2021 Book Awards

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My Autobiography of Carson McCullers cover image

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers

By Jenn Shapland

Shapland’s celebrated debut is an immersive, surprising exploration of one of America’s most beloved writers, alongside a genre-defying examination of identity, queerness, memory, obsession, and love. As she interweaves her own story with McCullers’s to create a vital new portrait of one of our nation’s greatest literary treasures, Shapland shows us how the writers we love and the stories we tell about ourselves make us who we are.


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The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World

By Sarah Stewart Johnson (ΦBK, Washington University in St. Louis)

Since humanity first became entranced by a red star in the night sky thousands of years ago, we have looked to Mars for answers as we’ve struggled to fathom our place in the cosmos. Brilliantly braiding together her own personal story with those of other seekers and pioneers who came before, Johnson intimately details the search for life on Mars and elucidates why a major discovery could be just within reach.


South to Freedom: Runaway Slaves to Mexico and the Road to the Civil War

By Alice L. Baumgartner (ΦBK, Yale University)

Thousands of people in the south-central U.S. escaped slavery not by heading north but by crossing the border into Mexico, where slavery was abolished in 1837. After the annexation of Texas, the seizure of Alta California and Nuevo México upset the delicate political balance between free and slave states. This book offers a revelatory and essential new perspective on antebellum America and the causes of the Civil War.