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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.

Why Fathers Cry at Night: A Memoir in Love Poems, Recipes, Letters, and Remembrances

Why Fathers Cry at Night: A Memoir in Love Poems, Recipes, Letters, and Remembrances

Alexander, Kwame
$28.00

This powerful memoir from a #1 New York Times bestselling author and Newbery Medalist features poetry, letters, recipes, and other personal artifacts that provide an intimate look into his life and the loved ones he shares it with.

In an intimate and non-traditional (or "new-fashioned") memoir, Kwame Alexander shares snapshots of a man learning how to love. He takes us through stories of his parents: from being awkward newlyweds in the sticky Chicago summer of 1967, to the sometimes-confusing ways they showed their love to each other, and for him. He explores his own relationships--his difficulties as a newly wedded, 22-year-old father, and the precariousness of his early marriage working in a jazz club with his second wife. Alexander attempts to deal with the unravelling of his marriage and the grief of his mother's recent passing while sharing the solace he found in learning how to perfect her famous fried chicken dish. With an open heart, Alexander weaves together memories of his past to try and understand his greatest love: his daughters.

Full of heartfelt reminisces, family recipes, love poems, and personal letters, Why Fathers Cry at Night inspires bravery and vulnerability in every reader who has experienced the reckless passion, heartbreak, failure, and joy that define the whirlwind woes and wonders of love.

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.

Place Called Home

Place Called Home

Ambroz, David
$30.00
PORCHLIGHT BESTSELLER
Zibby Owens 2022 Book of the Year

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.

My Inner Sky

My Inner Sky

Andrew, Mari
$22.00
From New York Times bestselling author Mari Andrew, a collection of essays and illustrations, divided into phases of the sky--twilight, golden hour, night, and dawn--that serves as a loyal companion for life's curveballs

A whole, beautiful life is only made possible by the wide spectrum of feelings that exist between joy and sorrow. In this insightful and warm book, writer and illustrator Mari Andrew explores all the emotions that make up a life, in the process offering insights about trauma and healing, the meaning of home and the challenges of loneliness, finding love in the most unexpected of places--from birds nesting on a sculpture to a ride on the subway--and a resounding case for why sometimes you have to put yourself in the path of magic.

My Inner Sky empowers us to transform everything that's happened to us into something meaningful, reassurance that even in our darkest times, there's light and beauty to be found.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Angelou, Maya
$18.00
Maya Angelou's debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide. Her life story is told in the documentary film And Still I Rise, as seen on PBS's American Masters.

Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou's debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.

Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local "powhitetrash." At eight years old and back at her mother's side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age--and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors ("I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare") will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.

Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.

"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity."--James Baldwin

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. 

Camera Girl

Camera Girl

Anthony, Carl Sferrazza
$19.99
"One of the most detailed, nuanced portraits of Jackie to date." --The Washington Post

An illuminating and "wholly refreshing" (David Maraniss, New York Times bestselling author) biography of the young Jackie Bouvier Kennedy that covers her formative adventures abroad in Paris; her life as a writer and photographer in Washington, DC; and her romance with a dashing, charismatic Massachusetts congressman who shared her intellectual passion.

Camera Girl "shines with wit and intelligence" (Library Journal, starred review) as it brings to life Jackie's years as a young, single woman trying to figure out who she wanted to become. Chafing at the expectations of her family and the societal limitations placed on women in that era, Jackie pursued her dream career as a writer. Set primarily during the years of 1949 to 1953, when Jackie was in her early twenties, the book recounts in heretofore unrevealed detail the story of her late college years and her early adulthood as a working woman.

Before she met John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Bouvier was the Washington Times-Herald's "Inquiring Camera Girl," posing compelling questions to members of the public on the streets of DC and snapping their photos with her unwieldy Graflex camera. She then fashioned the results into a daily column, of which six hundred were published.

Carl Sferrazza Anthony, a historian and leading expert on First Ladies, draws on these columns and previously unseen archives of Jackie's writings from this time, along with insights gleaned from interviews he conducted with her friends, colleagues, and family members. Camera Girl offers a fresh perspective on the woman later known as Jacqueline Kennedy and Jackie O, introducing us to the headstrong, self-assured young woman who went on to be one of the world's most famous people. "For anyone of any age, the Jackie in Camera Girl offers an example of intentional living" (Hillary Rodham Clinton).

I Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home

I Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home

Attenberg, Jami
$27.99

Named a Best Book of the Year by: Time * New Yorker * Sunday Times (UK)

From New York Times bestselling author Jami Attenberg comes a dazzling memoir about unlocking and embracing her creativity--and how it saved her life.

In this brilliant, fierce, and funny memoir of transformation, Jami Attenberg--described as a "master of modern fiction" (Entertainment Weekly) and the "poet laureate of difficult families" (Kirkus Reviews)--reveals the defining moments that pushed her to create a life, and voice, she could claim for herself. What does it take to devote oneself to art? What does it mean to own one's ideas? What does the world look like for a woman moving solo through it?

As the daughter of a traveling salesman in the Midwest, Attenberg was drawn to a life on the road. Frustrated by quotidian jobs and hungry for inspiration and fresh experiences, her wanderlust led her across the country and eventually on travels around the globe. Through it all she grapples with questions of mortality, otherworldliness, and what we leave behind.

It is during these adventures that she begins to reflect on the experiences of her youth--the trauma, the challenges, the risks she has taken. Driving across America on self-funded book tours, sometimes crashing on couches when she was broke, she keeps writing: in researching articles for magazines, jotting down ideas for novels, and refining her craft, she grows as an artist and increasingly learns to trust her gut and, ultimately, herself.

Exploring themes of friendship, independence, class, and drive, I Came All This Way to Meet You is an inspiring story of finding one's way home--emotionally, artistically, and physically--and an examination of art and individuality that will resonate with anyone determined to listen to their own creative calling.

Roxanne says: Attenberg, approaching fifty, takes us through a good portion of her life via travels to Italy, Hong Kong, and New York.  Akin to Rachel Cusk, Attenberg uses her travel  fore guideposts to reflect on her wounds and victories.  What results is a poignant, no nonsense assessment of freedom  and her own evolutionary value system.