See some of our new favorite nonfiction and biographies!

Why I Am Not A Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto Cover Image
ISBN: 9781612196015
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Published: Melville House - February 21st, 2017

Bold, uncompromising, and incendiary, WHY I AM NOT A FEMINIST is a book bound to ruffle a few feathers. In it Jessa Crispin (founder and editor-in-chief of the now defunct lit blog, Book Slut) agrues that, in our hurry to universalize feminism and convert the masses, we have commodified the movement and lost sight of its original aims. Feminism should be transformative, not reactionary. Instead of seizing the tools of the patriarchy, we should work towards dismantling it and building a truly egalitarian society. If you fear complacency, read this book. It will light your head on fire. Katharine recommends.

300 Arguments: Essays Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977641
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Published: Graywolf Press - February 7th, 2017

“Think of this as a short book composed entirely what I hoped would be a long book’s quotable passages.” – Sarah Manguso

300 ARGUMENTS is Sarah Manguso’s collection of all the best quotes from a series of imaginary books. It’s not prose, not essays, not poetry, exactly, but a series of linguistic memes. While some these clever aphorisms are sly and humorous (“Inner beauty can fade too”), others feel like a punch in the gut. These insightful observations illuminate truths and offer validation as well as alternative perspectives , while simultaneously painting a self-portrait of Sarah Manguso herself. While 300 ARGUMENTS is easily digestible in one sitting, it is more rewarding to read it slowly and multiple times, to fully absorb everything contained in its pages. Like Maggie Nelson’s BLUETS, 300 ARGUMENTS is a rare, unclassifiable gem that ultimately leaves reader feeling alive and less alone. Shane recommends!

American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345803153
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Published: Anchor - April 4th, 2017

American Heiress captures the pivotal event that, after the sunshine of the 1960’s, encapsulated the shift to the darker, more violent 1970’s – the kidnapping of Patty Hearst on February 4th, 1974.  Jeffrey Toobin portrays the lunacy of the half-baked radicals of the SLA and the toxic mix of sex, politics, and violence that swept up Patty Hearst.  The book is an extraordinary window into a wild era, the toxic, violent 1970’s (there were an average of 1,500 terrorist bombings a year in the early 1970’s).  Ed found AMERICAN HEIRESS riveting and fascinating.  He highly recommends!!!

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553447453
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Published: Broadway Books - February 28th, 2017

The best books on societal ills are ones that both enlighten and serve as urgent calls for action.  EVICTED manages to accomplish both brilliantly. Once rare, eviction is now commonplace for millions of Americans each year, often as a result of insufficient government support, rising rent and utility costs, and stagnant incomes. Sharing the stories of numerous tenants and landlords in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, one of America's most segregated cities, Desmond exposes the truths of this broken system and how it affects us all. He also succeeds in the tricky task of immersing himself in his subject matter without exploiting or glorifying the poor, nor overtly vilifying the landlords.  Gripping storytelling, meticulous research, and energetic prose are the crux of this moving and important ethnographic study.  Shane loved and highly recommends!

The Gene: An Intimate History Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476733500
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Published: Scribner - May 17th, 2016

Siddhartha Mukherjee calls THE GENE a prequel of sorts to his EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES; whereas EMPEROR deals with cancer (the malignant, distorted variant of our normal selves), THE GENE is the story of the "undistorted" variants - an organism's search for normalcy, identity and variation, and the role genes play in heredity, human development, behavior, and physiology.  There is some complex science here, some dense incursions into biochemistry and cellular biology, but Mukherjee writes with great clarity about these difficult genetic concepts, and weaves this hard science with social history, personal narrative, and philosophical/moral inquiries into a magnificent history of "THE GENE."  Brilliant, illuminating, and accessible.  Ed loved and highly recommends!

The Fly Trap Cover Image
By Fredrik Sjöberg, Thomas Teal (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781101872284
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Published: Vintage - August 9th, 2016

You’ve just finished Helen MacDonald’s H IS FOR HAWK but don’t know what to read next?  Consider, if you will, Frederick’s curiously charming memoir, THE FLY TRAP!  While Helen’s book delves into the grief over her father’s death and undertaking the training of the massive goshawk, THE FLY TRAP serves as a consideration of solitude, peaceful summer nights, and, believe it or not, the fly.  He also explores the art and obsession of collecting and examining the life of enigmatic naturalist, Rene Edmond Malaise (similarly to how MacDonald breathes more insight to the tortured life of T.H. White).  I’m comparing this book a lot with H IS FOR HAWK, but it really stands on its own as compelling nature writing.  I found the book calming and loved reading about Frederick’s passion for trapping and studying flies.  I’m so glad I found this book!  Tim recommends!

Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780399588808
Availability: Special Order
Published: Random House - May 24th, 2016

Already hailed as a masterpiece across Europe and eagerly awaited stateside, this is a milestone by the “Nobel Laureate of Russian Misery.”  Her 2013 oral history of Post-Soviet Russia is an intimate portrait of a country yearning for meaning after the sudden lurch from Communism to Capitalism in the 1990’s plunged it into existential crisis.  

A series of testimonials & overlapping voices by people across the former Soviet empire, it is a Tolstoyan-in-scope project, driven by the idea of that “history is made not only by major players but also ordinary people talking in their kitchens.”  Bela Shayevich, the book’s translator, has said it reads like “an update of 19th century Russian literature for the 21st century.”  People read Russian novels not for the happy endings but “because there is a great catharsis in great pain and then something that is sublime.”  Soul-wrenching, spellbinding, and profoundly significant literature history.  Ianni Recommends.

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Negroland: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307473431
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Published: Vintage - August 23rd, 2016

In this complex and provocative memoir, cultural critic Margo Jefferson meditates on her pre-Civil rights childhood among the “black bourgeoisie” of Chicago.  Using W. E.B. Du Bois’ concept of a “double consciousness” as a catalyst to explore class, race, and gender implications among her self-described “Third Race,” Jefferson attempts to reconcile the disparate African American and white cultures to which she both belongs and does not. Jefferson’s writing, which reads with the raw force of a prose poem, propels her compelling musings on respectability politics, “performing” identities, and one’s inherent need for a sense of community. Negroland is an urgent, moving book. Shane recommends.

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