In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys. [more inside]
"When her twenty-five-year marriage suddenly falls apart, journalist Florence Williams expects the loss to hurt. But when she starts feeling physically sick, losing weight and sleep, she sets out in pursuit of rational explanation. She travels to the frontiers of the science of “social pain” to learn why heartbreak hurts so much—and why so much of the conventional wisdom about it is wrong." [more inside]
"Ever since my mom died, I cry in H Mart. For those of you who don’t know, H Mart is a supermarket chain that specializes in Asian food. The “H” stands for han ah reum, a Korean phrase that roughly translates to “one arm full of groceries.” H Mart is where parachute kids go to get the exact brand of instant noodles that reminds them of home." Michelle Zauner's memoir, Crying in H Mart (NPR; Goodreads) explores identity, family relationships, shared meals, grief, and memory in a clear-eyed and compassionate telling. [more inside]
Alison Bechdel (Fun Home, Are You My Mother?, The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For) creates another autobiographical graphic novel, this one covering her entire life and examining it from the perspective of her lifelong quest for physical fitness and its effect both on her body and her mind, and how it has changed (and changed her) as she's grown older. [more inside]
“Wintering is a season in the cold. It is a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, sidelined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider. Perhaps it results from an illness or a life event such as a bereavement or the birth of a child; perhaps it comes from a humiliation or failure....However it arrives, wintering is usually involuntary, lonely, and deeply painful.” Katherine May's memoir, Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times, reflects on what she has learned about this life season: not avoidance, but acceptance of its inevitability, and the ways she has found to soften its impact. [more inside]
A grieving widow discovers a most unexpected form of healing—hunting for mushrooms. [more inside]
"Part memoir and part joyful romp through the fields of imagination, the story behind a beloved pseudonymous Twitter account reveals how a writer deep in grief rebuilt a life worth living. Becoming Duchess Goldblatt is two stories: that of the reclusive real-life writer who created a fictional character out of loneliness and thin air, and that of the magical Duchess Goldblatt herself, a bright light in the darkness of social media." Real But Also Not Real: An Excerpt From Becoming Duchess Goldblatt [more inside]
An essay collection from Samantha Irby about ageing, marriage, settling down with step-children in white, small-town America.
Jellyfish have been swimming in our oceans for well over half a billion years, longer than any other animal that lives on the planet. They make a venom so toxic it can kill a human in three minutes. Their sting—microscopic spears that pierce with five million times the acceleration of gravity—is the fastest known motion in the animal kingdom. Made of roughly 95 percent water, some jellies are barely perceptible virtuosos of disguise, while others glow with a luminescence that has revolutionized biotechnology. Yet until recently, jellyfish were largely ignored by science, and they remain among the most poorly understood of ocean dwellers. More than a decade ago, Juli Berwald left a career in ocean science to raise a family in landlocked Austin, Texas, but jellyfish drew her back to the sea. Recent, massive blooms of billions of jellyfish have clogged power plants, decimated fisheries, and caused millions of dollars of damage. Driven by questions about how overfishing, coastal development, and climate change were contributing to a jellyfish population explosion, Juli embarked on a scientific odyssey. She traveled the globe to meet the biologists who devote their careers to jellies, hitched rides on Japanese fishing boats to see giant jellyfish in the wild, raised jellyfish in her dining room, and throughout it all marveled at the complexity of these alluring and ominous biological wonders. Gracefully blending personal memoir with crystal-clear distillations of science, Spineless is the story of how Juli learned to navigate and ultimately embrace her ambition, her curiosity, and her passion for the natural world. She discovers that jellyfish science is more than just a quest for answers. It’s a call to realize our collective responsibility for the planet we share.
The two-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter behind the groundbreaking album Exile in Guyville traces her life and career in a genre-bending memoir in stories about the pivotal moments that haunt her. When Liz Phair shook things up with her musical debut, Exile in Guyville—making her as much a cultural figure as a feminist pioneer and rock star—her raw candor, uncompromising authenticity, and deft storytelling inspired a legion of critics, songwriters, musicians, and fans alike. Now, like a Gen X Patti Smith, Liz Phair tells the story of her life and career in a memoir about the moments that have haunted her most.
Tillie Walden's graphic memoir about being a mid-level competitive figure skater and queer teen in Texas. Spinning captures what it’s like to come of age, come out, and come to terms with leaving behind everything you used to know.
Nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work: You want to know about the struggle of growing up poor, black and female? Ask any girl from any hood. You want to know what it takes to rise above your circumstances when all the cards are stacked against you? Ask me. [more inside]
A young woman confronting her fears and finding home in the North. Blair Braverman fell in love with the North at an early age: By the time she was nineteen, she had left her home in California, moved to Norway to learn how to drive sled dogs, and worked as a tour guide on a glacier in Alaska.
An Amazon Best Book of the Month! The space between life and death is a moment. But it will remain alive in me for hundreds of thousands of future moments. One phone call. That's all it took to change Stephanie Wittels Wachs' life forever... [more inside]
Two comedy giants this week. First, Jesse talks to Chris Rock about what it was like to become one of the world’s best stand-up comics in the 1990s. Rock’s got a new movie out. It’s called Top Five. Then, Jesse sits down with Monty Python member John Cleese. They’ll talk about his early life and about what Cleese really thought about the recent Python reunion. Cleese’s new memoir is called So, Anyway. Plus, we ask Scott Aukerman what piece of culture he wishes he had made. His answer? Twin Peaks. Lastly, Jesse tells you about a TV show that lets people just be people.