The Book Collectors: A Band of Syrian Rebels and the Stories That Carried Them Through a War, by Delphine Minoui
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
November 5, 2020 Journalist Delphine Minoui tells the true tale of a young man who refused to escape the terrors of Assad's regime in Syria, instead working with friends to make a library — a beacon of hope.
The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again, by Robert R. Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett
Simon & Schuster
November 2, 2020 Bowling Alone author Robert Putnam joins with Shaylyn Romney Garrett to form the thesis that America's Gilded Age shows remarkable similarity to today — with a societal focus on "I" rather than "we."
The National Road: Dispatches From a Changing America, by Tom Zoellner
October 14, 2020 Teacher and writer Tom Zoellner has logged tens of thousands of miles zigzagging the continent with, a small tent and backpack, investigating American places and themes — metaphors for our country.
Let My People Vote: My Battle to Restore the Civil Rights of Returning Citizens, by Desmond Meade
October 7, 2020 Desmond Meade rose from addiction, homelessness, and prison to run a campaign to re-enfranchise more than one million Florida voters; it's a tale of hope, persistence, and the power of organizing.
Blood on the River: A Chronicle of Mutiny and Freedom on the Wild Coast, by Marjoleine Kars
The New Press
August 12, 2020 Marjoleine Kars recounts a tale of oppression, bloodshed, and some triumph in her previously untold account of the 1763-64 slave rebellion in Dutch Berbice, modern day Guyana.
Democracy in One Book or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn't, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think, by David Litt
June 19, 2020 David Litt, former speechwriter to President Obama and author of Thanks, Obama, refreshingly debunks myths about our founders, pointing up false narratives and warped historical perceptions.
This Is One Way to Dance: Essays, by Sejal Shah
University of Georgia Press
June 4, 2020 Essayist Sejal Shah brings important, refreshing, and depressing observations about what it means to have dark skin and an "exotic" name, when the only country you've ever lived in is America.
What Is the Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life, Mark Doty
W. W. Norton & Company
April 16, 2020 Acclaimed poet Mark Doty's memoir is not only an exaltation of America's troubadour, Walt Whitman, but also a celebration of gay manhood, queerness, and the power and elasticity of poetry.
Later: My Life at the Edge of the World, by Paul Lisicky
March 17, 2020 As we find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic, Paul Lisicky's memoir is deeply affecting; we can recall the terror and frustration when no treatment or prevention was available for AIDS and HIV.
Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Court's Fifty-Year Battle for a More Unjust America, by Adam Cohen
February 24, 2020 Lawyer and journalist Adam Cohen explores five decades of Supreme Court opinions and comes to a rueful conclusion: These decisions have greatly exacerbated the space between rich and poor.
Counterpoint: A Memoir of Bach and Mourning, by Philip Kennicott
February 19, 2020 The Washington Post's Philip Kennicott suffered his mother's harsh words and actions throughout childhood. His book is partly a need to acknowledge her "sadness and anger and unaccountable rages."
January 19, 2020 Garth Greenwell's new story collection — like his previous novel — follows young, gay American men teaching English in Bulgaria. It's part heartbreaking, part forward-looking, and all beautiful.
Aarti Shahani as a child with her sister and her father.
October 1, 2019 Aarti Shahani reports on Silicon Valley for NPR. But, as she details in her memoir, she's also from a family that followed a contorted, painful path to citizenship.
The Yellow House, by Sarah M/ Broom
August 13, 2019 Sarah Broom's childhood house is the fulcrum for her memoir about her large and complex family. But perhaps more important, it stands in for the countless ways America has failed African Americans.