Sally Mann’s exhibition of photographs of her children brought her persecution. She was accused of exploitation because of the naked images she produced of them at their remote Virginia home.

But now, in her beguiling memoir Hold Still, she is on display on her own terms. Mann relates her life as an artist, a southerner, a mother, daughter and wife. Scrupulously illustrated with her own photographs, plus journals and mementos she found cleaning out her parents’ attic, the book draws you completely into the world of a thoughtful, articulate, funny and generous woman.

The Light of the World: A Memoir is an elegant book by Elizabeth Alexander, a poet, mother and widow. Her husband of 16 years was found dead next to their treadmill, just after his 50th birthday. The multiple blocked arteries that caused a massive heart attack had gone undetected by medical tests.

  Nobel Peace Prize winner and president of South Africa from 1994-1999, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. He and other members of the African National Congress were deemed South Africa’s most dangerous criminals as they rebelled against Apartheid.

Christo Brand is an Afrikaner, who was raised in a multi-ethnic community, unaware of the realities of Apartheid. In 1978, when he turned 18, he chose to be a prison guard rather than a soldier or policeman. The brutality and danger, and the racism inherent in the law, were confusing to his tolerant sensibility.

In the mid-1990s, when the Grande Dame of Literary Agents could still-- possibly, even credibly-- think that computers in the workplace were a passing fad, Joanna Rakoff, at age 23, took a job as her assistant.

My Salinger Year is Rakoff’s irresistible memoir of the year she assisted this unnamed legendary agent whose clients included Judy Blume and, most importantly, the elusive and private J. D. Salinger—known as "Jerry" to those in the office.

I have two cartoons clipped from the New Yorker displayed on my fridge door.

One is by Roz Chast, with the caption, “When Moms Dance”-- you know what we look like. And one is by Bob Mankoff, with the caption, “How about Never—is Never good for you?” Haven’t you ever wanted to say this to a persistent salesperson?

In one frame, Chast and Mankoff capture life’s telling moments with hilarity, brilliance and poignancy. Now, each has a new memoir for fans to relish.

Georgetown Voice / Flickr / Creative Commons

Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart

When Gary Shteyngart was a young child, his mother would call him "Solnyshko," which means "little sun."

But after the Shteyngarts left Leningrad for the United States in the late 1970s, his parents were disappointed with his aspirations of being a writer. His mother melded English and Russian to come up with the pet name, "Failurchka." The translation? Little Failure. Shteyngart has adopted this name as the title for his new memoir.