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Contemporary Voices of America: Nonfiction

Discover these memoirs from Americans who have shaped our culture and represent the country we live in today. Find your story in these stories.

  1. 1
    More Than Enough Book Cover Picture
    More Than Enough Book Cover Picture

    More Than Enough

    by Elaine Welteroth

    In this part-manifesto, part-memoir, the revolutionary editor who infused social consciousness into the pages of Teen Vogue explores what it means to come into your own—on your own terms.

    More Than Enough Book Cover Picture
    More Than Enough Book Cover Picture

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  2. 2
    Educated Book Cover Picture
    Educated Book Cover Picture

    Educated

    by Tara Westover

    Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.
    Educated Book Cover Picture
    Educated Book Cover Picture

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  3. 3
    My Beloved World Book Cover Picture
    My Beloved World Book Cover Picture

    My Beloved World

    by Sonia Sotomayor

    The first Hispanic and third woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor has become an instant American icon. Now, with a candor and intimacy never undertaken by a sitting Justice, she recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench, a journey that offers an inspiring testament to her own extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself.
    My Beloved World Book Cover Picture
    My Beloved World Book Cover Picture

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  4. 4
    Good Talk Book Cover Picture
    Good Talk Book Cover Picture

    Good Talk

    by Mira Jacob

    Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob’s half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she’s gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and, of course, love.
    Good Talk Book Cover Picture
    Good Talk Book Cover Picture

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  5. 5
    The Woman Warrior Book Cover Picture
    The Woman Warrior Book Cover Picture

    The Woman Warrior

    by Maxine Hong Kingston

    The Woman Warrior Book Cover Picture
    The Woman Warrior Book Cover Picture

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  6. 6
    All That You Leave Behind Book Cover Picture
    All That You Leave Behind Book Cover Picture

    All That You Leave Behind

    by Erin Lee Carr

    A celebrated journalist, bestselling author (The Night of the Gun), and recovering addict, David Carr was in the prime of his career when he suffered a fatal collapse in the newsroom of The New York Times in 2015. Shattered by his death, his daughter Erin Lee Carr, at age twenty-seven an up-and-coming documentary filmmaker, began combing through the entirety of their shared correspondence—1,936 items in total—in search of comfort and support. All That You Leave Behind is a poignant coming-of-age story that offers a raw and honest glimpse into the multilayered relationship between a daughter and a father.
    All That You Leave Behind Book Cover Picture
    All That You Leave Behind Book Cover Picture

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  7. 7
    Becoming Book Cover Picture
    Becoming Book Cover Picture

    Becoming

    by Michelle Obama

    Becoming Book Cover Picture
    Becoming Book Cover Picture

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  8. 8
    Inheritance Book Cover Picture
    Inheritance Book Cover Picture

    Inheritance

    by Dani Shapiro

    In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. She woke up one morning and her entire history–the life she had lived–crumbled beneath her. Inheritance is a book about secrets–secrets within families, kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love.
    Inheritance Book Cover Picture
    Inheritance Book Cover Picture

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  9. 9
    All Over but the Shoutin' Book Cover Picture
    All Over but the Shoutin' Book Cover Picture

    All Over but the Shoutin’

    by Rick Bragg

    This haunting, harrowing, gloriously moving recollection of a life on the American margin is the story of Rick Bragg, who grew up dirt-poor in northeastern Alabama, seemingly destined for either the cotton mills or the penitentiary, and instead became a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times. It is the story of Bragg’s father, a hard-drinking man with a murderous temper and the habit of running out on the people who needed him most. But at the center of this soaring memoir is Bragg’s mother, who went eighteen years without a new dress so that her sons could have school clothes and picked other people’s cotton so that her children wouldn’t have to live on welfare alone. Evoking these lives–and the country that shaped and nourished them–with artistry, honesty, and compassion, Rick Bragg brings home the love and suffering that lie at the heart of every family. The result is unforgettable.
    All Over but the Shoutin' Book Cover Picture
    All Over but the Shoutin' Book Cover Picture

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  10. 10
    Between the World and Me Book Cover Picture
    Between the World and Me Book Cover Picture

    Between the World and Me

    by Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book is a letter written to his son, exploring race in the context of America’s history, and how the ways we’ve constructed race in the past continue to affect our society today.
    Between the World and Me Book Cover Picture
    Between the World and Me Book Cover Picture

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  11. 11
    Futureface Book Cover Picture
    Futureface Book Cover Picture

    Futureface

    by Alex Wagner

    The daughter of a Burmese mother and a white American father, Alex Wagner grew up thinking of herself as a “futureface”—an avatar of a mixed-race future when all races would merge into a brown singularity. But when one family mystery leads to another, Wagner’s post-racial ideals fray as she becomes obsessed with the specifics of her own family’s racial and ethnic history.

    Futureface Book Cover Picture
    Futureface Book Cover Picture

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  12. 12
    To Shake the Sleeping Self Book Cover Picture
    To Shake the Sleeping Self Book Cover Picture

    To Shake the Sleeping Self

    by Jedidiah Jenkins

    On the eve of turning thirty, terrified of being funneled into a life he didn’t choose, Jedidiah Jenkins quit his dream job and spent the next sixteen months cycling from Oregon to Patagonia. In this unflinchingly honest memoir, Jed narrates the adventure that started it all: the people and places he encountered on his way to the bottom of the world, and the internal journey that prompted it. As he traverses cities, mountains, and inner boundaries, Jenkins grapples with the questions of what it means to be an adult, his struggle to reconcile his sexual identity with his conservative Christian upbringing, and his belief in travel as a way to “wake us up” to life back home.
    To Shake the Sleeping Self Book Cover Picture
    To Shake the Sleeping Self Book Cover Picture

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  13. 13
    Sissy Book Cover Picture
    Sissy Book Cover Picture

    Sissy

    by Jacob Tobia

    Naturally sensitive, playful, creative, and glitter-obsessed, as a child Jacob was given the label “sissy.” In the two decades that followed, “sissy” joined forces with “gay,” “trans,” “nonbinary,” and “too-queer-to-function” to become a source of pride and, today, a rallying cry for a much-needed gender revolution. Through revisiting their childhood and calling out the stereotypes that each of us have faced, Jacob invites us to rethink what we know about gender and offers a bold blueprint for a healed world–one free from gender-based trauma and bursting with trans-inclusive feminism.

    Sissy Book Cover Picture
    Sissy Book Cover Picture

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  14. 14
    There Will Be No Miracles Here Book Cover Picture
    There Will Be No Miracles Here Book Cover Picture

    There Will Be No Miracles Here

    by Casey Gerald

    Casey Gerald comes to our fractured times as a uniquely visionary witness whose life has spanned seemingly unbridgeable divides. His story begins at the end of the world: Dallas, New Year’s Eve 1999, when he gathers with the congregation of his grandfather’s black evangelical church to see which of them will be carried off. His beautiful, fragile mother disappears frequently and mysteriously; for a brief idyll, he and his sister live like Boxcar Children on her disability checks. When Casey–following in the footsteps of his father, a gridiron legend who literally broke his back for the team–is recruited to play football at Yale, he enters a world he’s never dreamed of, the anteroom to secret societies and success on Wall Street, in Washington, and beyond. But even as he attains the inner sanctums of power, Casey sees how the world crushes those who live at its margins. He sees how the elite perpetuate the salvation stories that keep others from rising. And he sees, most painfully, how his own ascension is part of the scheme.

    There Will Be No Miracles Here Book Cover Picture
    There Will Be No Miracles Here Book Cover Picture

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  15. 15
    Dear Girls Book Cover Picture
    Dear Girls Book Cover Picture

    Dear Girls

    by Ali Wong

    Ali Wong’s heartfelt and hilarious letters to her daughters (the two she put to work while they were still in utero) cover everything they need to know in life, like the unpleasant details of dating, how to be a working mom in a male-dominated profession, and how she trapped their dad.
    Dear Girls Book Cover Picture
    Dear Girls Book Cover Picture

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