List: Nonfiction Favorites
"An illuminating debut memoir of a woman in science; a moving portrait of a longtime friendshi... More
"An illuminating debut memoir of a woman in science; a moving portrait of a longtime friendship; and a stunningly fresh look at plants that will forever change how you see the natural world,"--Amazon.com. Less
Weldon, Glen, author.
In The Caped Crusade, with humor and insight, Glen Weldon, book critic for NPR and author of Superm... More
In The Caped Crusade, with humor and insight, Glen Weldon, book critic for NPR and author of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, lays out Batman's seventy-eight-year cultural history and shows how he has helped make us who we are today and why his legacy remains so strong. Less
Doughty, Caitlin, author.
"Fascinated by our pervasive fear of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discove... More
"Fascinated by our pervasive fear of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for the dead. From Here to Eternity is an immersive global journey that introduces compelling, powerful rituals almost entirely unknown in America. In rural Indonesia, she watches a man clean and dress his grandfather's mummified body, which has resided in the family home for two years. In La Paz, she meets Bolivian natitas (cigarette-smoking, wish-granting human skulls), and in Tokyo she encounters the Japanese kotsuage ceremony, in which relatives use chopsticks to pluck their loved-ones' bones from cremation ashes. With boundless curiosity and gallows humor, Doughty vividly describes decomposed bodies and investigates the world's funerary history. She introduces deathcare innovators researching body composting and green burial, and examines how varied traditions, from Mexico's Días de los Muertos to Zoroastrian sky burial help us see our own death customs in a new light. Doughty contends that the American funeral industry sells a particular--and, upon close inspection, peculiar--set of 'respectful' rites: bodies are whisked to a mortuary, pumped full of chemicals, and entombed in concrete. She argues that our expensive, impersonal system fosters a corrosive fear of death that hinders our ability to cope and mourn. By comparing customs, she demonstrates that mourners everywhere respond best when they help care for the deceased, and have space to participate in the process. Exquisitely illustrated by artist Landis Blair, From Here to Eternity is an adventure into the morbid unknown, a story about the many fascinating ways people everywhere have confronted the very human challenge of mortality."--Jacket. Less
Abrams, Dan, 1966- author.
The true story of Abraham Lincoln's last murder trial, a case in which he had a deep personal ... More
The true story of Abraham Lincoln's last murder trial, a case in which he had a deep personal involvement--and which played out in the nation's newspapers as he began his presidential campaign At the end of the summer of 1859, twenty-two-year-old Peachy Quinn Harrison went on trial for murder in Springfield, Illinois. Abraham Lincoln, who had been involved in more than three thousand cases--including more than twenty-five murder trials--during his two-decades-long career, was hired to defend him. This was to be his last great case as a lawyer. What normally would have been a local case took on momentous meaning. Lincoln's debates with Senator Stephen Douglas the previous fall had gained him a national following, transforming the little-known, self-taught lawyer into a respected politician. He was being urged to make a dark-horse run for the presidency in 1860. Taking this case involved great risk. His reputation was untarnished, but should he lose this trial, should Harrison be convicted of murder, the spotlight now focused so brightly on him might be dimmed. He had won his most recent murder trial with a daring and dramatic maneuver that had become a local legend, but another had ended with his client dangling from the end of a rope. The case posed painful personal challenges for Lincoln. The murder victim had trained for the law in his office, and Lincoln had been his friend and his mentor. His accused killer, the young man Lincoln would defend, was the son of a close friend and loyal supporter. And to win this trial he would have to form an unholy allegiance with a longtime enemy, a revivalist preacher he had twice run against for political office--and who had bitterly slandered Lincoln as an "infidel...too lacking in faith" to be elected. Lincoln's Last Trial captures the presidential hopeful's dramatic courtroom confrontations in vivid detail as he fights for his client--but also for his own blossoming political future. It is a moment in history that shines a Less
Mike D, 1965- author.
Formed as a New York City hardcore band in 1981, Beastie Boys struck an unlikely path to global hip... More
Formed as a New York City hardcore band in 1981, Beastie Boys struck an unlikely path to global hip hop superstardom. Here is their story, told for the first time in the words of the band. Adam "ADROCK" Horovitz and Michael "Mike D" Diamond offer revealing and very funny accounts of their transition from teenage punks to budding rappers; their early collaboration with Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin; the debut album that became the first hip hop record ever to hit #1, Licensed to Ill--and the album's messy fallout as the band broke with Def Jam; their move to Los Angeles and rebirth with the genre-defying masterpiece Paul's Boutique; their evolution as musicians and social activists over the course of the classic albums Check Your Head, Ill Communication, and Hello Nasty and the Tibetan Freedom Concert benefits conceived by the late Adam "MCA" Yauch; and more. For more than thirty years, this band has had an inescapable and indelible influence on popular culture. With a style as distinctive and eclectic as a Beastie Boys album, Beastie Boys Book upends the typical music memoir. Alongside the band narrative you will find rare photos, original illustrations, a cookbook by chef Roy Choi, a graphic novel, a map of Beastie Boys' New York, mixtape playlists, pieces by guest contributors, and many more surprises. Less
Tolentino, Jia, author.
A breakout writer at The New Yorker examines the fractures at the center of contemporary culture wi... More
A breakout writer at The New Yorker examines the fractures at the center of contemporary culture with verve, deftness, and intellectual ferocity--for readers who've wondered what Susan Sontag would have been like if she had brain damage from the internet. Less
Miller, Chanel, author.
"She was know to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner ... More
"She was know to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford's campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral--viewed by almost eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Thousands wrote to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time. Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words. It was the perfect case, in many ways--there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured. But her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial reveal the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios. Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life. "Know My Name" will forever transform the way we think about sexual assault, challenging our beliefs about what is acceptable and speaking truth to the tumultuous reality of healing. It also introduces readers to an extraordinary writer, one whose words have already changed our world. Entwining pain, resilience, and humor, this memoir will stand as a modern classic." -- Less
Laing, Olivia, author.
"You can be lonely anywhere, but there is a particular flavor to the loneliness that comes fro... More
"You can be lonely anywhere, but there is a particular flavor to the loneliness that comes from living in a city, surrounded by thousands of strangers. The Lonely City is a roving cultural history of urban loneliness, centered on the ultimate city: Manhattan, that teeming island of gneiss, concrete, and glass. What does it mean to be lonely? How do we live, if we're not intimately involved with another human being? How do we connect with other people, particularly if our sexuality or physical body is considered deviant or damaged? Does technology draw us closer together or trap us behind screens? Olivia Laing explores these questions by travelling deep into the work and lives of some of the century's most original artists, among them Andy Warhol, David Wojnarowicz, Edward Hopper, Henry Darger and Klaus Nomi. Part memoir, part biography, part dazzling work of cultural criticism, The Lonely City is not just a map, but a celebration of the state of loneliness. It's a voyage out to a strange and sometimes lovely island, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but visited by many - millions, say - of souls"-- Less
Hyden, Steven, 1977- author.
What do your musical choices say about you? Music opinions bring out passionate debate in people, a... More
What do your musical choices say about you? Music opinions bring out passionate debate in people, and Hyden focuses on pop music rivalries, from the classic to the very recent, and draws connections to the larger forces surrounding the pairing. Along the way he explores burning out and fading away, gives readers a glimpse into the perennial battle between old and young-- and just may prompt you to give your least favorite band another chance. Less
Johnson, Kirk W., author.
"On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at London's Royal Academy of ... More
"On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at London's Royal Academy of Music, twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist boarded a train for a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History. Home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world, the Tring museum was full of rare bird specimens whose gorgeous feathers were worth staggering amounts of money to the men who shared Edwin's obsession: the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying. Once inside the museum, Edwin grabbed hundreds of bird skins--some collected 150 years earlier--and escaped into the darkness. What would possess a person to steal dead birds? What became of Edwin and the missing skins? The gripping story of a bizarre and shocking crime, The Feather Thief is a fascinating exploration of obsession, and man's destructive instinct to harvest the beauty of nature"-- Less
Kilgariff, Karen, author.
"The highly anticipated first book by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, the voices behind... More
"The highly anticipated first book by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, the voices behind the #1 hit podcast My Favorite Murder! Sharing never-before-heard stories ranging from their struggles with depression, eating disorders, and addiction, Karen and Georgia irreverently recount their biggest mistakes and deepest fears, reflecting on the formative life events that shaped them into two of the most followed voices in the nation. In Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered, Karen and Georgia focus on the importance of self-advocating and valuing personal safety over being 'nice' or 'helpful.' They delve into their own pasts, true crime stories, and beyond to discuss meaningful cultural and societal issues with fierce empathy and unapologetic frankness."-- Less
Higginbotham, Adam, author.
Draws on twenty years of research, recently declassified files, and interviews with survivors in an... More
Draws on twenty years of research, recently declassified files, and interviews with survivors in an account of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster that also reveals how propaganda and secrets have created additional dangers. Less
Meltzer, Brad, author.
"In 1776, an elite group of soldiers were handpicked to serve as George Washington's body... More
"In 1776, an elite group of soldiers were handpicked to serve as George Washington's bodyguards. Washington trusted them; relied on them. But unbeknownst to Washington, some of them were part of a treasonous plan. In the months leading up to the Revolutionary War, these traitorous soldiers, along with the Governor of New York William Tryon and Mayor David Mathews, launched a deadly plot against the most important member of the military: George Washington himself. This is the story of the secret plot and how it was revealed. It is a story of leaders, liars, counterfeiters, and jailhouse confessors. It also shows just how hard the battle was for George Washington--and how close America was to losing the Revolutionary War. Taking place during the most critical period of our nation's birth, The First Conspiracy tells a remarkable and previously untold piece of American history that not only reveals George Washington's character, but also illuminates the origins of America's counterintelligence movement that led to the modern day CIA"-- Less
Dickey, Colin, author.
Dickey, piqued by a house hunt in Los Angeles that revealed derelict foreclosures and "zombie ... More
Dickey, piqued by a house hunt in Los Angeles that revealed derelict foreclosures and "zombie houses", embarks on a journey across the continental United States to decode and unpack the American history repressed in our most famous haunted places. With boundless curiosity, Dickey conjures the dead by focusing on questions of the living -- how do we deal with stories about ghosts, and how do we inhabit and move through spaces that have been deemed haunted? Paying attention not only to the true facts behind a ghost story, but also to the ways in which changes are made to those facts and why, Dickey paints a version of American history left out of the textbooks, one of things left undone and crimes left unsolved. Less
Keefe, Patrick Radden, 1976- author.
"A stunning, intricate narrative about a notorious killing in Northern Ireland and its devasta... More
"A stunning, intricate narrative about a notorious killing in Northern Ireland and its devastating repercussions. In December 1972, Jean McConville, a thirty-eight-year-old mother of ten, was dragged from her Belfast home by masked intruders, her children clinging to her legs. They never saw her again. Her abduction was one of the most notorious episodes of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. Everyone in the neighborhood knew the I.R.A. was responsible. But in a climate of fear and paranoia, no one would speak of it. In 2003, five years after an accord brought an uneasy peace to Northern Ireland, a set of human bones was discovered on a beach. McConville's children knew it was their mother when they were told a blue safety pin was attached to the dress."-- Less
Day, Felicia, 1979- author.
"Face your fears and fuel your creative passions with New York Times bestselling author Felici... More
"Face your fears and fuel your creative passions with New York Times bestselling author Felicia Day's workbook for getting motivated, getting inspired, and getting weird. What do I have to offer the world? What if my work doesn't meet others' standards-or my own? How do I combat that nagging fear of failure and just put myself out there? It's time to confront those negative thoughts once and for all, and let your creativity blossom! Actress and bestselling author of You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) Felicia Day is here to empower you to overcome what holds you back, be brave enough to be vulnerable, and allow yourself to let loose. Part guided journal, part imaginative workbook, Embrace Your Weird offers a series of exciting exercises to get your creative juices flowing, fun prompts designed to get your imagination unblocked, and plenty of space throughout to just play in the margins and get your neurons firing. Like Wreck This Journal meets You Are a Badass, Embrace Your Weird will help you get back in touch with the joy of creating, and feel confident about what you have to offer to the world!"-- Less
Purnell, Sonia, author.
"The never-before-told story of one woman's heroism that changed the course of the Second... More
"The never-before-told story of one woman's heroism that changed the course of the Second World War In 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent transmission: "She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her." This spy was Virginia Hall, a young American woman--rejected from the foreign service because of her gender and her prosthetic leg--who talked her way into the spy organization dubbed Churchill's "ministry of ungentlemanly warfare," and, before the United States had even entered the war, became the first woman to deploy to occupied France. Virginia Hall was one of the greatest spies in American history, yet her story remains untold. Just as she did in Clementine, Sonia Purnell uncovers the captivating story of a powerful, influential, yet shockingly overlooked heroine of the Second World War. At a time when sending female secret agents into enemy territory was still strictly forbidden, Virginia Hall came to be known as the "Madonna of the Resistance," coordinating a network of spies to blow up bridges, report on German troop movements, arrange equipment drops for Resistance agents, and recruit and train guerilla fighters. Even as her face covered WANTED posters throughout Europe, Virginia refused order after order to evacuate. She finally escaped with her life in a grueling hike over the Pyrenees into Spain, her cover blown, and her associates all imprisoned or executed. But, adamant that she had "more lives to save," she dove back in as soon as she could, organizing forces to sabotage enemy lines and back up Allied forces landing on Normandy beaches. Told with Purnell's signature insight and novelistic panache, A Woman of No Importance is the breathtaking story of how one woman's fierce persistence helped win the war"-- Less
Telfer, Tori, author.
Serial killers are thought to be so universally, overwhelmingly male that in 1998, FBI profiler Roy... More
Serial killers are thought to be so universally, overwhelmingly male that in 1998, FBI profiler Roy Hazelwood infamously declared in a homicide conference, "There are no female serial killers." Telfer delves into the reality of female aggression and predation with this compendium of female serial killers and their crimes through the ages. Less
Macdonald, Helen, 1970-
"As a child Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer. She learned the arcane termin... More
"As a child Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer. She learned the arcane terminology and read all the classic books, including T.H. White's tortured masterpiece, The Goshawk, which describes White's struggle to train a hawk as a spiritual contest. When her father dies and she is knocked sideways by grief, she becomes obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She buys Mabel ... on a Scottish quayside and takes her home to Cambridge. Then she fills the freezer with hawk food and unplugs the phone, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals"--Dust jacket of a previous printing. Less
Rubenhold, Hallie, author.
Five devastating human stories and a dark and moving portrait of Victorian London. For more than a ... More
Five devastating human stories and a dark and moving portrait of Victorian London. For more than a century, newspapers have been keen to tell us that "the Ripper" preyed on prostitutes. Not only is this untrue, as historian Hallie Rubenhold has discovered, it has prevented the real stories of these fascinating women from being told. Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, revealing a world not just of Dickens and Queen Victoria, but of poverty, homelessness and rampant misogyny. They died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, but their greatest misfortune in that time and place was to be born a woman. Less