Hunger by Roxane Gay

hunger

Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: Roxane Gay reflects on her life in her body. She explores struggles with size, eating disorders, assault, and what it’s like to exist in a world that wasn’t designed to accommodate your body.

What made me pick it up: I love Roxane Gay’s work and I thought this book sounded important.

My favorite things: Take a deep breath before you dive into this because it is deep, raw, and painfully honest. She doesn’t shy away from details of her assault or the ways she thinks of her assailant to this day. She even takes the time to explain why she’s more comfortable identifying as a victim of sexual violence rather than as a survivor – without condemning or questioning those who do identify as survivors. The courage and openness throughout Hunger is consistently inspiring.

Who it’s great for: Fans of Roxane Gay’s other work. Memoir readers looking for something heavy to dig into.

Abby’s rating: five-shells


Find this book at Amazon or in your local library.


 

Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke

imagine

Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A graphic memoir exploring love, art, loss, memory, and mortality.

What made me pick it up: I can’t seem to pass up a graphic memoir.

My favorite things: Radtke’s art is done in a simple grayscale that perfectly complements her story. I loved the way she tied together her own restlessness with an examination of mortality. The way she chronicles her own loss and grief through a growing fascination with deserted towns is honest and compelling.

Who it’s great for: Readers looking for an engaging exploration of mortality and meaning. Fan’s of artists’ memoirs.

Abby’s rating: four-shells


Pick up a copy of this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Pretending is Lying by Dominique Goblet

pretending

Originally published in: original 2007, in translation 2017

What it’s about: A graphic memoir chronicling relationships and family dysfunction, love and heartache.

What made me pick it up: I gravitated toward it the moment it showed up on our cart of new books – the bleak cover art was immediately compelling to me.

My favorite things: The art, the art! Written over the course of twelve years, the art varies in style and medium and still somehow fits together to paint a portrait of a life through time. Complexities and heartaches of real life, honest about flaws, weaknesses, and mistakes. I love the use of handwriting rather than a font for an even more expressive read.

Who it’s great for: Readers looking for an emotionally engaging exploration of family and relationships.

Abby’s rating: four-shells


Pick up a copy of this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.

Slice Harvester by Colin Atrophy Hagendorf

slice

Originally published in: 2015

What it’s about: A chronically drunk punk in his late twenties goes on a quest to eat every pizza in Manhattan and blog about it. His love for New York deepens and he finds meaning for himself and reasons to sober up along the way.

What made me pick it up: Erica left this on my desk for me because I talk about eating pizza a lot.

My favorite things: Okay look, I didn’t grow up in New York so I don’t think that they have the greatest pizza on Earth, but at some points he almost had me convinced. Hagendorf strikes a good balance between backstory, pizza reviews, and the Harvesting experience. He’s self-deprecating but fun.

Who it’s great for: Fans of food memoirs. People with strong opinions about pizza. Greaseballs, dirtbags, true weirdos, and the people that love them.

Abby’s rating: three-and-a-half-shells


Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.


Running with a Police Escort by Jill Grunenwald

runningwithapoliceescort

Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: Librarian and blogger Jill Grunenwald recounts her unlikely runner’s journey from the couch to the starting line and then, long after most people, to the finish line.

What made me pick it up: I’m a fan of running memoirs and, as a fellow librarian and not-so-fast runner, I knew I’d enjoy this one.

My favorite things: Grunenwald weaves humor through her story as she describes race day excitement and heartbreak, the struggle of training, and an unabashed love for swag. I found her awe for elite runners instantly relatable and appreciated her recognition that slow runners are also working hard and for a much longer time.

Who it’s great for: Fans of memoirs with a fitness focus. Runners of all abilities, and especially those questioning their capacity to become runners.

Abby’s rating: three-shells


Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.


Becoming Unbecoming by Una

becoming

Originally published in: 2015

What it’s about: The author uses the graphic novel format to recount her experiences growing up during the terror caused by the Yorkshire Ripper and reflect on her personal experiences of sexual assault.

What made me pick it up: I saw a colleague with it and was instantly fascinated.

My favorite things: Each aspect of this graphic memoir comes together in a powerful condemnation of rape culture and victim blaming. The art is incredible and occasionally so arresting that I had to put down the book. For me, the strongest part of the book was also the most difficult to get through- a series of illustrations imagining what the victims of the ripper would be doing today.

Who it’s great for: Don’t pick this up if you’re looking for a quick or light read – this is for readers looking for something very raw and real. A great choice for those interested in dissecting rape culture and understanding the experiences of survivors.

Abby’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells


Intrigued? Find a copy at Amazon (affiliate link) or your local library.


 

You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris

you

Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: A man begins to grieve the loss of his wife from the 2015 Paris terror attacks.

What made me pick it up: It was short and I had read really positive reviews of it.

My favorite things: This story is as stunning as it is brief. Just 130 pages but you will cry your way through the author’s devastation on each one. I appreciate his excruciating honesty and the beautiful tribute he created for his wife.

Who it’s great for: Anyone who has lost a loved one unexpectedly. Those that want to face the world with hope instead of fear or anger. Fans of When Breath Becomes Air.

Erica’s rating: five-shells