02 March 2017

8 Nonfiction Books to Put on Your Reading List

One of the great pleasures of reading is stepping away from the stresses and strains of our everyday lives to be transported to a different place, a different time, or even a different galaxy. Other books are, of course, great reservoirs of knowledge and truth. I seek both experiences in my reading life. Here are eight nonfiction titles to put on your reading list.

Looking to the Past

8 Nonfiction Books to Put on Your Reading ListA Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz by Goran Rosenberg (Other Press, Feb. 2017): In this prize-winning memoir, Rosenberg, who grew up with all the optimism of baby boomers everywhere, contrasts his life with that of his father, who settled in Sweden after surviving a Nazi concentration camp. Can this father and son truly ever understand each other's perspectives? The Pen and the Brush by Anka Muhlstein (Other Press, Jan. 2017): The subtitle of Muhlstein's newest book gives us a clue to what's inside: "How Passion for Art Shaped Nineteenth-Century French Novels." Zola, Maupaussant, Balzac, and others were strongly influenced not only by contemporary paintings but also by the artists themselves, including Manet and Renoir. A fascinating look at the mutual influences in subject matter and style.

Meeting Famous Women

8 Nonfiction Books to Put on Your Reading ListVictoria: The Queen by Julia Baird (Random House, Nov. 2016): Thanks to the power of television, we are all getting to know the longest-reigning monarchs of English history, both of whom were/are queens. Baird's well-researched biography has won critical acclaim and many starred reviews. Here is the true story of the transformation of a sheltered girl into a powerful, global ruler. California Dreamin' by Penelope Bagieu (First Second, Mar. 2017): One of the queens of the American folk scene was Cass Elliot, aka Mama Cass from the Mamas and the Papas. Most people remember her music and that she died way too young. In black and white drawings, Bagieu introduces us to Cass before the fame--and her name change--and details her struggle to make a name for herself in world of music.

Contending with Genetics

8 Nonfiction Books to Put on Your Reading ListThe Family Gene by Joselin Linder (Ecco, Mar. 2017): When Linder started to have medical issues in her twenties, she and her doctors took a look at her family history and discovered a unique genetic mutation that explained the early death and range of physical aliments suffered by many of her relatives. What does it mean to live with a rare genetic condition? Where does one find hope and answers . . . and peace of mind? Linder's story will give you a lot to think about. Food Fight by McKay Jenkins (Avery, Jan. 2017): Once upon a time, people grew, bought, and ate food. Just food. Nowadays we are eating pesticides, preservatives, and additives and even our fresh food is not what is seems. Is that potato an old-fashioned spud or a Frankenstein's monster of a vegetable, otherwise known as a genetically modified organism (GMO). Are GMOs something to run from or are they answer to feeding the world as the environment deteriorates and population increases? Jenkins promises to show us both sides of the argument so we can make up our own minds.

Learning about Our World

8 Nonfiction Books to Put on Your Reading ListThe Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan (Norton, Mar. 2017): Did you know the Great Lakes make up one of the largest sources of fresh water on the planet? For that alone, they should be protected and treated with respect. Unfortunately, as journalist Egan  reminds us, the lakes are on the brink of environmental collapse. After careful research and investigation, Egan not only tells us the very bad news but offers ways to save this critical resource. The Greatest Story Ever Told--So Far by Lawrence M. Krauss (Atria, Mar. 2017): In his newest book, theoretical physicist Krauss tackles some of humankind's most enduring questions: What is the nature of reality and what is our place in the world? The journey to understanding involves moving from the familiar world around us into the farthest reaches of the universe and then down to the smallest of particles. The difficult topics covered in this book are tempered by Krauss's accessible style, humor, and pop culture references.


rhapsodyinbooks 3/2/17, 7:09 AM  

They all sound good, although I haven't had the concentration of late to take on non-fiction. I need to wean myself from the train-wreck of news stories!

bermudaonion 3/2/17, 8:31 AM  

I love good nonfiction. California Dreamin' really piques my interest.

Kailana 3/2/17, 8:34 AM  

Lots of good looking books on here. I have to be in the right mood for nonfiction and it hasn't been happening lately.

(Diane) bookchickdi 3/2/17, 8:40 AM  

I grew up listening to the Mamas and Papas, my mother loved them. I'm definitely going to look for the Cass Elliot book.

Nise' 3/2/17, 10:26 AM  

Since I live on a Great Lake, that book if of interest to me.

Vicki 3/2/17, 12:51 PM  

I grew up near Lake Erie and loved The Mamas & the Papas when I was younger, so The Death and Life of the Great Lakes and California Dreamin' are going on my list to read.

Unknown 3/2/17, 3:15 PM  

California Dreaming looks interesting. FirstSecond usually do a great job with their books!

Katherine P 3/2/17, 4:33 PM  

California Dreaming sounds fascinating. She's someone I really know just about nothing about but would like to know more. I'm also super curious about The Family Gene. I'm fascinated by genetics!

Iliana 3/2/17, 4:53 PM  

I need to add more non-fiction reads to my reading stack. I have a copy of the Rosenberg book and I'm looking forward to it.

Daryl 3/3/17, 1:23 PM  

escaping into a book is such a luxury .. these sound terrific ... thanks

Deb in Hawaii 3/4/17, 11:17 AM  

Several of these sound really good--Food Fight, California Dreaming and The Family Gene especially. Looks like I'll be adding to my TBR stack. ;-)

Margot 3/4/17, 6:22 PM  

Thanks for this list. I like good non-fiction and seem to be reading more lately. I'm interested in reading The Death and Life of the Great Lakes. I was born on Lake Michigan and am so sad to see it is in danger.

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