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Emily Dickinson was a keen observer of the natural world, but less well known is the fact that she was also an avid gardener. In Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life, Marta McDowell explores Dickinson’s deep passion for plants and how it inspired her writing. Tracing a year in the garden, McDowell reveals details few know about Dickinson and adds to our collective understanding of who she was as a person. By weaving together Dickinson’s poems, excerpts from letters, contemporary and historical photography, and botanical art, Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life offers an enchanting perspective on one of America’s most celebrated literary figures.
Hello, nonfiction friends! As I was pulling together this week’s newsletter, I noticed there are a bunch of books by celebrities coming out this week. Five that caught my eye were Me by Elton John, Beautiful on the Outside by Adam Rippon, Dear Girls by Ali Wong, Medallion Status by John Hodgeman, and Home Work by Julie Andrews.
But I’m not going to talk about those! Instead, I’ve got three other memoirs to feature, plus seven more to add to you toppling TBR. Let’s go!
Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA by Amaryllis Fox – At 21-years-old, Amaryllis Fox was recruited to join the CIA, where she began her career reading and summarizing classified cables for the president. Eventually, she was deployed as a spy, sent to infiltrate terrorist networks in the Middle East and Asia. I started reading a galley of this one and love it so far.
The First Cell: And the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the Last by Raza Azra – In this memoir, an oncologist writes about how “medicine and our society (mis)treats cancer,” paralleling that story with her experience being her husband’s oncologist after he was diagnosed with leukemia. I think this one looks emotional and fascinating.
A Year Without a Name by Cyrus Grace Dunham – I’ve tried to summarize this one myself, but the opening paragraph of the jacket copy does a great job: “For as long as they can remember, Cyrus Grace Dunham felt like a visitor in their own body. Their life was a series of imitations – lovable little girl, daughter, sister, young gay woman – until their profound sense of alienation became intolerable.” This memoir explores the transition from Grace to Cyrus in a “thrillingly unresolved queer coming of age story.”
And finally, seven more books that looked interesting to me:
- Unwanted Spy: The Persecution of an American Whistleblower by Jeffrey Sterling
- Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me by Adrienne Brodeur
- Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow
- Unashamed: Musings of a Fat, Black Muslim by Lean Vernon
- No Stopping Us Now: The Adventures of Older Women in American History by Gail Collins
- Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race by Thomas Chatterton Williams
- The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson
That’s all for this week! You can find me on Twitter @kimthedork, on email at email@example.com, and co-hosting the For Real podcast here at Book Riot. This week, Alice and I chatted about some great new memoirs and took a deep dive into books about monsters. Happy reading! – Kim