I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Author: Maya Angelou
Publisher: Ballantine Books: Reissue Edition (April 21, 2009)
ISBN: 978-1-6156-3487-3

Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.

Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.

MESSI

Author: Guillem Balague
Publisher: Orion Publishing (March 1, 2014)
ISBN: 9781409146599

On May 1, 2005, 17-year-old Lionel Messi scored his first goal for FC Barcelona, becoming, at the time, the youngest player ever to score in a league match for the Catalan club. Since then, his story has been one of meteoric—and seemingly limitless—success. Now, this compelling and perceptive biography by respected soccer journalist Guillem Balague gets to the heart of the mystery and genius that is Messi. From that first, league-winning season to the present, this chronicle details Messi’s historic feats, analyzing the reasons behind his barely comprehensible success. It examines the integral role he played during the 2008–2009 season, during which Barcelona won the league, the domestic cup, and the Champion’s League, as well as the drive and determination that saw him score an astonishing 91 goals in 2012, becoming—at the age of 25—Barcelona’s all-time top scorer, and win four consecutive FIFA World Player of the Year awards.

This account also examines Messi’s international career, during which, after a slow start, he has become Argentina’s second top scorer of all time. This is the story of one of the finest players to ever grace the sport of soccer, the diminutive Argentine who has been named by Diego Maradona himself as his successor and who always plays with a smile on his face at one of the biggest clubs in the world.

No Excuses

Author: Derrick Coleman Jr.
Publisher: Gallery/Jeter Publishing (June 2, 2015)
ISBN: 978-1-4767-9658-1

Trailblazing Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman Jr.—the first deaf athlete to play offense in the NFL—tells his inspirational journey of persevering through every obstacle, remaining dedicated to the hard work and a no-excuses attitude that ultimately earned him a Super Bowl victory. Great for readers of all ages.

Even at a young age, if anyone told Derrick Coleman what he couldn’t do, he’d just reply, “Watch me.” Diagnosed as hearing-impaired at age three, he faced a potentially limited future, but neither he nor his family were going to let that happen. Now Derrick shares the story of his remarkable journey toward NFL stardom, of the friends and colleagues who cheered him on when skeptics tried to chip away at his confidence, and of how every challenge he faced only strengthened his resolve.

At the heart of his story is his unconventional family, whose one constant was always love. When Derrick was misunderstood as “difficult,” or bullied and laughed at by schoolmates, he removed his hearing aids and listened instead to his mother’s advice: Never let anyone else tell you how far you can go.

Playing football became an outlet for Derrick’s restless energy and a way of proving he could forge his own path. As a senior at UCLA, he became a standout, an award-winning player who led his team with eleven touchdowns and demonstrated to the world what his heart had known all along: He had what it took to be a champion.

No Excuses is more than just Derrick Coleman’s story as a sports legend, inspirational role model, and icon. It’s a motivating and unique testament to the human spirit, to the potential inside everyone who has ever faced difficult obstacles. It’s about aiming high in life, giving it your all, and never ever settling for excuses.

I Am Zlatan: My Story On and Off the Field

Author: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Tra edition (June 3, 2014)
ISBN: 978-0-8129-8692-1

Daring, flashy, innovative, volatile—no matter what they call him, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of soccer’s brightest stars. A top-scoring striker with Paris Saint-Germain and captain of the Swedish national team, he has dominated the world’s most storied teams, including Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, and AC Milan. But his life wasn’t always so charmed.

Born to Balkan immigrants who divorced when he was a toddler, Zlatan learned self-reliance from his rough-and-tumble neighborhood. While his father, a Bosnian Muslim, drank to forget the war back home, his mother’s household was engulfed in chaos. Soccer was Zlatan’s release. Mixing in street moves and trick plays, Zlatan was a wild talent who rode to practice on stolen bikes and relished showing up the rich kids—opponents and teammates alike. Goal by astonishing goal, the brash young outsider grew into an unlikely prodigy and, by his early twenties, an international phenomenon.

Told as only the man himself could tell it, featuring stories of friendships and feuds with the biggest names in the sport, I Am Zlatan is a wrenching, uproarious, and ultimately redemptive tale for underdogs everywhere.

Facing the Music and Living to Talk about It

Author: Nick Carter
Publisher: Bird Street Books (September 17, 2013)
ISBN: 978-1-939457-88-2

This book is Nick Carter’s autobiography and self-help hybrid in which he chronicles his struggles with a dysfunctional family and the unimaginable rigors of becoming an internationally successful pop star at the age of 12. From his battle with addiction to serious health complications and the pain of his younger sister’s tragic death, Nick leaves nothing to the imagination and offers true and heartfelt advice to help readers overcome obstacles in their own lives.

Letters From London

Author: C.L.R. James 
Publisher: Prospect (April 1, 2003)
ISBN: 978-9-769-50574-2 

In 1932, C.L.R. James left his home in Trinidad for the first time and sailed to the United Kingdom to fulfill his literary ambitions. He was thirty-one years old. During his first weeks in London he wrote a series of vigorously opinionated essays for the Port of Spain Gazette, giving his impressions of the great city and its inhabitants, and describing his progress through the Bohemian circles of Bloomsbury.

Letters from London collects these essays for the first time in seventy years, offering an essential record of a crucial period in James’s life. As the education and manners of his colonial upbringing are tested in the heady atmosphere of cosmopolitan London, we sense the emergence of the revolutionary thinker who was to become a major intellectual figure not just of the West Indies but of the world.

Between Father and Son

Author: V.S. Naipaul 
Publisher:  Vintage (March 13, 2001)
ISBN: 9-780375-707261

At seventeen, V.S. Naipaul wanted to “follow no other profession” but writing. Awarded a scholarship by the Trinidadian government, he set out to attend Oxford, where he was encountered a vastly different world from the one he yearned to leave behind. Separated from his family by continents, and grappling with depression, financial strain, loneliness, and dislocation, “Vido” bridged the distance with a faithful correspondence that began shortly before the young man’s two-week journey to England and ended soon after his father’s death four years later.

   Here, for the first time, we have the opportunity to read this profoundly moving correspondence, which illuminates with unalloyed candor the relationship between a sacrificing father and his determined son as the encourage each other to persevere with their writing.  For though his father’s literary aspirations would go unrealized, Naipaul’s triumphant career would ultimately vindicate his beloved mentor’s legacy.