In the TED Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of “Americanah,” explains that the understanding of our world becomes small if the stories we read come from the same place, from the same people, facing the same issues and problems.
As Adichie says, “Stories matter. Many stories matter.” Fortunately, publishers are responding, expanding whose story reaches us readers.
This February, take the time to seek out a variety of stories by reading these new memoirs.
Emily Bernard’s acclaimed memoir, “Black is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine,” is a collection of personal essays on growing up in the South, getting an education at Yale, and teaching at a college in northern New England. The poetic memoir illustrates how her life was formed and framed through the lens of race.
“Trailblazer: A Pioneering Journalist’s Fight to Make the Media Look More like America” documents Dorothy Butler Gilliam’s 50 years as a journalist and activist. As the first female black reporter at the Washington Post, she brought a different and important perspective on what was news and how it should be reported.
There is a new edition of Pauli Murray’s “Song in a Weary Throat.” Originally published in 1987, Murray’s memoir encompasses the multitudes she contained. She was a poet, an academic, an ordained Episcopal priest, a civil rights activist, and a brilliant lawyer, influential in the pivotal civil rights cases of the 20th century. Murray’s memoir shows that none of this was enough — a book that describes the discrimination she faced because of her race and gender.
The most popular book at library right now is Michelle Obama’s new memoir, “Becoming.” Obama gives an intimate account of her life growing up in a working class family in Chicago to serving as the First Lady of the United States — a life of contrasts. Her memoir is honest and real, making the life of an American icon tangible.
There are a number of fantastic personal essays and memoirs at the Iowa City Public Library. Find these books and other great reads at catalog.icpl.org.
• Anne Mangano is collection services coordinator at the Iowa City Public Library.