NOTABLE BOOKS 2012
CHOSEN BY THE LIBRARIANS
OF THE EMMAUS PUBLIC LIBRARY
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Ackroyd, Peter. Tudors: the History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I. The second volume in the author’s personality-centered history of England.
Agee, James. Cotton Tenants: Three Families. This is a precursor to his Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a groundbreaking study of southern rural poverty in the 1930s.
Alderfer, Jonathan. National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America. This colorful book is highly recommended for both experienced and amateur birdwatchers.
Aldrin, Buzz. Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration. The Apollo astronaut predicts that humans will explore Mars—and makes a good case for why we should do so.
Allman, T. D. Finding Florida: the True History of the Sunshine State. Florida is a state of great diversity and boundless contradictions; Allman explores them all.
Ambrose, Tom. The History of Cycling in Fifty Bikes: from the Velocipede to the Pinarello, the Bicycles That Have Shaped the World. Here’s a fun history, great for browsing.
Anderson, Chris. The Numbers Game: Why Everything You Know about Soccer is Wrong. Anderson challenges prevailing wisdom to consider factors such as luck and data analysis.
Anderson, Scott. Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East. Lawrence was a complicated man whose knowledge was undervalued.
Applebaum, Anne. Iron Curtain: the Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956. Newly opened archives show lives of paranoia and fear for average people in the Soviet-dominated countries.
Aslan, Reza. Zealot: the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Aslan looks at Jesus as an historical figure and political activist.
Atkinson, Rick. The Guns at Last Light: the War in Western Europe, 1944-1945. An outstanding conclusion to the author’s World War II trilogy.
Avery, Samuel. The Pipeline and the Paradigm: Keystone XL, Tar Sands, and the Battle to Defuse the Carbon Bomb. A fair-minded consideration of this hot environmental issue.
Badkhen, Anna. The World is a Carpet: Four Seasons in an Afghan Village. The world’s most exquisite carpets come from a village so small it’s not on most maps. Excellent writing.
Bailey, Elizabeth. Safe Kids, Smart Parents: What Parents Need to Know to Keep Their Children Safe. How parents and children can work together to find ways to reduce risk.
Baker, Peter. Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House. The most revealing book we are likely to get on the inside doings of the George W. Bush Presidency.
Ball, Edward. The Inventor and the Tycoon: a Gilded Age Murder and the Birth of Moving Pictures. Eadweard Muybridge was the father of moving pictures—and a psychopath.
Barnes, Julian. Levels of Life. This British novelist takes a unique, stunning look at grief.
Basbanes, Nicholas. On Paper: the Everything of its Two-thousand Year History. We take it for granted, but what we don’t know about paper would fill a book—this one. Excellent.
Bazelon, Emily. Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. We thought we knew, but have much to learn on this topic.
Beeman, Richard. Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor: the Forging of American Independence, 1774-1776. What happened before the war was crucial to our future.
Bellesiles, Michael. A People’s History of the U. S. Military: Ordinary Soldiers Reflect on Their Experience of War, from the American Revolution to Afghanistan. War from the common soldier’s view; military leaders are shown with all their flaws.
Bennett, Dina. Peking to Paris: Life and Love on a Short Drive Around Half the World. Talk about intrepid travelers: this couple enters a race from China to France in an antique car.
Bennoune, Karima. Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism. Here are brave Muslims standing up to terrorists.
Bernstein, Jeremy. A Palette of Particles. Cutting-edge physics for general readers; five basic particles make up most of the universe. The scientists described here are very colorful folk.
Berthoud, Ella. The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness; 751 Books to Cure What Ails You. Look up your ailment and find books to help you cope with, or even cure it.
Bogard, Paul. The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light. Some city dwellers have never seen a star-filled sky and that isn’t good—for anyone.
Bowen, James. A Street Cat Named Bob and How He Saved My Life. A heartwarming tale of a London street musician and the cat who rescues him; a worldwide bestseller.
Branch, Taylor. The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement. Branch condenses his vast research into this summary of a defining era in American history.
Brennan, Kathy. Keepers: Two Home Cooks Share Their Tried-and-true Weeknight Recipes and the Secrets to Happiness in the Kitchen. Quick and yummy food!
Brown, Daniel J. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. A remarkable story that reads like a suspense novel.
Brown, Pete. Shakespeare’s Pub: A Barstool History of London as Seen Through the Windows of its Oldest Pub, The George Inn. Dating from Chaucer’s time, a pub has seen it all.
Bryson, Bill. One Summer: America, 1927. 1927 was a distinctive epoch and fun to read about with characters like Lou Gehrig, Al Capone and Calvin Coolidge. Bryson is a master storyteller.
Buruma, Ian. Year Zero: a History of 1945. The world had to reinvent itself starting in 1945; this is history and memoir combined for an authoritative look into the start of the Cold War.
Byrne, David. How Music Works. Byrne is a former member of the Talking Heads rock group; he brings history and experience to bear on explaining how music got to be what it is today.
Cahalan, Susannah. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. A rare form of encephalitis caused inflammation, paranoia, seizures and terror; the author is well and able to tell her amazing tale.
Cahill, Thomas. Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World. The latest in Cahill’s Hinges of History series as he gets closer to our age.
Cannadine, David. The Undivided Past: Humanity Beyond Our Differences. There is far too much “us vs. them” thinking in culture and politics. We must emphasize cooperation.
Caputo, Philip. The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America, from Key West to the Arctic Ocean. An eye-opening cross-country trip made in the time of recession and unrest.
Carroll, Sean. The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of the New World. This explains what the Higgs hullabaloo is all about.
Chaplin, Joyce. Round About the Earth: Circumnavigation from Magellan to Orbit. Jules Verne’s eighty-day trip is nothing compared to these incredible journeys. Fascinating.
Chauduri, Amit. Calcutta: Two Years in the City. This author moves amid all castes and neighborhoods for a vivid portrait of an ancient—and sometimes misunderstood—city.
Clancy, Martin. Murder at the Supreme Court: Lethal Crimes and Landmark Cases. One review says that you’ll see American justice in a different light after reading this book.
Clark, Christopher. The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914. A chronology of what took place that led the world into such monumental folly.
Cojean, Annick. Gaddafi’s Harem: The Story of a Young Woman and the Abuses of Power in Libya. If you didn’t think he was one of history’s monsters, you will after reading this.
Conner, Claire. Wrapped in the Flag: A Personal History of America’s Radical Right. Conner has an inside track on what makes this brand of extremism particularly American.
Cronkite, Walter. Cronkite’s War: His World War II Letters Home. A very personal look at the man who was a giant in twentieth century journalism.
Culp, David. The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage. The cottage is modest, the garden is magnificent. Learn his secrets here.
Daly, Michael. Topsy: the Startling Story of the Crooked Tailed Elephant, P. T. Barnum, and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison. How the circus and electric power intersected.
D’Antonio, Michael. Mortal Sins: Sex, Crime, and the Era of Catholic Scandal. A comprehensive overview of abuse, criminal negligence and cover-up on a grand scale.
Davis, Jennifer Pharr. Called Again: a Story of Love and Triumph. Pharr hiked the Appalachian Trail in a record-breaking 46 days which did much to strengthen her marriage.
Diamond, Jared. The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? Without idealizing either one, Diamond looks at traditional vs. modern societies.
Douglas, John. Law and Disorder: the Legendary FBI Profiler’s Relentless Pursuit of Justice. A fascinating look at some high-profile cases and some nasty serial killers.
Earnest, Corinne. The Heart of Taufschein: Fraktur and the Pivotal Role of Berks County, Pennsylvania. These unique works of art are valuable genealogical tools as well as heirlooms.
Edgerton, Clyde. Papadaddy’s Book for New Fathers: Advice to Dads of All Ages. Novelist Edgerton has much advice for fathers, most of it hilarious and loving and true. A real gem.
Edsel, Robert. Saving Italy: the Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis. The author of Monument Men looks at the war in Italy in more detail than in the earlier book.
Ehrlich, Gretal. Facing the Wave: a Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami. Ehrlich is an eloquent nature writer who went to Japan to collect survivors’ stories and assess the damage.
Ellis, Joseph. Revolutionary Summer: the Birth of American Independence. Colonial politics had repercussions in the war as the war did on politics; master historian Ellis covers both arenas.
Epstein, David. The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance. This is an eye-opening look at sports science and culture and it considers questions such as why the Kenyans run so well.
Fagan, Brian The Attacking Ocean: the Past, Present, and Future of Rising Sea Levels. Citing much evidence, Fagan gives humans about 50 years to change or adapt to rising seas.
Fellowes, Jessica. The Chronicles of Downton Abbey and The World of Downton Abbey. These two books offer luscious photos and behind-the-scenes insight into the popular series.
Fink, Sheri. Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-ravaged Hospital. During Katrina, hospital personnel had to decide which patients would live and which would not.
Finkel, David. Thank You for Your Service. Finkel questions whether we can or should expect soldiers returning from war to be the same people they were when they left.
Fisher, Joe. Brewing Made Easy: A Step-by-step Guide to Making Beer at Home. A clearly-written how-to with recipes.
Fitzgerald, Bonnie 300+ Mosaic Tips, Techniques, Templates and Trade Secrets. A well-organized, colorful approach to an ancient art form.
Folkenflik, David. Murdoch’s World: the Last of the Old Media Empires. A highly readable and incisive account of Rupert Murdoch, the most controversial figure in journalism today.
Fontanella-Khan, Amana. Pink Sari Revolution: a Tale of Women and Power in India. These women are fighting for equality, education, financial independence and personal safety.
Freeberg, Ernest. The Age of Edison: Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America. This book considers the profound and life-altering social effects of electric lighting.
Garfield, Simon. On the Map: A Mind-expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks. Lots of map lore and history on how mapmaking is also country-defining.
George, Rose. Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry that Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate. How we get things.
Gerchick, Mark. Full Upright and Locked Position: Not-so-comfortable Truths about Air Travel Today. A revealing expose that tells us why flying isn’t so much fun anymore.
Ghattas, Kim. The Secretary: a Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power. The author followed the Secretary of State for four years of diplomacy.
Gladwell, Malcom. David and Goliath: the Triumph of the Underdog. Another top-notch book from the New Yorker writer with a very wide-ranging curiosity.
Gnaulati, Enrico. Back to Normal: Why Ordinary Childhood Behavior is Mistaken for ADHD, Bipolar Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Are these children overdiagnosed and overmedicated? Why are Americans so prone to these conditions?
Golay, Michael. America 1933: the Great Depression, Lorena Hickok, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Shaping of the New Deal. The Hickok-Roosevelt letters reveal much social history.
Goodman, Matthew. Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-making Race Around the World. 1889: two intrepid news reporters went opposite ways around the globe.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and the Golden Age of Journalism. The two were friends—for awhile. Masterful writing.
Gore, Al. The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. Gore isn’t afraid to make predictions about the environment, politics, economics and culture.
Graeber, Charles. The Good Nurse: a True Story of Medicine, Madness and Murder. Charles Cullen was a nurse in the Lehigh Valley for awhile; no one knows how many he killed.
Grandin, Temple. The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum. Grandin updates us on new technological advances in studying autism, including a description of her own brainscan.
Gray, John. The Silence of the Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths. This book may unsettle readers, as Gray demolishes many myths and commonplace ideas we all believe.
Greenlaw, Linda. Lifesaving Lessons: Notes from an Accidental Mother. Greenlaw adopted a troubled teen and found she was as much at sea as a mother as she was out on her fishing boat.
Guy, John. The Children of Henry VIII. Six wives, four children. The author relies on letters and contemporary histories to tell their stories.
Halpern, Sue. A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home: Lessons in the Good Life from an Unlikely Teacher. Halpern discovers the richness of the human condition in her work.
Hanagarne, Joseph. The World’s Strongest Librarian: a Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family. How he overcame disability with strength training.
Hare, Brian. The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs are Smarter than You Think. The author has done extensive work with dogs and reveals their rich cognitive abilities.
Healy, Thomas. The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind—and Changed the History of Free Speech in America. Why and how we now have free speech.
Hennessey, Jonathan. The Gettysburg Address: a Graphic Adaptation. The greatest American speech in comic book form? Yes, and with interesting stories of some who lived in that time.
Higashida, Naoki. The Reason I Jump: the Inner Voice of a Thirteen-year-old Boy with Autism. A striking and revelatory first-person account of autism; simply an incredible book.
Hill, Clint. Five Days in November. Assigned to guard Jacqueline Kennedy, Hill was the Secret Service agent who jumped on the presidential limousine during the Kennedy assassination.
Holzer, Harold. The Civil War in 50 Objects. A beautifully written book with an emphasis on personal objects that defined this era of American history.
James, Rawn. The Double V: How Wars, Protest and Harry Truman Desegregated America’s Military. This is thorough history of African-Americans in the military.
Janssen, Edelgard. Sock Art: Bold Graphic Knits for Your Feet. Socks were never this fun!
Johnson, Bea. Zero Waste Home: the Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste. Learn how this family generates only one quart of garbage per year.
Jones, Dan. The Plantagenets: the Warrior Kings and Queens who Made England. The publisher promises many “I never knew that” moments. A most entertaining history.
Kaplan, Matt. Medusa’s Gate and Vampire’s Bite: the Science of Monsters. Humans in every culture create monsters; the Minotaur and HAL, the evil computer, have lots in common.
Katovsky, Bill. Return to Fitness: Getting Back in Shape after Illness, Injury or Prolonged Inactivity. This is just the motivation we need to live up to our New Year’s resolutions.
Kaufman, Frederick. Bet the Farm: How Food Stopped Being Food. The author deconstructs a Domino’s pizza back to its origins and looks at inequities in commodity markets.
Kessler, Lauren. Counterclockwise: My Year of Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate, and Other Adventures in the World of Antiaging. Thoughtful, informative and hilarious.
Keys, Andrew. Why Grow That When You Can Grow This?: 255 Extraordinary Alternatives to Everyday Problem Plants. New ideas for next year’s garden.
Kiernan, Denise. Atomic City: the Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II. Oak Ridge and the women who worked there were crucial in the Manhattan Project.
Kilmeade, Brian. George Washington’s Secret Six. The spy ring that helped the patriots win the American Revolution.
King, Dean. The Feud: the Hatfields and McCoys; the True Story. A mythic and savage feud tore apart families for generations; here’s how it happened.
Klivans, Elinor. Slice & Bake Cookies: Fast Recipes from Your Refrigerator or Freezer. Some commercial versions are almost inedible; here are tasty homemade alternatives.
Koppel, Lily. The Astronaut Wives Club: a True Story. The first astronauts’ families were under terrific pressure and unexpected media scrutiny; some coped better than others.
Lamott, Anne. Help, Thanks, Wow: the Three Essential Prayers. Lamott has identified three motives for prayer and discusses them in both moving and funny terms.
Landau, Rich. Vedge: 100 Plates Large and Small that Redefine Vegetable Cooking. Vedge is the best vegetarian restaurant in Philadelphia; some say it’s the best in the country.
Lapp, Laura Anne. An Amish Garden: a Year in the Life of an Amish Garden. Based on her yearly journal, the author writes about her own garden and those of her neighbors.
Leamer, Laurence. The Price of Justice: a True Story of Greed and Corruption. This is a non-fiction legal thriller about the abuses of Massey Energy in the coal industry.
Leghbridge, Lucy. Servants: a Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth-century to Modern Times. At one time it took eight servants to make and serve an aristocrat’s pot of tea.
Lipscomb, Suzannah. A Journey through Tudor England: Hampton Court and the Tower of London to Stratford-on-Avon and Thornbury Castle. A wonderful history & travel guide.
Loxton, Daniel. Abominable Science! Origins of the Yeti, Nessie and Other Famous Cryptids. The most authoritative book yet on these elusive, fictional (?) creatures.
MacLeod, Mary. Call the Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse in Scotland’s Western Isles. Such isolation determines lives; here are anecdotes of a vital person’s work.
Makos, Adam. A Higher Call: an Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-torn Skies of World War II. An extraordinary tale of two pilots on opposite sides.
Margolick, David. Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock. One was harassed by the other during the racial upheaval of the Sixties; later they became friends—sort of.
Margotin, Phillippe. All the Songs: the Story Behind Every Beatles’ Release. Wonderfully illustrated, an amazing history.
Marsa, Linda. Fevered: Why a Hotter Planet will Hurt our Health – and How We can Save Ourselves. Climate change will increase disease, cause insect swarms, and damage food supply.
Martin, Barnaby. Hanging Man: the Arrest of Ai Wei-Wei. A talented artist—designer of the stadium at the Olympics in China—is also a brave activist who continues his provocative art.
Martin, Collette. Learning to Bake Allergen-Free: a Crash Course for Busy Parents on Baking without Wheat, Gluten, Eggs, Soy, or Nuts. Help for the most challenged baking.
McKay, Sinclair. The Secret Lives of Codebreakers: the Men and Women Who Cracked the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park. Forbidden to discuss their work, they shortened World War II.
Merchat-Dest, Simona. The Art of Seamless Knitting. Create lovely garments without the lumps and bumps that seams can become.
Metz, Holly. Killing the Poormaster: a Saga of Poverty, Corruption, and Murder in the Great Depression. Someone murdered the person who handed out public aid in the 1930s.
Miller, Kimberly Rae. Coming Clean: a Memoir. Neat and tidy now, the author grew up in a cluttered, rat-infested home on Long Island where garbage-strewn floors squished under her feet.
Montillo, Roseanne. The Lady and her Monsters: a Tale of Dissections, Real-life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley’s Masterpiece. A highly entertaining blend of literary history, lore, science and the origins of the greatest horror story of all time.
Morris, Marc. The Norman Conquest: the Battle of Hastings and the Fall of Anglo-Saxon England. A thorough and captivating account of a turning point in history.
Mortimer, Ian. The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England. New, sometimes unsettling information about dress, food, medicine and more.
Moss, Michael. Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. Much of what is in our food does not need to be there, causing food addictions. This is an eye-opening expose.
My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate their Favorite Place to Browse, Read, and Shop. Eighty-four outstanding essays from a host of writers.
Neiberg, Michael. The Blood of Free Men: the Liberation of Paris, 1944. A non-academic look at the acts, both heroic and ignoble, that led to the liberation.
The New Yorker. The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs. Essays, short stories, cartoons, drawings and poems. A real treat.
Offit, Paul A. Do You Believe in Magic?: the Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine. A rousing good read, taking on the celebrity promoters of offbeat medical advice.
Omar, Qais Akbar. A Fort of Nine Towers: an Afghan Family Story. Bombs over Kabul and encounters with the Taliban caused this family to flee several times, into the countryside and beyond. They struggled to maintain their lives and their freedom.
Oppenhiemer, Jerry. Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal, and Tragedy inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty. A gossipy look at five generations of a family with mind-boggling wealth.
O’Reilly, Bill. Killing Jesus: a History. Another in his historical series.
Packer, George. The Unwinding: an Inner History of the New America. Old institutions are falling as new ones emerge that can also flourish and falter. The National Book Award winner.
Pagden, Anthony. The Enlightenment: and Why It Still Matters Today. A century of philosophy that brought forth the power of reason.
Palin, Michael Brazil. A daily diary with photos of the comedian’s 74-day journey.
Parnia, Sam. Erasing Death: The Science that is Rewriting Boundaries Between Life and Death. New research in critical care and resuscitation raises questions about “self” and “soul.”
Pearson, Mike Parker. Stonehenge: a New Understanding. New findings in an area down the road from the well-known circle shed new light on the site.
Peters, Doug. Lehigh River Valley Trackside, with Randolph Kulp. Emmuas’ own Doug Peters presents vintage railroad photos highlighting the many lines that crossed the Valley.
Philbrick, Nathaniel. Bunker Hill: a City, a Siege, a Revolution. A rewarding approach to the action-packed years of 1773-1776.
Pilley, John W. Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words. Chaser is a border collie whose ability to recognize objects and their names is astonishing.
Plowman, Randal. The Collage Workbook: How to Get Started and Stay Inspired. Helps readers see the beauty in small things and bring together photos, paint and family treasures.
Ricca, Brad. Super Boys: the Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster – the Creators of Superman. How they created the comic book industry and revolutionized SciFi.
Ricks, Thomas E. The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today. Do our modern generals measure up? This author thinks that many do not.
Roach, Mary. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal. A rollicking foray into the digestive system. Roach always asks scientists the questions we want answered.
Robison, John Elder. Raising Cubby: a Father and Son’s Adventures with Asperger’s, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives. A warm-hearted appealing account.
Ronson, Jon. The Psychopath Test: a Journey through the Madness Industry. One percent of the population can cause great damage, in spite of the vast number of treatments available.
Rosenfelt, David. Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on our Canine Cross-Country Adventure. Poignant and hilarious: a trip from California to Maine with rescued dogs.
Rothenberg, David. Bug Music: How Insects Gave Us Rhythm and Noise. Insects do have a sense of rhythm, as evidenced in the insect choruses on a summer’s night.
Rutherford, Adam. Creation: How Science is Reinventing Life. Purely synthetic life is almost here. Talk about amazing biology.
Sandberg, Sheryl. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Sandberg is the CEO of Facebook and here she urges readers to examine their priorities at work and at home.
Satel, Sally. Brainwashed: the Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience. A valuable contribution, cautioning against the seeming authority of brain scans.
Scheckel, Paul. Homeowner’s Energy Handbook: Your Guide to Getting Off the Grid. This book is said to be superior to other titles on the topic in presenting clear power-saving strategies.
Schell, Orville. Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twentieth Century. Schell is a long-time expert on China and this book is meant for the general reader to keep up-to-date.
Schlosser, Eric. Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety. The casual mis-management of nuclear weapons is frightening; an accidental nuclear explosion is all too possible says the author of Fast Food Nation.
Sharpless, Andy. The Perfect Protein: the Fish Lover’s Guide to Saving the Oceans and Feeding the World. Fish can be sustainable but only if managed correctly and we can do that.
Sheff, David. Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy. Sheff described his son’s drug addiction in Beautiful Boy; here he offers hard-won advice.
Sides, Hampton. Hellhound on His Trail: the Stalking of Martin Luther King Jr. and the International Hunt for his Assassin. A riveting, vivid and minute-by-minute account.
Simons, Craig. The Devouring Dragon: How China’s Rise Threatens the Natural World. The air pollution is horrific and the Chinese consume too many endangered animals.
Simons, Eric. The Secret Lives of Sports Fans: the Science of Sports Obsession. There is a surprising amount of psychological research into fandom. Is it a “species-level” flaw?
Smith, Gar. Nuclear Roulette: the Truth about the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth. He lists the five worst nuclear reactors and calls for phasing out all of them worldwide.
Stashower, Daniel. The Hour of Peril: the Secret Plot to Murder Abraham Lincoln Before the Civil War. The assassination was to take place on Lincoln’s journey to his first inauguration.
Sterba, Jim. Nature Wars: the Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comeback Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds. Suburbanites and wildlife are fighting for habitat.
Stern, Ken. With Charity for All: Why Charities are Failing and a Better Way to Give.
There is much reform needed in this area, particularly in light of poorly-managed charities.
Stout, Jay. The Men Who Killed the Luftwaffe: the U.S. Army Air Forces Against Germany in World War II. Compelling and authoritative; the author’s perspective is interesting.
Strogatz, Steven. The Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity. This book is promoted as being good for grade school through and beyond college. Lots of humor too.
Taleb, Nassim. Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. Control is illusory: economic, political and medical systems are subject to sudden collapse, but we can prepare ourselves.
Tammet, Daniel. Thinking in Numbers: On Life, Love, Meaning and Math. Tammet wrote Born on a Blue Day and here continues describing life as an extremely intelligent autistic man.
Tapper, Jake. The Outpost: an Untold Story of American Valor. An incredible you-are-there account of the deadliest battle in the war in Afghanistan.
Theroux, Paul. The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari. The master of travel writing returns to places in Africa where he once served in the Peace Corps.
Toomey, David. Weird Life: the Search for Life That is Very, Very Different From Our Own. These critters are so odd that they call into question the definition of life itself.
Velez-Mitchell, Jane. Exposed: the Secret Life of Jodi Arias. This reporter delves into one of the most riveting and sordid true crime cases of the past year.
Walker, Jesse. The United States of Paranoia: a Conspiracy Theory. This is a study of conspiracy theories from colonial times till now. We might be the most paranoid country of all.
Weintraub, Stanley. Pearl Harbor Christmas: a World at War, December, 1941. A thoughtful history, particularly good at capturing the mood of the time.
Wells, Noel. Small Arms of the Spanish Treasure Fleets. A unique book, very specialized, by a local author who knows pirates and the weapons that were necessary to stop them.
Whitacre, Ed. American Turnaround: Reinventing AT&T and GM and the Way We Do Business in the USA. Good management is in short supply; a shocking look at corporate culture.
Wilson, Bee. Consider the Fork: a History of How We Cook and Eat. Utensils have fascinating histories, including why we use bulk measure instead of weighing our ingredients.
Wilson, Jeff. The Greened House Effect: Renovating Your Home with a Deep Energy Retrofit. Excellent advice which may require a contractor as opposed to doing it yourself.
Winchester, Simon. The Man Who United the States: America’s Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics, and Mavericks and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible. Our country was not born united. The Civil War helped end sectionalism, as did other factors. A fascinating book.
Wright, Lawrence. Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief. This Pulitzer-winning author provides the definitive look at a very controversial religion.
Zachos, Ellen. Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat. Maybe that plant is not a weed, but a salad!
Zuckoff, Mitchell. Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II. A military cargo plane crashed initiating a grueling test of survival.
Zuk, Marlene. Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet, and How We Live. Evolution continues to change humans; we’re not the same people Stone Age men were.
Adichie, Chimamanda. Americanah. Nigerian immigrants undergoing tremendous culture shock in the U.S; a fine love story and one of the New York Times Top 10 Novels of the year.
Ahmad, A.X. The Caretaker. A smart political thriller that moves from Martha’s Vineyard to the glaciers of India.
Allende, Isabel. Maya’s Notebook. A young woman tries to reconcile her family history with current events in Chile; a vivid novel of political turmoil and personal redemption.
Andersen, Laura. The Boleyn King. Highly entertaining; what might have happened if Anne Boleyn had borne Henry VIII the son he desperately wanted. First in a trilogy.
Anthony, Iris. The Ruins of Lace. Imagine a time in France when Flemish lace is forbidden and thus becomes a currency on the black market. A very enjoyable, picaresque tale.
Aridjis, Chloe. Asunder. A museum guard at London’s National Gallery likes her quiet profession, but should a modern-day woman be content in such a restricted environment?
Atkinson, Kate. Life after Life. What if we could take different pathways in life? Going in one direction and living that life, and then going back at a decision point and choosing another way?
Atwood, Margaret. MaddAddam. Atwood’s final volume in the Oryx and Crake series.
Baker, Jo. Longbourn. While the events of Pride and Prejudice were taking place, the servants in the Bennett household had completely different lives and concerns, including lots of romance.
Ballantyne, Lisa. The Guilty One. An 11-year-old is charged with murder and his London lawyer is forced to consider the effects of a difficult childhood, in his client’s life and his own.
Barclay, Linwood. A Tap on the Window. Against his better judgment, a man gives a hitchhiking teenage girl a ride. Things get very complicated after that; a vivid thriller.
Barlow, Toby. Babayaga. A hapless advertising agent is mistaken for a CIA agent in this witty and magical tale that includes a mysterious woman who’s been alive for a very long time.
Barnes, Linda. The Perfect Ghost. A writer working on an actor’s biography realizes that he’s lying to her; a plot whose ending is impossible to predict.
Bass, Rick. All the Land to Hold Us. A geologist studying the remnants of wagon trains in the desert of West Texas happens upon a creature no one would expect in such a place.
Benjamin, Melanie. The Aviator’s Wife. A fictionalized account of Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
Berenson, Alex. The Night Ranger. Somali bandits kidnap aid workers in Kenya; a thriller.
Black, Benjamin. Holy Orders: a Quirke Novel. Murder and brilliant social satire in Dublin.
Bledsoe, Alex. Wisp of a Thing. A haunting tale of the Tufa people in Tennessee.
Bolton, S. J. Lost. A psychological suspense novel that reconsiders the tale of Peter Pan.
Boyle, T. C. Stories II. The second of Boyle’s collections; every story is well worth reading.
Brennert, Alan. Palisades Park. Life near the New Jersey amusement park is perfect until the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor and a world war intrude. A moving family story.
Brill, Amy. The Movement of Stars. In 1845, a Quaker woman on Nantucket defies convention by teaching astronomy to a man from the Azores.
Brown, Dan. Inferno. Brown, who wrote The Da Vinci Code, is back with another art-based thriller, this one based on Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Buchanan, Cathy. The Painted Girls. A realistic portrait of working women in 19th c. Paris—only this time the women are ballet dancers, one of whom is chosen by Degas as a model.
Butler, Sarah. Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love. A 29-year old woman returns from her far-flung travels to confront family problems—and the many ties that bind her to home.
Cain, Chelsea. Let Me Go. The bad news is that the Beauty Killer is back.
Caletti, Deb. He’s Gone. A wife wakes up alone and assumes her husband has gone out for coffee and muffins and will be back soon. He won’t.
Cargill, C. Robert. Dreams and Shadows. For fantasy fans: a baby is abducted and taken to the Limestone Kingdom, which, improbably, is near Austin, Texas.
Castellani, Christopher. All This Talk of Love. Funny and poignant; a woman tries to organize a family trip to Italy but more obstacles arise than anyone’s prepared for.
Castillo, Linda. Her Last Breath. A dangerous femme fatale—in an Amish community? Yes, and as the mystery unravels, we learn much about realities from which no one is immune.
Catton, Eleanor. The Luminaries. A monumental novel that covers lots of time and many characters in the history of New Zealand. Winner of the prestigious Booker Prize.
Cheng, Bill. Southern Cross the Dog. The sweep of southern history in this novel is impressive as we follow the story of a man who tries to escape his destiny in the 1920s.
Chevalier, Tracy. The Last Runaway. The author of The Girl With the Pearl Earring writes of a young woman far from her home in England who gets involved in the Underground Railroad
Church, James. A Drop of Chinese Blood. Another in the North Korean Inspector O series; this one involves the most beautiful woman in the world.
Clark, Janice. The Rathbones. The ups and downs of a once-prominent whaling family.
Clark, Marcia. Killer Ambition. Another stunning legal thriller from the former prosecutor.
Coes, Ben. Eye for an Eye. A secret investigator is targeted by a Chinese hit squad.
Conklin, Tara. The House Girl. Set in two eras, modern times and 1852, this novel the story of a girl who is made a house slave.
Crace, Jim. Harvest. Witch hunting in a pre-industrial English village; a uniquely haunting tale.
Dahl, Arne. Bad Blood. A killer who eluded the FBI for 20 years shows up in Sweden.
Danticat, Edwidge. Claire of the Sea Light. A beautifully-written book; a young girl and a fisherman have gone missing and a small village considers what a community means.
Dean, Michael. I, Hogarth. A fictional biography of the great London painter.
Delius, Friedrich. Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman. A young German woman walks through Rome as she worries about her husband who’s fighting in WWII.
DeWitt, Patrick. The Sisters Brothers. A very quirky western about two bizarre characters.
Disclafani, Anton. The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. Set in 1930, this novel features a headstrong lead character who has been sent away from home and winds up at a riding camp.
Divakaruni, Chitra. Oleander Girl. A Calcutta woman goes to the U.S. to find her father; a beautiful and complex story that is compelling.
Dobyns, Stephen. The Burn Palace. Scary! An evil nurse and a missing newborn. Don’t even think about what’s in the incubator in place of the baby.
Doig, Ivan. Sweet Thunder. 1920, Butte, Montana. Labor strife is just part of the picture.
Dubow, Charles. Indiscretion. What happens when a woman insinuates herself into the household of a happily married couple. A page-turner.
Dunant, Sarah. Blood and Beauty: the Borgias. The big, bad Borgia dynasty in a novel that reveals much about Papal, Italian and European history.
Essen, Thomas van. The Center of the World. This book explores the power of art, and what happens to a man who finds a heretofore unknown painting by JMW Turner.
Estleman, Loren. The Confessions of Al Capone. An FBI agent posing as a priest gains the confidence of Capone who has just been released from Alcatraz.
Fallada, Hans. Every Man Dies Alone. Written in 1947, this novel is based on the true story of a couple who resisted the Nazis by distributing anti-government information. Stunning.
Faulks, Sebastian. Jeeves and the Wedding Bells. P.G. Wodehouse fans, rejoice! Jeeves and Wooster are back in a funny novel that’s very true to the original characters.
Flagg, Fannie. The All-girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion. During World War II, women showed how resourceful and brave they were in doing many jobs, including running gas stations.
Ford, Jamie. Songs of Willow Frost. The author of On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet tells the tale of an orphan who searches for his mother and may have found her in an unlikely place.
Fowler, Karen J. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. A young woman grows up with a chimpanzee and considers the animal almost a sister. A quirky, intelligent novel.
Fowler, Therese. Z: a Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. Compulsively readable biographical fiction.
Franklin, Tom. The Tilted World. Mississippi in 1927 was awash in bootleggers and floods. By the author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.
Freudenberger, Nell. The Newlyweds. A Bangladeshi woman comes to the US to marry. Funny and wise and well-written.
Gaiman, Neil. The Ocean at the End of the Lane. A man returns to his childhood home where mysterious events happened; a lovely tale for both teens and adults.
Galbraith, Robert. Cuckoo’s Calling. A private investigator looks into the death of a supermodel. Was it suicide or murder? The author is J.K. Rowling (of the Harry Potter series)
Gardam, Jane. Last Friends. This title completes the Old Filth trilogy, books examining the complex world of British class and empire through some complex and interesting characters.
Gass, William. Middle C. A music professor who has faked every kind of credential his whole life is revealed in a painful and hilarious book by a very talented master of fiction.
Gibson, Gregory. The Old Turk’s Load. Five million dollars’ worth of heroin is on its way to a New Jersey crime boss, but events intervene. A fast and funny crime novel set in 1967.
Gilbert, Elizabeth. The Signature of All Things. The author of Eat Pray Love has another winner with this novel of an arborist in 1800 Philadelphia.
Gilham, David. City of Women. Wartime Berlin and a soldier’s wife longs, not for him, but for the Jewish man with whom she had a brief affair.
Godwin, Gail. Flora. A master of southern fiction writes a tale of a 10-year-old left in the care of a cousin who may not be able to manage the fiercely intelligent little girl.
Grisham, John. Sycamore Row. In this very well-reviewed book, Grisham returns to the scene of his first—and by his reckoning his best novel, a Time to Kill.
Guinn, Matthew. The Resurrectionist. The skeletons unearthed at a South Carolina medical school are a testament to a tragic time in southern history.
Hamid, Moshin. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. Readers may be surprised at a novel that’s written in the format of a self-help book, but they’ll find an inventive and clever tale.
Hamilton, Peter. Great North Road. It’s the year 2143 during a very dangerous expedition to extract biofuels from other planets. A real sci-fi thriller.
Haruf, Kent. Benediction. The last days of a country store owner. Elegant simplicity.
Hayder, Mo. Poppet. Strange happenings at a psychiatric hospital include the appearance of someone thought long dead, and there’s that bag of extra-creepy, highly menacing dolls…
Haynes, Dana. Ice Cold Kill. Covert FBI and CIA work at cross purposes in investigating a mounting terrorist threat.
Hill, Joe. NOS4A2. Get it? Nosferatu—the vampire. Hill is Stephen King’s son and the horror gene is as strong as ever in a make-believe sleazy and dangerous world called Christmasland.
Hobbs, Roger. Ghostman. A ghost man helps people disappear, in this case when a bag of cash doesn’t turn up where it should. A heart-stopping thriller set in Atlantic City.
Hoffmeister, Peter. Graphic the Valley. Booklist magazine calls this a “life changing” book. It’s certainly interesting as it tells the story of a boy born and living in Yosemite Valley.
Hosseini, Khaled. And the Mountains Echoed. The latest Afghanistan novel from the author of The Kite Runner.
Hunter, Stephen The Third Bullet. An author is attacked while writing a book about the assassination. What dangerous information has he learned?
Irwin, Stephen. The Broken Ones. When Earth’s polarity suddenly changes, ghosts start appearing. This is a combination crime and horror tale.
Jackson, Joshilyn. Someone Else’s Love Story. A single mother who’s trying to finish college has little time for much else, including crime or falling in love.
Jones, Solomon. The Dead Man’s Wife. A crime novel set in a Philadelphia pharmaceutical company.
Keneally, Thomas. The Daughters of Mars. Three sisters serving as WWI military nurses carry their secrets through the worst battlefields. By the author of Schindler’s List.
Kent, Hannah. Burial Rites. A very unusual setting: Iceland in 1828. A servant convicted of murder is sent to an isolated farm to await her execution. Haunting and based on a true story.
Kerr, Philip. Man Without Breath. 1943 Stalingrad. War, spies, Goebbles, Bernie Gunther faces them all.
Kiernan, Stephen. The Curiosity. An Arctic explorer lost in the ice in 1906 thaws out and finds himself in present day Boston, which to him is a very confusing place. Movie due next year.
Koch, Herman. The Dinner. A European novel of weighty and disturbing moral questions. Two Dutch brothers, one about to become Prime Minister, discuss what their sons have done.
Kricorian, Nancy. All the Light There Was. Armenians in Nazi-occupied Paris. A bittersweet love story.
Lafferty, Mur. The Shambling Guide to New York City. A fictional guide to a city that has been taken over by vampires, zombies and other paranormal folk. Devotees love this one.
Lahiri, Jhumpa. The Lowland. Two brothers, seemingly inseparable, do part when one stays in Calcutta and the other departs for America. An unforgettable, literate piece of fiction.
Laukkanen, Owen. Criminal Enterprise. An unemployed man impulsively robs a bank and finds the thrill intoxicating. Kirkus Review says we should “read any book by this author.”
Leary, Ann. The Good House. A woman tries to hide her drinking while one of her friends is involved in an obsessive love affair. It’s hard to hide anything in small town New England.
LeCarre, John. A Delicate Truth. Espionage fiction from the master of the genre.
Lehrer, Jim. Top Down. Consider the guilt of the Secret Service man who thought it would be okay for JFK to ride in an open convertible.
Lethem, Jonathan. Dissident Gardens. A multigenerational saga of aging activists in Queens.
Lipman, Elinor. The View from Penthouse B. Lipman, an astute observer of current American society, writes about two sisters, one of whom was a victim of Bernie Madoff’s scam.
Littell, Robert. Young Philby. Was the legendary British spy Kim Philby actually a triple agent? A Cold War spy novel that raises tantalizing questions and is based on historical fact.
Lovett, Charlie. The Bookman’s Tale: a Novel of Obsession. An old fashioned, fun mystery concerning a Shakespeare manuscript and a very compelling portrait of a mysterious woman.
Mack, Karen. Freud’s Mistress. An historical romance possibly based on actual events.
Macleod, Muriel. What the River Washed Away. 1900s Louisiana: a young girl and her mother who is a voodoo priestess cope with hateful crimes.
Mankell, Henning. A Treacherous Paradise. Mankell’s crime novels are usually set in Sweden, but this book is about a madam in an East African brothel in 1904.
Mathis, Ayana. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. This book of linked stories is an Oprah book club selection. It’s a poignant tale from a stunning new voice in fiction.
Matthews, Jason. Red Sparrow. Spies in Putin’s Russia; one of his aids is a CIA operative.
McBride, James. The Good Lord Bird. Winner of the National Book Award, this novel follows a 12-year-old boy in abolitionist John Brown’s entourage. Vivid historical fiction.
McCann, Colum. Transatlantic. A family saga that takes place in Ireland and the United States in the mid-1840s; historical fiction with much to interest a variety of readers.
McCrumb, Sharyn. King’s Mountain. Set in Appalachia during the American Revolution, this is the latest in McCrumb’s Ballad Novels.
McDermott, Alice. Someone. An Irish woman comes to Brooklyn and works for an undertaker. This novel spans 70 years in the lives of her family.
McGoran, Jon. Drift. A Philadelphia cop on leave goes to a “safe” small town in rural PA and finds meth dealers, Russian gangsters, evil scientists, and biotech food. Tense.
Messud, Claire. The Woman Upstairs. A gripping psychological novel of dreams deferred. When a teacher who regrets not being an artist realizes her mistake, things go downhill fast.
Meyer, Philipp. The Son. A family’s story of Texas history from the 1800 Comanche raids to the dawn of the oil business.
Miller, Derek. Norwegian by Night. An 82-year-old man witnesses a crime and does everything he can to protect a child; at once a harrowing crime story and a warmhearted tale of rescue.
Montefiore, Santa. The Woman from Paris. A young woman shows up at a British aristocrat’s funeral, claiming rights to the family jewels. An enjoyable romance.
Moriarty, Liane. The Husband’s Secret. Uh-uh. A wife finds an envelope she’s not to open unless her husband dies. Can she resist? What happens if she finds something shocking?
Mott, Jason. The Returned. Sure, people want to see their departed loved ones, but what if they actually start returning from the dead—in droves and hungry? What’s to be done with them?
Moyes, Jojo. The Girl You Left Behind. Linked by a painting, this story moves from WWI France to 21st c. London. The very popular Moyes is also author of Me Before You.
O’Donnell, Lisa. The Death of Bees. Orphaned teenage girls coping on their own, or trying to.
Owen, Howard. The Philadelphia Quarry. A young man freed from a wrongful conviction faces even more legal hurdles in this book by the should-be-better-known author Owen.
Ozeki, Ruth. A Tale for the Time Being. A Canadian woman finds a journal written by a young Japanese girl; as their parallel stories unfold, we come to care about both of them.
Penny, Louise. How the Light Gets In. This is the latest in one of the most popular mystery series in the library. Start with Still Life and go from there. Also on audio and in large print.
Peters, Ralph. Hell or Richmond. The beginning of a Civil War trilogy; Peters also wrote Cain at Gettysburg as well as other novels set in that era.
Phillips, Jayne Anne. Quiet Dell. This is based on a 1931 serial killer and imagines the lives of his victims. Haunting questions of sin, evil and finally, grace.
Pilkington, John. Marbeck and the Double-dealer. First in a new mystery series about an Elizabethan spy master whose duties include being a double agent for the Queen.
Plame, Valerie. Blowback. Plame is a former CIA agent who has written a solid, entertaining thriller based, we can assume, on her insider information.
Poitier, Sidney. Montaro Caine. The actor has turned to writing; this riveting novel tells of a baby born holding a coin-shaped object made of a new element unlike any earthly metal.
Pope, Barbara Corrado. The Missing Italian Girl. 1897 Paris. A Russian man hires some teens to help dispose of a body; an engrossing mystery.
Poyer, David. The Whiteness of the Whale. A paleontologist joins a crew intending to disrupt a Japanese whaling ship. A fine thriller by an author who really knows how to describe the sea.
Pynchon, Thomas. Bleeding Edge. Organized crime meets Big Data. Not for everyone, Pynchon’s novels are rare and always provoke lots of attention.
Rice, Luanne. The Lemon Orchard. An affair based on the author’s own experience.
Rideout, Tanis. Above All Things. This weaves together stories of famed climber George Mallory and the wife he left behind when he followed his obsession to climb Mt. Everest.
Rindell, Suzanne. The Other Typist. Described as a black comedy, this dramatic tale concerns a prim and proper police stenographer in 1920 New York City who may not be so innocent.
Rutherfurd, Edward. Paris. Rutherfurd writes large historical novels where the cities he describes are almost characters in themselves.
Sankaran, Lavanya. The Hope Factory. Set in Bangalore, this novel shows life in a thriving Indian city from the perspective of a company CEO and his servant.
Saunders, George. Tenth of December. These stories are so good that in January 2013, the New York Times predicted it would be “the best book you’ll read this year.” One of the best for sure.
Schine, Cathleen. Fin & Lady. A charming tale of an 11-year-old orphan who’s rescued by his stepsister, who young as she is, becomes an Auntie Mame figure.
Schwarz, Christina. The Edge of the Earth. A newlywed woman follows her husband to his job at a remote lighthouse; can she learn to love the isolation, the rugged shore?
Searles, John. Help for the Haunted. A teen is called to testify on the horrific things he’s seen; Booklist magazine called this “superlative storytelling.”
Shaara, Jeff. A Chain of Thunder. Civil War buffs, pay attention. This latest novel concerns the siege of Vicksburg.
Shafak, Elif. Honor. Twin sisters, one of whom stays in Turkey while one emigrates to London. Their stories are imaginative, interesting and very powerful. A bestseller in England.
Shreve, Anita. Stella Bain. A World War I nurses’s amnesia makes for a gripping historical novel.
Sibley, Priscille. The Promise of Stardust. A gripping medical drama concerning a woman astronaut and her extreme medical situation.
Silver, Marisa. Mary Coin. This is the imagined life of the woman in the iconic Dorothea Lange photo whose face has come to represent the Great Depression.
Simons, Jake. The English German Girl. A 15-year old German girl leaves 1930s Berlin on the Kindertransport train and winds up a servant in an English household. Good historical fiction.
Simsion, Graeme. The Rosie Project. A socially-awkward professor decides it’s time to employ scientific methods to find a wife. A delightful comedy that’s a real favorite among library staff.
Smith, Lee. Guests on Earth. A troubled 13-year old encounters Zelda Fitzgerald in a mental hospital in 1936; by one of the best southern writers we have.
Smith, Martin Cruz. Tatiana. The latest in Smith’s Russian novels, this winner is based on the true story of a journalist’s fate in a country where free speech is anything but tolerated.
Spann, Susan. Claws of the Cat: a Shinobi Mystery. Set in 16th c. Japan, this well-written mystery has samurai, ninjas and a puzzling murder.
Stevens, Taylor. The Doll. This author grew up in a religious cult and her fiction often features women in repressive situations. This book concerns Eastern European sex traffikers.
Swerling, Beverly. Bristol House. A British architectural historian is visited by a ghost as she tries to solve a modern mystery.
Tan, Amy. The Valley of Amazement. This story moves from Shanghai to an isolated Chinese village to bustling San Francisco as the author explores history and family relationships.
Tartt, Donna. The Goldfinch. A finalist for the National Book Award, this story follows a boy and how he came to own a masterpiece painting. Publishers Weekly says this story is told in prose that is “impossible to resist.”
Taylor, Patrick. Fingal O’Reilly, Irish Doctor. The latest in Taylor’s Irish village series.
Tekulve, Susan. In the Garden of Stone. Even before the train derailed, life was hard in the gritty coal camps of 1920s West Virginia.
Tremain, Rose. Merivel: a Man of His Time. This remarkable, very likable book is a sequel to the author’s novel Restoration and takes our hero to Versailles in 1683.
Wagner, David. Cold Tuscan Stone. An art theft mystery where Etruscan urns are the prize.
Walls, Jeannette. The Silver Star. Two young sisters move to the Virginia town their mother left years before. By the author of the biography Glass Castle and the novel Half Broke Horses.
Wecker, Helene. The Golem and the Jinni. In a mixture of Jewish and Arab folklore, two mythological characters find themselves in Manhattan in a delightful historical fantasy.
Weisberger, Lauren. Revenge Wears Prada: the Devil Returns. She’s baaaaaaack!
Yoon, Paul. Snow Hunters. Library Journal calls this a “precious gem of a novel.” Released from a North Korea prison, a man moves to Brazil but has trouble forgetting his past.
Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! These stories will cover your zombie needs for a long time.
Angelou, Maya. Mom & Me & Mom. Angelou has written a number of biographical books; this is the first to reveal much about her mother and their relationship.
Bennett, Tony. Life is a Gift: the Zen of Bennett. Tony Bennett is not only a singer but a highly accomplished artist with an optimistic outlook.
Berg, A. Scott. Wilson. This biography of Woodrow Wilson reveals his exceptional life, and if it seems a bit long, over 800 pages, it is also readable and inspiring.
Bordo, Susan. The Creation of Anne Boleyn: a New Look at England’s Most Notorious Queen. There are many Boleyn books; this one tells why and how she continues to fascinate.
Brazelton, T. Barry. Learning to Listen: A Life Caring for Children. Since the death of Benjamin Spock, Barry Brazelton has been considered America’s top pediatrician.
Burnett, Carol. Carrie and Me: a Mother-daughter Love Story. Burnett is painfully honest about her daughter’s struggles with alcohol and drug addiction.
Bushkin, Henry. Johnny Carson. Bushkin was a long-time confidant of Carson’s who saw all sides of a comedian whose personal life was very different from his television persona.
Carlin, Peter. Bruce. Springsteen authorized this biography and allowed interviews with many of his closest friends and associates.
Christensen, Kate. Blue Plate Specials: an Autobiography of My Appetites. The author has been interested in food since childhood and here combines history, biography and recipes. Yum!
Clarke, Thurston. JFK’s Last Hundred Days. Kennedy made several changes in his last days that would have been transformative had he lived longer.
Connors, Jimmy. The Outsider: a Memoir. The one-time bad boy tennis player opens up about his career and personal life.
Conroy, Pat. The Death of Santini. Author of the novel The Great Santini, Conroy now gives a non-fiction account of his domineering father and their explosive relationship.
Crystal, Billy. Still Foolin’ Em. A charming memoir by a funny actor.
Dawkins, Richard. An Appetite for Wonder: the Making of a Scientist. The first of a two-volume biography that takes an honest look at the life of a groundbreaking scientist.
Egan, Timothy. Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: the Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis. Curtis was one of the most important American photographers who ever lived.
Ensler, Eve. In the Body of the World. The author of The Vagina Monologues talks about her travels in the Congo and her struggles with cancer. Fierce and moving.
Francona, Terry. Francona: the Red Sox Years. A brutally honest biography that spans the highs and lows of Boston’s favorite baseball team and its manager.
Grimes, Martha. Double Double: a Memoir of Alcoholism. Grimes is a well-known novelist; here she opens up about her own alcoholism and that of her son.
Hafner, Katie. Mother, Daughter, Me. A frank and open-hearted memoir of a woman whose aging mother moves in with her and her teenage daughter. Remarkable and memorable.
Haygood, Wil. The Butler: a Witness to History. A quiet and extraordinary life of the longest-serving butler in White House history. The movie was based on this book.
Hicks, Pamela. Daughter of Empire: My Life as a Mountbatten. The daughter of Lord Mountbatten discusses her parents’ lives during some great events in 20th c. history.
Irmscher, Christoph. Louis Agassiz: Creator of American Science. Agassiz was a brilliant scientist whose work was groundbreaking, but he had a very dark side too.
Johnson, Paul. Mozart. Johnson is an excellent writer of art and cultural history and this short biography offers a compact, knowledgeable introduction of Mozart.
Jones, Shirley. Shirley Jones. As a singer she starred in Oklahoma, Carousel and the Music Man. As an actress she won an Oscar for her role in Elmer Gantry.
Lepore, Jill. Book of Ages: the Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin. Jane was Benjamin’s sister and all through their lives they kept in close touch; this book is based on their letters.
Lindhout, Amanda. A House in the Sky. The author spent a harrowing 15 months in captivity in Somalia; this is a stark, shocking and ultimately redemptive memoir.
Manchester, William. The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965. The final volume in Manchester’s monumental study of Churchill.
Marcus, Leonard. Randolph Caldecott: the Man Who Could Not Stop Drawing. The top award for children’s picture books is named after Caldecott; he was an interesting fellow.
Meacham, Jon. Jefferson: the Art of Power. A masterful tribute to Jefferson’s political genius.
Min, Anchee. The Cooked Seed. Min’s novels of China are well regarded; here she tells of her struggles, many of which began when she came to the US.
Monroe, Earl. Earl the Pearl. Monroe was a key player for the championship New York Knicks during the team’s greatest era.
Moore, Charles. Margaret Thatcher: the Authorized Biography from Grantham to the Falklands. Moore considers Thatcher’s early life and political career.
Muller, Melissa. Anne Frank: the Biography. Muller was able to obtain new information that adds much to Anne Frank’s story.
Nasaw, David. The Patriarch: the Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy. It was always Kennedy’s dream to see one of his sons become president.
Piazza, Mike. Long Shot. The Pennsylvania native and record-breaking Mets pitcher opens up about his life and his rivalry with Roger Clemens.
Powell, Margaret. Servants’ Hall: A Real Life Upstairs, Downstairs Romance. This is a follow-up to her book Below Stairs; both are much loved by Downton Abbey fans.
Reynolds, Debbie. Unsinkable. Reynolds is a real trooper, and clearly always has been.
Ronstadt, Linda. Simple Dreams: a Musical Memoir. Ronstadt, who is no longer able to sing due to Parkinson’s Disease, proves to be an admirable biographer of her fascinating life.
Sebba, Anne. That Woman: the Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor. Readers who can’t get enough of royal shenanigans will love this gossipy biography.
Simmons, Sylvie. I’m Your Man: the Life of Leonard Cohen. One of the most influential songwriters of our times is revealed to be a witty and intelligent man.
Sotomayor, Sonia. My Beloved World. A candid story of the Supreme Court Justice’s tumultuous childhood which she wanted to document before she “forgets where she came from.”
Stahr, Walter. Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man. Those who saw the film Lincoln saw Seward in action as a wise and trusted aide; here is his story.
Sullivan, Randall. Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson. His final years and some insight into what made him the unusual man he was.
Theoharis, Jeanne. The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks. Her civil disobedience on the Montgomery bus was not an impulsive act; she was a long-time Civil Rights activist.
Thompson, Neal. A Curious Man: the Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe it or Not” Ripley. Now, here’s an interesting guy who led a far-flung life in pursuit of weirdness.
Wilkinson, Todd. Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet. The portrait of Turner and his philanthropic enterprises is astounding; much was not known before.
Yousafzai, Malala. I am Malala: the Girl Who Was Shot by the Taliban. Malala is a Pakistani girl whose harrowing and almost unbelievable experience eventually brought her to address the United Nations General Assembly.
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