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  • Jen Harper 1:30 pm on 2019/11/01 Permalink
    Tags: , becoming deluxe signed edition, Books You Need to Read, , , , ,   

    Celebrate the Deluxe Signed Edition of Becoming with 15 Inspiring Quotes from Michelle Obama’s Iconic Memoir 

    A year after the release of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s bestselling memoir Becoming, readers continue to revel in the warmth, wisdom, humility, and candor of her story. In it, she details the experiences that have helped her to become the woman she is today and the person she continues to evolve into.

    Becoming covers Mrs. Obama’s upbringing in Chicago, her education at Princeton and Harvard, her marriage to former President Barack Obama, her balancing being a mom to daughters Malia and Sasha with her work, her family’s time in the White House, and more. The memoir also encourages readers to tell their own stories, to help empower them become who they are also meant to be. Becoming is at once a deeply intimate and personal chronicle of an astonishing life, while also sharing important, moving, and near-universal lessons whose truths will resonate with many readers.

    As Mrs. Obama beautifully writes in her book, “It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.”

    And on Friday, November 1, a special deluxe signed edition of Becoming will be available for pre-order from Barnes & Noble. It will be available in stores for purchase on November 16. This beautiful edition comes in a gift box and features a clothbound book signed by the author and former First Lady of the United States. There is also additional book content—Michelle Obama’s “Note to Self”, along with two gorgeous, frame-worthy prints of her inspiring words, and a portrait of Michelle Obama by renowned photographer Miller Mobley.

    To celebrate the arrival of this stunning deluxe edition, we’ve collected some of our favorite quotes from Becoming. Which ones most inspire you?

    “For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”

    “Am I good enough? Yes I am.”

    “Inspiration on its own was shallow; you had to back it up with hard work.”

    “Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?”

    “If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

    “It was one thing to get yourself out of a stuck place, I realized. It was another thing entirely to try and get the place itself unstuck.”

    “There are truths we face and truths we ignore.”

    “Bullies were scared people hiding inside scary people.”

    “My job, I realized, was to be myself, to speak as myself. And so I did.”

    “Friendships between women, as any woman will tell you, are built of a thousand small kindnesses… swapped back and forth and over again.”

    “Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear.”

    “Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.”

    “Happy seemed like a starting place for everything.”

    “Time, as far as my father was concerned, was a gift you gave to other people.”

    “At fifty-four, I am still in progress, and I hope that I always will be.”

    The Deluxe Signed Edition of Becoming is available for pre-order starting November 1. Quantities are limited, so this edition is available only while supplies last, and there is a limit of two copies per customer.

    The post Celebrate the Deluxe Signed Edition of <i>Becoming</i> with 15 Inspiring Quotes from Michelle Obama’s Iconic Memoir appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Tara Sonin 4:00 pm on 2019/10/18 Permalink
    Tags: amal el-mohtar, Books You Need to Read, , , , , joanne ramos, , , , , , , , , , , this is how you lose the time war, , vengeful,   

    9 Books to Read if You Loved The Testaments 

    In 1985, The Handmaid’s Tale  was published as a terrifyingly possible prophecy about the dangers of the small, seemingly insignificant choices that can lead even the most advanced, modern societies into a world that barely resembles the one they knew. Margaret Atwood is famous for saying that everything which occurs in the dystopian novel is pulled from real, recorded historical events—meaning that the fictional society known as Gilead could happen anywhere, even at home where we feel most safe.

    Legions of readers followed Offred’s story as a Handmaid in Gilead, one of many women forced to bear and relinquish children into the care of their captors. Offred’s first child, born in a free America, is stolen from her before the novel begins, and when the novel ends her fate is unknown, faded into darkness as the van she steps in may be taking her to freedom, or to her doom.

    In the thirty-five years since its publication, The Handmaid’s Tale has become an international bestseller and received the television treatment as a Hulu show starring Elizabeth Moss. But the fascination with the story has only led to more questions: what happened next? Did Offred survive? Did she have another child? How was Gilead created, and even more urgently: how did it fall?

    The Testaments (which was B&N’s September Book Club pick!) is Atwood’s answer to those questions: a new novel, taking place fifteen years after the conclusion of one that started it all. From the perspective of three different women (two within Gilead, one beyond its borders), the story follows both the early origins of Gilead and its essential founders as well as a dangerous plot to destroy the country from within.

    Without spoiling the revelations learned in the story, I can say The Testaments is a truly satisfying novel for both fans of the original book and the show (and fans of just the show can read it and will not be lost for a second) and answers most, if not all, of the questions offered above. The characters are complex and flawed, and their arcs—both redemptive and tragic—are wholly satisfying. For example, the architect of Gilead’s downfall will be a delightful surprise to fans of the show, and provides a future potentially award-winning turn for at least one actress who currently appears on it, should the show decide to pursue The Testaments as a continuation. But I will say this: If The Handmaid’s Tale was a prophet of doom for women’s rights, The Testaments is a beacon of hope. It is a manifesto on female courage and resilience, one that I think many readers will find welcome in 2019.

    When you finish it, check out our readalike picks below!

    Vox, by Christina Dalcher
    In The Testaments, the world is defined by keeping women subjugated, mainly in the name of reproduction. But in Vox, female subjugation has another, insidious element: women are no longer allowed to speak more than 100 words a day, or a device embedded into their skin will shock them. Jean McClellan, a former cognitive linguist (who lost her job as a result of these new laws) watches as her young daughter already knows to silence herself, expecting rewards for how little she speaks, and her teenage son sinks into dangerously abusive territory where he sympathizes with the government more than his own mother. But when an opportunity arises for Jean to regain her voice and fight the oppression from within, she knows this is her one and only shot to make a better life for her daughter and protect her only son from himself. She must engage in lies and deceit with the people she loves most in order to save them—that is, if she’s not caught first.

    Red Clocks, by Leni Zumas
    In an America eerily similar to that of Gilead’s beginnings, abortion is no longer legal. That of course doesn’t mean that people aren’t obtaining abortions, it means they are going outside the system, to women such as Gin, an herbalist who lives on the outskirts of a small Oregon town…who suddenly becomes a national spectacle when she is accused of and tried for providing such a service. Her story interweaves with that of three others: a single woman desperately trying to get pregnant before the law only allows married couples to have children; a mother of two in a dangerous marriage; and a teenage girl who finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn. The characters are what make this novel memorable, as they all go to great lengths to get what they want in a world that forbids them to want anything.

    Grave Mercy, by Robin LaFevers
    How is a YA historical novel that takes place during Medieval France a readalike for The Testaments? Well, let me tell you: because in 14th Century Brittany, life for women was kind of like a dystopia. The main character of Robin LaFevers’ brilliant Grave Mercy is about to be married off to a terrible man and she has no say in the matter. In fact, women during this time often turned to convents and took sacred vows in order to gain more autonomy and freedom than they would have had as married mothers. That is what Ismae does—to escape bondage, she swears to serve the God of Death and in his service, kill other terrible men who deserve it. The elite sisterhood of assassins she joins makes her feel powerful for the first time in her life…until she falls in love with a man she doesn’t entirely trust. Romance, swordplay, and feminism all in one series—of which there are five books to binge!

    Vengeful (Vicious #2), by V.E. Schwab
    No one writes villains the way V.E. Schwab does. The first book in this duology, Vicious, focused on male villainy, when two friends at college discover the secret to developing ExtraOrdinary superpowers and as a result, become enemies each bent on destroying the other. The second book, though (which should technically be read after Vicious for continuity’s sake) is all about female anger, villainy…and justice? This is where it connects to the world of The Testaments for me; it’s a novel in which we see female characters do terrible things in order to attain justice. In Vengeful, women take center stage and are determined to use their ExtraOrdinary abilities not only for self-preservation, but for ultimate power, no matter the cost.

    This is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
    Readers of The Testaments who love watching the ultimate takedown of Gilead from within will love this unique sci-fi novella about two agents on opposite sides of a war throughout time. Red and Blue are supposed to be enemies, but when they start exchanging letters , that begins to change. With literally out-of-this-world prose that sets the pages on fire, the love story that unfolds against the backdrop of tyrannical rule is an unforgettable reminder that even in the darkest of times, love wins.

    Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
    Gilead’s beginnings are not just rooted in patriarchy, but in a global health crisis: plummeting fertility rates force people into extreme panic, during which a fringe group seizes control. Station Eleven also begins with a health crisis, but a different one: an flu pandemic that ravages most of modern society, forcing the world into a version of the Dark Ages where people search for pockets of the civilization they once knew. This literary page-turner follows a group of actors as they perform Shakespeare twenty years after the collapse of modernity. When a dangerous prophet threatens the peaceful existence they’ve managed to carve out for themselves, the survivors have a choice to make that could determine their survival.

    The Farm, by Joanne Ramos
    Possibly the most direct readalike on the list, this novel is about women who have children for other women in a place known as the Farm. The deal is this: a huge payday in exchange for nine months of your time growing a baby that, once birthed, will go to the person who paid for it. Jane agrees to be a ‘Host’, but soon realizes there’s another, hidden cost to this agreement: she can’t leave as long as she’s pregnant, or she forfeits the fee she so desperately needs to help her actual family, the one she loves beyond the walls of the Farm. An eerie, modern approach to similar questions addressed by Atwood’s novels.

    What did you think of The Testaments?

    The post 9 Books to Read if You Loved <i>The Testaments</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jen Harper 3:00 pm on 2019/07/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Books You Need to Read, , , , , , , emily giffin commonwealth, , , , little fires everythwere, , , , , , the female persuasion, , ,   

    9 Books to Read If You Loved Mrs. Everything, June’s B&N Book Club Selection 

    The Barnes & Noble Book Club selection for June, Jennifer Weiner’s Mrs. Everything, opens in 1950s Detroit with the Kaufman family living in a house that could have been pulled from the pages of sisters Jo and Bethie’s Dick and Jane books. But life for rebellious tomboy Jo and traditional good girl Bethie turns out to be far from storybook perfect as they endure loss, trauma, and tragedy.

    In an engrossing story that unfurls against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and women’s liberation, Weiner beautifully explores the complicated relationship between these two sisters, who are on very different paths, and how they ultimately find common ground. But what is a reader to do after finishing Mrs. Everything and discussing it at your local B&N Book Club meeting on July 16 at 7 p.m.? Well, we’ve rounded up your next nine reads to keep you busy until next month. Check out our readalike picks for Mrs. Everything.

    The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo
    Like Weiner’s Mrs. Everything, Lombardo’s stunning debut novel spans the decades, following one family through the many seasons of their complicated lives and loves. David and Marilyn fell in love in the 1970s and had what their daughters—Violet, Wendy, Liza, and Grace—saw as a perfect partnership filled with passion and affection. But in 2016, the four Sorrenson offspring are all struggling to replicate the relationship their parents had as they find their lives filled with tumultuous complications—addiction, an unwanted pregnancy, lies, self-doubt, and more. As the sisters uncover secrets about each other, they also begin to learn that perhaps their parents’ union wasn’t as perfect as it seemed. In the same spirit of Mrs. Everything, The Most Fun We Ever Had navigates the complexity of family dynamics in a rich page-turner that Weiner’s fans won’t be able to put down.

    Summer of ’69, by Elin Hilderbrand
    For readers who loved taking a step back in time with the Kaufman sisters in Weiner’s latest, Hilderbrand delivers a perfect warm-weather read with her new novel set against the backdrop of an iconic American summer in 1969 Nantucket. The four Levin siblings have always looked forward to spending summers at their grandmother’s house, but like everything else going on around them in America, the only constant for the family seems to be change. Blair, the oldest sister, is pregnant with twins and stuck in Boston; civil rights activist Kirby has taken a summer job elsewhere; the family’s only son, Tiger, has been drafted and sent to Vietnam; and 13-year-old Jessie is the only one at the Nantucket home with her disconnected grandmother and worried mother, who’s taken to drinking. Like Weiner, Hilderbrand weaves an intriguing tale of finding strength in siblinghood.

    City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert
    “At some point in a woman’s life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time,” muses Gilbert’s City of Girls protagonist Vivian Morris. “After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is.” The same sentiment could well have come from either of Weiner’s strong female leads in Mrs. Everything, and readers will be similarly drawn into Vivian’s tale, which begins in 1940 when she’s just 19 years old and follows her all the way to 89 years old, now reflecting on her life. When Vivian is expelled from Vassar in 1940, her parents send her to live in New York with her Aunt Peg, who owns a rundown theater. It’s against this backdrop that free-spirited Vivian begins to explore her own independence and sexuality, eventually becoming embroiled in a professional scandal that will impact her for years to come in Gilbert’s striking new work.

    The Female Persuasion, by Meg Wolitzer
    Writing about female power and the exploration of women’s role in society is nothing new for Wolitzer, but her latest read is especially timely and incredibly compelling. Like Mrs. Everything, The Female Persuasion deftly takes on some difficult topics like sexual assault and how these horrific events shape her heroine. Greer Kadetsky is a college freshman when she is groped at a party by a repeat offender, and in the aftermath, a friend takes Greer to see a speech by famed feminist magazine editor Faith Frank, who alters the course of Greer’s life in unimaginable ways. Wolitzer’s book about ambition, power, and what it means to be a woman in an ever-changing world is filled with complex female characters that will have readers quickly turning the pages, yet not wanting the book to end.

    First Comes Love, by Emily Giffin
    Giffin is a master when it comes to crafting tales of romance, family, and friendship, and the case is no different with First Comes Love. Much like Weiner’s Kaufman sisters, Josie and Meredith Garland had a loving relationship growing up, but following a family tragedy, their bond fractures. Now 15 years later, the anniversary of their shared loss looms, and the two women, now both in their 30s, are on very different paths. Single Josie feels like she’s done with dating but desperately wants a child. Meredith has a picture-perfect life on the outside—successful career, husband, and a 4-year-old daughter—but inside she feels restless and dissatisfied. As secrets begin to surface and the women are forced to confront the issues that pulled them apart, they also find the courage to listen to their own hearts about what’s really important.

    Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
    Drawing on her own life story, Patchett has crafted a memorable tale of the aftermath of a drunken kiss that ultimately destroys two marriages. After Bert Cousins and Beverly Keating leave their spouses to be with each other, the six Cousins and Keatings children form a lasting bond over their shared disillusionment with their parents while spending summers together in Virginia. In her 20s, one of the siblings, Franny, shares the family’s story with a prominent author, and suddenly, the Cousins’ and Keatings’ story—including a tragic shared loss—is no longer their own. Patchet’s nonlinear timeline and rotating cast of characters show how the differing points of view affect how events both major and everyday are remembered, lending even more depth to a story sure to be loved by fans of Mrs. Everything.

    Swing Time, by Zadie Smith
    Smith expertly weaves together moments of the present day and of memories from the past in her extraordinary book about two girls who dream of being dancers—but only one has the skills to make it. Tracey, who has a white mother and a black father, is an incredible tap dancer, while her good friend—the unnamed narrator—is hampered by her flat feet. The two have a close but complicated childhood friendship, which comes to a sudden end in their early 20s, the effects of which continue to reverberate for many years to come. Readers who were enthralled with the complex relationship between the sisters in Weiner’s Mrs. Everything will love Smith’s Swing Time.

    Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
    Those who couldn’t put Mrs. Everything down will likely find themselves staying up into the wee hours to finish Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere. In the compelling drama, free-spirited artist Mia moves with her teenage daughter, Pearl, to a home owned by the Richardson family in Shaker Heights, an affluent Cleveland suburb where everyone is expected to follow the town’s social status quo. Mia quickly befriends Elena Richardson and her family, who are all drawn to the enigmatic single mom. So when Mia opposes the Richardson’s family friends’ controversial custody battle for a Chinese-American baby, Elena Richardson turns against her, determined to uncover Mia’s closely held secrets at all costs.

    The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
    Lots of families have dysfunction, but the Plumb family in The Nest really kicks it up a notch. The author expertly infuses dark humor into the tale of the now-middle-aged Plumb siblings—Leo, Beatrice, Jack, and Melody—who are awaiting the division of their trust fund, or “the nest” as the foursome call it, that their father left them following his untimely death when the kids were adolescents. The nest has been growing ever since, to be divvied up when the youngest turns 40. All of the siblings are desperate to get their hands on their share of the money, only to learn that it’s now in jeopardy thanks to the medical bills of a young woman who was badly injured when a drunk and high Leo crashed his car with her as the passenger. Beatrice, Jack, and Melody all prepare to confront their brother, fresh out of rehab, in this intoxicating story of how family has the power to both let you down and pull you back up, which will surely appeal to those who have just finished Weiner’s latest read.

    What books would you recommend for readers who loved Mrs. Everything?

    The post 9 Books to Read If You Loved <i>Mrs. Everything</i>, June’s B&N Book Club Selection appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jenny Shank 3:00 pm on 2019/05/08 Permalink
    Tags: abby geni, andrea barrett, bonnie jo campbell, Books You Need to Read, delia owens, , gabriel tallent, karen russell, must readalikes, my absolute darling, once upon a river, ship fever, , the wildlands, where the crawdads sing   

    5 Books to Read Next if You Loved Where the Crawdads Sing 

    Delia Owens’ debut novel Where the Crawdads Sing zoomed up the bestseller list last year and continues to attract more readers, thanks to Reese Witherspoon’s selection of it for her Hello Sunshine book club, stoking word-of-mouth praise. The novel tells the story of Kya Clark, who grows up almost completely on her own in the coastal wetlands of North Carolina in the 1950s and 60s after her family abandons her. Kya, known to townsfolk as “The Marsh Girl,” spends her days collecting and cataloging the wildlife of her surroundings, until she becomes the suspect of a murder investigation. The novel, with its poignant theme of loneliness, is at once contemplative and suspenseful as Owens sets the developments in the murder case against the story of Kya’s desolate upbringing. Where the Crawdads Sing has sold more than 1.5 million copies across all formats and should garner even more readers now that Witherspoon has signed on to produce a movie version. If you loved this novel, what should you read next? Here are five suggestions.

    Once Upon A River, by Bonnie Jo Campbell
    In Where the Crawdads Sing, Kya Clark depends on her boat to survive, using it to gather mussels and escape to safety. In Bonnie Jo Campbell’s 2011 novel set in the 1970s, the heroine is 15-year-old Margo Crane, who sets out on her boat to find her wayward mother after her father is killed. Campbell expertly conveys both Margo’s inner life and the natural world of her surroundings in Michigan. While Kya fishes for food, the Annie Oakley-influenced Margo hunts, shooting well enough to hit a muskrat through its eye, so as not to damage its pelt. Margo and Kya are both extremely beautiful, attracting unwanted male attention. And both are determined to survive, despite the challenges that nature and disappointing humans throw their way.

    Swamplandia!, by Karen Russell
    Karen Russell’s 2011 novel, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, also features a girl growing up in a wetland environment. In this case, Ava Bigtree lives with her family in the Ten thousand Islands off the coast of Florida, where they run the alligator-wrestling theme park after which the book is titled. When Ava’s mother, the theme park’s most accomplished alligator wrestler, dies, the family is imperiled, with Ava’s father becoming despondent, her sister developing a strange obsession, and her brother leaving to work at a theme park called The World of Darkness. Ava embarks on a quest to save her family and Swamplandia! in this novel that is as full of aquatic life as is Where the Crawdads Sing, but is funny and quirky instead of serious and melancholy.

    The Wildlands, by Abby Geni
     Abby Geni’s winning second novel, 2018’s The Wildlands, features a family of orphans and a keen interest in nature, just like Where the Crawdads Sing. When a tornado ravages the home and farm of the McCloud family of Mercy, Oklahoma, killing their father, the eldest sister Darlene abandons her plans to go to college and instead focuses on raising her three younger siblings. She agrees to any media appearance that pays money, earning enough to buy a trailer and keep the family together, but also acquiring for them the title of “the saddest family in Mercy.” Darlene’s brother Tucker chafes under the media spotlight and leaves, after becoming increasingly obsessed with the animal kingdom and angry about humanity’s role in nature’s imperilment. When the youngest sister turns up missing, and Darlene begins to hear reports of an environmental vigilante making his way across the country, she suspects her siblings are involved. The Wildlands is moving, funny, surprising, and it invites the reader to ponder humanity’s connection to the natural world, just as Owens’ novel does.

    My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent
    Like Kya, 14-year-old Turtle in Gabriel Tallent’s 2017 debut novel suffers terrible abuse at the hands of her father and escapes into the wilderness for safety and solace. In this case, the wilderness is the Pacific coast of Mendocino, California, where Turtle lives in the woods, off the grid, with her frightening and dominating father. Turtle, like Kya, knows nature and its creatures intimately, and Tallent details her connection to nature with lavish prose. When Turtle meets two teenage boys and develops a crush on one, she realizes she’s got to escape her father, and relies on all her survivalist training as she attempts to do so.

    Ship Fever, by Andrea Barrett
    Although Where the Crawdads Sing was Owens’ first novel, it wasn’t her first book. For years Owens, a trained zoologist, lived in Africa studying wildlife and co-wrote several books about nature with her husband. If you were entranced by Owens’ precise and loving descriptions of nature, you’ll love this 1996 National Book Award winner by Andrea Barrett. In “The Behavior of the Hawkweeds,” Barrett takes the reader inside Gregor Mendel’s famous studies of plants that transformed the field of genetics. In the title novella, a Canadian doctor must contend with an outbreak of illness among Irish immigrants in 1847. And in “The English Pupil,” Barrett catches up with the aging Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus, who gave science its system of nomenclature for organisms. Try this collection even if you normally don’t read short stories—each tale give the reader a novel-like immersion in a fascinating and detailed world.

    What readalikes would you recommend for fans of Where the Crawdads Sing?

    The post 5 Books to Read Next if You Loved <i>Where the Crawdads Sing</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jenny Shank 2:00 pm on 2019/05/02 Permalink
    Tags: Books You Need to Read, claiming ground, , francisco cantu, , if the creek don't rise: my life out west with the last blak widow of the civil war, , laura bell, mean, , myriam gurba, rita williams, river house, sarahlee lawrence, searing memoirs, , the line becomes river   

    6 Memoirs to Read Next If You Loved Educated 

    Tara Westover’s memoir Educated is a blockbuster by any standard. Those who read it early sensed that this story, of Westover’s evolution from growing up scantly homeschooled in a family of rural Idaho survivalists and then earning her PhD in history from Cambridge, had the elements of a classic-in-the-making. Educated was lauded by Bill Gates and President Obama, became a finalist for many literary prizes (including the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award, the LA Times Book Prize, and the PEN America Jean Stein Book Prize), and has endured for months on bestseller lists across the globe. There’s a good chance that you’ve already read it. So if you’re hankering for a memoir just as good as Educated, here are six stellar choices to read next.

    If The Creek Don’t Rise: My Life Out West with the Last Black Widow of the Civil War, by Rita Williams
    If you loved the way Educated took you inside a family living as though they were in a prior century, this memoir will inspire the same awe. Williams was born in Denver in the 1950s. Her father left her mother for another woman, and her mom died from carbon dioxide inhalation in a boarding house when Rita was four. Rita was given to the nearest relative, her aunt Daisy, who lived a hardscrabble, subsistence lifestyle in the mountains near Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Daisy, incredibly, was the last surviving black widow of a Civil War veteran. In the early 1900’s, when she was a teenager in a family of Tennessee sharecroppers, she married a 79-year-old Civil War veteran to escape the KKK-ridden South. They came West, where Daisy eventually took Rita in, raising her in poverty, with tough love—with an emphasis on the tough. Daisy is verbally abusive and the kind of woman who reminds a child to “urinate or move your bowels” before leaving the house, but also made an arrangement to wash a private school’s floors so Rita could attend. Williams’ rise in life is perhaps even more astonishing than Westover’s—she became a writer for the Los Angeles Times, O Magazine, and the television show “Queen of the South.”

    River House, by Sarahlee Lawrence
    While Westover grew up on a mountain in Idaho, Sarahlee Lawrence grew up on a high desert ranch in central Oregon with her parents, 70’s back-to-the-landers who raised her to be self-sufficient. She writes of her mom, “Her philosophy on mothering was one of release: a bow that shoots an arrow into the world.” And Sarahlee left to become a world-traveling river guide. But as the book opens, she’s running a river in Peru when she’s gripped with a powerful urge to return home. She does, and sets herself the task of building a log cabin, by hand, during the frigid winter months so she can continue to make her living as a river guide in the summer. Lawrence’s tenacity and stubbornness help her as she struggles to build a life and a home she’s proud of.

    Claiming Ground, by Laura Bell
    If you loved the passages of Educated where Westover tenderly described the western landscape, check out Laura Bell’s arresting Claiming Ground. Bell, like Westover, considered herself the black sheep of her family. A preacher’s daughter, Bell graduated from college in Kentucky in 1977 and decided to find her own religion, pursuing her “childhood’s private world blown larger than life, with a horse, two dogs, a rifle, a wilderness.” Bell came west with her sister and began working as a sheepherder in Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin. Each chapter is a lyrical snapshot from her life and work as a sheepherder, ranch hand, forest ranger, and masseuse.

    The Line Becomes A River, by Francisco Cantú
    Over the course of Educated, we see Westover’s eyes open and her mind expand as she learns lessons about the world that her isolated family never could have taught her. Westover also shares her struggles with mental instability as she tries to break free from them and start a new life. Cantú, too, begins The Line Becomes A River as a smart, sensitive young man, and has an awakening—and an unraveling—as he works for the U.S. Border Patrol. Cantú grew up along the border, speaking English and Spanish with his mother, who worked in National Parks. In college, he distinguishes himself as a scholar of the border, but feels his knowledge is too theoretical, and decides to learn firsthand about the situation at the border by joining the patrol, against the cautions of his mother. Searching, searing, and beautifully written, this book captures the complexities of life along the U.S.-Mexico border.

    Heavy: An American Memoir, by Kiese Laymon
    Tara Westover’s relationship with her parents was complicated, to say the least. Her father, whom she suspects has bipolar disorder, dominated her and subjected her to abuse. Yet Westover still loves her parents so much that breaking with them was heart-wrenching. In one of the most celebrated memoirs of recent years, Kiese Laymon likewise lays bare his fraught relationship with food, his body, and his mother, to whom he addresses the book. Laymon’s mother, an accomplished, loving, brilliant, black college professor in Jackson, Mississippi, raised him right and wrong at the same time. As Laymon pores through his past in this unflinching book that in the end casts no blame on his mother, he makes it clear that the abuse he suffered—from the beatings his mom gave him, to sexual violation by a babysitter, to his own disordered relationship with food—are the consequences of growing up in a society that acts as though poor black people are not fully human.

    Mean, by Myriam Gurba
    If you came away from reading Educated with a great admiration for Tara Westover’s pluck and knack for self-reinvention, here’s another indomitable memoirist to meet: Myriam Gurba. In Mean, Gurba tells the story of growing up in California in the shadow of Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, the daughter of a Mexican-American mother and a Polish-American father—she calls herself a “Molack.” Gurba writes with tremendous potency and wit about how people reacted to the Mexican side of her heritage—including a hysterical chapter in which she stays at a neighbor’s house and is served a disgusting, gloppy casserole the woman describes as “Mexican” food. As a young adult, Gurba is assaulted by a stranger who then goes on to rape and kill another woman, but this memoir does not follow the standard structure of a victim’s tale. Instead, it’s a heroine’s story, an account of how Gurba became the bold, hilarious artist, poet, and writer she is today. “Art is one way to work out touch gone wrong,” Gurba writes.

    The post 6 Memoirs to Read Next If You Loved <i>Educated</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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