Staff Pick

2016, the lunar Year of the Monkey (Knopf, $24.95), began for Patti Smith with a west coast concert tour, during which she saw her friend of forty years, Sandy Pearlman, succumb to a cerebral hemorrhage. She later watched the decline of another old friend, Sam Shepherd, and felt the acceleration of time as she turned seventy, couldn’t sleep, and took up walking at night. Smith survived all this and, exhibiting no symptoms of “dried-up poet syndrome,” recounts it with the same matter-of-fact yet slightly bemused tone that made her previous memoirs so engaging. Taking what comes, Smith turns it all into remarkable language; whether describing a deserted café that has “a J. G. Ballard kind of gone,” or a patch of blue wildflowers looking “as if it had been seeded by sky,” she is our great poet of ambience. Fittingly for a time permeated by “an atmosphere of artificial brightness with corrosive edges…[and] an avalanche of toxicity,” Smith moves frequently and without warning between daily life, memories, and dreams, intermittently receiving “transmissions” from a neon Dream Inn sign. Between dreams, she references a wide range of films, music, and books; makes the rounds of cafés; and snaps many of the Polaroids that complement this vivid, poignant, and deeply satisfying narrative.

Year of the Monkey Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525657682
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Knopf - September 24th, 2019

Staff Pick

Dovey Johnson Roundtree (1914-2018) is not a household name—yet. However, what this absolutely inspiring woman was able to accomplish for civil rights was revolutionary and should make her one. In Mighty Justice: My Life In Civil Rights (Algonquin, $16.95), Roundtree, with co-author Katie McCabe, regales us with hard fought triumphs over gender and color barriers. As a Howard University School of Law graduate, she became one of the few African American female attorneys of the time. With that came many defeats, but she showed her strength with a few powerful victories over Jim Crow laws. And from there, her law practice prospered. She went on to spearhead the female minister movement of the AME Church, combining her ministry with her law degree to fight for disadvantaged children and families. Woven throughout this memoir are Roundtree’s personal stories of struggling with the racism that was eating away at the country she loved and wanted to help. Roundtree is an American hero who makes this country beautiful.

Mighty Justice: My Life in Civil Rights Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616209551
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Algonquin Books - November 5th, 2019

Staff Pick

How We Fight For Our Lives: A Memoir (Simon & Schuster, $26) by Saeed Jones is for the reader on your holiday list that loves a good memoir. Known for his poetry, Jones departs from his usual genre to write about what it was like to grow up as a Black gay boy in the South. He gives us the privilege of reading about the intimate moments of his childhood through his college years without sparing any details. I enjoyed reading about his life and how he and those like him are fi ghting to be themselves in a world that does not invite Black gay men to be their best selves. It is an emotionally charged reading experience where each chapter is engaging and reveals a pivotal moment in Jones’s life. The vulnerability within the pages of this book will make it a memoir you will never forget.

How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501132735
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 8th, 2019