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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.



Toil & Trouble

In his latest memoir, Augusten Burroughs, once again, delivers a story filled with laughter, heartache, and yes...magic. In this story of moving from the big city to the country, he reveals that he is a witch. Yes, a witch! Yes, I was a bit thrown over this revelation, but through his candid telling of his own life, I grew to appreciate him even more.

As always, he includes a fantastic cast of characters you really can connect to. If you are a fan of his work, you will not be disappointed. In Toil & Trouble (2019), he reveals much more of himself to his fans than just being a witch.

Visit Overdrive to read the ebook or listen to the audiobook.

The Rural Diaries

Hilarie Burton Morgan's book The Rural Diaries (2020) is like catching up with an old friend over coffee.
I have been a fan since she played Peyton Sawyer on One Tree Hill. I didn't follow her personal life much until a year ago when I started following the cast on Instagram. Hilarie seemed well-grounded and normal. I wondered if it was an act for Instagram or if this was actually her.

After reading her book, I'm pleased to say, it's all her. She's so normal. It's refreshing. Her words are real and authentic. She uses bad four-letter words occasionally. Her stories are heartwarming and relatable. She shares tips for gardening, recipes, and home improvement. And speaking of home improvement, she loves Home Depota girl after my own heart. She talks about being a friend, a mother, a wife, and a woman.

She is married to actor, Jeffery Dean Morgan, who I had a mad crush on when he played Denny Duquette on Grey's Anatomy. And, she co-owns a candy store in a small New York town with actor, Paul Rudd. How did this all happen? I don't want to spoil it for you. Read the book. It's just another one of the heartwarming stories that she tells. Trust me; you'll enjoy it.

I'm so glad I listened to Hilarie narrate the book. I think hearing her words, spoken by her, made her stories more enjoyable. Like I said, catching up with an old friend over coffee.

If you're a fan of Hilarie, read (I mean, listen to) the book. Even if you're not a fan, it's a truly enjoyable memoir that in a nutshell, is about a girl, her life, and a farm. Check out The Rural Diaries: Love, Livestock, and Big Life Lessons Down on Mischief Farm today. Visit Overdrive to listen to the audiobook or read the ebook.



Hey Kiddo

This memoir is a moving, sad, but also hopeful story of a family affected by loss and addiction. Hey Kiddo: How I Lost my Mother, Found my Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction (2018) tells a story of how families can come in all shapes and sizes, messy and ugly, but also loving and forgiving. Throughout, Jarrett J. Krosoczka found hope and a sense of love and support. Others will feel less alone in their own struggles.
The audiobook is amazing! Using music and sound effects, this very personal audiobook is narrated by the author with family members and friends voicing the rest of the characters. In the author's notes, he gives us more insight into his family and childhood. Listen to the audiobook on Hoopla today.

The author uses mixed media art with actual letters included in with his drawings. The burnt orange undertones and pineapple wallpaper are a beautiful part of the story as the author explains in notes on his art.This powerful and unforgettable graphic novel is heartbreaking yet uplifting.

Hey Kiddo is a memoir not to be missed. Read the ebook on Overdrive.

Hey Kiddo is a National Book Award Finalist, a 2021 Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (Abe), and a Top Ten Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults.

The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia

Just finished playing a Legend of Zelda game and are longing for more? If so, this is the perfect book for you. The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia (2013) is jam packed with pictures, lore, and information regarding the various Zelda titles. It goes in depth into how some of the environments were created and how it impacts the greater Zelda universe.

If nothing else, the book is just a joy to look at for its art style alone and design choices. Read it instantly on Hoopla today.

The Psychopath Test

This is a funny yet thought-provoking look at the diagnosis and treatment of psychopathy, a disorder involving anti-social attitudes and behavior. Jon Ronson talks to some pretty interesting characters including Emmanuel Constant, paramilitary leader of a Haitian death squad.

Beyond the very interesting case histories, Ronson purports that the diagnosis of psychopathy is largely dependent on the confirmation bias of the examinerand that could put all of us at risk.

The title of this book refers to an actual list of anti-social traits called the Hare Psychopathy Checklist. Ronson examines the effectiveness of the list and concludes checklist results can be interpreted conflictingly by different researchers. In other words, the checklist results are in the eye of the beholder.

You will like The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry (2011). Read the book on Overdrive or listen to the audiobook on Hoopla. Ronson also wrote The Men Who Stare at Goats and So You've Been Publicly Shamed, which are good too.



This Is Me

Chrissy Metz writes in a relatable way. This Is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today (2018) is an inspiring and heartwarming read. Through her story, you learn that you can change and achieve what you desire in life, simply by being your best self.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the woman behind the character Kate on This Is Us. It was heartbreaking to read of her abuse and uplifting how she treated those who bullied her.

Chrissy Metz writes in a way that makes you feel like you're sitting and talking with a good friend. She does a wonderful job of inspiring others to be themselves.

Read the ebook or listen to the audiobook on Overdrive today.



Me

I really enjoyed reading the book Me by Elton John (2019). It was incredibly interesting learning about his entire life, from his humble beginnings to his extravagant rock star life. There are many twists and turns along his life's journey. He describes in detail the many places and people he encountered along the way.

Elton writes about how and why certain songs were written and the meaning behind many of them. He recalls the many famous friends he had from rock stars to royalty, to average people that he met along the way. The stories he lived are unbelievable and are a joy to learn about. I found this to be very inspirational in finding love and a purpose in life.

Check out the autobiography on Overdrive—you can read or listen to the memoir today.



Make Your Bed

This book will motivate you to demand more from yourself. Admiral William H. McRaven will show you how the ten principles he learned during Navy SEAL training helped him overcome challenges throughout his life. He talks about never giving up, dealing with bullies, and realizing that life isn't fair. He helps us to understand that we must accept both success and failure, because we learn valuable lessons from both. He will also inspire you to apply these principles to your own life.

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe the World (2017) is available to borrow on Overdrive—start reading or listening today.



Bad Blood

A fascinating account that proves sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. In Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (2018), investigative journalist John Carreyrou details the incredible rise and fall of Theranos. Charismatic founder Elizabeth Holmes, a Stanford dropout, started the company at 19 with a promise to revolutionize blood tests and healthcare. Nothing went as planned, other than the company's incredible ability to raise ridiculous amounts of funding.

Filled with narcissistic personalities, delusions, shady dealings, fraudulent claims, and a propulsive plot, Bad Blood is a book that you won't put down (I recommend the audiobook for a riveting listen). If you want to learn more about the story of this biotech company and the personalities involved, check out the documentary The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley.

This book is available to read or listen to on Overdrive.

The Week

Use Flipster to access issues of The Week online. This magazine creates news articles by bringing together different sources and viewpoints in single topic articles. Thus, a story about homelessness might include conflicting quotes from The Slate, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and others in one concise article. The reader gets to read differing viewpoints and form their own opinion. There is a section on U.S. news, world news, and a page titled "How They See Us" with articles containing viewpoints from foreign publications. My favorite section is "Good Week Bad Week," highlighting this week's winners and losers.

Download Flipster on your smartphone or tablet, or read the magazine via Flipster on your computer. You'll have access to the current issue as well as back issues



Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns)

Mindy Kaling (star of The Mindy Project and numerous other TV and film credits) gives us a hilarious inside look at her life. Kaling not only shares stories of what it is like being a strong woman in Hollywood, she also dishes on her childhood, including what it was like for her growing up with immigrant parents. She also invites us to take an in-depth look at her personal life, which includes dating anecdotes, buying her first house, and admirable and envious work ethic.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns) (2011) is a well written, laugh out loud book that moves with seamless transitions and is the perfect way to bring your spirits up. Borrow it today from Overdrive—read or listen.

Also check out our list of Celebrity Memoirs Read by the Author for inside peeks into the lives of other stars.



The Queens of Animation

In this eye-opening, fascinating, and heartbreaking account, author Nathalia Holt takes readers through the history of female animators at the storied Walt Disney Company. Women faced great obstacles personally and professionally (harassment, intimidation, abuse), making this story difficult to read at times. And yet, it's gripping. The stories of Mary Blair, Sylvia Moberly-Holland, and Bianca Majolie intertwined with the detailed history of the studio and the larger world make for a compelling read. While the focus is on the early years, the author takes readers through the studio's renaissance of the early 90s and the 2013 blockbuster Frozen. Warning: life at Disney wasn't always a fairy tale.

If you enjoy hidden histories (such as Hidden Figures), you'll appreciate The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History (2019). The engrossing story is well worth a listen, thanks to the fantastic performance by Saskia Maarleveld.



Pocket Full of Colors

Explore the colorful and magical world of Mary Blair in this junior biography told with beautiful pictures. While we can now find Blair listed among top Disney artists, animators, and designers, we get to see how her childhood love of colors and sketching led to that future working with Walt Disney himself. It is not an easy journey, trying to compete with men as well as color cynics (perhaps somewhat surprising for the world of Disney we know today). Ultimately, though, Blair receives an invitation to help create arguably the most recognizable and nostalgic theme park ride of all time—and my personal favorite—It's a Small World, truly epitomizing Blair's talent and vibrant imagination.

Check out Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire (2017) by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville. For more information, visit Oh My Disney for The World Behind "It's a Small World" and The Life and Work of Mary Blair.

The Radium Girls

Be prepared: this book is heartbreaking and infuriating. But it is so worth the read. The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women (2017) tells the true story of a tragic time in American history. In the early 20th century, advertisements touted radium as a miracle cure. During World War I, factories in the U.S. were employing women to paint watch faces. Their method? Lip, dip, paint.

The constant exposure to radium eventually led to workers' horrific pain and suffering—and the companies denied any wrongdoing. Author Kate Moore shares the personal stories of these women, their fight for justice, and the impact their perseverance had on workers' rights and labor laws.

There is a local thread about a radium plant in Ottowa, Illinois. Check out the NPR Illinois article for more details.

If you enjoyed The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or The Girls of Atomic City, try this book. It has a mix of hidden history and compelling characters—and it's great for book clubs.