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Books for the College Bound: Biographies

Every year the ALA reviews a list of recommended reading materials for college bound students. These are the books that are currently being recommended in the biographies list.

ISABEL ALLENDE Paula. Isabel Allende. 1995. At the bedside of her dying daughter, Allende spins tales of childhood, of ancestors, and of becoming a novelist.

AMERICAN SERVICE PERSONNEL Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam. Bernard Edelman, editor. 1985. Letters from those who made it back and from those who did not return provide a glimpse into the lives of the men and women who served during the Vietnam War.

MAYA ANGELOU I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Maya Angelou. 1970. An African American writer, poet, and actress traces her coming of age.

RUSSELL BAKER Growing Up. Russell Baker. 1982. A columnist with a sense of humor takes a gentle look at his childhood in Baltimore during the Depression.

MARIE CURIE Madam Curie: a Biography. Eve Curie. 1937. In sharing personal papers and her own memories, a daughter pays tribute to her unique and generous mother, a scientific genius.

FREDERICK DOUGLASS Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself. Frederick Douglass. 1845. Former slave and famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass describes the horrors of his enslavement and eventual escape.

RICHARD FEYNMAN Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character. Richard P. Feynman as told to Ralph Leighton. 1985. This Nobel Prize-winning physicist was also a bongo drummer, a practical joker, and a loving husband.

ANNE FRANK Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. Anne Frank. 1952 Through the diary she kept while in hiding, thirteen-year-old Anne Frank puts a human face on the Holocaust experience.

JOHN HOCKENBERRY Moving Violations: War Zones, Wheelchairs, and Declarations of Independence. John Hockenberry. 1995. Journalist Hockenberry is fearless and funny as he relates the personal and professional experiences he encounters from his wheelchair.

STONEWALL JACKSON Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend. James I. Robertson. 1997 Both the genius and the failings of this confederate Civil War general are chronicled in this meticulous account.

JI-LI JIANG Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution. Ji-li Jiang. 1997 A young Chinese girl must make difficult choices when the government urges her to repudiate her ancestors and inform on her own parents.

MARY KARR The Liars' Club: A Memoir. Mary Karr. 1995. Growing up in "a family of liars and drunks" is never easy, and yet, despite alcoholism, rape, and other dark secrets, the author makes childhood in an East Texas refinery town sound as funny as it was painful.

HELEN KELLER The Story of My Life. Helen Keller. 1902. Overcoming deafness and blindness to become an outstanding citizen, Helen Keller embodies courage, passion, and perseverance.

YELENA KHANGA Soul to Soul: A Black Russian American Family, 1865-1992. Yelena Khanga and Susan Jacoby. 1992. A young Russian journalist of African American and Jewish heritage analyzes and compares attitudes on race, religion, and sexism in Russia and America.

JAMAICA KINCAID My Brother. Jamaica Kincaid. 1997. The author returns to the Caribbean island of her birth to help care for her younger brother who is dying of AIDS.

MERIWETHER LEWIS Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. Stephen E. Ambrose. 1996. Lewis and Clark brave the wilds of North America in this vivid account of exploration and adventure.

JAMES McBRIDE AND RUTH McBRIDE-JORDAN The Color of Water: a Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother. James McBride. 1996. McBride blends his story with that of his mother, who battled poverty and racism to raise twelve children.

FRANK McCOURT Angela's Ashes: A Memoir. Frank McCourt. 1996. Illness, hunger, alcoholism, and death plague McCourt's childhood in Ireland, but somehow he survives with his spirit intact.

MARK MATHABANE Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa. Mark Mathabane. 1986. Growing up under the brutalities of apartheid South Africa, Mathabane describes the growing unrest in his country and his eventual escape through his ties to the tennis community.

VED MEHTA Sound-Shadows of the New World. Ved Mehta. 1985. Leaving his home, family, and culture behind, a blind Indian boy travels to Arkansas to attend a special school where he is challenged by handicap, loneliness, poor preparation, and culture shock.

ANN MOODY Coming of Age in Mississippi. Ann Moody. 1968. One of the first brave young African American students to participate in a lunch counter sit-in, Moody becomes a heroine of the civil rights movement.

PAT MORA House of Houses. Pat Mora. 1997. With magic and imagination, author Pat Mora weaves the voices of her ancestors into her own personal account of growing up in a Mexican-American family in El Paso, Texas.

LUIS RODRIGUEZ Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. Luis Rodriguez. 1993 Rodriguez tells the story of his life in a Los Angeles gang and his later experiences as a Chicano activist.

RICHARD RODRIGUEZ Hunger of Memory: the Education of Richard Rodriguez: an Autobiography. Richard Rodriguez. 1982. Rodriguez's journey through the educational system leads to his belief that family, culture, and language must be left behind to succeed in mainstream America.

TSAR NICHOLAS ROMANOV AND TSARINA ALEXANDRA Nicholas and Alexandra. Robert K. Massie 1967 At the brink of revolution, the last Tsar of Russia and his family become victims of their own mismanagement and personal problems.

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT Eleanor Roosevelt: Vol. 1:1884-1933. Blanche Wiesen Cook. 1992. Born into a privileged world, Eleanor Roosevelt became a champion of the underprivileged and a fighter for human rights.

HARRY S. TRUMAN Truman. David G. McCullough. 1992. This notable president earned America's respect by helping to end World War II and reshape the world for postwar peace.

TOBIAS WOLFF This Boy's Life: A Memoir. Tobias Wolff. 1989 In and out of trouble in his youth, this charter member of the "Bad Boys' Club" survives a boyhood that stretches from Florida to the Pacific Northwest.

RICHARD WRIGHT. Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth. Richard Wright. 1945. Wright recalls his pre-World War II youth when racial and personal obstacles seemed insurmountable.

MALCOLM X Malcolm X with the Assistance of Alex Haley. The Autobiography of Malcolm X . With the assistance of Alex Haley. 1965 A great and controversial Black Muslim figure relates his transformation from street hustler to religious and national leader.


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