Memoir/Biography

I Can Do Anything…Except That

I’ve always enjoyed adrenaline-boosting hobbies—aerial acrobatics, surfing, mountain biking—so as I neared my half-century mark, I thought, Should I thru-hike the Appalachian Trail?

I immersed myself in all things AT (as the trail is affectionately known) and came to the unwavering conclusion that no way in hell could I ever do such a thing.

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A Beautiful Girl, Her Mysterious Death

New York City is rich with fascinating stories. Some are heartbreaking, some funny, and some so mysterious and odd, you would assume they are fictional.

One such story is the tragic tale of Mary Rogers—a young woman whose body was found floating in the Hudson River in 1841. Her story seems to be straight out of a Gothic mystery…perhaps because it inspired one.

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An Introspective Memoir About Navigating Change

My father used to say his dream was to be a hermit in the woods. No cell phone, no emails, no text messages fluttering through the ether demanding his attention and response. Just a cabin and quiet. Howard Axelrod’s 2015 memoir, THE POINT OF VANISHING, captures my father’s idyllic dream.

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A Life in Waves

I am not a surfer. I have never spent a day on big, rough waves in Hawaii or on small but perfect waves in Tonga. I am, however, a rubbernecker. If there’s a stretch of beach where I can watch surfers bob up and down in wetsuits waiting for a break, I’m there. William Finnegan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, BARBARIAN DAYS: A SURFING LIFE, is the literary equivalent of sitting on the beach on a day with good breaks.

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The Ultimate Underdog Story

“The Queen of Katwe” will hit the silver screen in Disney’s highly anticipated adaptation this month and stars Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo. Like “The Blind Side,” the film brings to life the story of an underdog whose drive and commitment allows them to overcome incredible odds in life and in sports. The new film is based on THE QUEEN OF KATWE: ONE GIRL’S TRIUMPHANT PATH TO BECOMING A CHESS CHAMPION by Tim Crothers—a true, moving, and triumphant account of a young girl who rises out of unlikely circumstances to become an international chess star.

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13 Books on How to Not Be a Terrible Person

Many will thumb their noses at straight-up self-help books—and yet, like me, they still need a lot of guidance on how to not be a total jerk in this world. For my dear, dear friends such as this, I’ve collected some of my favorite books that may advise in that arena.

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12 Engaging Reads for Students in Life’s Classroom

The beginning of a new school year always brings so much promise and possibility—cracking open the spines of new books to challenge you, engage you, take you to new worlds. In honor of back-to-school season, here are twelve eye-opening, thought-provoking books for a master class of your own.

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A Christian, a Muslim, and a Jew Walk Into a Room…

When Ranya Idliby’s daughter was in grade school, she asked whether, as Muslims, they celebrated Christmas or Hanukkah. The question made Ranya think about her own faith and wonder why she knew so little about other religions. She recruited two other suburban moms—Suzanne Oliver, a devout Christian who had been raised Catholic but had converted to the Episcopal Church, and Priscilla Warner, who defined her Jewishness more as a cultural imperative than a religious one—to write a children’s book with her about the similarities, differences, and connections between Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

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A Miserable Childhood, A Transcendent Tale

One day in the spring of 1995, when Frank McCourt was sixty-four years old, I received a box from literary agent Molly Friedrich, containing the first 159 pages of the memoir ANGELA’S ASHES. Several of us read the pages, as Frank would say, with alacrity. And loved them, swiftly seduced by the opening sentences: “When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived it all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood; the happy childhood is hardly worth your while.”

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Soldier On, My Friends, Love Is Just a Swipe Away

Over the course of my lifetime, several noteworthy relationship guides have emerged from a generally uninspiring landscape. In the early ’90s, it was MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS. If you came of age in the early aughts, you had HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU. Until now, that was my personal bible on matters of the heart (it’s EMPOWERING, okay?). But then, on a sunny day in June 2015, came the relationship book to end all relationship books: Aziz Ansari’s MODERN ROMANCE.

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