needed to take a scholarship at a school in Georgia. Throughout his life, the one constant was his attraction to reading and writing, and the deep love for his mother who came to accept him completely. “How We Fight” is both searing and beautiful.
Inheritance by Dani Shapiro - read full review here - http://www.paulafarmer.com/books-blog/inheritance-a-memoir-review
Maid by Stephanie Land - Although she had dreams of leaving her hometown and becoming a writer, Land ended up pregnant and her hopes temporarily dashed. She was poor, white and a young single mom, with no support from her dysfunctional parents. To make ends meet and support her child, she began working as a low paid maid. Along the way, she was the recipient of ridicule, judgement and rejection. All of which she channeled into a compassionate observation of how the overworked and underpaid in America are treated and overlooked.
She Said by Jodi Kanter & Megan Twohey -
Source of Self-Regard by Toni Morrison - It doesn't get much better than a collection of the wit, wisdom and truisms by the legendary writer and scholar, Toni Morrison. As her last published works, these short essays are imbued with her love for and mastery of language and sharing her thoughts on life, race and racism. All delivered in her signature style that we cherish and will miss dearly.
Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell - This straightforward, thoroughly thought out arguments of how we get it wrong and sometimes right in communicating and interpreting communications. Done in stand alone vignettes, Gladwell breaks down social situations of mixed signals and misunderstandings, such as the Amanda Knox investigation and trial. Each real-life example is utterly compelling and says so much about us as a society.
The Yellow House by Sarah Broom -
HONORABLE MENTION -
Blowout by Rachel Maddow
Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington
Moving Forward by Karine Jean Pierre
BUY INDIE, BUY LOCAL! You can (and should) get any of the titles above from an independent bookstore near you (or online)