This Is Just My Face: Try Not To Stare was incredibly funny. Gabourey Sidibe is so unusually honest in her memoir. She is able to tell you her life’s highlights and traumas in her extraordinarily sarcastic way. I was laughing out loud at things that I thought were maybe crossing the line at some points, but it didn’t matter—and that’s her point!
Check It Out Category: Nonfiction
Have you taken up this summer’s challenge of Reading Takes You Everywhere? If Destination M: Read a Biography or Memoir is a stop on your journey, perhaps one of these books will get you there! Check out the first lines of these five books to see if any pique your interest.
“A few months after my twenty-first birthday, a stranger called to give me the news.”
Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama
“There is nothing in life more perfect than a slide rule.”
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
“My entire family was camped out on blankets and goose-down bedding in the apple orchard behind Aunt Uchka’s little house.”
Clara’s War by Clara Kramer
“Why did we stop at the 4-Dice Restaurant in Fordyce, Arkansas, for lunch on Independence Day weekend?”
Life by Keith Richards
“Apart from life, a strong constitution, and an abiding connection to the Thembu royal house, the only thing my father bestowed upon me at birth was a name, Rolihlahla.”
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
The holiday this weekend allows time for reading among the BBQs and parades in honor of our fallen service men and women. If you want to keep your reading on the Memorial Day theme, check out one of the following books.
Memorial Day by Vince Flynn
CIA intelligence has pointed to a major terrorist attack on the United States, just as the nation’s capital prepares for a grand Memorial Day tribute to the veterans of World War II. Racing to Afghanistan, Mitch Rapp leads a commando raid on an al Queda stronghold in a remote border village–and defuses plans for a nuclear strike on Washington. The crisis averted, the special ops work is done. But Rapp knows, in the face of a new kind of enemy, nothing is as it seems–and it’s up to him alone to avert a disaster of unimaginable proportions.
Code Talker by Chester Nez
During World War II, the Japanese had managed to crack every code the United States used. But when the Marines turned to its Navajo recruits to develop and implement a secret military language, they created the only unbroken code in modern warfare–and helped assure victory for the United States over Japan in the South Pacific. Chester Nez is the only surviving member of the original twenty-nine code talkers–and this is his story.
Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel
Follows the challenges that face soldiers and their families once they return home from overseas deployments. The author focuses on those suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, the invisible wounds of war. Finkel explores the pain of a widow dealing with the loss of her husband and the despair of families whose service members come home angry and violent. The book also shows how the military seeks to help hurting soldiers and their families as suicide rates of soldiers and veterans soar.
Fobbit by David Abrams
In the satirical tradition of Catch-22 and M*A*S*H , Fobbit takes us into the chaotic world of Baghdad’s Forward Operating Base Triumph. The Forward Operating base, or FOB, is like the back-office of the battlefield – where people eat and sleep, and where a lot of soldiers have what looks suspiciously like a desk job. Darkly humorous and based on the author’s own experiences in Iraq, Fobbit is a fantastic debut that shows us a behind-the-scenes portrait of the real Iraq war.
Shoot Like a Girl by Mary Jennings Hegar
On June 29, 2009, Air National Guard major Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar was shot down while on a Medevac mission on her third tour in Afghanistan. Despite being wounded, she fought the enemy and saved the lives of her crew and their patients. But soon she would face a new battle: to give women who serve on the front lines the credit they deserve…
– a mermaid escapist II
People come to poetry with all sorts of preconceptions: it has to be complicated, it has to rhyme, or it is just not for me. A crop of up-and-coming writers has helped new audiences find appeal in playing with expression, and Amanda Lovelace’s Women Are Magic series sparks strong reaction. The Princess Saves Herself in This One taps into feeling and thought and trauma and joy in a way that speaks to those who struggle to feel seen or understood. It faces hard things without giving them additional power, and it clings stubbornly to youthful hope. With forewarnings both for sensitive topics and for happy endings, this inaugural collection offers energy and accessibility. Welcome to National Poetry Month!
Spring is here, and we can’t help but think of travel. Whether that travel takes the form of an actual vacation or is only a mental getaway between home and work, a great audiobook can make the experience all the more vivid. As long as you are on the move, why not choose one of these tales of road trip adventure to double the experience? Among true-life narratives and stories of imagination, many with companions both human and animal, we guarantee you’ll find a kindred spirit of exploration.
by Beth Harbison
In an attempt to rediscover joy in her life, Colleen Bradley takes an antiquing road trip down the East Coast with her old friend Bitty and teenager Tamara, where the three women learn about true friendship.
by Sarah Vowell
In this highly unusual travelogue, a journalist explores the history of American presidential assassinations by visiting assassination sites, museums, prisons, monuments, and even a religious commune from the Florida Keys all the way to Alaska.
by Homer Hickam
by Philip Caputo
In a journey of over four months and seventeen thousand miles, the author and his wife haul an Airstream camper from Key West, Florida to Deadhorse, Alaska, interviewing Americans from all walks of life along the way.
by Sue Pethick
When her cuddly canine companion Boomer is diagnosed with a rare heart condition, Jennifer Westbrook decides to take a leave of absence from her busy PR job—and take Boomer on the greatest road trip of his life.
by Brooke Davis
A shared encounter between an abandoned seven-year-old, a widowed shut-in, and a nursing home escapee results in the three embarking on a road trip across Western Australia to find the child’s mother.
by Debbie Macomber
Bethanne Hamlin, her daughter Annie, and her former mother-in-law Ruth go on a road trip across the country in an adventure that changes all of their lives as they each contemplate taking different paths in their romantic lives.
by Dave Eggers
Struggling through a painful separation, the loss of her dental practice and the senseless death of a young man, Josie embarks on an RV road trip to Alaska with her kids that is marked by both national wonders and the shadows of past regrets.
by Larry McMurtry
Best friends Maggie and Connie are getting past their prime, which is why they plan to have one last great adventure. Packing a .38 Special, they blaze their trail across the Southwest, bumping into one zany character after another.
by John Steinbeck
With his elderly French poodle, Charley, author John Steinbeck embarked on a quest to rediscover the America he’d been writing about for so many years, from the northermost tip of Maine to California’s Monterey Peninsula.
by Jojo Moyes
A single mom, her math genius daughter, her eye-shadow-wearing stepson, a wealthy computer geek and a smelly dog all get into a car to drive to the Math Olympiad. What could go wrong? What could go right?
by Jack Kerouac
A penniless writer named Sal Paradise becomes inspired to hitchhike across America. Joining up with fellow vagabonds who are in love with life and open to adventure, they explore jazz, sex, drugs, and mysticism on the fringes of society.
Title: $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America
Author: Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer
Page Count: 210 pages
Genre: Nonfiction, Social Justice, Call-to-Action
Tone: Eye-Opening, Anecdotal, Sobering
A revelatory assessment of poverty in America examines the survival methods employed by households with virtually no income to illuminate disturbing trends in low-wage labor and income inequality.
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.
The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement: 2018 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.
- 1. Think back to when you first picked up this book. What kind of book did you expect to read? Is that the book you read? How was it different?
2. In what ways did this passage from the introduction strike a chord: “Recent public discussions of rising inequality in the United States have largely focused on the biggest winners of the past decade, the top one percent. But there is a different inequality at work at the other end of the income scale” (xxiii)?
3. As you think back over the experience of reading the book, what made the biggest impression? Are there stories or issues or feelings that will stay with you months later?
4. How accessible was the book? Did you feel you understood what the authors were trying to communicate?
5. Would you describe this as a heavy read? A depressing one? An inspiring one? What words would you use?
6. Several of the illustrative narratives are set in Chicago. Do you think that affected your experience of them? In which way(s)?
7. “[Representative surveys] have consistently shown that between 60 and 70 percent of the American public believes that the government is ‘spending too little on assistance for the poor.’ However, if Americans are asked about programs labeled ‘welfare’ in particular, their support for assistance drops considerably.” (14) Is this understandable? Fair? What might be done?
8. After reading about the mischaracterization of welfare recipients (e.g., the ‘welfare queen’) and ongoing perceptions, how does this compare to our the current buzz phrase of ‘fake news’?
9. “How is it that a solid work ethic is not an adequate defense against extreme poverty?”(45) How might you answer this question based on what you’ve read?
10. Have any of you ever applied for a job via an online application? Did the scenario described in the book (pp. 50-51) seem reasonable?
11. How is lack of schedule flexibility a complicating factor once employment is found?
12. Were you surprised to read how extensive the selling of food stamps can be? If you were in that position, what would you do?
13. What roles can the library play in the lives of families who struggle? Give examples from the book – or from those you know.
14. Contrast the situations of the extreme poor in cities with those in rural communities such as the Appalachian regions. Did this surprise you? How accurate is the chapter title, “A World Apart”? Are there commonalities?
15. How do the families portrayed in the book find the will to keep going? Do they have hope? Are they happy? What does this tell us?
16. According to the authors, what has gone terribly wrong in welfare reform? Has anything gone right?
17. What role might the government play in creating and supporting job opportunities?
18. What issues were raised about housing? Are there viable solutions?
19. Several sources take issue with the premise and statistics cited in this book, and one is included in the resources below. What is the counter-position? How convincing are these arguments? Is there truth on each side?
20. Does the book have potential to bring about real change?
21. Does this book have potential to spark real empathy? What good does that do?
22. How did you respond to this statement: “Yet despite all they’ve been through, despite the abuse and trauma, the hunger and fear, despite the anger they carry with them at what they have endured, many of the everyday experiences of the $2-a-day poor are – truly—American to the core”?
23. Were you confronted with any personal preconceptions and/or misperceptions? Are you different for reading this book? Did it change your mind about anything?
24. What, if anything, can we do? Do you see opportunities? How do we not forget?
25. What did you learn from this book?
26. Are you glad you read this book? That it was chosen for discussion?
Want help with your book discussion group? Check out tips, advice, and all the ways the Library can help support your group!
Detailed Group Discussion Guide from official book website
Video: Author Kathryn J. Edin on PBS NewsHour
Counterpoint: “The Number of Americans Living on $2.00 a Day Is Zero” via Forbes
Interview with Edin and Shaefer via The Atlantic
The Washington Post reports “What It’s Like to Live on $2 a Day in the United States”
Reviews from The New York Times, Kirkus, and The Boston Globe
Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America
by Linda Tirado
The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives
by Sasha Abramsky
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
by Barbara Ehrenreich
“Poetry allows for us to lead first with the heart.” –Eve Ewing
If you don’t read poetry often and are curious to read more, Electric Arches is a great place to start. Eve L. Ewing, Chicago essayist and poet, frankly explores contemporary society, sprinkling a little magical what-if into stark reality. The structure and tone vary greatly from poem-to-poem, resulting in a rounded picture of Ewing’s life and heart as she opens the door into her experience as a black girl and woman. An extra bonus for those familiar with Chicago are the references Ewing makes to this city she has grown up in, painting pictures of places impactful to her, such as Logan Square and Fullerton Avenue.
Road trip anyone? Give a listen to Travels With Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck, read by Gary Sinise. Steinbeck sets out to find the truth about our country and he finds it accompanied by his noble steed Charley, a French poodle with personality. The prose of Steinbeck and the styling of Sinise are a perfect pairing.
Season Two of Netflix series The Crown drops today, and you may be inspired to choose your next read based on the drama played out through these fascinating characters and their situations:
Becoming Elizabeth II
Fiction about Women of Influence
Spotlight on Major Players
Joanne from Community Services suggests This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe
Academy Award-nominated Gabourey Sidibe became a household name shortly after the release of the movie Precious. Focusing more on her early life as a child of a proud, cab-driving, African father and a free-spirited, teacher-turned-subway-singing mother, this deeply honest memoir will make it seem like you are out to dinner with Gabourey and a couple of girlfriends trying to outdo each other with crazy family stories.
Gabby was constantly getting in trouble for being disruptive and disrespectful due to her laugh. She describes it as more like a shrill scream followed by a loud snort. Everything she did was intense and that sometimes left her lonely. Being different on the outside when everyone else is the same can make you doubt what you are on the inside. She says, “I was Gabourey in a school of Jennifers.”
After a few false starts in college and intense therapy to treat her deep depression, she found steady work using her voice-over talent. Gabourey first read the novel Push five years before auditioning for the role as Precious for the film. It was an act of fate which got her to the audition, but she had the job two days later. The rest is history.