Lists and Suggestions
List: Nonfiction That Reads Like Fiction
Hidden Valley Road : inside the mind of an American family
Kolker, Robert, author.
"Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American dream. After World War II, Don's wo... More
"Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American dream. After World War II, Don's work with the Air Force brought them to Colorado, where their twelve children perfectly spanned the baby boom: the oldest born in 1945, the youngest in 1965. In those years, there was an established script for a family like the Galvins--aspiration, hard work, upward mobility, domestic harmony--and they worked hard to play their parts. But behind the scenes was a different story: psychological breakdown, sudden shocking violence, hidden abuse. By the mid-1970s, six of the ten Galvin boys, one after the other, were diagnosed as schizophrenic. How could all this happen to one family? What took place inside the house on Hidden Valley Road was so extraordinary that the Galvins became one of the first families to be studied by the National Institutes of Mental Health. Their story offers a shadow history of the science of schizophrenia, from the era of institutionalization, lobotomy, and the schizophrenogenic mother, to the search for genetic markers for the disease, always amidst profound disagreements about the nature of the illness itself. And unbeknownst to the Galvins, samples of their DNA informed decades of genetic research that continues today, offering paths to treatment, prediction, and even eradication of the disease for future generations. With clarity and compassion, bestselling and award-winning author Robert Kolker uncovers one family's unforgettable legacy of suffering, love and hope"-- Less
Factory man : how one furniture maker battled offshoring, stayed local-- and helped save an American town
Macy, Beth, author.
Describes how the chairman of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture fought for his more than seven hundred empl... More
Describes how the chairman of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture fought for his more than seven hundred employees in a small Virginia town using legal maneuvers, factory efficiencies, and his wits and determination in the wake of sales losses to cheap Asian furniture imports. Less
Invisible child : poverty, survival & hope in an American city
Elliott, Andrea, author.
"Invisible Child follows eight dramatic years in the life of Dasani Coates, a child with an im... More
"Invisible Child follows eight dramatic years in the life of Dasani Coates, a child with an imagination as soaring as the skyscrapers near her Brooklyn homeless shelter. Born at the turn of a new century, Dasani is named for the bottled water that comes to symbolize Brooklyn's gentrification and the shared aspirations of a divided city. As Dasani grows up, moving with her tightknit family from shelter to shelter, her story reaches back to trace the passage of Dasani's ancestors from slavery to the Great Migration north. By the time Dasani comes of age in the twenty-first century, New York City's homeless crisis is exploding amid the growing chasm between rich and poor. In the shadows of this new Gilded Age, Dasani must lead her seven siblings through a thicket of problems: hunger, parental addiction, violence, housing instability, pollution, segregated schools, and the constant monitoring of the child-protection system. When, at age thirteen, Dasani enrolls at a boarding school in Pennsylvania, her loyalties are tested like never before. As she learns to "code-switch" between the culture she left behind and the norms of her new town, Dasani starts to feel like a stranger in both places. Ultimately, she faces an impossible question: What if leaving poverty means abandoning the family you love?"-- Less
Sex cult nun : breaking away from the Children of God, a wild, radical religious cult
Jones, Faith (Lawyer) author.
In a story of liberation and self-empowerment, the author shares her hauntingly intimate coming-of-... More
In a story of liberation and self-empowerment, the author shares her hauntingly intimate coming-of-age narrative of growing up in and escaping from the Children of God, an oppressive, extremist religious cult. Less
Sprinting through no man's land : endurance, tragedy, and rebirth in the 1919 Tour de France
Dobkin, Adin, author.
"On June 29, 1919, one day after the Treaty of Versailles brought about the end of World War I... More
"On June 29, 1919, one day after the Treaty of Versailles brought about the end of World War I, nearly seventy cyclists embarked on the thirteenth Tour de France. From Paris, the war-weary men rode down the western coast on a race that would trace the country's border, through seaside towns and mountains to the ghostly western front. Traversing a cratered postwar landscape, the cyclists faced near-impossible odds and the psychological scars of war. Most of the athletes had arrived straight from the front, where so many fellow countrymen had suffered or died. The cyclists' perseverance and tolerance for pain would be tested in a grueling, monthlong competition. A true story of human endurance, Sprinting Through No Man's Land explores how the cyclists united a country that had been torn apart by unprecedented desolation and tragedy. It shows how devastated countrymen and women can come together to celebrate the adventure of a lifetime and discover renewed fortitude, purpose, and national identity in the streets of their towns"--Page 2 of cover. Less
Wiesel, Elie, 1928-2016.
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Heavy : an American memoir
Laymon, Kiese, author.
"Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about the physical manifestations of violence, grief, t... More
"Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about the physical manifestations of violence, grief, trauma, and abuse on his own body. He writes of his own eating disorder and gambling addiction as well as similar issues that run throughout his family. Through self-exploration, storytelling, and honest conversation with family and friends, Heavy seeks to bring what has been hidden into the light and to reckon with all of its myriad sources, from the most intimate--a mother-child relationship--to the most universal--a society that has undervalued and abused black bodies for centuries"-- Less
The unfit heiress : the tragic life and scandalous sterilization of Ann Cooper Hewitt
Farley, Audrey Clare, author.
"At the turn of the twentieth century, American women began to reject Victorian propriety in f... More
"At the turn of the twentieth century, American women began to reject Victorian propriety in favor of passion and livelihood outside the home. This alarmed authorities, who feared certain "over-sexed" women could destroy civilization if allowed to reproduce and pass on their defects. Set against this backdrop, THE UNFIT HEIRESS chronicles the fight for inheritance, both genetic and monetary, between Ann Cooper Hewitt and her mother Maryon. In 1934, aided by a California eugenics law, the socialite Maryon Cooper Hewitt had her "promiscuous" daughter declared feebleminded and sterilized without her knowledge. She did this to deprive Ann of millions of dollars from her father's estate, which contained a child-bearing stipulation. When a sensational court case ensued, the American public was captivated. So were eugenicists, who saw an opportunity to restrict reproductive rights in America for decades to come. This riveting story unfolds through the brilliant research of Audrey Clare Farley, who captures the interior lives of these women on the pages and poses questions that remain relevant today: What does it mean to be "unfit" for motherhood? In the battle for reproductive rights, can we forgive the women who side against us? And can we forgive our mothers if they are the ones who inflict the deepest wounds?"-- Less
The last slave ship : the true story of how Clotilda was found, her descendants, and an extraordinary reckoning
Raines, Ben, author.
"The incredible true story of the last ship to carry enslaved people to America, the remarkabl... More
"The incredible true story of the last ship to carry enslaved people to America, the remarkable town its survivors founded after emancipation, and the complicated legacy their descendants carry with them to this day-by the journalist who discovered the ship's remains"-- Less
The professor and the madman : a tale of murder, insanity, and the making of the Oxford English dictionary
Winchester, Simon, author.
Looks at the making of the Oxford English dictionary. ... More
Looks at the making of the Oxford English dictionary. Less
Call me Indian : from the trauma of residential school to becoming the NHL's first Treaty Indigenous player
Sasakamoose, Fred, 1933-2020, author.
"Trailblazer. Residential school survivor. First Indigenous player in the NHL. All of these de... More
"Trailblazer. Residential school survivor. First Indigenous player in the NHL. All of these descriptions are true--but none of them tell the whole story. Fred Sasakamoose suffered abuse in a residential school for a decade before becoming one of 125 players in the most elite hockey league in the world--and has been heralded as the first Canadian Indigenous player with Treaty status in the NHL. He made his debut with the 1954 Chicago Black Hawks on Hockey Night in Canada and taught Foster Hewitt how to correctly pronounce his name. Sasakamoose played against such legends as Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau, and Maurice Richard. After twelve games, he returned home. When people tell Sasakamoose's story, this is usually where they end it. They say he left the NHL after only a dozen games to return to the family and culture that the Canadian government had ripped away from him. That returning to his family and home was more important to him than an NHL career. But there was much more to his decision than that. Understanding Sasakamoose's decision to return home means grappling with the dislocation of generations of Indigenous Canadians. Having been uprooted once, Sasakamoose could not endure it again. It was not homesickness; a man who spent his childhood as "property" of the government could not tolerate the uncertainty and powerlessness of being a team's property. Fred's choice to leave the NHL was never as clear-cut as reporters have suggested. And his story was far from over. He continued to play for another decade in leagues around Western Canada. He became a band councillor, served as Chief, and formed athletic programs for kids. He paved a way for youth to find solace and meaning in sports for generations to come. This isn't just a hockey story; Sasakamoose's groundbreaking memoir intersects Canadian history and Indigenous politics, and follows his journey to reclaim pride in an identity that had previously been used against him."-- Less
Empire of pain : the secret history of the Sackler dynasty
Keefe, Patrick Radden, 1976- author.
Presents a portrait of three generations of the Sackler family, who built their fortune on the sale... More
Presents a portrait of three generations of the Sackler family, who built their fortune on the sale of Valium and later sponsored the creation and marketing of one of the most commonly prescribed and addictive painkillers of the opioid crisis. Less
Catherine the Great : portrait of a woman
Massie, Robert K., 1929-2019.
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The feather thief : beauty, obsession, and the natural history heist of the century
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
Billion dollar loser : the epic rise and spectacular fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork
Wiedeman, Reeves, author.
The inside story of the rise and fall of WeWork, showing how the excesses of its founder shaped a c... More
The inside story of the rise and fall of WeWork, showing how the excesses of its founder shaped a corporate culture unlike any other. Christened a potential savior of Silicon Valley's startup culture, Adam Neumann was set to take WeWork, his office share company disrupting the commercial real estate market, public, cash out on the company's 47 billion dollar valuation, and break the string of major startups unable to deliver to shareholders. But as employees knew, and investors soon found out, WeWork's capital was built on promises that the company was more than a real estate purveyor, that in fact it was a transformational technology company. Veteran journalist Reeves Wiedeman dives deep into WeWork and it CEO's astronomical rise, from the marijuana and tequila-filled board rooms to cult-like company summer camps and consciousness-raising with Anthony Kiedis. Billion Dollar Loser is a character-driven business narrative that captures, through the fascinating psyche of a billionaire founder and his wife and co-founder, the slippery state of global capitalism. Less
Rosemary : the hidden Kennedy daughter / Kate Clifford Larson.
Larson, Kate Clifford, author.
The revelatory, poignant story of Rosemary Kennedy, the eldest and eventually secreted-away Kennedy ... More
The revelatory, poignant story of Rosemary Kennedy, the eldest and eventually secreted-away Kennedy daughter, and how her life transformed her family, its women especially, and an entire nation. Less