J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter

“One writes such a story not out of the leaves of trees still to be observed, nor by means of botany and soil-science; but it grows like a seed in the dark out of the leaf-mould of the mind: out of all that has been seen or thought or read, that has long ago been forgotten, descending into the deeps.”

If you are ever looking for a biography on an absolutely fascinating person, look no further than J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter. After re-reading The Hobbit with intentions of reading The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) for the first time, I decided to read up a bit on the author himself before embarking on the journey. This book provides an extremely detailed and comprehensive insight into the life of one of the most well-known and renowned authors of our time and is the official authorized biography of Tolkien by the Tolkien Society. This authorization stems from Carpenter having unfettered access to Tolkien’s personal papers and letters, as well as permission to interview family members and close friends.

Beginning with the meeting of his parents in England and concluding with his death in 1973, this biography seemingly details every moment in between of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s life with acute clarity. Completely unbeknownst to me, Tolkien was born in South Africa and lived there for five years before moving with his mother, Mabel, and younger brother, Hilary, to Birmingham, England. Shortly thereafter, tragedy and poverty struck the family upon the death of his father (who was still working in South Africa as a bank clerk). Despite this, Mabel did all she could to ensure an education for both of her sons at King Edward’s School. Tragedy struck again, however, when she passed away just nine years after moving back to England. Orphaned at just twelve years old, Tolkien and his younger brother were placed under the guardianship of Father Morgan, a close family friend and local Catholic priest. Under his guidance, aid, and mentorship, Tolkien was able to complete his schooling at King Edward’s School before eventually continuing his education at the University of Oxford.

One of the most fascinating parts of this book for me was learning how LOTR came to be. It was such an unmeditated, disorderly, and delayed process, yet that is where the real genius and magic resided. Tolkien had no clear outline of his saga while writing it, let alone any idea that this was to be his masterpiece and legacy. It all began with his love of language. As a young boy, Tolkien was fascinated by the mechanics and workings of words, eventually coming to learn an astounding variety of both ancient and modern languages, including Welsh, Finnish, and Gothic. In fact, he loved languages so much he actually began creating his own – he even wrote journals in languages he invented! After creating these languages, Tolkien felt he had a responsibility to “discover” the history behind them; this history would ultimately become the foundation of an entire mythology (eventually captured in The Silmarillion) and, unbeknownst to Tolkien, the foundation for The Hobbit and LOTR. 

While there is SO much more I could talk about, I have condensed some more interesting tidbits about Tolkien and LOTR in the fun facts below!

  • Tolkien was known for his procrastination on projects; this was in large part due to his perfectionist attitude toward his own work. After reading about his lengthy process of writing and publishing LOTR, it is a miracle anything was ever published at all!
  • LOTR is NOT a trilogy – nor did Tolkien ever want it to be. It was broken into three volumes (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King) primarily due to the cost of paper at the time and worries that such a long manuscript would not garner enough sales to be worthwhile.
  • Tolkien was NOT a fan of allegory. He specifically noted his works were not meant to be interpreted in the political context of the time in which they were written; he felt that allegories ultimately limited the reader’s imagination. With that being said, he did admit to the resemblances between his work and his own life experiences – he even acknowledged his close likeness to Bilbo Baggins!
  • Tolkien was an Assistant Lexicographer on the Oxford English Dictionary.
  • Despite knowing Edith Bratt (his future wife) as a teenager, Tolkien was forbidden to spend time with her due to her being three years his senior.
  • One of Tolkien’s most prized works, Beren and Lúthien, was inspired by his love for Edith; these names are even inscribed on their tombstones.

From his early childhood and love story with Edith, to his time serving in WWI and developing dear friendships among fellow intellectuals (including C.S. Lewis), to becoming the father of four and holding several professorships, to creating Middle-Earth and experiencing fame as an author, this biography marks the loves, joys, tragedies, struggles, accomplishments, setbacks, fame, and daily life of the man who would go on to publish the masterpieces we know today, along with a plethora of scholarly work, poems, and short stories. Overall, I would highly recommend this biography to anyone who wants to learn more about Tolkien’s life, as well as those who are general LOTR fans!

*I would also highly recommend checking out https://www.tolkiensociety.org/ for even more information on all things Tolkien!*

Best Sellers Club April Nonfiction Picks

Have you joined the Best Sellers Club? If not, you’re missing out! Four times a year, our librarians choose three nonfiction titles for our Best Sellers Club to read: a biography, a cookbook, and a true crime title. Below you will find information on the three titles they have picked for April.

Cookbook Pick

Cook Real Hawai’i by Sheldon Simeon with Garrett Snyder

Written by a favorite Top Chef finalist, Cook Real Hawai’i brings together the many cultures that have influenced Hawaiian cuisine. These are recipes that are eaten at home with family and friends. During this time of quarantine and social distancing, this cookbook can bring back fond memories of past travels, or help you dream of future adventures.

The story of Hawaiian cooking, by a two-time Top Chef finalist and Fan Favorite, through 100 recipes that embody the beautiful cross-cultural exchange of the islands. On two seasons of Top Chef, Sheldon Simeon established himself as a leading young, creative chef (he was both a finalist and Fan Favorite on both seasons). The role he is even more proud to fill, though, is as the storyteller of Hawaiian cuisine and the many cultures that have come together there to create it: the native Hawaiian traditions, Japanese influences, Portuguese cooking techniques, and dynamic flavors that are closest to Sheldon’s heart.

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True Crime pick

Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters and Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion by Tori Telfer

A thoroughly entertaining and darkly humorous roundup of history’s notorious but often forgotten female con artists and their bold, outrageous scams—by the acclaimed author of Lady Killers.

From Elizabeth Holmes and Anna Delvey to Frank Abagnale and Charles Ponzi, audacious scams and charismatic scammers continue to intrigue us as a culture. As Tori Telfer reveals in Confident Women, the art of the con has a long and venerable tradition, and its female practitioners are some of the best—or worst.

In the 1700s in Paris, Jeanne de Saint-Rémy scammed the royal jewelers out of a necklace made from six hundred and forty-seven diamonds by pretending she was best friends with Queen Marie Antoinette.

In the mid-1800s, sisters Kate and Maggie Fox began pretending they could speak to spirits and accidentally started a religious movement that was soon crawling with female con artists. A gal calling herself Loreta Janeta Velasquez claimed to be a soldier and convinced people she worked for the Confederacy—or the Union, depending on who she was talking to. Meanwhile, Cassie Chadwick was forging paperwork and getting banks to loan her upwards of $40,000 by telling people she was Andrew Carnegie’s illegitimate daughter.

In the 1900s, a 40something woman named Margaret Lydia Burton embezzled money all over the country and stole upwards of forty prized show dogs, while a few decades later, a teenager named Roxie Ann Rice scammed the entire NFL. And since the death of the Romanovs, women claiming to be Anastasia have been selling their stories to magazines. What about today? Spoiler alert: these “artists” are still conning.

Confident Women asks the provocative question: Where does chutzpah intersect with a uniquely female pathology—and how were these notorious women able to so spectacularly dupe and swindle their victims?

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Biography pick

Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight by Julia Sweig

A magisterial portrait of Lady Bird Johnson, and a major reevaluation of the profound yet underappreciated impact the First Lady’s political instincts had on LBJ’s presidency.

In the spring of 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson had a decision to make. Just months after moving into the White House under the worst of circumstances–following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy–he had to decide whether to run to win the presidency in his own right. He turned to his most reliable, trusted political strategist: his wife, Lady Bird Johnson. The strategy memo she produced for him, emblematic of her own political acumen and largely overlooked by biographers, is just one revealing example of how their marriage was truly a decades-long political partnership.

Perhaps the most underestimated First Lady of the twentieth century, Lady Bird Johnson was also one of the most accomplished and often her husband’s secret weapon. Managing the White House in years of national upheaval, through the civil rights movement and the escalation of the Vietnam War, Lady Bird projected a sense of calm and, following the glamorous and modern Jackie Kennedy, an old-fashioned image of a First Lady. In truth, she was anything but. As the first First Lady to run the East Wing like a professional office, she took on her own policy initiatives, including the most ambitious national environmental effort since Teddy Roosevelt. Occupying the White House during the beginning of the women’s liberation movement, she hosted professional women from all walks of life in the White House, including urban planning and environmental pioneers like Jane Jacobs and Barbara Ward, encouraging women everywhere to pursue their own careers, even if her own style of leadership and official role was to lead by supporting others.

Where no presidential biographer has understood the full impact of Lady Bird Johnson’s work in the White House, Julia Sweig is the first to draw substantially on Lady Bird’s own voice in her White House diaries to place Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Johnson center stage and to reveal a woman ahead of her time–and an accomplished politician in her own right.

Join the Best Sellers Club to have the new nonfiction picks automatically put on hold for you four times a year.

January Best Sellers Club – Nonfiction Picks

Have you joined our Best Sellers Club yet? Every quarter, our librarians pick out new books on certain topics: true crime, cookbooks, and biography. Join our Best Sellers Club  and automatically have selected titles put on hold for you. Want the hottest new release from your favorite author? Want to stay current with a celebrity book club? Love nonfiction? We’ve got that too! Choose any author, celebrity pick, and/or nonfiction pick and have us put the latest title on hold for you automatically. Select as many as you want!

Let’s go over the true crime, cookbook, and biography selections for January!

We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence by Becky Cooper has been chosen for the Best Sellers Club January True Crime pick! Librarian Anna has this to say about her latest selection:

I primarily selected this title for the BSC due to its highly anticipated demand, as well as due to the positive and starred reviews it received from acclaimed journals and reader communities upon publication. I was also immediately hooked by the following description of this title from Goodreads: “We Keep the Dead Close is a memoir of mirrors, misogyny, and murder. It is at once a rumination on the violence and oppression that rules our revered institutions, a ghost story reflecting one young woman’s past onto another’s present, and a love story for a girl who was lost to history.”

Want to know more about We Keep the Dead Close ? Check out the following description provided by Anna:

Published in November, this highly anticipated title investigates the 1969 murder of Jane Britton, a 23-year-old anthropology graduate student at Harvard University who was found bludgeoned to death in her apartment. Her body was surrounded by red ochre, a substance often found at ancient burial sites around the world, and appeared to have been killed with a small, sharp weapon, not unlike an archeological tool. At the time of her death and for many years after, rumors circulated that a tenured professor at the university had had an affair with Britton and killed her when she threatened to disclose the nature of their affair. Despite the scale of this scandal and the fact that Britton’s father held a powerful position at Radcliffe College, Harvard’s all-female sister school that was merging with Harvard that very year, this murder was never deeply investigated and faded quietly into the background for nearly half of a century. Forty years later, author Becky Cooper first heard this rumor as a Harvard undergraduate student herself and embarked on what would become a decade-long pursuit to get to the bottom of this mystery, which was just closed in 2018.

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Our January cookbook pick for the Best Sellers Club is Pie Academy by Ken Haedrich.

Want to know more about what Pie Academy is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

Novice and experienced bakers alike will discover the secrets to baking a pie from scratch with recipes, crust savvy, tips and tutorials, advice about tools and ingredients, and more. Foolproof step-by-step photos give you the confidence you need to choose and prepare the best crust for different types of fillings. Learn how to make pie dough using butter, lard, or both; how to work with all-purpose, whole-wheat, or gluten-free flour; how to roll out dough; which pie pan to use; and how to add flawless finishing details like fluting and lattice tops. Next are 255 recipes for every kind and style of pie, from classic apple pie and pumpkin pie to summer berry, fruit, nut, custard, chiffon, and cream pies, freezer pies, slab pies, hand pies, turnovers, and much more. This beast of a collection, with gorgeous color photos throughout, weighs in at nearly four pounds and serves up forty years of pie wisdom in a single, satisfying package.

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The January biography pick for the Best Sellers Club is Unceasing Militant: The Life of Mary Church Terrell by Alison M. Parker.

For more information about what Unceasing Militant is about, check out the following description provided by the publisher.

Born into slavery during the Civil War, Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954) would become one of the most prominent activists of her time, with a career bridging the late nineteenth century to the civil rights movement of the 1950s. The first president of the National Association of Colored Women and a founding member of the NAACP, Terrell collaborated closely with the likes of Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, and W. E. B. Du Bois. Unceasing Militant is the first full-length biography of Terrell, bringing her vibrant voice and personality to life. Though most accounts of Terrell focus almost exclusively on her public activism, Alison M. Parker also looks at the often turbulent, unexplored moments in her life to provide a more complete account of a woman dedicated to changing the culture and institutions that perpetuated inequality throughout the United States.

Drawing on newly discovered letters and diaries, Parker weaves together the joys and struggles of Terrell’s personal, private life with the challenges and achievements of her public, political career, producing a stunning portrait of an often-under recognized political leader.

Reese Witherspoon November Pick – ‘Group’

Reese Witherspoon has selected Group by Christie Tate as the November pick for her book club.

Curious what Group is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

The refreshingly original debut memoir of a guarded, over-achieving, self-lacerating young lawyer who reluctantly agrees to get psychologically and emotionally naked in a room of six complete strangers—her psychotherapy group—and in turn finds human connection, and herself. Christie Tate had just been named the top student in her law school class and finally had her eating disorder under control. Why then was she driving through Chicago fantasizing about her own death? Why was she envisioning putting an end to the isolation and sadness that continued to plague her in spite of her achievements? Enter Dr. Rosen, a therapist who calmly assures her that if she joins one of his psychotherapy groups, he can transform her life. All she has to do is show up, and be honest. About everything—her eating habits, childhood, sexual history, etc. Christie is skeptical, insisting that that she is defective, beyond cure. But Dr. Rosen issues a nine-word prescription that will change everything: “You don’t need a cure, you need a witness.” So begins her entry into the strange, terrifying, and ultimately life-changing world of group therapy. Christie is initially put off by Dr. Rosen’s outlandish directives, but as her defenses break down and she comes to trust Dr. Rosen and to depend on the sessions and the prescribed nightly phone calls with various group members, she begins to understand what it means to connect. Group is a deliciously addictive read, and with Christie as our guide—skeptical of her own capacity for connection and intimacy, but hopeful in spite of herself—we are given a front row seat to the daring, exhilarating, painful, and hilarious journey that is group therapy—an under-explored process that breaks you down, and then reassembles you so that all the pieces finally fit.

This book is also available in the following format:

Want to make sure that Reese’s picks are automatically put on hold for you? Be sure to join our Best Sellers Club.

October Biography Pick – We’re Better Than This

The October biography pick for the Best Sellers Club is We’re Better Than This by Elijah Cummings with Jim Dale.

For more information about what We’re Better Than This is about, check out the following description provided by the publisher.

A memoir by the late Congressman details how his experiences as a sharecroppers’ son in volatile South Baltimore shaped his life in activism, explaining how government oversight can become a positive part of a just American collective.

Join our Best Sellers Club  and automatically have selected titles put on hold for you. Want the hottest new release from your favorite author? Want to stay current with a celebrity book club? Love nonfiction? We’ve got that too! Choose any author, celebrity pick, and/or nonfiction pick and have us put the latest title on hold for you automatically. Select as many as you want!

October True Crime Pick – American Predator

American Predator by Maureen Callahan has been chosen for the Best Sellers Club October True Crime pick! Librarian Anna has this to say about her latest selection:

Published in July 2019, this bestselling book investigates the heinous crimes of serial killer Israel Keyes. While not as infamous as other serial killers, such as John Wayne Gacy or Ted Bundy, Keyes is described as being one of the most “ambitious and terrifying serial killers in modern history.” Living in Alaska as a construction worker and as a father to his only daughter, Keyes would travel across the country to bury “kill kits,” which contained cash, weapons, and tools used to dispose of bodies; he planted these supplies in preparation for whenever he had an urge to act upon his sadistic desires in a particular place. He is thought to have murdered at least eleven people before his arrest in 2012, but stayed under the radar for fifteen years, as the first crime he committed was in 1997. I primarily selected this title for the BSC due to the positive and starred reviews it received from acclaimed journals and reader communities upon publication, as well as due to my surprise of never hearing of Keyes before finding this book, despite him committing these crimes in relatively recent history. I am excited to share this selection with you and hope you enjoy this pick!

Want to know more about American Predator ? Check out the following description provided by the publisher:

A gripping tour de force of investigative journalism that takes us deep into the investigation behind one of the most frightening and enigmatic serial killers in modern American history, and into the ranks of a singular American police force: the Anchorage PD Most of us have never heard of Israel Keyes. But he is one of the most ambitious, meticulous serial killers of modern time. The FBI considered his behavior unprecedented. Described by a prosecutor as “a force of pure evil,” he was a predator who struck all over the United States. He buried “kill kits”–Cash, weapons, and body-disposal tools–in remote locations across the country and over the course of fourteen years, would fly to a city, rent a car, and drive thousands of miles in order to use his kits. He would break into a stranger’s house, abduct his victims in broad daylight, and kill and dispose of them in mere hours. And then he would return home, resuming life as a quiet, reliable construction worker devoted to his only daughter. When journalist Maureen Callahan first heard about Israel Keyes in 2012, she was captivated by how a killer of this magnitude could go undetected by law enforcement for over a decade. And so began a project that consumed her for the next several years–uncovering the true story behind how the FBI ultimately caught Israel Keyes, and trying to understand what it means for a killer like Keyes to exist. A killer who left a path of monstrous, randomly committed crimes in his wake–many of which remain unsolved to this day. American Predator is the ambitious culmination of years of on-the-ground interviews with key figures in law enforcement and in Keyes’s life, and research uncovered from classified FBI files. Callahan takes us on a journey into the chilling, nightmarish mind of a relentless killer, and the limitations of traditional law enforcement, in one of America’s most isolated environments–Alaska–when faced with a killer who defies all expectation and categorization.

Join our Best Sellers Club  and automatically have selected titles put on hold for you. Want the hottest new release from your favorite author? Want to stay current with a celebrity book club? Love nonfiction? We’ve got that too! Choose any author, celebrity pick, and/or nonfiction pick and have us put the latest title on hold for you automatically. Select as many as you want!

Nothing General About It: How Love (and Lithium) Saved Me On and Off General Hospital by Maurice Benard

Maurice Benard, the American actor of Salvadorian and Nicaraguan descent who has played the character Sonny Corinthos on the ABC soap opera General Hospital for twenty-seven years, has written a biography this year called Nothing general about it; how love (and lithium) saved me on and off General Hospital. The Emmy award-winning actor may not be known for his writing, but he gets real in this book and that is worth more than any award. He lays bare the ugly things he did while in the throes of bipolar disorder, a disease he has suffered from nearly his entire life. He is honest about his vulnerabilities and gives credit to the people in his life who have loved him through it all, especially his wife of 30 years, Paula, who had to endure some frightening moments with him. His story is a testament to how difficult and pervasive mental health problems can be, no matter how you look, where you’re from, how much money you make or what you do for a living.

In 2006, the writers of General Hospital revealed that the character Sonny Corinthos suffered from bipolar disorder. Since then, Benard has publicly advocated for mental health awareness on talk shows and with organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). He is a spokesperson for the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA).

Fans of General Hospital or Benard will appreciate the full-color photographic insert, containing his and Paula Smith’s wedding photos, images of his four beautiful children, and members of the General Hospital cast. Readers who are dealing with their own or a loved one’s mental illness will likely find it relatable and insightful. You can check out his book in the Biography section at the Library at Eastern, or place a hold and have it sent to a location of your choosing.

Jenna Bush Hager August Book Picks

Jenna Bush Hager has selected TWO books for the August #ReadWithJenna book club. She has chosen Here For It by R. Eric Thomas and The Comeback by Ella Berman.

Here for it: or, how to save your soul in America by R. Eric Thomas is her nonfiction selection. This memoir is presented through a series of essays. Check out the following description provided by the publisher:

R. Eric Thomas didn’t know he was different until the world told him so. Everywhere he went–whether it was his rich, mostly white, suburban high school, his conservative black church, or his Ivy League college in a big city–he found himself on the outside looking in. In essays by turns hysterical and heartfelt, Eric redefines what it means to be an “other” through the lens of his own life experience. He explores the two worlds of his childhood: the barren urban landscape where his parents’ house was an anomalous bright spot, and the verdant school they sent him to in white suburbia. He writes about struggling to reconcile his Christian identity with his sexuality, about the exhaustion of code-switching in college, accidentally getting famous on the internet (for the wrong reason), and the surreal experience of covering the 2016 election as well as the seismic change that came thereafter. Ultimately, Eric seeks the answer to the ever more relevant question: Is the future worth it? Why do we bother when everything seems to be getting worse? As the world continues to shift in unpredictable ways, Eric finds the answers to these questions by re-envisioning what “normal” means, and in the powerful alchemy that occurs when you at last place yourself at the center of your own story.

The Comeback is her fiction selection. The following description, provided by the publisher, will give you an idea what the book is about.

A deep dive into the psyche of a young actress raised in the spotlight under the influence of a charming, manipulative film director and the moment when she decides his time for winning is over. At the height of her career and on the eve of her first Golden Globe nomination, teen star Grace Turner disappeared. Now, tentatively sober and surprisingly numb, Grace is back in Los Angeles after her year of self-imposed exile. She knows the new private life she wants isn’t going to be easy as she tries to be a better person and reconnect with the people she left behind. But when Grace is asked to present a lifetime achievement award to director Able Yorke–the man who controlled her every move for eight years–she realizes that she can’t run from the secret behind her spectacular crash and burn for much longer. And she’s the only one with nothing left to lose. Alternating between past and present, The Comeback tackles power dynamics and the uncertainty of young adulthood, the types of secrets that become part of our sense of self, and the moments when we learn that though there are many ways to get hurt, we can still choose to fight back.

Want to make sure that Jenna’s picks are automatically put on hold for you? Be sure to join our Best Sellers Club.

Reese Witherspoon JUNE Celebrity Book Club Picks

Every month Reese Witherspoon releases a new pick for the Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club. June is an exception! She has announced TWO books for June and we are so excited to tell you about them.

If you want to make sure that you don’t miss any celebrity book club picks, join our Best Sellers Club and have those automatically put on hold for you.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley is her fiction pick for the month. This book is available in the following formats: OverDrive eAudiobook and OverDrive eBook.

Below is a description of this book provided by the publisher:

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed. But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast. And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

Reese Witherspoon’s second book club pick for June is I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. This book is also available as an OverDrive eBook.

The following is a description provided by the publisher:

The author’s first encounter with a racialized America came at age seven, when her parents told her they named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. She grew up in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches, and has spent her life navigating America’s racial divide as a writer, a speaker, and an expert helping organizations practice genuine inclusion. While so many institutions claim to value diversity in their mission statements, many fall short of matching actions to words. Brown highlights how white middle-class evangelicalism has participated in the rise of racial hostility, and encourages the reader to confront apathy and recognize God’s ongoing work in the world.

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

This memoir is not one for the faint of heart. It deals with graphic descriptions of rape and sexual assault and can be triggering to readers. This book also talks about how rape is handled in universities and colleges, as well as how victims are treated within the criminal justice system, by the courts and police, and by the public who, not even knowing the victim’s name, still passed judgements on her actions. I highly recommend you give it a read (or a listen) and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Know My Name by Chanel Miller tells the story of Emily Doe. Emily became known to the world when her victim impact statement went viral during the sentencing stage of Brock Turner’s trial. Brock had just been sentenced to only six months in county jail after he was found by two bicyclists in the midst of sexually assaulting Emily on Stanford’s campus. Millions read her statement and it was translated into many different languages as the world finally heard from the woman at the center of the case.

After years of being known as Emily Doe, Chanel Miller decided it was time to take control of her story and her name.  She began writing Know My Name as a way to tell the story of her trauma and how she is working to rise above and change the world. Chanel thought that her case was perfect and there was no way her rapist would not be sentenced for a long time. Turner ran away from the crime, there were multiple eyewitnesses, and physical evidence was collected and immediately secured from both her body and the scene.

The aftermath of her rape and the resulting trial threw Chanel down a spiral of isolation and shame. When she realized the oppression and negativity that victims face all the way from the worst to the best cases, Chanel realized that these reactions only make victims coming forward less likely. Throughout this novel, Chanel discusses how this culture is set up to fail and let down victims, but protect the perpetrators. With her family, friends, and attorneys backing her up, Chanel works hard to find herself again and to work through the suffering and intense trauma that are omnipresent.

The Davenport Public Library owns a copy of this book as an audiobook available through OverDrive or through our Libby App. I listened to this book and encourage you readers to seek out an audiobook version as Chanel is the narrator. Hearing her break down while reading certain parts of this book brought me back to when this story was all over the news and shed new light onto what Chanel was actually going through.


This book is also available in the following format: