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“Up from Slavery”

by Booker T. Washington
Booker T. Washington (1856 - 1915) was born a slave but would later become one of the most influential men in United States history. Washington advocated peaceful protest and believed violence would hurt the chance for African-Americans to secure civil rights. W.E.B. Du Bois, another famous writer and civil rights activist in the early 20th century, believed in stronger protests. Though both men went about things different ways they both are still well read today and recognized for helping African-Americans get civil rights. Purchase

“The Story of My Life”

by Helen Keller
No one who knew Helen Keller before her transformational years with Anne Sullivan could have ever guessed that the young woman, struck by scarlet fever at 19 months of age and left both deaf and blind, would go on to overcome both physical impairments – learning to speak and read – and leave the world with a moving autobiography that would inspire millions. The Story of My Life recounts those early years, meeting the woman who would change her life forever and the pivotal moment – recreated on-screen in The Miracle Worker – where Keller first associated letters with words and words with meaning. Purchase

“All Over but the Shoutin’”

by Rick Bragg (2009 winner of the Harper Lee Award)
This haunting, harrowing, gloriously moving recollection of a life on the American margin is the story of Rick Bragg, who grew up dirt-poor in northeastern Alabama, seemingly destined for either the cotton mills or the penitentiary, and instead became a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times. Purchase

“Born Country”

by Randy Owen and Allen Rucker
Born Country is an inspiring memoir of faith, family, and living the American dream from the lead singer/songwriter of Alabama, the biggest country music group of all time. A multiple Grammy, People’s Choice, and Country Music Association Award-winning superstar, Randy Owen tells about growing up poor in rural Alabama, the son of devout Christian sharecroppers, his rise to the top of the charts, his personal trials and the destructive temptations he avoided through his love and unassailable faith in God. Purchase

“Change Me into Zeus’s Daughter”

by Barbara Robinette Moss (2012 winner of the Harper Lee Award)
A haunting and triumphant story of a difficult and keenly felt life, Change Me into Zeus's Daughter is a remarkable literary memoir of resilience, redemption, and growing up in the South. Barbara Robinette Moss was the fourth in a family of eight children raised in the red-clay hills of Alabama. Their wild-eyed, alcoholic father was a charismatic and irrationally proud man who, when sober, captured his children's timid awe, but when (more often) drunk, roused them from bed for severe punishment or bizarre all-night poker games. Their mother was their angel: erudite and stalwart -- her only sin her inability to leave her husband for the sake of the children. Purchase

“A Pirate Looks at Fifty”

by Jimmy Buffett
For Parrotheads, for armchair adventurers, and for anyone who appreciates a good yarn and a hearty laugh, here is the ultimate backstage pass -- you'll read the kind of stories Jimmy usually reserves for his closest friends and you'll see a wonderful, wacky life through eyes of the man who's lived it. “A Pirate Looks at 50” is a breath of fresh air and a ingenious manual for getting to 50, and beyond. Purchase

“Zelda: A Biography”

by Nancy Milford
Zelda Sayre started out as a Southern beauty, became an international wonder, and died by fire in a madhouse. With her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, she moved in a golden aura of excitement, romance, and promise. The epitome of the Jazz Age, they rode the crest of the era to its collapse and their own. As a result of years of exhaustive research, Nancy Milford brings alive the tormented, elusive personality of Zelda and clarifies as never before her relationship with Scott Fitzgerald. Purchase

“Hank Hung the Moon:… And Warmed Our Cold, Cold Hearts”

by Rheta Grimsley Johnson
Hank Hung the Moon is more of a musical memoir than a biography: the author’s evocative and personal stories of 1950s and ’60s musical staples—elementary school rhythm bands, British Invasion rock concerts and tear-jerker movie musicals. It was a simpler time when Hank roamed the Earth; the book celebrates a world of 78 rpm records and 5-cent Cokes, with Hank providing the soundtrack and wisdom. A Cajun girl learns to understand English by listening to Hank on the radio. A Hank impersonator works by day at a prison but, by night, makes good use of his college degree in country music. Hank’s lost daughter, Jett, devotes her life to embracing the father she never knew. Finally, stories you haven't heard a thousand times before about people who love Hank, some famous, most not. Purchase