Blair Recommends: Non-Fiction

Blair Recommends: Non-Fiction

SPL staff member, Blair, always has recommendations! Whether for books or movies – she’s either read it, seen it, or noted feedback from other library book readers. We’re sharing these collected lists in a series we’re calling “Blair Recommends.”

Continue your education with these Non-Fiction titles!


Cover ImageThe Bird Way by Jennifer Ackerman

“There is the mammal way and there is the bird way.” But the bird way is much more than a unique pattern of brain wiring, and lately, scientists have taken a new look at bird behaviors they have, for years, dismissed as anomalies or mysteries –– What they are finding is upending the traditional view of how birds conduct their lives, how they communicate, forage, court, breed, survive. They are also revealing the remarkable intelligence underlying these activities, abilities we once considered uniquely our own: deception, manipulation, cheating, kidnapping, infanticide, but also ingenious communication between species, cooperation, collaboration, altruism, culture, and play.

 

Cover ImageCosmos: Possible Worlds by Ann Druyan

Based on National Geographic’s internationally-renowned television series, this groundbreaking and visually stunning book explores how science and civilization grew up together. From the emergence of life at deep-sea vents to solar-powered starships sailing through the galaxy, from the Big Bang to the intricacies of intelligence in many life forms, acclaimed author Ann Druyan documents where humanity has been and where it is going, using her unique gift of bringing complex scientific concepts to life.

 

Cover ImageThe Third Rainbow Girl by Emma Copley Eisenberg

In the early evening of June 25, 1980 in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, two middle-class outsiders named Vicki Durian, 26, and Nancy Santomero, 19, were murdered in an isolated clearing. They had been hitchhiking to a festival known as the Rainbow Gathering but never arrived. Deep suspicion was cast on a succession of local residents in the community, depicted as poor, dangerous, and backward. Weaving in experiences from her own years spent living in Pocahontas County, she follows the threads of this crime through the complex history of Appalachia, revealing how this mysterious murder has loomed over all those affected for generations, shaping their fears, fates, and desires. Beautifully written and brutally honest, The Third Rainbow Girl presents a searing and wide-ranging portrait of America—divided by gender and class, and haunted by its own violence.

 

Yes to Life In Spite of Everything by Viktor E. Frankl

Eleven months after he was liberated from the Nazi concentration camps, Viktor E. Frankl held a series of public lectures in Vienna. The psychiatrist, who would soon become world famous, explained his central thoughts on meaning, resilience, and the importance of embracing life even in the face of great adversity.
Published here for the very first time in English, Frankl’s companion to his international bestseller, Man’s Search for Meaning resonates as strongly today—as the world faces a coronavirus pandemic, social isolation, and great economic uncertainty—as they did in 1946. He offers an insightful exploration of the maxim “Live as if you were living for the second time,” and he unfolds his basic conviction that every crisis contains opportunity.

 

Cover ImageWine Girl: the Obstacles, Humiliations, and Triumphs of America’s Youngest Sommelier by Victoria James

Exhilarating and inspiring, Wine Girl is the memoir of a young woman breaking free from an abusive and traumatic childhood on her own terms; an ethnography of the glittering, high-octane, but notoriously corrosive restaurant industry; and above all, a love letter to the restorative and life-changing effects of good wine and good hospitality.

 

Cover ImageKorean Dream:  a Vision for a Unified Korea by Hyun Jin Preston Moon

In this centennial edition commemorating the March 1, 1919 Korean Independence Movement, Dr. Moon makes a compelling case that reunification led by Korean civil society is the only way to solve the security, economic, and social problems created through 70 years of division. In presenting his case, Dr. Moon offers a groundbreaking approach to lasting peace rooted in the founding principles and national identity that have made Koreans one people for millennia.

New Biographies

New Biographies

Everything She Touched : The Life of Ruth Asawa / by Marilyn Chase

Everything She Touched recounts the incredible life of the American sculptor Ruth Asawa.

This is the story of a woman who wielded imagination and hope in the face of intolerance and who transformed everything she touched into art. In this compelling biography, author Marilyn Chase brings Asawa’s story to vivid life. She draws on Asawa’s extensive archives and weaves together many voices–family, friends, teachers, and critics–to offer a complex and fascinating portrait of the artist.


(Re)Born in the USA : An Englishman’s Love Letter to His Chosen Home / Roger Bennett

One-half of the celebrated Men in Blazers duo, longtime culture and soccer commentator Roger Bennett traces the origins of his love affair with America, and how he went from a depraved, pimply faced Jewish boy in 1980’s Liverpool to become the quintessential Englishman in New York. A memoir for fans of Jon Ronson and Chuck Klosterman, but with Roger Bennett’s signature pop culture flair and humor.


Letters to a Young Athlete / Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh, NBA Hall of Famer, eleven-time All-Star, two-time NBA champion, Olympic gold medalist, and the league’s Global Ambassador, had his playing days cut short at their prime by a freak medical condition. His extraordinary career ended not at a time of his choosing but “in a doctor’s office in the middle of the afternoon.” Forced to reckon with how to find meaning to carry forward, he found himself looking back over his path, from a teenager in Dallas who balanced basketball with the high school robotics club to the pinnacle of the NBA and beyond.

 


Heart and Steel / Bill Cowher with Michael Holley

In Heart and Steel , Cowher will take you on his journey from childhood to the undersized, mohawked, disco-dancing North Carolina State linebacker, to fighting for a spot as a “bubble player” with the Browns and Eagles, before injuries ended his playing career. Bill will discuss how that same drive led to his big coaching break, running Special Teams for Marty Schottenheimer and the Cleveland Browns at just twenty-seven-years-old, before taking over the Pittsburgh Steelers just seven years later. Cowher will reveal exclusive, never-before-told anecdotes and candid thoughts on the biggest games, players, and moments that defined his fifteen-year Steelers tenure.

 


Somebody’s Daughter : A Memoir / Ashley C. Ford

Through poverty, adolescence, and a fraught relationship with her mother, Ashley C. Ford wishes she could turn to her father for hope and encouragement. There are just a few problems: he’s in prison, and she doesn’t know what he did to end up there. She doesn’t know how to deal with the incessant worries that keep her up at night, or how to handle the changes in her body that draw unwanted attention from men. In her search for unconditional love, Ashley begins dating a boy her mother hates. When the relationship turns sour, he assaults her. Still reeling from the rape, which she keeps secret from her family, Ashley desperately searches for meaning in the chaos. Then, her grandmother reveals the truth about her father’s incarceration . . . and Ashley’s entire world is turned upside down.


Upper Bohemia / Hayden Herrera

Hayden Herrera’s parents each married five times; following their desires was more important to them than looking after their children. When Herrera was only three years old, her parents separated and she and her sister moved from Cape Cod to New York City to live with their mother and their new hard-drinking stepfather. They saw their father only during summers on the Cape, when they and the other neighborhood children would be left to their own devices by parents who were busy painting, writing, or composing music. These adults inhabited a world that Herrera’s mother called “upper bohemia,” a milieu of people born to privilege who chose to focus on the life of the mind. Her parents’ friends included such literary and artistic heavyweights as artist Max Ernst, writers Edmund Wilson and Mary McCarthy, architect Marcel Breuer, and collector Peggy Guggenheim. On the surface, Herrera’s childhood was idyllic and surreal. But underneath, the pain of being a parent’s afterthought was acute. Upper Bohemia captures the tension between a child’s excitement at every new thing and her sadness at losing the comfort of a reliable family.


London’s Number One Dog-Walking Agency / Kate MacDougall

In 2006, Kate MacDougall was working a safe but dull job at the venerable auction house Sotheby’s in London. After a clumsy accident nearly destroyed a precious piece of art, she quit Sotheby’s and set up her own dog-walking company. Kate knew little about dogs and nothing about business, and no one thought being a professional dog walker was a good use of her university degree. Nevertheless, Kate embarked upon an entirely new and very much improvised career walking some of the city’s many pampered pooches, branding her company “London’s Number One Dog Walking Agency.” With sharp wit, delightful observations, and plenty of canine affection, Kate reveals her unique and unconventional coming-of-age story, as told through the dogs, and the London homes and neighborhoods they inhabit.


Brat : An ’80s Story / Andrew McCarthy

Most people know Andrew McCarthy from his movie roles in Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire, Weekend at Bernie’s, and Less than Zero , and as a charter member of Hollywood’s Brat Pack. That iconic group of ingenues and heartthrobs included Rob Lowe, Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, and Demi Moore, and has come to represent both a genre of film and an era of pop culture. In his memoir Brat: An ’80s Story , McCarthy focuses his gaze on that singular moment in time. The result is a revealing look at coming of age in a maelstrom, reckoning with conflicted ambition, innocence, addiction, and masculinity. New York City of the 1980s is brought to vivid life in these pages, from scoring loose joints in Washington Square Park to skipping school in favor of the dark revival houses of the Village where he fell in love with the movies that would change his life.


Seeing Serena / Gerald Marzorati

Seeing Serena is an in-depth chronicle of Serena Williams’ return to tennis after giving birth to her daughter, and an insightful cultural analysis of the most consequential female athlete of her time. Author Gerald Marzorati shadows her through her 2019 season, from Melbourne and the Australian Open, to Roland-Garros and Wimbledon, and on to the US Open as she seeks her 24th Grand Slam singles title. He writers about her tennis and her forays into fashion, investing, and developing her personal brand on social media.

Seeing Serena illuminates Williams’s singular status as the greatest women’s tennis player of all time and–in a moment when race and gender are the most talked-about topics in America and beyond–a pop icon like no other. Marzorati is on the scene, observing her matches, and talking to her, her coach, her competitors, and former greats who have witnessed her for years.


The Wild Silence / Raynor Winn

Nature holds the answers for Raynor and her husband Moth. After walking 630 homeless miles along The Salt Path, living on the windswept and wild English coastline; the cliffs, the sky and the chalky earth now feel like their home. Moth has a terminal diagnosis, but together on the wild coastal path, with their feet firmly rooted outdoors, they discover that anything is possible.

Now, life beyond The Salt Path awaits and they come back to four walls, but the sense of home is illusive and returning to normality is proving difficult – until an incredible gesture by someone who reads their story changes everything. A chance to breathe life back into a beautiful farmhouse nestled deep in the Cornish hills; rewilding the land and returning nature to its hedgerows becomes their saving grace and their new path to follow. The Wild Silence is a story of hope triumphing over despair, of lifelong love prevailing over everything. It is a luminous account of the human spirit’s connection to nature, and how vital it is for us all.

Worthwhile Non-Fiction

Worthwhile Non-Fiction

Get lost in these non-fiction tales that read like fiction.


Cover ImageSPIRIT RUN by Noe Alvarez

At nineteen, Noe Alvarex learned about a Native American/First Nations movement called the Peace and Dignity Journeys, epic marathons meant to renew cultural connections across North America. He dropped out of school and joined a group of Dené, Secwépemc, Gitxsan, Dakelh, Apache, Tohono O’odham, Seri, Purépecha, and Maya runners, all fleeing difficult beginnings. Telling their stories alongside his own, Álvarez writes about a four–month–long journey from Canada to Guatemala that pushed him to his limits. He writes not only of overcoming hunger, thirst, and fear—dangers included stone–throwing motorists and a mountain lion—but also of asserting Indigenous and working–class humanity in a capitalist society where oil extraction, deforestation, and substance abuse wreck communities.


Cover ImageTHE ADVENTURER’S SON by Roman Dial

In the predawn hours of July 10, 2014, 27-year-old Cody Roman Dial, the son of preeminent Alaskan scientist and National Geographic Explorer Roman Dial, walked alone into Corcovado National Park, an untracked rainforest along Costa Rica’s remote Pacific Coast that shelters miners, poachers, and drug smugglers. He carried a light backpack and machete. Before he left, he emailed his father: “I am not sure how long it will take me, but I’m planning on doing 4 days in the jungle and a day to walk out. I’ll be bounded by a trail to the west and the coast everywhere else, so it should be difficult to get lost forever.”  They were the last words Dial received from his son.


Cover ImageTHE ESCAPE ARTIST by Helen Fremont

Fremont writes with wit and candor about growing up in a household held together by a powerful glue: secrets. Her parents, profoundly affected by their memories of the Holocaust, pass on, to both Helen and her older sister, a penchant for keeping their lives neatly, even obsessively compartmentalized, and a zealous determination to protect themselves from what they see as danger from the outside world.

 


Cover ImageYELLOW BIRD by Sierra Crane Murdoch

When Lissa Yellow Bird was released from prison in 2009, she found her home, the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, transformed by the Bakken oil boom. In her absence, the landscape had been altered beyond recognition, her tribal government swayed by corporate interests, and her community burdened by a surge in violence and addiction. Three years later, when Lissa learned that a young white oil worker, Kristopher “KC” Clarke, had disappeared from his reservation worksite, she became particularly concerned. No one knew where Clarke had gone, and few people were actively looking for him.  Yellow Bird traces Lissa’s steps as she obsessively hunts for clues to Clarke’s disappearance.


Cover ImageTHE HUNT FOR HISTORY by Nathan Raab

A box uncovered in a Maine attic with twenty letters written by Alexander Hamilton; a handheld address to Congress by President George Washington; a long-lost Gold Medal that belonged to an American President; a note that Winston Churchill wrote to his captor when he was a young POW in South Africa; paperwork signed and filled out by Amelia Earhart when she became the first woman to fly the Atlantic; an American flag carried to the moon and back by Neil Armstrong; an unpublished letter written by Albert Einstein, discussing his theory of relativity.  Each day, people from all over the world contact Nathan Raab for help understanding what they have, what it might be worth, and how to sell it.


Cover ImageUNCANNY VALLEY by Anna Wiener

In her mid-twenties Anna Wiener—stuck, broke, and looking for meaning in her work, left a job in book publishing for the promise of the new digital economy. She moved from New York to San Francisco, where she landed at a big-data startup in the heart of the Silicon Valley bubble: a world of surreal extravagance, dubious success, and fresh-faced entrepreneurs hell-bent on domination, glory, and, of course, progress.  Anna arrived amidst a massive cultural shift, as the tech industry rapidly transformed into a locus of wealth and power rivaling Wall Street. But amid the company ski vacations and in-office speakeasies, boyish camaraderie and ride-or-die corporate fealty, a new Silicon Valley began to emerge: one in far over its head, one that enriched itself at the expense of the idyllic future it claimed to be building.

Presidential Matters

Presidential Matters

 

The Defining Moment:  FDR’s hundred days and the triumph of hope by Jonathan Alter

Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in March of 1933 as America touched bottom. Banks were closing everywhere. Millions of people lost everything. The Great Depression had caused a national breakdown. With the craft of a master storyteller, Jonathan Alter brings us closer than ever before to the Roosevelt magic. Facing the gravest crisis since the Civil War, FDR used his cagey political instincts and ebullient temperament in the storied first Hundred Days of his presidency to pull off an astonishing conjuring act that lifted the country and saved both democracy and capitalism.


The General vs. the President:  MacArthur and Truman on the brink of nuclear war by H.W. Brands

At the height of the Korean War, President Harry S. Truman committed a gaffe that sent shock waves around the world. When asked by a reporter about the possible use of atomic weapons in response to China’s entry into the war, Truman replied testily, “The military commander in the field will have charge of the use of the weapons, as he always has.” This suggested that General Douglas MacArthur, the willful, fearless, and highly decorated commander of the American and U.N. forces, had his finger on the nuclear trigger. A correction quickly followed, but the damage was done; two visions for America’s path forward were clearly in opposition, and one man would have to make way.


The Man who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in war and peace by H.W. Brands

Ulysses Grant emerges in this masterful biography as a genius in battle and a driven president to a divided country, who remained fearlessly on the side of right. He was a beloved commander in the field who made the sacrifices necessary to win the war, even in the face of criticism. He worked valiantly to protect the rights of freed men in the South. He allowed the American Indians to shape their own fate even as the realities of Manifest Destiny meant the end of their way of life. In this sweeping and majestic narrative, bestselling author H.W. Brands now reconsiders Grant’s legacy and provides an intimate portrait of a heroic man who saved the Union on the battlefield and consolidated that victory as a resolute and principled political leader.


First Women: the grace and power of America’s modern First Ladies by Kate Anderson Brower

One of the most underestimated—and challenging—positions in the world, the First Lady of the United States must be many things: an inspiring leader with a forward-thinking agenda of her own; a savvy politician, skilled at navigating the treacherous rapids of Washington; a wife and mother operating under constant scrutiny; and an able CEO responsible for the smooth operation of countless services and special events at the White House.


The Residence:  Inside the private world of the White House by Kate Anderson Brower

America’s First Families are unknowable in many ways. No one has insight into their true character like the people who serve their meals and make their beds every day. Full of stories and details by turns dramatic, humorous, and heartwarming, The Residence reveals daily life in the White House as it is really lived through the voices of the maids, butlers, cooks, florists, doormen, engineers, and others who tend to the needs of the President and First Family.


 

Adopted Son:  Washington, Lafayette and the friendship that saved the Revolution by David A. Clary

They were unlikely comrades-in-arms. One was a self-taught, middle-aged Virginia planter in charge of a ragtag army of revolutionaries, the other a rich, glory-seeking teenage French aristocrat. But the childless Washington and the orphaned Lafayette forged a bond between them as strong as any between father and son. It was an unbreakable trust that saw them through betrayals, shifting political alliances, and the trials of war.


 

Flawed Giant:  Lyndon Johnson and his times 1961-1973 by Robert Dallek

Flawed Giant–the monumental concluding volume to Robert Dallek’s biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson–provides the most through, engrossing account ever published of Johnson’s years in the national spotlight. Drawing on hours of newly released White House tapes and dozens of interviews with people close to the President, Dallek reveals LBJ as a visionary leader who worked his will on Congress like no chief executive before or since, and also displays the depth of his private anguish as he became increasingly ensnared in Vietnam.


Guest of Honor:  Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt and the White House dinner that shocked a nation by Deborah Davis

In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to have dinner at the executive mansion with the First Family. The next morning, news that the president had dined with a black man sent shock waves through the nation. Fueled by inflammatory newspaper articles, political cartoons, and even vulgar songs, the scandal escalated and threatened to topple two of America’s greatest men.

 


Inside Camp David:  the private world of the presidential retreat by Rear Admiral Michael Giorgione

Never before have the gates of Camp David been opened to the public. Intensely private and completely secluded, the president’s personal campground is situated deep in the woods, up miles of unmarked roads that are practically invisible to the untrained eye. Now, for the first time, we are allowed to travel along the mountain route and directly into the fascinating and intimate complex of rustic residential cabins, wildlife trails, and athletic courses that make up the presidential family room.


The Family:  the real story of the Bush dynasty by Kitty Kelley

They have wielded enormous financial power and dominated world politics for more than half a century. They have been appointed to positions of great power and have been elected as governors, congressmen, senators and presidents. They have shaped our past and, with our country at war under the leadership of their number one son, they are, more critically than ever, shaping our future.


 

Ike and McCarthy:  Dwight Eisenhower’s secret campaign against Joseph McCarthy by David A. Nichols

Behind the scenes, Eisenhower loathed McCarthy, the powerful Republican senator notorious for his anti-Communist witch hunt. In spite of a public perception that Eisenhower was unwilling to challenge McCarthy, Ike believed that directly confronting the senator would diminish the presidency. Therefore, the president operated with a “hidden hand,” refusing even to mention the Senator’s name.


 

The Hour of Peril:  the Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower

In February of 1861, just days before he assumed the presidency, Abraham Lincoln faced a “clear and fully-matured” threat of assassination as he traveled by train from Springfield to Washington for his inauguration. Over a period of thirteen days the legendary detective Allan Pinkerton worked feverishly to detect and thwart the plot, assisted by a captivating young widow named Kate Warne, America’s first female private eye.


Being Nixon:  a man divided by Evan Thomas

Evan Thomas delivers a radical, unique portrait of America’s thirty-seventh president, Richard Nixon, a contradictory figure who was both determinedly optimistic and tragically flawed. One of the principal architects of the modern Republican Party and its “silent majority” of disaffected whites and conservative ex-Dixiecrats, Nixon was also deemed a liberal in some quarters for his efforts to desegregate Southern schools, create the Environmental Protection Agency, and end the draft.


Friends Divided:  John Adams and Thomas Jefferson by Gordon S. Wood

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams could scarcely have come from more different worlds, or been more different in temperament. Jefferson, the optimist with enough faith in the innate goodness of his fellow man to be democracy’s champion, was an aristocratic Southern slaveowner, while Adams, the overachiever from New England’s rising middling classes, painfully aware he was no aristocrat, was a skeptic about popular rule and a defender of a more elitist view of government. But late in life, something remarkable happened: these two men were nudged into reconciliation. What started as a grudging trickle of correspondence became a great flood, and a friendship was rekindled, over the course of hundreds of letters.


Accidental Presidents:  eight men who changed America by Jared Cohen

Eight men have succeeded to the presidency when the incumbent died in office. In one way or another they vastly changed our history. Only Theodore Roosevelt would have been elected in his own right. Only TR, Truman, Coolidge, and LBJ were re-elected.

 

Notable Historic Non-Fiction Titles

Notable Historic Non-Fiction Titles

Longing to learn while you read? Get your history lesson with these notable non-fiction titles.


Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir and Me by Deidre Bair

In 1971 Deirdre Bair was a journalist and a recently minted Ph.D. who managed to secure access to Nobel Prize-winning author Samuel Beckett. He agreed that she could be his biographer despite her never having written a biography before. The next seven years of probing conversations, intercontinental research, singular encounters with Beckett’s friends, and peculiar cat-and-mouse games resulted in Samuel Beckett: A Biography, which went on to win the National Book Award and propel Bair to her next subject: Simone de Beauvoir.

From Russia with Blood by Heidi Blake

They thought they had found a safe haven in the green hills of England. They were wrong. One by one, the Russian oligarchs, dissidents, and gangsters who fled to Britain after Vladimir Putin came to power dropped dead in strange or suspicious circumstances. One by one, their British lawyers and fixers met similarly grisly ends. Yet, one by one, the British authorities shut down every investigation — and carried on courting the Kremlin.

Give Me Liberty by Richard Brookhiser

Award-winning historian and biographer Richard Brookhiser offers up a truer and more inspiring story of American nationalism as it has evolved over four hundred years. He examines America’s history through thirteen documents that made the United States a new country in a new world: a free country. We are what we are because of them; we stay true to what we are by staying true to them.

The Anarchy by William Dalrymple

In August 1765, the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and set up, in his place, a government run by English traders who collected taxes through means of a private army. The creation of this new government marked the moment that the East India Company ceased to be a conventional company and became something much more unusual: an international corporation transformed into an aggressive colonial power.

The Shadow of Vesuvius: a Life of Pliny by Daisy Dunn

When Pliny the Elder perished at Stabiae during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, he left behind an enormous compendium of knowledge, his thirty-seven-volume Natural History, and a teenaged nephew who revered him as a father. Grieving his loss, Pliny the Younger inherited the Elder’s notebooks―filled with pearls of wisdom―and his legacy.

Wounded Shepherd by Austin Ivereigh

This deeply contextual biography centers on the tensions generated by the pope’s attempt to turn the Church away from power and tradition and outwards to engage humanity with God’s mercy. Through battles with corrupt bankers and worldly cardinals, in turbulent meetings and on global trips, history’s first Latin-American pope has attempted to reshape the Church to evangelize the contemporary age. At the same time, he has stirred other leaders’ deep-seated fear that the Church is capitulating to modernity―leaders who have challenged his bid to create a more welcoming, attentive institution.

Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers by Brian Kilmeade

In March 1836, the Mexican army led by General Santa Anna massacred more than two hundred Texians who had been trapped in the Alamo. After thirteen days of fighting, American legends Jim Bowie and Davey Crockett died there, along with other Americans who had moved to Texas looking for a fresh start. It was a crushing blow to Texas’s fight for freedom. But the story doesn’t end there. The defeat galvanized the Texian settlers, and under General Sam Houston’s leadership they rallied. Six weeks after the Alamo, Houston and his band of settlers defeated Santa Anna’s army in a shocking victory, winning the independence for which so many had died.

Blowout by Rachel Maddow

In 2010, the words “earthquake swarm” entered the lexicon in Oklahoma. That same year, a trove of Michael Jackson memorabilia—including his iconic crystal-encrusted white glove—was sold at auction for over $1 million to a guy who was, officially, just the lowly forestry minister of the tiny nation of Equatorial Guinea. And in 2014, Ukrainian revolutionaries raided the palace of their ousted president and found a zoo of peacocks, gilded toilets, and a floating restaurant modeled after a Spanish galleon. Unlikely as it might seem, there is a thread connecting these events.

Peace, War and Liberty by Christopher A. Preble

Has the United States been a force for liberty around the world? Should it be? And if so, how? To answer these questions, Christopher A. Preble traces the history of U.S. foreign policy from the American Founding to the present, examining the ideas that have animated it, asking whether America’s policy choices have made the world safer and freer, and considering the impact of those choices on freedom at home.

Betrayal in Berlin by Steve Vogel

Its code name was “Operation Gold,” a wildly audacious CIA plan to construct a clandestine tunnel into East Berlin to tap into critical KGB and Soviet military telecommunication lines. The tunnel, crossing the border between the American and Soviet sectors, would have to be 1,500 feet (the length of the Empire State Building) with state-of-the-art equipment, built and operated literally under the feet of their Cold War adversaries. Success would provide the CIA and the British Secret Intelligence Service access to a vast treasure of intelligence. Exposure might spark a dangerous confrontation with the Soviets. Yet as the Allies were burrowing into the German soil, a traitor, code-named Agent Diamond by his Soviet handlers, was burrowing into the operation itself. . .

 

Titles on Strength and Resilience

Titles on Strength and Resilience

 

Sometimes having the capacity to withstand life’s pressures can feel impossible. The characters in these titles find strength and resilience, despite the odds against them.


Cover ImageThe Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood’s sequel to THE HANDMAID’S TALE picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

Britt Marie was Here by Fredrik Backman

When Britt-Marie walks out on her cheating husband and has to fend for herself in the miserable backwater town of Borg, she is more than a little unprepared. Employed as the caretaker of a soon-to-be demolished recreation center, the fastidious Britt-Marie has to cope with muddy floors, unruly children, and a rat for a roommate.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives.

And Then There were None by Agatha Christie

Ten…Ten strangers are lured to an isolated island mansion off the Devon coast by a mysterious U. N. Owen. Nine… At dinner a recorded message accuses each of them in turn of having a guilty secret, and by the end of the night one of the guests is dead. Eight…Stranded by a violent storm, and haunted by a nursery rhyme counting down one by one . . . as one by one . . . they begin to die.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, Victoria Jones is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Read more

Native American Heritage

November is Native American Heritage Month. Celebrate by exploring works of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and film by indigenous American authors from the SPL collection.

An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo (2019)
Check out the current Poet Laureate’s latest collection of poems, entwining reflections on her personal history with the history of her tribe.
“Rich and deeply engaging, An American Sunrise creates bridges of understanding while reminding readers to face and remember the past.”
Elizabeth Lund, Washington Post, 8/13/2019. Available in print and eaudiobook.
Joy Harjo is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation.

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich (1984)
Erdrich’s groundbreaking debut novel tells the interconnected stories of the Kashpaw and Lamartine families on a Chippewa reservation in Minnesota. Told from various points of view and spanning generations, it is recommended for fans of magical realism and character driven novels. Available in print only, but other titles by Erdrich are available in ebook and eaudio format from Hoopla and Overdrive.
Louise Erdrich is member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.

There There by Tommy Orange (2018)
Preparing for the Big Oakland Powwow is no small feat. Orange effortlessly weaves together the distinct voices of his large cast of characters in this debut novel, illustrating both the diversity and commonality of experience of First Nations peoples through the various threads of story. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Available in print, cd audiobook, ebook, and eaudiobook.
Tommy Orange is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma.

Winter Counts by David Weiden (2020)
In this gritty thriller set on South Dakota’s Rosebud Reservation, Virgil Wounded Horse is paid to dispense justice when the law can, or will, not. When his teenage nephew becomes involved with drugs, the issue becomes personal, and Virgil is drawn into a battle with the cartel that supplies the reservation. Compelling characters and the authentic portrayal of native life make this more than your standard vigilante hero fare. Available in print, ebook, and eaudiobook.
David Heska Wanbli Weiden is an enrolled member of the Sicangu Lakota nation.

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee by David Treuer (2019)
This nonfiction book provides a much needed counternarrative to the standard European American view of Native American history. A finalist for The National Book Award. Available in print, ebook, and eaudiobook.
David Treuer is an Ojibwe Indian from Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota.
Also recommended: Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian, available in ebook and eaudiobook. “A deeply knowing, darkly funny, unabashedly opinionated, and utterly unconventional account of Indian–White relations in North America since initial contact”–Overdrive description.

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie (2017)
Alexie, who won a National Book Award for his bestselling young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, processes the complicated relationship he had with his mother in this poignant and raw memoir. Available in print, cd audiobook, Playaway, ebook, and eaudiobook.
Sherman Alexie is a A Spokane/Coeur D’Alene Indian. 

Indian Horse (Film, 2017)
Saul Indian Horse is sent to a Canadian residential school as a young boy. Despite the deprivations and abuse he endures there, he discovers ice hockey and becomes a star player. The film is based on the 2012 novel by Richard Wagamese. Available in DVD.
Richard Wagamese was an Ojibwe from the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations.

June is Pride Month

June is Pride Month

The Heart’s Invisible Furies: A Novel by John Boyne

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery — or at least, that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?
Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his many years, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more.

Less : A Novel by Andrew Sean Greer

Who says you can’t run away from your problems? You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can’t say yes—it would be too awkward—and you can’t say no—it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.
QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town?
ANSWER: You accept them all.
What would possibly go wrong? Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last. Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, Less is, above all, a love story.


Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington

 

Telling Your Story: Books on Memoir Writing

Have you ever considered sitting down to write out your life story? Regardless of who you are or where you’ve been, everyone has a story to tell. From celebrities to politicians to everyday people, it seems that nearly everyone is writing a memoir. If you’re interested in crafting a memoir of your own, here are some great books to help you through the process.
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Women in Science

Did you enjoy the movie Hidden Figures? Then you are sure to enjoy more tales of women breaking barriers in science and math fields. Check out a few of these similar titles or be inspired by the book version of Hidden Figures!

Hidden FiguresHidden Figures : The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.

Glass UniverseThe Glass Universe : How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel

In the mid-nineteenth century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as calculators, or “human computers,” to interpret the observations their male counterparts made via telescope each night. At the outset this group included the wives, sisters, and daughters of the resident astronomers, but soon the female corps included graduates of the new women’s colleges—Vassar, Wellesley, and Smith. As photography transformed the practice of astronomy, the ladies turned from computation to studying the stars captured nightly on glass photographic plates.

HeadstrongHeadstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World by Rachel Swaby

Headstrong delivers a powerful, global, and engaging response. Covering Nobel Prize winners and major innovators, as well as lesser-known but hugely significant scientists who influence our every day, Rachel Swaby’s vibrant profiles span centuries of courageous thinkers and illustrate how each one’s ideas developed, from their first moment of scientific engagement through the research and discovery for which they’re best known. This fascinating tour reveals these 52 women at their best—while encouraging and inspiring a new generation of girls to put on their lab coats.

Rise of the Rocket GirlsRise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt

In the 1940s and 50s, when the newly minted Jet Propulsion Laboratory needed quick-thinking mathematicians to calculate velocities and plot trajectories, they didn’t turn to male graduates. Rather, they recruited an elite group of young women who, with only pencil, paper, and mathematical prowess, transformed rocket design, helped bring about the first American satellites, and made the exploration of the solar system possible.

For the first time, Rise of the Rocket Girls tells the stories of these women–known as “human computers”–who broke the boundaries of both gender and science. Based on extensive research and interviews with all the living members of the team, Rise of the Rocket Girls offers a unique perspective on the role of women in science: both where we’ve been, and the far reaches of space to which we’re heading.

 

Girls of Atomic CityThe Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan

At the height of World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, and consumed more electricity than New York City, yet it was shrouded in such secrecy that it did not appear on any map. Thousands of civilians, many of them young women from small towns across the U.S., were recruited to this secret city, enticed by the promise of solid wages and war-ending work. What were they actually doing there? Very few knew. The purpose of this mysterious government project was kept a secret from the outside world and from the majority of the residents themselves. Some wondered why, despite the constant work and round-the-clock activity in this makeshift town, did no tangible product of any kind ever seem to leave its guarded gates? The women who kept this town running would find out at the end of the war, when Oak Ridge’s secret was revealed and changed the world forever.