Memories

RAFridays

This past weekend, I attended my 45th high school reunion and I’ve been reading memoirs lately.  I seem to be having a nostalgic summer and it’s been lovely!   The books recommended this week are interesting, enlightening, well written and very different from each other.  Hopefully, you’ll find something to suit your mood.

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me  by Sherman Alexie

Award-winning author Alexie has long been one of my favorites.  An honest voice for modern-day life on American Indian reservations, many of his poems, stories and novels have had bits of autobiography in them.  Recounting the complicated relationship he had with his mother, this full-fledged memoir could not have been written until after his mother had passed away.  She was a quilter and was 78 years old when she died in 2015.  Alexie has constructed this book as a quilt, built of 78 poems and 78 essays.  It’s a difficult story, because life on the rez is difficult and because their relationship was difficult, too.  As usual, though, Alexie tells it all with openness, heartbreak, and humor.

On the Move: a Life  by Oliver Sacks

Neurologist and accomplished author, Sacks is well known for his collections of case studies such as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, An Anthropologist on Mars and Seeing Voices: A Journey into the World of the Deaf.  His bestseller, Awakenings, was made into a feature film starring Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro.  This final autobiography (he died in 2015 at the age of 82) recounts a life well lived and shares intimate details which had not been made public before.  At once extremely shy and quite daring, he moved from his native Britain to California and eventually to New York City, collecting a wealth of  friendships and adventures along the way.  And yes, that is him on the cover of the book.  He had always had a love of motorbikes and spent the early ’60’s on Venice Beach (CA) as a body builder!  Listening to the audio, I found it easy to absorb the medical terms and phrases.

Here If You Need Me: a True Story  by Kate Braestrup

The first in her series of memoirs was published in 2007 and after having read it, I wanted to be her when I grew up!  (Never mind that I’m probably ten years older than she is.)  In Here If You Need Me, Braestrup recounts how her husband, and the father of their four children, was killed in the line of duty as a Maine State Trooper. To help deal with her tremendous grief, she chose to pursue his dream – to become a minister. Enrolling in divinity school, caring for her grieving family, and trying to keep the day-to-day together, Braestrup persevered and became a Unitarian Universalist minister. She then found her calling as the first chaplain for the search-and-rescue teams across the state of Maine. It’s a moving, inspirational story that reminds us that it’s the small miracles that happen every day.  An accomplished writer, Braestrup continued to relate her journey with two more books: Marriage and Other Acts of Charity in 2010 and the most recent, Anchor and Flares: a Memoir of Motherhood, Hope and Service, in which she faces her eldest son’s choice to join the military.  Beautifully done.

A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana  by Haven Kimmel

Born in 1965  in quintessential small-town America, Kimmel was nicknamed Zippy for the way she raced around the house.  Growing up in the tiny hamlet of Mooreland – where neighbors helped neighbors, people went to church on Sundays,  and everyone knew everyone else – Kimmel shares glimpses of life in a gentler time.  Laced with humor and wonderful 3rd-grade insights, A Girl named Zippy is a love letter to Kimmel’s home town.

 

Beyond the Binary at JMRL

y648At the Crozet Library, our focus for LGBT+* Pride Month 2017 is gender. We’re featuring fiction and nonfiction books about people who identify somewhere outside the cisgender man/woman binary system and inviting patrons to contribute their identity to our community board. Check out the display in our teen area for information, pronoun stickers, book selections, or to add to the board.

Looking for some great books to read for Pride, or want to educate yourself about gender identity? Check out these fiction, nonfiction, and memoir picks! Links will take you to the JMRL catalog, where you can place these books on reserve.

 

FICTION

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin – A genderfluid teen creates a blog to share thoughts and experiences about gender. When it goes viral, the responsibility and risk of exposure may prove to be too much.

Beast by Brie Spangler – A Beauty and the Beast retelling featureing fifteen-year-old Dylan (hairy, burly, outcast) and Jamie (witty, gorgeous, transgender) who meet when Dylan is assigned to a therapy group for self-harmers after an accident.

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky – A novel about twelve-year-old Grayson, who feels trapped under the weight of a life-long secret: “he” has always been a girl on the inside. A sweet and thoughtful story about friendship and support.

George by Alex Gino – George wants to play Charlotte in the annual school rendition of Charlotte’s Web, but she’s not allowed to audition because everyone sees her as a boy. With the support of her best friend, though, George comes up with a plan to embrace her true self and make her dream come true.

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills – Public access radio star Gabe is dealing with a lot: romance, parents, friendships, coming out as transgender, and an awesome opportunity to audition for a radio station in Minneapolis. The difficulty ramps even higher when several violent students discover that Gabe the popular DJ is also Elizabeth from school.

NONFICTION & MEMOIR

The ABCs of LGBT+ by Ashley Mardell – This one isn’t strictly about gender, as it encompasses the entire scope of gender, sexual, and romantic identity, but it’s a must-read for anyone feeling out of their depth in the ever-more-complex world of identity. YouTuber Ashley Mardell presents what could be an overwhelming amount of information in a straightforward and easy-to-digest way, with complete definitions, personal anecdotes, and infographics.

Some Assembly Required by Arin Andrews / Being Normal by Katie Rain Hill – Two halves of the same story, told by two transgender teens who were dating during their respective transitions from male to female and female to male.

Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings – Young transgender activist (and now reality TV star) Jazz Jennings recounts her experiences growing up as a transgender child and her work to educate the world about gender issues.

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out edited by Susan Kuklin – Author/photographer Susan Kuklin interviews six transgender or non-binary young adults as they work to understand themselves and their gender identities. Filled with beautiful photos and candid anecdotes.

Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt – A family who adopted identical twin boys reexamined their deeply held views about gender identity when one of the twins turns out to be transgender.

Want more? Ask a librarian at any JMRL branch, chat with us via our website, or use our What Do I Read Next? tool. Happy reading!

* – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and more

Local Stories

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The 2017 Nelson County Historical Society Homes and Properties Tour will be focused on Faber and Schuyler this Saturday, which brings to mind Nelson’s favorite son Earl Hamner Jr.  JMRL has a collection of his novels and memoirs, as well as the dvd collection of the television hit based on his life, “The Waltons.”  Here are some other nice collections of local stories which you might enjoy:

Backroads series  by Lynn COFFEY

When Coffey moved to Love, VA in 1980, she settled right in and embraced the culture and the people of this tiny mountain town which calls itself the “Crest of the Blue Ridge.”  Inspired by the way of life of the hard-working folks around her, she began to gather their stories and publish them in a monthly newspaper she called “Backroads.”   For 25 years, her neighbors shared their tales, taught their skills, and even posed for pictures, and Coffey preserved it all.  In 2009, she published a collection of these tales in Backroads: Plain Folk and Simple Livin’ which was followed in the next few years by two more volumes.

A Legacy of Rural Virginia  by Donald W. PAYNE

In two volumes, Payne’s collection is subtitled “Simpler Times Laced with Hardships and Happiness” which just about says it all.  Having grown up in Fluvanna County, Payne was always interested in the lives of the elders and happy to listen to them tell their stories. His work covers the 1800’s and 1900’s and includes many old photographs.

Best Little Stories from Virginia  by C. Brian KELLY

Journalist Kelly takes the history of our Commonwealth even further back, to the 16th century.  With extensive footnotes, bibliography, and timelines, Virginia’s history is again told through a series of stories.  It also contains a section entitled “The Women Who Counted.”  This volume is one is a series of “Best Little Stories” books that Kelly has written.

Greetings from Charlottesville, Virginia and Albemarle County  by Samuel MENEFEE

Menefee has collected over 300 postcards from the area, dating back to the early 1900’s, with some expected sights and some which might surprise you.  Menefee describes postcards as “Windows to the Past.”  Be sure to note the cards of the “Post Office, Charlottesville” on page 47 – it’s now the Central Library!