Tantalizing Non-Fiction Titles on Main Street

Only one of several tasty new books!
Only one of several tasty new books!

I usually take a photo-a-day to post on Darien Libary's social media, but while walking along Main Street this morning, this selection of non-fiction titles caught my eye. Thus I decided to create this booklist so you can directly request these particular titles instead of just looking at a photo!

Share your favorite non-fiction book in the comments? 

Ann and Asha's MUOMS Picks

Ann and Asha's MUOMS Picks
Ann and Asha's MUOMS Picks

Ann's Picks:

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. This is a wonderfully written book about love and loss .  June loves her Uncle Finn who is dying from aids in the 1980's when people did not know much about the disease or were open to different lifestyles.  Her mother, Finn's sister, refuses to let her family be around her brother's lover who she blames for giving her brother aids.  Uncle Finn and June have a wonderful relationship and June is devastated when he dies.  She then meets his partner, Toby, and they form a special relationship to fill Finn's void in their lives.  This book also explores sibling rivalry and family dynamics.  This is a wonderful read.

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. This is the second of Hilary Mantel's trilogy exploring the life of Thomas Cromwell.  In this book, Thomas Cromwell is plotting the replacement of Ann Boleyn with Henry VIII's new love interest Jane Seymour.  The book chronicles the last nine months of Ann's life and concentrates on her trial and death.  This story is familiar to all of us but in Miss Mantel's hand it is a page turner.

Asha's Picks:

Burn Down The Ground: A Memoir by Kambri Crews. Crews tells the story of growing up as a Child of Deaf Adults in rural Texas. She tells the story of growing up with her quiet, loving mother who is working hard to support her family, while her father is an abusive alcoholic who is slowly destroying the family. She struggles to find a balance between the two worlds while trying to find a niche for herself.

ParaNorman by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. Norman Babcock is not like the other children, in fact, he is reminded daily by everyone around him about how different he is. Norman is able to see and speak to ghosts, fun right? One day, his great uncle Prenderghast informs him that he needs to use his ability to keep the Blithe Hollow Witch asleep. Seems simple, until he realizes that something has gone awry with his plan and now the earth is shifting beneath him. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.

Erin and Stephanie's MUOMS Picks

Erin and Stephanie's MUOMS Picks
Erin and Stephanie's MUOMS Picks

Erin's Picks:

Guilt by Degrees by Marcia Clark

Marcia Clark is best known for her work as head prosecutor during the O.J. Simpson trial. This is her second book involving her character District Attorney Rachel Knight. In her first book Guilt by Association, Knight's colleague is found dead at a crime scene and she must take over a high profile rape case. Instead, she grows more entangled with the circumstances surrounding the death of her colleague. In this follow up, Knight is asked to take on the case of a murdered homeless man. Just as she loses hope in finding any leads, clues are uncovered that link this murder to events in her first book. Marcia Clark certainly knows her way around the courtroom, but this novel gets us out of there and onto the streets of L.A.

Night Watch by Linda Fairstein

All this week, I've been waking up and thinking to myself Live this day like you're Alexandra Cooper. This is the 14th book in Linda Fairstein's popular Alexandra Cooper series. While on vacation in France with her restauranteur boyfriend Luc, Alexandra "Coop" Cooper is called back to New York to assist in a rape case involving an international banker. Meanwhile, back in France, the police in Luc's small village are trying to uncover the facts surrounding the death of a young woman who used to work for Luc. Can Luc be trusted? Is the international banker guilty? We'll have to read to find out.

Stephanie's Picks

Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard

A great book about James Garfield, one of our most improbable Presidents. His rise to the Presidency from utter poverty as a child, via Civil War heroics and a spate in Congress, is impressive on its own. But the really crazy thing about the book is that he was shot by a total nutball (whose story is also outlined) just a few months into his term! Then, amazingly, he survived the attack—and then his doctors basically killed him with their horrible medical practices. This was just before, for example, sterilization became a cornerstone of medicine (in fact at the time it was seen as quackery), and his doctors kept opening his wound and poking around in it to try to find the bullet with their non-sterile tools. They also fed him on a diet of rich foods like bacon and lamb chops every day even though he had a history of stomach issues. You can imagine. There’s also a fascinating story of a young Alexander Graham Bell (the very same as you’re thinking, yes) who was trying desperately to invent a machine to help find the bullet so it could be extracted before it was too late. Things got worse and worse and the activity of the entire country came to a complete halt as everyone anxiously awaited multiple updates a day as to Garfield’s progress. Mind-blowing and a real page-turner of a tragedy.

Afterwards by Rosamund Lipton

A great summer read, reminiscent of early Jodi Picoult mixed with Sophie Hannah. The book opens with Grace, mother of two, at her children’s school for an end-of-year celebration. When she sees the main building go up in flames and realizes her daughter is inside, she runs in to save her. Both suffer severe injuries, and in hospital, Grace finds that her consciousness can leave her physical body, which is in a coma, and wander the hospital (and even a bit beyond). As she watches and listens, not only does she learn more about her family, she also begins to suspect the fire was not accidental, but in fact a deliberate strike at her daughter—and to worry that the attacker will try again. Fast-paced and a little heart-wrenching. I wouldn’t recommend reading it on public transportation unless you are okay with crying in front of strangers. But it’s just perfect for the times when you need a book to take over your life for a few hours.

Janet and Elisabeth's MUOMS Picks

Janet's Pick: Devil at my Heels
Janet's Pick: Devil at my Heels

Janet's Picks:

Devil at My Heels by Louis Zamperini

Last year, one of our most popular non-fiction books was Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken -- the story of a juvenile delinquent turned Olympic track star, World War II airman, POW, and finally a survivor and man of faith. Louis Zamperini had written his own memoir, Devil At My Heels, years before Hillenbrand's book. Even if you've read Unbroken, these are his own words and thoughts: running the 1936 Berlin Olympics, adrift for 47 days on a rubber raft after his plane crashes in the Pacific, and two-plus years of torture in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Coming home after the war wasn't the end of his story, either. It almost seems unbelievable that at age 95, Zamperini is still alive and has silenced his stormy past. Devil At My Heels is a story of brutality and endurance that is simply unforgettable.

Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs

A.J. Jacobs is a master of the "gimmick memoir" -- he's previously written about reading the Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z and living by strict Biblical guidelines for a year -- and his new book Drop Dead Healthy chronicles his quest to become the healthiest person on the planet. Now middle-aged, he's alarmed that his body is starting to resemble "a python that swallowed a goat." So, body part by body part, he tries to improve himself...with extreme chewing, sleep clinics, noise-cancelling headphones, caveman workouts, and nutritional make-overs. You'll laugh out loud (and find out that laughing actually burns calories) and even pick up a hint or two about keeping fit and healthy!


Elisabeth's Picks

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

30-something year old Pat Peoples has recently been released from a mental institution into the custody of his mother. Although his father and doctor are against his release, Pat is thrilled to be let out of “the bad place” because it means that “apart time” might finally be ending and he will be reunited with his wife, Nikki. Pat thinks he’s been in the institution for months, but he’s actually been in there for years. The world he comes home to is not the world he left. As he reunites with old friends and searches for his silver lining, he meets a woman named Tiffany who is recovering from her own mental issues. Together, they strike up a friendship which may the silver lining Pat is looking for. The movie adaptation of this book comes out in November and stars Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, and The Hunger Game’s Jennifer Lawrence. Check out the trailer!

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

The sequel to Deborah Harkness’ bestseller A Discovery Of Witches was released yesterday. A Discovery of Witches tells the story of Dr. Diana Bishop, a historian currently taking a sabbatical for research at Oxford, and her forbidden bond with Dr. Matthew Clairemont, a professor at Oxford. Why is their relationship forbidden? Because Matthew is a vampire and Diana is a witch. Lest you think this is a typical wimpy vampire book, Entertainment Weekly said it was a “thoroughly grown-up novel packed with gorgeous historical detail and a gutsy, brainy heroine to match.” The sequel picks one minute after the previous novel ended, resolving a cliff-hanger that drove me crazy for a year!

New this Month in Large Print

Sophie by Emma Pearse
Sophie by Emma Pearse

New Large Print titles purchased through the generosity of the Anne R. Ferguson Large Print Book Fund.

Erin and Pat's MUOMS Picks

Erin's Picks

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison (release date August 28). I had the chance to see this author speak at Book Expo America and his talk was so moving I couldn't wait to tear into this book. After a tragic accident that leaves Benjamin without a family, he enrolls in a class on caregiving at a local church. He then becomes a caregiver for 19-year-old Trev, who has muscular dystrophy. Together, they embark on a roadtrip to sites of strange American oddities. Along the way, they pick up a few characters while being followed by a mysterious man.

Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures by Emma Straub (release date September 4). This debut novel describes the life of Elsa Emerson, the youngest of three sisters in Door County, Wisconsin in 1920. Her family owns and operates a community playhouse, where she gets her first taste of the stage at a young age. The rest of the novel follows Elsa’s life as she transitions from blonde to brunette and from Elsa Emerson to Laura Lamonte. She marries in a fever, moves to Hollywood, and begins her career as an actress with a popular film studio. After describing the book to my mom, she said, “Oh like that Judy Garland movie A Star is Born!” So…kind of like that I think? I’ll have to watch the movie and let you know.

We Were Here This documentary explores the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco during the 1980s. I volunteer at a nonprofit that originally sprang up to deliver hot meals to people dying with AIDS. My vounteering friends have told me a lot about what it was like to live in Greenwich Village at this time. This film takes viewers to the other coast, specifically San Francisco's Castro District. Recommended for anyone interested in U.S. History or the history of infectious diseases.

Pat's Picks

Dream New Dreams: Reimagining Life After Loss by Jai Pausch. She writes about her loss after her husband's illness and subsequent death, as well as her perspective as the caregiver and she gives voice to the challenges of anyone who has served in this role.

Anna Quindlen's newest book Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is a memoir of reflective essays about looking back, as well as forward as she celebrates 60 years of life. She writes with humor and candor about her strong marriage, the joys of parenting three young adults as they find their way in the world, bonds of friendships that sustain and strengthen her daily life and the anticipation of aging and what that all means. I think her poignant reflections will resonate with many of us baby boomers!

Blue Nights by Joan Didion. Didion writes about her daughter Quintana's death and reflects on her years growing up in a privileged world exposed to the celebrities who were part of Didion and John Gregory Dunne's circle of friends and business collaborators. Along with dealing with her grief, Didion is also trying to come to terms with the whole aging process. Didion leaves herself emotionally exposed in writing this honest and moving memoir.

Pat and Kiera's MUOM selections

Pat's Picks

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian (release date July 17th) Pat met the author this week at Book Expo America and was very impressed. She also highly recommends two of his other novels:

The Double Bind an engaging mystery about a young social worker living in Vermont who becomes interested in the history of a deceased homless photographer.

Skeletons at the Feast  a work of historical fiction that tells the story of Nazi regime through the eyes of an aristocratic Prussian family.

Me: Stories of My Life by Katherine Hepburn This wonderful memoir provides an inside look into the life of one of the most famous and iconic actresses of all time.

Kiera's Picks

Then Again by Diane Keaton A personal and characterisitcally quirky autobiography from Woody Allen's most beloved muse, Diane Keaton. This memoir focuses not only on Ms. Keaton, her career, and her relationships with leading men, but also includes exerpts from her mother Dorothy's prolific journals and collages. 

Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That? : A Modern Guide to Manners by Henry Alford  A laugh-out-laugh primer and history of social niceties. Alford travels around the world and meets with a diverse array of characters (a Japanese ettiquette coach, a former prison inmate, Miss Manners herself and many others) to dissect what constitutes "good manners" and investigate how modern society can benefit from The Golden Rule. 

Daughter: A Novel by Asha Bandele Nineteen-year-old Aya, a young African-American woman is shot down by a New York City Police Officer in a case of mistaken identity. Her mother, Miram, a cold and emotional distant woman sits by her bedside thinking about the past, Aya's father, and the mistakes she has made as a result of her own personal tragedies. A poignant, sometimes dark, but ultimately hopeful story of loss, silence, and the bond between mother and daughter. 


New York Times Bestsellers: Non-Fiction

Top Ten Hardcover Bestsellers from the New York Times for the week of  November 23rd.





NPR Bestsellers: Non-Fiction

NPR Nonfiction Bestsellers for the week of  November 20th. 


Jeanne and Abby's MUOMS Selections

Jeanne and Abby's Picks
Jeanne and Abby's Picks

Jeanne's Picks

Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon is a very funny novel about a woman in a midlife crisis who agrees to anonymously participate in a survey about marital happiness. Between her obsessive connections to Facebook, Google searches and the survey, this married mother of two gets caught between reality and fantasy, and discovers things both enlightening and world-rocking. 
*Optioned by Working Title in a major film deal.

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shispstead
. Winn Van Meter is heading for his family’s retreat on the pristine New England island of Waskeke. Wedding plans are being finalized as his daughter prepares to marry the father of her unborn child. Shipstead cleverly weaves a tale of who’s who, boozy parties, disappointing houseguests and ultimately, what really matters.

The Red House by Mark Haddon. The Red House is a domestic drama set in England where every character is coming to terms with something or experiencing a revelation. Eight people who hardly know each other, though some are related, are stuck together for a week in the countryside. There are infatuations, quarrels, jealousies, undercurrents and alliances.

Translated from the Swedish

Drowned by Therese Bohman is set in the idyllic countryside during a short-lived Swedish summer, gets under your skin from the first page, creating an atmosphere of foreboding in which even the aroma of coffee becomes ominous. The story seems simple, but the reader will hold their breath wondering who did it and why.

So Pretty It Hurts by Kate White. Bailey Weggins, the thirty-something, true crime journalist featured in Kate White’s murder mysteries investigates and writes for Buzz, a leading celebrity magazine. She is invited to a weekend party in a music mogul’s mansion in upstate New York. The guest list has plenty of celebrities and plenty of problems. The relaxing weekend getaway turns out to be more like an Agatha Christie whodunit. In So Pretty It Hurts, Bailey once again finds herself a moving target—running closer to the truth and farther from safety.

Incendiary by Chris Cleave. In an emotionally raw voice alive with grief, compassion, and startling humor, a woman mourns the loss of her husband and son at the hands of one of history’s most notorious criminals. Her working-class life is blown apart when the stadium where her boy was is blown up by terrorists. Incendiary is this mother’s appeal in a letter to Osama bin Laden, as their executioner, to understand her very desperate sadness of a broken heart.

The Time In Between by Maria Duenas. The Town Sira Quiroga is a young Spanish dressmaker engaged to a solid suitor when a suave salesman comes into her life and turns it from ordinary to extraordinary, but uncertain. Spain is in a civil war and the new regime is cultivating alliances with Nazi Germany. The Time in Between will appeal to fans of romance novels as well as mystery and historical fiction.

Blind Sight by  Meg Howrey. Blind Sight introduces the seventeen-year-old narrator, Luke Prescott, who has been brought up in a bohemian matriarchy by his divorced New Age mother, a religious grandmother, and two precocious half-sisters. Having spent his lifetime agreeably between the poles of Eastern mysticism and New England Puritanism, Luke is fascinated by the new fields of brain science and believes in having evidence for his beliefs. He is writing his college applications when his father—a famous television star whom he never knew—calls and invites him to Los Angeles for the summer.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler.  “It’s not you, it’s me — you’re great.” “I’m so sorry, but this just isn’t working out.” “I think we should see other people.” Whether it was the boy who dumped you in the sandbox for that kid with the bright red fire truck or the girl who abruptly stopped answering your notes during algebra, no one makes it through life without exposure to that miserable condition known as the breakup. And now we have Daniel Handler (who also writes as Lemony Snicket) giving us the lowdown on the rise and fall of one break in particular in Why We Broke Up.

Grilling for Life by Bobby Flay. Grilling is the most basic method of cooking there is. It dates back to the time of cavemen — food plus fire equals good. Healthy and never bland, Grilling for Life is my favorite grilling cookbook all year round; especially Smoky and Fiery Skirt Steak with Avocado-Oregano Relish and Grilled Chicken Breasts with Fontina and Prosciutto with Sage-Orange Vinaigrette.


Abby's Picks

Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson. This week I am recommending two very different memoirs by two very different chefs. First is Yes,Chef by Marcus Samuelsson (June 26th release date.)  I always appreciate a memoir where the author is willing to take an honest look at their life choices, and I believe Samuelsson does just that.  Born in Ethiopia, Marcus (may I call you Marcus?) was orphaned at 18 months of age and along with his older sister,  adopted into a loving family in Sweden.  When Marcus learned the career he dreamed of as a professional soccer player was not to be, he joined the food service track in high school and found his real gift.  Stints in top kitchens around Europe proved a great training ground, but it was at Aquavit in NYC he found his stride and entered the world of culinary star. It's safe to say you don't reach those heights without a great deal of ambition and a few wrecked kitchens along the way.  It was relatively recent that Marcus developed a deep interest in his Ethiopian roots and he has incorporated that culture into his kitchen. He is now chef/owner of Red Rooster in Harlem, where I would love to dine. 

Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris by Lauren Shockey. The second chef book is Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv, and Paris by Lauren Shockey.  Following her training at the French Culinary Institute Shockey followed the common path of arranging stages at various restaurants (basically unpaid internships consisting of crazy hours but with a huge opportunity to learn) each with their own focus. An interesting journey of culture and learning what you think and hope makes you really happy may not in fact bring you joy.

Trail Of The Spellmans
by Lisa Lutz. For a fun ride to greet the beach season, go with Lisa Lutz's Trail Of The Spellmans.  This one is the 5th entry in the entertaining Spellman Files series (also known as Document 5).  The Spellmans are a dysfunctional family of private detectives.  There's no such thing as normal when you have a family devoted to the gathering of leverage and unwillingness to accept concepts such as "privacy" and "personal space."

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