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Abdurraquib, Hanif. Go Ahead In the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest. University of Texas Press, 2019.
More than a musical biography, this is a coming of age story. Abdurraquib reflects on his own maturation and that of rap music through his relationship with A Tribe Called Quest.
Acevedo, Elizabeth. The Poet X. Quill Tree Books, 2018.
Xiomara can’t hide from her neighbors or her family, but she can learn to understand herself through writing slam poetry.
Ahmed, Samira. Love, Hate & Other Filters. Soho Teen, 2018.
An Indian-American Muslim teen struggles to find balance between her dreams of being a filmmaker and her parents’ more conservative expectations. A horrific crime across the country makes things worse when it exposes the Islamophobia and bigotry of her neighbors and peers.
Anderson, MT. Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad. Candlewick, 2015.
A captivating account of a genius composer and the brutally stormy period in which he lived.
Barry, Lynda. Making Comics. Drawn & Quarterly, 2019.
With the philosophy that “everyone can be creative,” Barry walks readers through her drawing exercises for her college course. Even readers who don’t think they can draw will be inspired to pick up a pen and some paper and try.
Brooks, Melanie. Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma. Beacon Press, 2017.
Considered essential reading for creative writers, Brooks examines what it means to write honestly about one’s experience by talking with the best of the memoirists.
Brown, Leanne. Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day. Workman Publishing, 2015.
Not only does Brown offer recipes for nutritious, colorful meals that are filling, but she also provides tips for getting your money’s worth in the grocery store, how to make your food more flavorful, and illustrated kitchenware and cooking guides.
Emezi, Akwaeke. Pet. Make Me a World/Random House Children’s Books, 2019.
In this highly imaginative novel, a creature in a painting by Jam’s mother comes to life, seeking the true monster. Thought provoking concepts such as the nature of art, the meaning of evil, and the importance of forgiveness are explored in this slim volume.
Fischer, Jenna. The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide. BenBella Books, 2017.
Part memoir and part craft education, The Office actress Jenna Fischer walks readers through her experience as a professional actor with humorous stories and practical advice.
Gardner, Whitney. You’re Welcome Universe. Knopf, 2017.
A teen graffiti artist finds her world thrown upside down after she is expelled from her Deaf school for creating an unauthorized mural to protect her best friend. Forced to navigate a mainstream school, Julia turns to her art, but even that can’t provide comfort when she finds herself in a graffiti war.
Jackson, Tiffany. Let Me Hear a Rhyme. Katherine Tegen Books, 2020.
Jackson brings to life the sound of 1990s Brooklyn in this crime mystery. When the Architect’s demo catches fire and music labels seek admittance, his friends attempt to prove his talent beyond the grave while also trying to solve his death, figure out their lives after high school, and honor his memory.
Kondo, Marie. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Ten Speed Press, 2014.
Kondo provides step by step guidance to removing the clutter from your home so that you can truly know and appreciate what matters in your life.
Laymon, Kiese. Heavy: An American Memoir. Scribner, 2019.
Laymon recalls his journey growing up in the deep south, attempting to reconcile he and his mother’s memories of experiencing racism, abuse, and addiction as well as giftedness. As much a reflection on his life as a writer as it is his coming of age.
Lodi, Hafsa. Modesty: A Fashion Paradox. Neem Tree Press, 2020.
Lodi explores the world of fashion from the perspective of women who choose modesty for any number of reasons and does not overlook the varied ways in which capitalism and politics can play a strong role even in the modest fashion industry.
Mecham, Jesse. You Need a Budget: The Proven System for Breaking the Paycheck to Paycheck Cycle, Getting Out of Debt , and Living the Life You Want. Harper Business, 2017.
Learn how to create an effective and simple budget that helps you determine your financial priorities and use the money you have right now to get on a path toward achieving them with less stress.
Miranda, Lin-Manuel. Hamilton, The Revolution. Grand Central Station, 2016.
Miranda provides a behind-the-scenes view of the popular musical about one of America’s founding fathers as well as insights into his thought processes as he wrote the musical.
Mohr, Tim. Burning Down the Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution and the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Algonquin, 2018.
The Berlin Wall could keep people out (and in) but they couldn't keep radio waves out. This is the tale of a small group of East German teens who became punk rockers in the 70s just like their Western counterparts. Here are the stories that define creativity and freedom under an authoritarian regime.
Morales, Iris. Latinas: Struggles & Protests in 21st Century USA. Red Sugarcane Press, 2018.
This collection of poetry and essays expresses the courage and grit that Latinas show in their everyday lives as they fight for gender equality and social justice. Contributors include poets, activists, educators, artists, and journalists.
Okorafor, Nnedi. Broken Places and Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the Unexpected. Simon & Schuster/TED, 2019.
Okorafor shares her journey from athlete to creative writer. When she becomes paralyzed overnight, just after starting college, she is forced to reimagine her life’s purpose. Magical, inspiring, and humbling, Okorafor draws you in and keeps you rooting for her.
Pan, Emily X.R. The Astonishing Color of After. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2019.
This novel weaves a beautiful and colorful story about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love. Following her mother’s spirit to Taiwan, Leigh encounters family secrets as she attempts to reconnect with her grandparents and her heritage.
Questlove. Creative Quest. Ecco, 2018.
Questlove, leader of The Roots, meets the reader where they are in this inspirational work about the creative process.
Sloan, Nate and Harding, Charlie. Switched on Pop: How Popular Music Works and Why it Matters. Oxford University Press, 2019.
Foundational and sometimes complicated concepts in music theory explained simply through the lens of the “modern classics” of pop. Based on the podcast of the same name.
Talusan, Meredith. Fairest: A Memoir. Viking, 2020.
From childhood stardom to an Ivy League education, Talusan shares her memories dealing with albinism, immigration, and gender transition.
Twitty, Michael. The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South. Amistad, 2017.
In this survey of Southern culinary history and an exploration of genealogical history, Twitty weaves his expertise with personal exploration to discover his racial roots through traditional Southern cuisine.
Ukazu, Ngozi. Check, Please! Volumes 1 & 2. First Second, 2018, 2020.
Follow a former figure skating champion, avid baker, and vlogger as he joins his college’s hockey team as a freshman, learns how to navigate hockey culture, and develops a crush on his captain. Developed from a web series of the same name.
Westover, Tara. Educated: A Memoir. Random House, 2018.
This memoir traces Westover’s youth as a child of survivalists through her experiences in school for the first time as a 17-year-old and her young adulthood as she ultimately earns degrees from Harvard and Cambridge. Along the way, she grapples with her connection to and understanding of the family she left behind in Idaho.