by Saroo Brierley
First it was a media sensation. Then it became the New York Times bestseller and #1 international bestseller A Long Way Home. Now it’s Lion, the major motion picture starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, and Rooney Mara–nominated for six Academy Awards!
This is the miraculous and triumphant story of Saroo Brierley, a young man who used Google Earth to rediscover his childhood life and home in an incredible journey from India to Australia and back again…
At only five years old, Saroo Brierley got lost on a train in India. Unable to read or write or recall the name of his hometown or even his own last name, he survived alone for weeks on the rough streets of Calcutta before ultimately being transferred to an agency and adopted by a couple in Australia.Despite his gratitude, Brierley always wondered about his origins. Eventually, with the advent of Google Earth, he had the opportunity to look for the needle in a haystack he once called home, and pore over satellite images for landmarks he might recognize or mathematical equations that might further narrow down the labyrinthine map of India. One day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for and set off to find his family.
A Long Way Home is a moving, poignant, and inspirational true story of survival and triumph against incredible odds. It celebrates the importance of never letting go of what drives the human spirit: hope.
by Bill Bryson
A GoodReads Reader’s Choice
The summer of 1927 began with Charles Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic. Meanwhile, Babe Ruth was closing in on the home run record. In Newark, New Jersey, Alvin Shipwreck Kelly sat atop a flagpole for twelve days, and in Chicago, the gangster Al Capone was tightening his grip on bootlegging. The first true talking picture, Al Jolson s The Jazz Singer, was filmed, forever changing the motion picture industry.
All this and much, much more transpired in the year Americans attempted and accomplished outsized things and when the twentieth century truly became the American century. One Summer transforms it all into narrative nonfiction of the highest order.”
by Roxane Gay
“I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I had been because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one I made but barely recognized or understood but of my own making. I was miserable, but I was safe.”
In this intimate and searing memoir, the New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay addresses the experience of living in a body that she calls “wildly undisciplined.” She casts an insightful and critical eye over her childhood, teens, and twenties–including the devastating act of violence that was a turning point in her young life–and brings readers intwo the present and the realities, pains, and joys of her daily life.
With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and authority that have made her one of the most admired voices of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen. Hunger is a deeply personal memoir from one of our finest writers, and it tells a story that hasn’t yet been told but needs to be.
Recommended by Kelly
By Patti Smith
It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.
Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max’s Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous–the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, they would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years.
Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists’ ascent, a prelude to fame.
Recommended by Amy
By Maggie Nelson
An intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of the latest thinking about love, language, and family
Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work of “autotheory” offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. At its center is a romance: the story of the author’s relationship with the artist Harry Dodge. This story, which includes Nelson’s account of falling in love with Dodge, who is fluidly gendered, as well as her journey to and through a pregnancy, offers a firsthand account of the complexities and joys of (queer) family-making.
Writing in the spirit of public intellectuals such as Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes, Nelson binds her personal experience to a rigorous exploration of what iconic theorists have said about sexuality, gender, and the vexed institutions of marriage and child-rearing. Nelson’s insistence on radical individual freedom and the value of caretaking becomes the rallying cry of this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book.
Recommended by Natalie & Kelly
By Arlie Russell Hochschild
In Strangers in Their Own Land, the renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country–a stronghold of the conservative right. As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and quickly warms to the people she meets–among them a Tea Party activist whose town has been swallowed by a sinkhole caused by a drilling accident–people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children.
Strangers in Their Own Land goes beyond the commonplace liberal idea that these are people who have been duped into voting against their own interests. Instead, Hochschild finds lives ripped apart by stagnant wages, a loss of home, an elusive American dream–and political choices and views that make sense in the context of their lives. Hochschild draws on her expert knowledge of the sociology of emotion to help us understand what it feels like to live in “red” America. Along the way she finds answers to one of the crucial questions of contemporary American politics: why do the people who would seem to benefit most from “liberal” government intervention abhor the very idea?
Recommended by Kristin