Chris Knight walked into the central Maine woods in 1986 at the age of 20, and didn't talk to another human for 27 years. He survived by stealing whatever he needed from nearby cabins, and by developing some of the most impressive stealth bush-craft skills I've ever read about. He found a niche, and he occupied it. Comprised largely of interviews conducted in jail after Knight's arrest, this book is a fascinating and compelling rumination on what it means to crave solitude in a world that won't leave you alone.
Krazy Kat remains a marvel even more than a century after its debut. Anarchic and wondrous, it stands among the most innovative and influential strips in all of comics history.
But my staff pick isn't Krazy Kat, it's Krazy by Michael Tisserand: a richly detailed and endlessly compelling biography of the strip's visionary creator, George Herriman. From the complex racial politics of New Orleans to the hyper-competitive world of newspaper comics publishing, Tisserand deftly lays out the cultural and historical contexts that informed Herriman's brilliance.
In 2016, Albert Woodfox was released from prison after years of campaigning by activists, judges, politicians, and members of the Angola Three support network. Framed for the murder of a prison guard along with two other Black Panther Party members, he'd been kept in solitary confinement for over 40 years due to a system of falsified accusations, reprisals, and sabotaged appeals involving collusion at dizzying levels of government and judiciary. In these pages, his goal is not just to tell his incredible story, but to educate us about the many, many ways mass incarceration and police brutality are used as a weapon against Black communities. Radicalized in prison, Woodfox drew immense strength and determination from the principles of the Black Panther Party; in every cell block or yard, he worked to eradicate violence, materially improve conditions, practice liberation, and call for change. The very least he's owed is for us to listen.
At 42 years old, a 500-page biography naturally seems a bit premature in telling his complete life story, but Tiger's life since birth has truly been extraordinary. Not just for golf fans, this book reads like a Shakespearean tragedy. Absolutely one of the most compelling biographies I've read in a long time.