Let's Talk Books: Nonfiction

It got real this week, with a fantastic discussion of our favorite nonfiction books. If you missed attending the online book talk, hopefully this list of the books mentioned will give you something new to check out.

Speaking American* : *how y'all, youse, and you guys talk : a visual guide

Josh Katz

427.973 /Katz
Nonfiction

"From the creator of the New York Times dialect quiz that ignited conversations about how and why we say the words we say, a stunning and delightful exploration of American language,"--Amazon.com.

At home : a short history of private life

Bill Bryson

eBOOK
History

Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything) takes readers on a tour of his house, a rural English parsonage, showing how each room has figured in the evolution of private life.

Home : a short history of an idea

Witold Rybczynski

728.019 /Rybczynski
History

An architect discusses the idea of comfort and the Western cultural attitudes that have shaped it since the end of the Middle Ages, reviewing such cultural variables as intimacy and privacy, domesticity, ease, and ideas about light, air, and efficiency as they have changed over time, and making a plea for the primacy of cultural ideals as a basis for creating psychologically comfortable homes.

Because internet : understanding the new rules of language

Gretchen McCulloch

eBOOK
Nonfiction

"A linguistically informed look at how our digital world is transforming the English language. Language is humanity's most spectacular open-source project, and the internet is making our language change faster and in more interesting ways than ever before. The programmers behind our apps and platforms decide how our conversations are structured, from the grammar of status updates to the protocols of comments and @replies. Linguistically inventive online communities spread new slang and jargon with dizzying speed. What's more, social media is a vast laboratory of unedited, unfiltered words where we can language evolve in real time. Even the most absurd-looking slang has genuine patterns behind it. Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch explores the deep forces that shape human language and influence the way we communicate with one another. She explains how the year you first accessed the internet determines how you talk online; how ̃sparkly tildes̃ became widely recognized as sarcasm punctuation; whether emoji are replacing words; and why internet dialects like doge, lolspeak, and snek are linguistically significant. Because Internet is essential reading for anyone who's ever puzzled over how to punctuate a text message or wondered where memes come from. It's the perfect book for understanding how the internet is changing the English language, why that's a good thing, and what our online interactions reveal about who we are"--

In the shadow of statues : a white southerner confronts history

Mitch Landrieu

305.8009763 /Landrieu
Political

The New Orleans mayor who removed Confederate statues from the city confronts the racism that shapes many Americans and argues for white America to reckon with its past.

March

John Lewis

973.00496 /Lewis
Graphic Novels, History

Capote

DVD MOVIE DRAMA Capote
Drama

In 1959, Truman Capote was a popular writer for The New Yorker. He learns about the horrific and senseless murder of a family of four in Holcomb, Kansas. Inspired by the story, Capote and his partner, Harper Lee, travel to the town to do research for an article. However, as Capote digs deeper into the story, he is inspired to expand the project into what would be his greatest work, "In Cold Blood." He arranges extensive interviews with the convicted killers, especially with Perry Smith. However, his feelings of compassion for Perry conflicts with his need for closure for his book which only an execution can provide. That conflict and the mixed motives for both interviewer and subject make for a troubling experience that would produce an literary account that would redefine modern non-fiction.

Living with a wild god : a nonbeliever's search for the truth about everything

Barbara Ehrenreich

BIOGRAPHY Ehrenreich, Barbara
Philosophy

"In middle age, Ehrenreich came across the journal she had kept during her tumultuous adolescence and set out to reconstruct that quest, which had taken her to the study of science and through a cataclysmic series of uncanny-or as she later learned to call them, "mystical"-experiences. A staunch atheist and rationalist, she is profoundly shaken by the implications of her life-long search. Part memoir, part philosophical and spiritual inquiry, LIVING WITH A WILD GOD brings an older woman's wry and erudite perspective to a young girl's uninhibited musings on the questions that, at one point or another, torment us all. Ehrenreich's most personal book ever will spark a lively and heated conversation about religion and spirituality, science and morality, and the "meaning of life." Certain to be a classic, LIVING WITH A WILD GOD combines intellectual rigor with a frank account of the inexplicable, in Ehrenreich's singular voice, to produce a true literary achievement"--

Educated : a memoir

Tara Westover

eBOOK
Memoir

"Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag." In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent. As a way out, Tara began to educate herself, learning enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University. Her quest for knowledge would transform her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Tara Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes, and the will to change it."--Provided by publisher.

Maid : hard work, low pay, and a mother's will to survive

Stephanie Land

eBOOK
Nonfiction

A journalist describes the years she worked in low-paying domestic work under wealthy employers, contrasting the privileges of the upper-middle class to the realities of the overworked laborers supporting them.

The glass castle : a memoir

Jeannette Walls

eBOOK
Memoir

Hillbilly elegy : a memoir of a family and culture in crisis

J. D. Vance

eBOOK
Nonfiction

Vance, a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, provides an account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America's white working class. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.'s grandparents were "dirt poor and in love," and moved north from Kentucky's Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance's grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America.

Becoming

Michelle Obama

eAUDIO
Memoir

An intimate memoir by the former First Lady chronicles the experiences that have shaped her remarkable life, from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago through her setbacks and achievements in the White House.

Born a crime : stories from a South African childhood

Trevor Noah

COMPACT DISC 791.45028092 Noah
Memoir

One of the comedy world's fastest-rising stars tells his wild coming of age story during the twilight of Apartheid in South Africa and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

God's hotel : a doctor, a hospital, and a pilgrimage to the heart of medicine

Victoria Sweet

610.92 /Sweet
Nonfiction

"San Francisco's Laguna Honda Hospital is the last almshouse in the country, a descendant of the Hotel-Dieu (God's Hotel) that cared for the sick in the Middle Ages. Ballet dancers and rock musicians, professors and thieves--"anyone who had fallen, or, often, leapt, onto hard times" and needed extended medical care-ended up here. So did Victoria Sweet, who came for two months and stayed for twenty years. Laguna Honda, lower tech but human paced, gave Sweet the opportunity to practice a kind of attentive medicine that has almost vanished. Gradually, the place transformed the way she understood her work. Alongside the modern view of the body as a machine to be fixed, her extraordinary patients evoked an older idea, of the body as a garden to be tended. God's Hotel tells their story and the story of the hospital itself, which, as efficiency experts, politicians, and architects descended, determined to turn it into a modern "health care facility," revealed its own surprising truths about the essence, cost, and value of caring for body and soul"--Provided by publisher.

Spying on the South : an odyssey across the American divide

Tony Horwitz

eBOOK
History

"The author retraces Frederick Law Olmsted's journey across the American South in the 1850s, on the eve of the Civil War. Olmsted roamed eleven states and six thousand miles, and the New York Times published his dispatches about slavery and its defenders. More than 150 years later, Tony Horwitz followed Olmsted's route, and whenever possible his mode of transport--rail, riverboats, in the saddle--through Appalachia, down the Ohio and Mississippi, through Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, and across Texas to the Rio Grande, discovering and reporting on vestiges of what Olmsted called the Cotton Kingdom"--

The salt path

Raynor Winn

eBOOK
Memoir

"Just days after Raynor Winn learns that Moth, her husband of thirty-two years, is terminally ill, their house and farm are taken away, along with their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, through Devon and Cornwall. Carrying only the essentials for survival on their backs, they live wild in the ancient, weathered landscape of cliffs, sea, and sky. Yet through every step, every encounter, and every test along the way, their walk becomes a remarkable and life-affirming journey. Powerfully written and unflinchingly honest, The Salt Path is ultimately a portrayal of home--how it can be lost, rebuilt, and rediscovered in the most unexpected ways"--

How to be an antiracist

Ibram X. Kendi

eBOOK
Nonfiction

The year of living Danishly : uncovering the secrets of the world's happiest country

Helen Russell

eBOOK
Nonfiction

After being given an opportunity for a new life in Jutland, the author shares her experiences living in the happiest place on Earth for a year, discussing where the Danes get it right and wrong and how others can benefit from living a bit more Danishly.

Boom town : the fantastical saga of Oklahoma city, its chaotic founding... its purloined basketball team, and the dream of becoming a world-class metropolis

Sam Anderson

eBOOK
History

"A lively and introspective look into Oklahoma City, where colorful city officials business leaders, artists, and sports fans have turned an unassuming Southwestern city into a thriving metropolis with a dazzling basketball team"--