20 April 2018

15 True Stories to Read This Spring

Good news for nonfiction fans: This spring is chock-full of new books that tell true stories in a full range of topics, including medicine, sports, politics, self-help, and history. I've concentrated on just four broad areas for today's round-up, and I'm highlighting books that are on my personal reading list.

Science and Nature

  • 15 Books for Nonfiction FansChasing New Horizons by Alan Stern and David Grinspoon (Picador; May 1): The subtitle of this fascinating story of NASA's New Horizons program says it all: "Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto." Written by the mission's principal investigator (Stern) and an astrobiologist (Grinspoon), this very readable account includes two glossy photo inserts.
  • The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Steve Brusatte (William Morrow; April 24): Who doesn't love dinosaurs? Paleontologist Brusatte tells us all about their 200-million-year reign as the kings of planet Earth. His review of current dinosaur research, new fossil discoveries, and theories about their extinction is accessible, easy to follow, and well illustrated.
  • The Man Who Climbs Trees by James Aldred (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; May 22): When you watch BBC nature documentaries and read your National Geographic, do you ever wonder who was behind the camera, bringing you up close and personal to nature? In this book, Aldred shares what it's like to be a nature photographer who specializes in working in the forest canopy and the tops of the world's tallest trees.
  • The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World by Simon Winchester (Harper; May 8): Winchester's latest book examines how the notion of precision and the development of machines that ensured standard measures drove the Industrial Revolution and led to twenty-first-century technological wonders. Along the way, he talks about human nature, craftsmanship, and art.

Biography
  • 15 Books for Nonfiction FansJane and Dorothy: A True Tale of Sense and Sensibility by Marian Veevers (Pegasus; April 3): Veevers's double biography of Jane Austen and Dorothy Wordsworth compares the two women's parallel and divergent lives. They were born just four years apart and endured similar social restrictions on their creative talents but chose different solutions.
  • The Duchess: Camilla Parker Bowles and the Love Affair That Rocked the Crown by Penny Junor (Harper; April 10): Admit it, you're curious about the woman who changed the nature of the British royal family forever. Junor's balanced biography of Camilla presents a side of the duchess little known outside the UK.
  • Francis I: The Maker of Modern France by Leonie Frieda (Harper; April 10): Frieda outlines the life of the Renaissance king who made France a mighty nation and set the foundations for its strong, enduring future. This new account of Francis I is based on archival material and is written by an experienced historical biographer.
  • Visionary Women by Andrea Barnet (Ecco; March 13): Barnet outlines how four cutting-edge women changed the world by following their passions or telling their truths. The women profiled are Jane Jacobs (journalist), Rachel Carson (marine biologist), Jane Goodall (primatologist), and Alice Waters (chef/restaurateur), who continue to both inspire us and make us fully see the world around us.

Contemporary Culture
  • 15 Books for Nonfiction FansFigures in a Landscape: People and Places by Paul Theroux (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; May 8): Besides Theroux's signature travel pieces, this collection of previously published essays includes a look at his reading life as well as surprising experiences with well-known individuals (such as surfing with Oliver Sacks!). He is always entertaining and thought-provoking.
  • The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West by John Branch (Norton; May 15): For 150 years the Wrights have herded cattle on their Utah spread and made a name for themselves as bronco-riding rodeo champions. Branch followed the multigeneration family for three years, recording the twilight of the American West.
  • The View from Flyover Country: Dispatches from the Forgotten America by Sarah Kendzior (Flatiron; April 17): Kendzior's essays add insight to why America's heartland helped place Donald Trump in the White House. The pieces look at politics, economics, racism, sexism, and the future of the country's working and middle classes.
  • Unwifeable by Mandy Stadtmiller (Gallery; April 3): The essays in Stadtmiller's collection present the frank, funny, and universal story of her life as a single thirty-something woman in New York City, juggling a professional career with the messiness of dating. Stadtmiller has been called "a real-life Carrie Bradshaw."

On the Water
  • 15 Books for Nonfiction FansDisappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage by Brian Castner (Doubleday; March 13): This is the double story of Alexander Mackenzie's 1789 search for the Northwest Passage and author Castner's 2016 canoe journey along the same route. Castner's engrossing account presents a mix of history, travel, anthropology, and nature.
  • Into the Raging Sea by Rachel Slade (Ecco; May 1) and Into the Storm by Tristram Korten (Ballentine; April 24): Both of these books look into the October 2015 sinking of the ship El Faro during Hurricane Joaquin, killing the entire crew. Slade focuses on the specifics of the disaster onboard ship as well as the event's place in the broader context of the U.S. merchant marine fleet and climate change. Korten focuses on the Coast Guard's heroic rescue of the crew of the Minouche, another ship caught in the storm, as well as its failed, desperate search for the El Faro. The two accounts together offer a well-rounded view of this tragedy.

9 comments:

Anonymous,  4/20/18, 7:08 AM  

I am eyeing the Winchester book...

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 4/20/18, 7:09 AM  

Some good stuff coming out! I have Unwifeable on my list and View from Flyover Country sounds intriguing too!

bermudaonion 4/20/18, 7:59 AM  

I've been in a non-fiction kind of mood lately and am looking forward to Into the Storm. My mom is reading, and enjoying, The Duchess right now.

Susie | Novel Visits 4/20/18, 8:35 AM  

Some great new options here. I'm definitely going to be checking out The Last Cowboys. My grandparents ran a working cattle ranch in California's central valley, but when they passed no one in the family wanted to live that sort of life and the ranch was sold. It's sad. Everyone in the family loved the ranch and has such great memories of spending time there, but it's a hard life to live day after day.

Vicki 4/20/18, 1:48 PM  

My 8 yr old grandson would love the Science and Nature books. I'd like to read all the books in the other three categories. I'm hoping to find them in the libraries near me.

Sherry Fundin 4/20/18, 2:25 PM  

Dinosaurs and trees, love em. Also, anything to do with water. Thanks for sharing the goodies.
sherry @ fundinmental

Greg 4/20/18, 10:26 PM  

I think the dinosaur one (I'm probably so behind on the latest thinking) and the nature photography one would be fascinating. Same for the Northwest PAssage. Thanks for sharing!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 4/22/18, 8:34 AM  

I've been on a NF hunt lately so I was happy to see your great list; hope all is well.

Daryl 4/23/18, 11:39 AM  

lots of interesting options .. however, not a NF fan ... too much reality in my life as it is .. reading is and always has been my escape ...

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