One of the best ways of learning valuable life lessons and solving complex problems in life is by learning from others. Memoirs offer helpful advice as well as revealing ways that other people tackle problems. These five biographies will appeal to you if you are looking for eye-opening stories and the opportunity to jump into another’s shoes.
Home Is Within You: A Memoir
by Nadia Davis
Nadia Davis-Lockyer, 356 pages, $19.99
Home Is Within You introduces us to the traumas in Nadia Davis’ life that led to addiction, dysfunctional relationships, and a tenacious fight to get back on her feet. As a high-profile lawyer and former wife of California’s attorney general and treasurer, she was very much thrust into the public eye when her abusive relationship became known. She reveals the struggles of dealing with public shaming, arrests, and the ensuing lack of privacy as a mother, and she rightly calls out the damaging policies against families struggling with mental health issues and addiction. Davis points out that more compassionate measures should be taken instead to achieve a better solution overall. This is very much a courageous telling of her journey toward healing with the help of spirituality, therapy, and pain management, amongst other things. It is a truly powerful memoir!
Ain’t That a Mother
by Adiba Nelson
Blackstone Publishing, 246 pages, $27.99
Disability rights activist, freelance writer, and public speaker Abida Nelson provides an entertaining and relatable account of her motherhood journey that will have you laughing out loud. Afro-Latina Nelson had a complicated relationship with her very religious, headstrong, and spirited mother, which shaped her views of the world. She unexpectedly became pregnant and succumbed to the same relationship patterns as her female parental figures, something she never thought would happen to her. She gave birth to a beautiful daughter with cerebral palsy, but she soon became burdened with high medical bills that threw her into a life of hardships. Rather than caving in to the new pressures she was under, Nelson decided to take on the world and find herself in the process, for both herself and her child. Ain’t That a Mother is a brave and bold account that shows us how, with the right mindset, anyone can turn their life to their own advantage and overcome the highest of hurdles.
Bird Brother: A Falconer’s Journey and the Healing Power of Wildlife
by Rodney Stotts
Island Press, 224 pages, $26.00
Bird Brother is the ultimate story of second chances. In it, Rodney Stotts shares his journey to becoming one of the few Black master falconers in America. Growing up on the streets of 1980s Washington D.C. during the crack epidemic, Stotts faced a grim future as nothing but a criminal. However, as a young adult, Stotts wanted to get his own apartment, and the only way to do that was to get a real job. With a group of other young people, Stotts was given a lifeline when he landed a job with the Earth Conservation Corps in 1992. His grueling restoration work on the Anacostia River quickly became a passion, and with the improvements made, he was able to reintroduce bald eagles to the region. This was when Stotts befriended an injured eagle called Mr. Hoots and worked very hard to gain his respect. Following this, he trained to become a falconer and devoted his time to building a raptor sanctuary. Stotts’ journey of self-discovery is an astonishing and heart-warming account that will stay with you long after you have finished reading it.
Entrenched: A Memoir of Holding On and Letting Go
by Linda Lee Blakemore
Leonella Press, LLC, 404 pages, $29.99
Entrenched is a powerful and heart-wrenching account of a woman coming to terms with workplace sexual assault, partner sexual assault, and child abuse. Linda Lee Blakemore wears her heart on her sleeve in this vulnerable but empowering story. She takes you through her years of heartbreak from broken relationships and her own destructive patterns when it comes to matters of the heart. After a couple of affairs, one that ended in sexual assault and happened to be with her boss, Blakemore found herself in a precarious situation with her second husband leaving her every two years, although she would always take him back. Eventually, she found a way through this pain by exploring the trauma from her past. This enabled her to let go and learn to love herself as her own person. Blakemore writes for all the victims of abuse and proves that you can get past the pain with some courage.
Riding with Evil: Taking Down the Notorious Pagan Motorcycle Gang
by Ken Croke
William Morrow & Company, 320 pages, $28.99
Undercover alcohol, tobacco, and firearms agent Ken Croke offers his account of infiltrating the infamous white supremacist Pagan Motorcyle Gang in this book, and it will leave you on the edge of your seat. Twenty years into his career, he came across a chance to go undercover, turning himself into the axe-wielding protector of the gang, “Slam.” In two years, his hard work and dedication to the gang had him taken on as an official member and chosen as Sergeant-Of-Arms. He was also the first person working in law enforcement to infiltrate the gang. Surrounded by some of the most savage and deranged gang members, in Riding with Evil he tells of the violent and paranoid world that the gang lived in, with leaders constantly monitoring gang members, sometimes with unthinkable consequences. This is an anxiety-riddled story. You will wonder how Croke survived, and you will find it impossible to put the book down until you find out.