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What We're Reading: Feminist Nonfiction and Creative Memoirs

Courtesy of Simon and Schuster/Free Press

This week's reads are engrossing think-pieces — the perfect opportunities to catch up if you're behind on your NPR-listening.

Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women

Author: Rebecca Traister, a Salon writer who covers women in politics and media.

Genre: "Where are we now?" political analysis

What Happens: Traister tells the story of one the most fascinating — and action-packed — periods of women's history in the United States: the past two years. From the first time a woman has won state presidential primaries to the first female Republican vice presidential nominee, Traister breaks down this incredible moment in women's history and explores the lessons to be learned about women and politics.

When to Read It: When you're wondering when the heck we're finally going to have a female president (and want to know why it's taking so long).

Details: Free Press, $26, September 14

War Is Not Over When It's Over: Women Speak Out from the Ruins of War

Author: Ann Jones, a writer and photographer who has reported on women in conflict zones such as Afghanistan and has served as a gender adviser to the UN.

Genre: War aftermath stories

What Happens: Jones spent two years traveling through war-torn regions and gave cameras to women affected by conflicts. Here, she compiles their photos and stories to show the devastating effects of war — and the resilient nature of the women whose lives are ripped apart by it.

When to Read It: If you find yourself starting to think that the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq actually means we're done with the war.

Details: Metropolitan Books, $25, September 14

Special Exits

Joyce Farmer, a feminist comic book artist (yes, they exist!).

Genre: Graphic novel memoir

What Happens: Farmer uses vivid, emotive drawings to tell the story of her parents' old age and decline, as well as capturing their memories of their long and happy life together. She also uses their experience to draw attention to the inhumane way many elderly people are treated in nursing homes.

Why Read It: Farmer will remind you why it's important to cherish every moment with your aging loved ones — and why you need to stay involved in their care.

Details: Fantagraphics, $26.99, September 15

Half a Life

Author: Darin Strauss, bestselling author of Chang and Eng and More Than It Hurts You.

Genre: Heart-wrenching novel-like memoir

What Happens: Strauss tells the true — and heartbreaking — story of how, at 18 years old, he killed a 16-year-old girl with his car. Strauss takes us through the fallout, both the immediate (the funeral, the court case, the reactions at school) and the long-term (his involvement in a tragedy that occurred 22 years ago has shadowed the entire rest of his life).

Why Read It: You'll get inside the mind of someone racked with guilt and sorrow and come out completely moved.

Details: McSweeney's Books, $22, September 15


Need a birthday gift for your skateboarding-enthusiast brother (or your formerly-JNCO-loving boyfriend)? Check out Locals Only, a new book of gorgeous, California sun-drenched photographs of the legendary skateboarders of 1970s Los Angeles. You might even be inspired to break out your old Vans. (Ammo Books, $39.95, September 15.)

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