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You Can't Touch My Hair

Half of the podcast (and show)Two Dope Queens (her partner Jessica Williams provides the foreword), comedian Phoebe Robinson's infectious personality is on display in her debut collection of essays. She shares personal and professional experiences in a humorous and moving way in You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain (2016).

I highly recommend listening to Robinson narrate the audiobook (available via Overdrive) to hear her take on being a Black woman in America, racism and sexism in the workplace, and current and classic pop culture topics. It's funny and engaging social commentary. If you prefer to read the memoir, that's on Overdrive too.

We've got a list of Black Voices: Memoirs, Essays, & Poetry. Check it out.



Where Am I Now?

Did you enjoy Matilda, Mrs. Doubtfire, or the remake of Miracle on 34th Street? These 90s films feature a delightful performance by the adorable Mara Wilson. She's all grown up now, and has written an engaging series of essays. In Where Am I Now?True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame (2016), Wilson covers her childhood in the spotlight (both good and bad), her struggles with OCD and depression, and coming of age as an aspiring storyteller in New York City.

Don't let the childhood stardom fool you. Wilson pursued the creative arts (both performing and writing) in high school and in college at NYU. She is a gifted writer and experienced storyteller, and those talents shine throughout her memoir. It is full of heart, featuring both heartbreaking and humorous stories.

Listen to her memoir via Overdrive. Watch a video with Mara on mental health for Project UROK. 



Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan (2013)

dadisfatI just listened to Dad is Fat on audio. Read by author Jim Gaffigan, it is a laugh-out-loud collection of essays of what it is like to be the father of five kids and their adventures of living in New York City. The humor is universal and the love for his family comes through in each chapter.

This is a Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (2013)

storyofahappymarriageThis is a beautiful collection of essays by one my favorite authors, Ann Patchett. The essays range from a humorous recounting of driving a Winnebago through the Badlands to her sage advice for writers. Patchett's insights into her own life and the world around her are moving. This is a Story of a Happy Marriage is a truly enjoyable read.

Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou

Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou (2008)
Letter to My Daughter is a collection of 28 essays on life, faith, motherhood, kindness, and what it means to be human. The pieces are short but are wonderful words of wisdom and insight.

I am right with Angelou as she takes on popular culture and our acceptance of obscenity. She calls on us to improve our values to be a people of substance, and to require the same from our elected officials. I found this to be a very thought provoking read.

Read the reviews at Amazon.com, watch the author introduce her book, and visit the author's website.

The Soul of a Doctor

The Soul of a Doctor: Harvard Medical Students Face Life and Death (2006)
This book of poignant stories show doctors (really, doctors-to-be) to be so human… conflicted, drawn in by the drama of life and death, and constantly learning from the situations they face daily. This is a must read, especially for doctors, others in the medical profession, and for all of us who at some time are their patients. The stories draw you in and make you hope that these medical students remember the “heart” lessons they learned as a medical students at Harvard and that the medical profession works to connect with the human side of their patients. This book is fascinating. Dr. Jerome Groopman, author of How Doctors Think, another of my favorite medical books, does the forward for this book.

Loud and Clear by Anna Quindlen

Loud and Clear by Anna Quindlen (2004)
I have only recently “discovered” the Pulitzer Prize-winning Quindlen. A gifted cultural interpreter, as shown in these essays culled primarily from the New York Times and Newsweek, she gets to the heart of the matter--she articulates the truths-- of the contemporary social and political scene. Enjoy—whether you agree or not!
--Shirley

Quindlen provides a collection of her Newsweek and New York Times columns offering her opinions and insights into social issues of the day. She divides the book into themes: heart, mind, soul, voice and body. I listened to it on CD and loved it!
--Cindy K.