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Biography

1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows

1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows

Ai Weiwei
$18.99
The "intimate and expansive" (Time) memoir of "one of the most important artists working in the world today" (Financial Times), telling a remarkable history of China over the last hundred years while also illuminating his artistic process

"Poignant . . . An illuminating through-line emerges in the many parallels Ai traces between his life and his father's."--The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Time, BookPage, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews

Once a close associate of Mao Zedong and the nation's most celebrated poet, Ai Weiwei's father, Ai Qing, was branded a rightist during the Cultural Revolution, and he and his family were banished to a desolate place known as "Little Siberia," where Ai Qing was sentenced to hard labor cleaning public toilets. Ai Weiwei recounts his childhood in exile, and his difficult decision to leave his family to study art in America, where he befriended Allen Ginsberg and was inspired by Andy Warhol and the artworks of Marcel Duchamp. With candor and wit, he details his return to China and his rise from artistic unknown to art world superstar and international human rights activist--and how his work has been shaped by living under a totalitarian regime.

Ai Weiwei's sculptures and installations have been viewed by millions around the globe, and his architectural achievements include helping to design the iconic Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing. His political activism has long made him a target of the Chinese authorities, which culminated in months of secret detention without charge in 2011. Here, for the first time, Ai Weiwei explores the origins of his exceptional creativity and passionate political beliefs through his life story and that of his father, whose creativity was stifled.

At once ambitious and intimate, Ai Weiwei's 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows offers a deep understanding of the myriad forces that have shaped modern China, and serves as a timely reminder of the urgent need to protect freedom of expression.

Go Back to Where You Came From

Go Back to Where You Came From

Ali, Wajahat
$16.95

This is just one of the many warm, lovely, and helpful tips that Wajahat Ali and other children of immigrants receive on a daily basis. Go back where, exactly? Fremont, California, where he grew up, but is now an unaffordable place to live? Or Pakistan, the country his parents left behind a half-century ago?

Growing up living the suburban American dream, young Wajahat devoured comic books (devoid of brown superheroes) and fielded well-intentioned advice from uncles and aunties. ("Become a doctor!") He had turmeric stains under his fingernails, was accident-prone, suffered from OCD, and wore Husky pants, but he was as American as his neighbors, with roots all over the world. Then, while Ali was studying at University of California, Berkeley, 9/11 happened. Muslims replaced communists as America's enemy #1, and he became an accidental spokesman and ambassador of all ordinary, unthreatening things Muslim-y.

Now a middle-aged dad, Ali has become one of the foremost and funniest public intellectuals in America. In Go Back to Where You Came From, he tackles the dangers of Islamophobia, white supremacy, and chocolate hummus, peppering personal stories with astute insights into national security, immigration, and pop culture. In this refreshingly bold, hopeful, and uproarious memoir, Ali offers indispensable lessons for cultivating a more compassionate, inclusive, and delicious America.

Apropos of Nothing

Apropos of Nothing

Allen, Woody
$30.00
The Long-Awaited, Enormously Entertaining Memoir by One of the Great Artists of Our Time--Now a New York Times, USA Today,
Los Angeles Times
, and Publisher's Weekly
Bestseller.

In this candid and often hilarious memoir, the celebrated director, comedian, writer, and actor offers a comprehensive, personal look at his tumultuous life. Beginning with his Brooklyn childhood and his stint as a writer for the Sid Caesar variety show in the early days of television, working alongside comedy greats, Allen tells of his difficult early days doing standup before he achieved recognition and success. With his unique storytelling pizzazz, he recounts his departure into moviemaking, with such slapstick comedies as Take the Money and Run, and revisits his entire, sixty-year-long, and enormously productive career as a writer and director, from his classics Annie Hall, Manhattan, and Annie and Her Sisters to his most recent films, including Midnight in Paris. Along the way, he discusses his marriages, his romances and famous friendships, his jazz playing, and his books and plays. We learn about his demons, his mistakes, his successes, and those he loved, worked with, and learned from in equal measure.

This is a hugely entertaining, deeply honest, rich and brilliant self-portrait of a celebrated artist who is ranked among the greatest filmmakers of our time.

Roxanne says: Our world is round as should our ability to look at an issue. This is a witty love letter to NYC and writing, with the addition of Farrow vs. Allen facts to which anyone with a heart (and the previously mentioned world view) to child advocacy should be open to at least ponder.

My Pinup

My Pinup

Als, Hilton
$9.95
In this brilliant two-part memoir, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Hilton Als distills into one cocktail the deep and potent complexities of love and of loss, of Prince and of power, of desire and of race. It's delicious and it's got the kick of a mule, especially as Als swirls into his mix the downtown queer nightclub scene, the AIDS crisis, Prince's ass in his tight little pants, an ill-fated peach pie, Dorothy Parker, and his desire for true love. Always surprising and stealthily--even painfully--moving, Als plumbs longing: "I inched closer to him as he danced to you, Prince. But already he was you, Prince, in my mind. He had the same coloring, and the same loneliness I wanted to fill with my admiration. I couldn't love him enough. We were colored boys together. There is not enough of that in the world, Prince--but you know that. Still, when other people see that kind of fraternity they want to kill it. But we were so committed to each other, we never could work out what that violence meant. There was so much love between us. Why didn't anyone want us to share it?"
Place Called Home

Place Called Home

Ambroz, David
$30.00
PORCHLIGHT BESTSELLER

A galvanizing, stirring memoir about growing up homeless and in foster care and rising to become a leading advocate for child welfare, recognized by President Obama as an American Champion of Change. "You will fall in love with David Ambroz, his beautifully-told, gut-wrenching story, and his great big heart." (Jeanette Walls, author of The Glass Castle)

"It's impossible to read A Place Called Home and not want to redouble your efforts to fight the systems of poverty that have plagued America for far too long. In this book, David shares his deeply personal story and issues a rousing call to make this a more humane and compassionate nation."--HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

There are millions of homeless children in America today and in A Place Called Home, award-winning child welfare advocate David Ambroz writes about growing up homeless in New York for eleven years and his subsequent years in foster care, offering a window into what so many kids living in poverty experience every day.

When David and his siblings should be in elementary school, they are instead walking the streets seeking shelter while their mother is battling mental illness. They rest in train stations, 24-hour diners, anywhere that's warm and dry; they bathe in public restrooms and steal food to quell their hunger. When David is placed in foster care, at first it feels like salvation but soon proves to be just as unsafe. He's moved from home to home and, in all but one placement, he's abused. His burgeoning homosexuality makes him an easy target for other's cruelty.

David finds hope and opportunities in libraries, schools, and the occasional kind-hearted adult; he harnesses an inner grit to escape the all-too-familiar outcome for a kid like him. Through hard work and unwavering resolve, he is able to get a scholarship to Vassar College, his first significant step out of poverty. He later graduates from UCLA Law with a vision of using his degree to change the laws that affect children in poverty.

Told with lyricism and sparkling with warmth, A Place Called Home depicts childhood poverty and homelessness as it is experienced by so many young people who have been systematically overlooked and unprotected. It's at once a gripping personal account of deprivation--how one boy survived it, and ultimately thrived--and a resounding call for readers to move from empathy to action.

Mamas

Mamas

Andrews-Dyer, Helena
$27.00
Can white moms and Black moms ever truly be friends? Not just mom friends, but like really real friends? And does it matter?

"Utterly addictive . . . Through her sharp wit and dynamic anecdotal storytelling, Helena Andrews-Dyer shines a light on the cultural differences that separate Black and white mothers."--Tia Williams, New York Times bestselling author of Seven Days in June

Helena Andrews-Dyer lives in a "hot" Washington, D.C., neighborhood, which means picturesque row houses and plenty of gentrification. After having her first child, she joined the local mom group--"the Mamas"--and quickly realized that being one of the only Black mothers in the mix was a mixed bag. The racial, cultural, and socioeconomic differences were made clear almost immediately. But spending time in what she calls "the Polly Pocket world of postracial parenting" was a welcome reprieve. Then George Floyd happened. A man was murdered, a man who called out for his mama. And suddenly, the Mamas hit different. Though they were alike in some ways--they want their kids to be safe; they think their husbands are lazy; they work too much and feel guilty about it--Andrews-Dyer realized she had an entirely different set of problems that her neighborhood mom friends could never truly understand.

In The Mamas, Andrews-Dyer chronicles the particular challenges she faces in a group where systemic racism can be solved with an Excel spreadsheet and where she, a Black, professional, Ivy League-educated mom, is overcompensating with every move. Andrews-Dyer grapples with her own inner tensions, like "Why do I never leave the house with the baby and without my wedding ring?" and "Why did every name we considered for our kids have to pass the résumé test?" Throw in a global pandemic and a nationwide movement for social justice, and Andrews-Dyer ultimately tries to find out if moms from different backgrounds can truly understand one another.

With sharp wit and refreshing honesty, The Mamas explores the contradictions and community of motherhood--white and Black and everything--against the backdrop of the rapidly changing world.

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt

Anonymous
$15.99
One of the New York Times' 20 Books to Read in 2020

"A tonic . . . Splendid . . . A respite . . . A summer cocktail of a book."

--Washington Post

"Unforgettable . . . Behind her brilliantly witty and uplifting message is a remarkable vulnerability and candor that reminds us that we are not alone in our struggles--and that we can, against all odds, get through them."--Lori Gottlieb, New York Times best-selling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

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. Fans around the world are drawn to Her Grace's voice, her wit, her life-affirming love for all humanity, and the fun and friendship of the community that's sprung up around her.

@DuchessGoldblat (81 year-old literary icon, author of An Axe to Grind) brought people together in her name: in bookstores, museums, concerts, and coffee shops, and along the way, brought real friends home--foremost among them, Lyle Lovett.

"The only way to be reliably sure that the hero gets the girl at the end of the story is to be both the hero and the girl yourself." -- Duchess Goldblatt

Nora says: A funny, moving, delightful account of the creation of a fictional online character.  Duchess Goldblatt is a favorite of the literary and publishing world, plus Lyle Lovett! A fun romp, surprisingly philosophical and humane. 

Where Tomorrows Aren't Promised

Where Tomorrows Aren't Promised

Anthony, Carmelo
$17.99
From iconic NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony comes a New York Times bestselling memoir about growing up in the housing projects of Red Hook and Baltimore--a brutal world Where Tomorrows Aren't Promised.

For a long time, Carmelo Anthony's world wasn't any larger than the view of the hoopers and hustlers he watched from the side window of his family's first-floor project apartment in Red Hook, Brooklyn. He couldn't dream any bigger than emulating his older brothers and cousin, much less going on to become a basketball champion on the world stage.

He faced palpable dangers growing up in the housing projects of Red Hook and West Baltimore's Murphy Homes (a.k.a. Murder Homes, subject of HBO's The Wire). He navigated an education system that ignored, exploited, or ostracized him. He suffered the untimely deaths of his closely held loved ones. He struggled to survive physically and emotionally. But with the strength of family and the guidance of key mentors on the streets and on the court, he pushed past lethal odds to endure and thrive.

By the time Carmelo found himself at the NBA Draft at Madison Square Garden in 2003 preparing to embark on his legendary career, he wondered: How did a kid who'd had so many hopes, dreams, and expectations beaten out of him by a world of violence, poverty, and racism make it here at all?

Carmelo's story is one of strength and determination; of dribbling past players bigger and tougher than him, while also weaving around vial caps and needles strewn across the court; where dealers and junkies lined one side of the asphalt and kids playing jacks and Double Dutch lined the other; where rims had no nets, and you better not call a foul--a place Where Tomorrows Aren't Promised.

Ghosting

Ghosting

Ascher, Barbara
$18.95

Married at a young age to an older man, neither he nor she doubted that he would predecease her; but she discovers that there is no preparing for the loss a beloved. Their marriage was a passionate 35 year love affair, as if the odds against its longevity engendered a rare intensity. She discovers that love has no boundaries, grief is not eternal and ?her husband's motto "Life is a love story" is so very true.

Ascher writes passionately about her unlikely marriage, her husband's illness and death and her ensuing sorrow. A witness to the insanity that grief visits upon its victims with a seeming determination to destroy, she gazes straight into the eye of grief and does not blink. In time she moves beyond that grief - her voyage out.

Ghosting is, by turns, moving and funny, tender and brutal .

The wonder of Ghosting is that Ascher, like Montaigne, calls forth Everyman.

About previous books:

Pat Conroy on Dancing In The Dark:
"One of those books that wakes you up to the life you have failed to live, ...What a wonderful book."

Publishers Weekly on The Habit of Loving: ?
"With her sharp, unflinching eye, she discovers wonder and truth at our very doorsteps."

Boston Globe on Landscape Without Gravity:
"Her honesty touches the reader's heart, opens the scars of old wounds, and helps heal them...wrenching, insightful...compelling"

Eudora Welty on Playing After Dark:
Barbara Ascher has a serious mind and the gift of a light touch.

American Martyr in Persia

American Martyr in Persia

Aslan, Reza
$30.00

Little known in America but venerated as a martyr in Iran, Howard Baskerville was a twenty-two-year-old Christian missionary from South Dakota who traveled to Persia (modern-day Iran) in 1907 for a two-year stint teaching English and preaching the gospel. He arrived in the midst of a democratic revolution--the first of its kind in the Middle East--led by a group of brilliant young firebrands committed to transforming their country into a fully self-determining, constitutional monarchy, one with free elections and an independent parliament.

The Persian students Baskerville educated in English in turn educated him about their struggle for democracy, ultimately inspiring him to leave his teaching post and join them in their fight against a tyrannical shah and his British and Russian backers. "The only difference between me and these people is the place of my birth, Baskerville declared, "and that is not a big difference."

In 1909, Baskerville was killed in battle alongside his students, but his martyrdom spurred on the revolutionaries who succeeded in removing the shah from power, signing a new constitution, and rebuilding parliament in Tehran. To this day, Baskerville's tomb in the city of Tabriz remains a place of pilgrimage. Every year, thousands of Iranians visit his grave to honor the American who gave his life for Iran.

In this rip-roaring tale of his life and death, Aslan gives us a powerful parable about the universal ideals of democracy--and to what degree Americans are willing to support those ideals in a foreign land. Woven throughout is an essential history of the nation we now know as Iran--frequently demonized and misunderstood in the West. Indeed, Baskerville's life and death represent a "road not taken" in Iran. Baskerville's story, like his life, is at the center of a whirlwind in which Americans must ask themselves: How seriously do we take our ideals of constitutional democracy and whose freedom do we support?