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  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 4:00 pm on 2018/06/28 Permalink
    Tags: an astronaut's guide to life on earth, chris hadfield, earthrise: my adventures as an apollo 14 astronaut, edgar mitchell, endurance: a year in space a lifetime of discovery, floating 'round my tin can, flying to the moon: an astronaut's story, , , nonfiction, sally ride, scott kelly, to space and back   

    Books in Space: 5 Great Astronaut Memoirs 

    There’s just no cooler resume line item in the world than “astronaut.” You can take your actors, your rock stars, your Nobel Prize winners. Yeah, sure they made art and connected with millions, but the one thing none of those people ever did was leave the Earth in a marvel of science and engineering and visit outer space.

    Blasting off to the infinity and beyond (or at the least the moon, or Earth’s orbit) is something only a few hundred people in history have ever done. And until consumer space flights and Mars colonization become a thing, being an astronaut is such a unique and fascinating experience that we’ll have to look to the thoughts and recollections of others to get even a taste of what it’s actually like to gaze at Earth from above. Here are six astronauts who went to space, returned, and then wrote about it.

    Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery, by Scott Kelly
    For some, going to space is a once- or twice-in-a-career occurrence. For Scott Kelly, going to space is his career. This dude has spent about as much time in space as you’ve spent in an office. He’s been on four different space flights and no American has ever spent more time in space. He’s the perfect guinea pig—and now literary expert—on the effects of long-term spaceflight on the human body, brain, and spirit. He writes unflinchingly about being in space, and the difficulty of returning to civilian life. Especially interesting is Kelly’s report of a fascinating experiment in which he took part. To study exactly what space does to the body, NASA studied his earthbound twin brother and compared his aging process to that of Kelly…who spent an entire year in the outer limits.

    An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, by Chris Hadfield
    Not only is Chris Hadfield an astronaut with more than 4,000 space hours to his credit, he’s an unabashedly joyful and welcoming ambassador (and fan) of space programs. He revived widespread interest in space travel with his dispatches from space, satellite hookups to classrooms, and viral video of himself singing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” aboard the International Space Station. In his book, the perpetually-wonder-filled Hadfield details his journey from an Ontario corn farm to the world’s most famous modern-day spaceman. He’s also remarkably frank—and fantastically detailed—about the process of going into space, and the day-to-day, moment-to-moment realities of living in space.

    Flying to the Moon: An Astronaut’s Story, by Michael Collins
    Of the three men to successfully reach the moon for the first time in July 1969—Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins—only Collins didn’t get to actually set foot on that sweet, sweet green cheese surface. As the Command Module Pilot for the Apollo 11 spacecraft, Collins dropped off Armstrong and Aldrin in their Lunar Module and then he orbited the moon. That means Collins was the only one of the historic trio to spend time in space alone, placing him in the embedded observer role on the NASA moon mission. He was uniquely qualified, then, to give this fascinating, first-hand, well-measured journalistic account on what it was like to go to the moon and back.

    To Space and Back, by Sally Ride
    It’s a memoir in the form of a coffee table book…for kids! The extra-large full-color format allows for tons of remarkable photos taken in space, adding an extra dimension (and something to contemplate) while one reads the words and memories of Ride, the first American woman in space. The copy is geared towards children, and the questions they’d have about space, such as how it feels to be weightless, the unique strangeness of blasting off, and what (and how) astronauts on the Space Shuttle eat.

    Earthrise: My Adventures as an Apollo 14 Astronaut, by Edgar Mitchell
    Mitchell was part of the Apollo 14 crew in 1971, one of NASA’s final moonshots and one that was relatively (but not completely) uneventful when compared to Apollo 11 (the first one that landed on the moon) and Apollo 13 (which was so notably disastrous they made a movie about it). Mitchell covers the nerve-wracking experience that is flying to the moon, but that’s just part of this The Right Stuff-esque account of a man who was a career astronaut and who had a knack for being in the right place at the right time. For example, he spent a great deal of time in Roswell, New Mexico—when the government was conducting nuclear testing, and when a UFO supposedly crashed there—and served as a Navy fighter pilot. Mitchell isn’t afraid to get profound either, waxing poetic as he does about looking down on one’s own home planet.

    What astronaut memoirs would you recommend?

    The post Books in Space: 5 Great Astronaut Memoirs appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Brian Boone 2:30 pm on 2018/03/30 Permalink
    Tags: drawn from life, , nonfiction   

    10 Essential Nonfiction Graphic Novels 

    The graphic novel has emerged as a major storytelling medium over the last few decades thanks to visionary artists and writers like Alan Moore and Craig Thompson. But it’s such a sensitive, intimate form that by its visual nature allows for so much visceral detail that it’s become a tool for authors and artists to tell their stories—either their life stories, family stories, or world events that shaped them. Here are 10 of the most profound and fascinating nonfiction graphic novels.

    The 14th Dalai Lama: A Manga Biography, by Tetsu Saiwai
    The man we all know as the Dalai Lama, because he’s been the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists around the world for more than 75 years, was once just a toddler named Llamo Thondup. Then he took on the name Tenzin Gyatso and became the fourteenth Dalai Lama. While he’s been a world and religious leader for longer than most of us have been alive, his life remains shrouded in mystery, in part because he lives in exile in India because of the Chinese takeover of Tibet. The 14th Dalai Lama’s amazing and fascinating life story, which runs concurrently with some of the biggest events in 20th and 21st century Asian history, has never been told better than in Tetsu Saiwai’s graphic tale, The 14th Dalai Lama: A Manga Biography. Saiwai presents the story in the traditional Japanese manga style, befitting this almost unbelievable true life tale of cultural heroism.

    Tetris: The Games People Play, by Box Brown
    As great as many of them turn out to be, most video games don’t have that interesting of an origin story—somebody at a software company gets an idea, 100 people develop it, millions are entertained. The story of the classic puzzle game Tetris is far more interesting…and harrowing. Created by a Russian computer scientist named Alexey Pajiitnov during the Soviet era, the story of Tetris is one of corporate manipulation and government interference behind the Iron Curtain. Author and artist Box Brown also fits his style to the material, drawing in a boxy, blocky style, suggesting the endless shapes of Tetris itself.

    Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, by Art Spiegelman
    Maus is the Citizen Kane or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band of graphic novels—it pioneered the form, and rarely have others that came after have come close to doing what Art Spiegelman did. In 1992, it became the first ever graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize. It’s the autobiographical tale of Spiegelman coming to grips with his father’s haunting and devastating memories of enduring the Holocaust as a European Jew. Spiegelman depicts those scenes as a literal cat-and-mouse game: Cats are cast as Nazis, and mice as Jewish people. That sounds flippant, but it’s anything but—Maus sensitively humanizes the Jewish war experience. Readers will be chilled and forever changed by what deceptively looks like Sylvester and Tweety Bird.

    Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    Alison Bechdel is a veteran cartoonist probably best known for the “Bechdel Test.” A viral idea taken from a 1985 strip, a movie successfully passes the test, and is deemed less sexist than the usual Hollywood fare, if two women are shown having a conversation about something besides a man. Bechdel is also the author of, to date, the only graphic novel ever turned into a Tony-winning Broadway musical. Her 2007 memoir Fun Home grapples with lots of Big Issues, including family, sexuality, and death. Bechdel grew up in a rural Pennsylvania funeral home her father operated. Throughout the book, Bechdel replays multiple incidents from her childhood as she tries to make sense as to why her father stayed a closeted homosexual for so long, as well as why he made a tragic decision that changed her world.

    Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, by Guy Delisle
    Great journalists observe first and then report, making sense of their subject along the way. In that regard Guy Delisle is a journalist and a cartoonist, providing de facto reports about what daily life is like in the far-flung locals where he travels with his wife, a physician with Doctors Without Borders. In addition to works about Myanmar (Burma Chronicles) and China (Shenzen: A Travelogue from China) is Delisle’s most revelatory work: Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea. He’s the right man for the job: Delisle wasn’t allowed to use a camera or smuggle out photos, but he could draw his experiences there and bring back to the West to demonstrate what life is really like for regular people in the closed-off nation.

    Muhammad Ali, by Sybille Titeux and Amazing Ameziane 
    Okay, this one does kind of feel like a comic book, if only because it’s about a guy who was the closest thing this planet ever got to Superman. Sybille Titeux and Amazing Ameziane use striking panel art to tell the complete life story—the good parts and the bad parts—of “The Greatest,” boxer and Civil Rights activist Muhammad Ali. Sometimes graphic novels are a great way to get reluctant readers (kids especially) to pick up a book, and this one might do the trick, providing plenty of context to show not only how Ali was great but why he was so great.

    Smile, by Raina Telegemeier
    Nonfictional graphic novels are a great way to learn about the world around us, but they’re also a source for relatable, “small” tales of an individual’s experience. Smile is that kind of story, and it’s also the story of how its cartoonist became a cartoonist. Raina Telegemeier suffered terrible mouth injury as a child, and it required extensive surgeries. Smile details that harrowing journey, as well as the verbal abuse she suffered at the hands of her classmates, all of which led her on an inward journey into the world of…sequential storytelling. (It also includes a very visceral, you-are-there retelling of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake.)

    The Beats: A Graphic History, by Harvey Pekar
    With his long-running American Splendor series, irascible crank and cartoonist Harvey Pekar was a major proponent of biographical cartooning. He’s one of many who worked on this animated textbook about an equally important American artistic movement: the Beats. A group that included people as artistically disruptive and often strange as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg need to have their stories told through an unconventional means. A thoroughly honest self-made outsider like Pekar is the one to tell them.

    Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi 
    This graphic novel is both a history book as well as a memoir, which makes it more impactful as essential examples of both genres. Author Marjane Satrapi was born to a middle-class family in Tehran, Iran, in the ‘60s, and this two-volume recollection shows what life was like before, during, and after that country’s Islamic Revolution. It’s a tale of broad change, but also small change, and how big movements can affect one’s very perception of themselves.

    The Elements of Style (Illustrated), by William Strunk, E.B. White, and Maria Kalman
    As important as it is, and as many times as we’ve all consulted it, let’s be honest: The Elements of Style is a real slog. It’s a grammar and punctuation textbook, which is just going to be dry, no matter how it’s approached. Or…not? The arcane and arbitrary rules of the English come alive when illustrator Maria Kalman applies her warm, classic, and even funny artwork to the words of original authors William Strunk and E.B. White. The result is what any great book, fiction or nonfiction, all-words or graphic-based should do: Make the reader understand.

    What’s your favorite nonfiction graphic noel?

    The post 10 Essential Nonfiction Graphic Novels appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 5:30 pm on 2018/03/21 Permalink
    Tags: must lists, nonfiction, ,   

    The Best New and Recent True Crime Books 

    If your sole experience with true crime books was reading In Cold Blood in school, you might be unaware we’re living through a Golden Age for the genre. While TV events like Making a Murderer and podcasts like Serial have dominated the headlines, some of the best true crime stories of all time have been told in books published over the last few years. Here are ten true crime neo-classics offering all the tense thrills of an expert mystery, using only the facts of a real-world case.

    Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
    Considering how important they were in shaping the modern age, the Osage Indian murders of the 1920s are remarkably little-known today. When the Nation became incredibly wealthy after oil was discovered on their land, more than 20 of its members of were murdered between 1921 and 1926. As public outrage grew, the federal government was pressured into putting the obscure Bureau of Investigation, led by a young Herbert Hoover, in charge of the case. Hoover used the notoriety of these awful crimes to establish what would soon be known as the FBI, which became the nation’s preeminent investigative body, with himself as its all-powerful chief. Grann, of The Lost City of Z fame, does a marvelous job catching you up on vital history that’s been nearly forgotten.

    The Fact of a Body, by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
    This intensely powerful book is more than just a clinical investigation into a crime—it’s a personal journey through anger, shame, and the legal system. As a child, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich was abused by her grandfather. Her parents intervened when the abuse was discovered, but never said anything about it. Years later, while working an internship during law school, she viewed the taped confession of Ricky Langley, a man accused of molesting and murdering a six-year old boy, and was surprised at the intense hatred she felt for the man—despite being opposed to the death penalty, she found herself wishing he would die for his crimes. She begins an investigation into Langley’s case, finding in it parallels to her own horrific experience, and leading her to questions of blame, responsibility, and punishment. By bringing herself into the story with such brutal honesty, Marzano-Lesnevich transforms the true crime genre into something new.

    Ranger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family and an Inexplicable Crime, by Ben Blum
    In 2006, Alex Blum (the author’s cousin) was arrested as part of a four-man team that robbed a bank in Tacoma, Washington. What made the crime unusual was that Alex was an active-duty Army Ranger, and the crime was planned by higher-ranking Ranger Luke Sommer. Alex claimed he believed the heist was part of a special training course, opening up a national conversation about the military mindset, training techniques that often involve brutal psychological attacks, and what exactly our soldiers are being trained to do. Ben Blum explores this complicated case with incredible skill, sifting through the mind games and bringing a fair-handed sympathy to all involved.

    The Black Hand, by Stephan Talty
    Talty tells the story of Joseph Petrosino, one of the first Italian-American police officers in New York City, whose extraordinary memory and investigative skills earned him the nick name “the Italian Sherlock Holmes,” and his crusade against The Black Hand, a precursor of the mafia that plagued Italian communities in both Italy and immigrant-crowded New York. Starting in 1883, when a young Petrosino joins the force, and ending in 1909, when he was assassinated while following leads in Sicily, Talty takes a big-picture approach, not focusing on one specific event, but relating the totality of evil imposed on a city by a shadowy organization. The Black Hand served to reinforce negative stereotypes of Italians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and Petrosino was celebrated as a hero by his community for bringing them law and order when the bulk of the city’s government didn’t care to.

    American Heiress, by Jeffrey Toobin
    Toobin’s book is an examination of the curious case of Patty Hearst, kidnapped and held for ransom by perhaps the least-organized and most-dimwitted revolutionaries to emerge from the 1970s  radical left, only to undergo the most famous case of Stockholm Syndrome in recorded history. Seeing Hearst wielding a semiautomatic rifle during a bank robbery shocked the nation, as did hearing her voice as she declared her allegiance to her one-time kidnappers. Toobin fleshes out the characters who made up the small, bumbling Symbonese Liberation Army, and offers insights into Hearst’s own psychological issues. It’s the sort of story that would be criticized as unbelievable in a work of fiction, and offers a fascinating assessment of a modern world where incompetents can leverage the media to make an outsized mark—something that still happens today.

    A False Report, by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong
    Miller and Armstrong expand their award-winning reporting on misogyny and rape culture across the U.S. into a book that focuses in on a single, horrifying story. A woman named Marie had just left foster care to live on her own for the first time at the age of 18 when a man broke into her apartment and raped her. The police—and her former foster parents—doubted her story, and Marie was slowly convinced that she had imagined the assault. Years later, an investigation into a separate crime turned up evidence that demonstrated Marie had, in fact, been raped. This story seems unbelievable until you put it into the context of the current #MeToo moment, and Miller and Armstrong begin to paint a portrait of an entire culture that’s turned blind to violence toward women. It’s one of the most important, timely true crime books of recent years.

    The Blood of Emmett Till, by Timothy B. Tyson
    The horrific 1955 murder of a young African-American boy named Emmett Till by a white lynch mob, and the trial that followed—which resulted in acquittal from an all-male, all-white jury—remains one of the most shocking crimes of 20th century American history. Tyson doesn’t simply reexamine the facts of the case, but investigates the people involved in every facet of it. He sketches the relationships between families and neighbors, between the accused, the victim, and law enforcement, and between witnesses and other actors. He uncovers the people behind the names, slowly sifting through details to study the humanity of each, and consider the steps that led to such a disgusting act of brutality and injustice. The end result isn’t reassuring when it comes to human nature, but it is one of the most essential, educational books you’ll read this year.

    Truevine, by Beth Macy
    In 1899 two brothers—10-year old black albino children named Willie and George Muse—were kidnapped from a tobacco field. For more than a decade, they were displayed as a part of traveling freak shows, represented as missionaries from Africa, genetic oddities, and even Martians. Their mother’s tireless efforts to locate and reclaim them finally succeeded in 1927, but the brothers returned to the freak show circuit, this time as slightly-better treated contract performers. The idea that this story could happen in the 20th century is a chilling reminder that we haven’t come as far as we think in terms of race relations—or human relations.

    The Good Nurse, by Charles Graeber
    Charles Cullen is suspected of having killed upwards of 300 people under his care while he worked as a nurse in New Jersey. Graeber takes a classic approach, remaining at a neutral distance as he relates Cullen’s horrifying childhood, offering neither exoneration or damnation and letting the facts speak for themselves. There’s less sympathy for the various hospital administrators who knew enough about Cullen’s activities to push him out of jobs but never went further, and never warned other hospitals of their suspicions or made any effort to stop him. Alternately chilling and terrifying, this new true crime classic serves as a reminder that serial killers aren’t always the obvious psychos of movies and TV shows.

    The Midnight Assassin, by Skip Hollandsworth
    Despite our collective fascination with serial killers, the story of what might be the very first example of one operating in the United States remains obscure. Hollandsworth tells the amazing story of the Midnight Assassin, who terrorized Austin, Texas in the late 1800s, murdering women from all social strata. The crimes were brutal and violent, and the murderer seemed to almost be supernatural, killing at will and disappearing. The authorities were completely clueless regarding how to deal with such incessant and sociopathic violence, which in turn ratcheted up the terror even as racist attitudes saw them pursue several pointless leads. In the end, 10 people died, no one was ever caught, and several prominent people saw their careers and lives destroyed as a result. This is an important look at one of the earliest serial killings in the country, and the peculiarly American response to them.

    What true crime stories do you recommend?

    The post The Best New and Recent True Crime Books appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Melissa Albert 6:45 pm on 2018/03/16 Permalink
    Tags: , heal thyself, nonfiction,   

    7 of the Best Irreverent Self-Help Books 

    Self-help is a nearly ten-billion-dollar industry. By adding a healthy dose of humor and a fresh perspective from today’s real world, these authors make the case for guidelines that stick—just don’t be fooled by their light-hearted, easy-to-read style. Irreverent self-help books are packed with powerful, relevant concepts and ideas that just might change your life. At the very least, they’ll make you laugh, and some days that’s the best medicine of all.

    Adulting, by Kelly Williams Brown
    The funny, helpful nuggets of advice in Adulting are geared toward twenty-somethings and run the gauntlet from cooking/hosting (“How to make a dope cheese plate,” “Do not fear the puff pastry”) to socializing (“The small-talk bell curve”) to employment (“Do not steal more than three dollars’ worth of office supplies per quarter.”) A self-help book with a little something for everyone.

    Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book, by Diane Muldrow
    Little Golden Books have been around since 1942, and The Poky Little Puppy, by Janette Sebring Lowrey and illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren, remains the top-selling children’s book of all time. Who better than Diane Muldrow, the longtime editorial director at Golden Books, to curate the best pieces of wisdom from these classic kids’ stories? Timeless, charming illustrations byRichard Scarry, J.P. Miller, Mary Blair, and Gertrude Elliott make every page a nostalgic delight, while Muldrow suggests that the tenets of a full life include, “Be open to making new friends, even if you’re very, very shy”; “Go ahead and make a big deal over your birthday”; and “Give in to a good cry. You’ll feel better afterward!”

    Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads, by Gary Greenberg
    There are approximately one zillion books for new moms and considerably fewer for dads, so Greenberg’s Boy Scout–themed guidebook is not only a necessity, it’s one of the most fun, entertaining, and creative parenting books out there. Need to baby-proof a hotel room, find activities baby and dad will both enjoy, or create a decoy drawer for baby to explore, so he’ll leave your good stuff alone? What about rigging an emergency diaper in the dead of night? (Hint: duct tape, sock, and a towel.) It’s all in there, plus illustrations and asides written in a positive, pragmatic, and non-alarmist manner—exactly what all parents deserve.

    How to Be a Person in the World, by Heather Havrilesky
    Practical, illuminating, and always relatable, Havrilesky’s book (based in part on her advice column at New York magazine’s The Cut) reads like a combination of Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed, and The Vine at Tomato Nation.  As Havrilesky puts it, “Part of what I like about giving people advice is that I never f*cking know how I’m going to pull it off. I’m not some kind of swami or guru.” Using relentless empathy, Havrilesky underscores her points by sharing personal anecdotes, which serve to remind readers they’re never alone. “This is your life, and it’s going to be big and bright and beautiful.”

    You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero
    If you’re into the idea of using positive thinking to attract certain energies from the universe, you’ll find a lot to inspire you here; Badass is The Secret in a cocktail dress, albeit with a more down to earth approach. (“Feed your fear a suck-it sandwich.” “Give painful people the heave-ho.”) Sincero has a knack for reconfiguring familiar concepts into specific, helpful “aha” moments.

    The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, by Margareta Magnusson
    An accomplished artist aged “between 80 and 100,” with a bundle of kids and grandkids and a lifetime of travel behind her, Swedish author Magnusson has enjoyed—and continues to enjoy—a full, robust life. This gem of a book teaches readers to “remove unnecessary things and make your home nice and orderly when you think the time is coming closer for you to leave the planet.” It’s perfect for older relatives who’d like to downsize, or anyone who wants more control and less clutter in their home, regardless of age. Though Magnusson has a wicked sense of humor, there’s very little sugar-coating here. She means it when she says, “If it was your secret, keep it that way,” i.e., don’t burden your loved ones with embarrassing box-loads of private items. In Magnusson’s words, “Save your favorite [sex toy]—but throw away the other fifteen.”

    The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson
    A popular blogger-turned-author, Manson holds the view that into each life a little rain must fall—sometimes a lotof rain—that’s neither fair nor deserved, and pretending everything’s  “for the best” can sometimes do more harm than good. Since we all have problems, Manson challenges us to ask ourselves to take control of them: What kind of problems do you want? (After all, the pain of hard work and living our values isn’t easy, but does bring fulfillment.) In other words, it’s not that you won’t give a f*ck about anything, it’s that you’ll give your f*cks selectively, prioritizing and paying attention to what matters most to you and letting the rest go.

    The post 7 of the Best Irreverent Self-Help Books appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Tara Sonin 6:00 pm on 2018/01/18 Permalink
    Tags: , a season with the witch, , , being nixon, , , bullies, , cooked, devil’s bargain, escape from camp 14, , , how google works, how we got to now, in the garden of beasts, , it’s okay to laugh, , , mistress of the vatican, muslim girl, Night, nonfiction, orientalism, , , , , silent spring, , stamped from the beginning, the autobiography of malcolm x, the blood of emmett till, the crown, , the new jim crow, the origins of totalitarianism, the six wives of henry viii, , , , victoria the queen, , we were eight years in power, welcome to the universe, what happened, , world without mind, year of yes,   

    50 Nonfiction Books that Will Make You Smarter in 2018 

    It’s 2018, and we’ve all heard the phrase “New Year, New You”…but here’s the thing: being you is actually the best, because you’re the only you there could ever be! So instead of trying to reinvent yourself, why not read some nonfiction books to help yourself be the smartest, most interesting, well-informed person you could be? (Also, you’ll know so much it will be impossible not to impress people at parties.)

    1776, by David McCullough
    Hamilton fans, if you can’t get enough of Revolutionary history, this book is your next read. It follows both the North American and British sides of the conflict, and focuses on two leaders in particular: George Washington, and Red Coat commander William Howe. Factual but fun to read, American history that won’t put you to sleep.

    Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
    Another mandatory pick for Hamilton fans; the book the musical is based on! Follow Hamilton’s haunting upbringing as a poor, but brilliant kid in the Caribbean who travels to America with the hope of changing the world…and the downfall he could not recover from.

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacksby Rebecca Skloot
    This true story confronts the collision of science and systemic racism with the story of Henrietta Lacks, whose cells were taken without her consent for study…and are still living today.

    In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick
    If you want to impress with facts from forgotten tales, this riveting thriller details the shipwreck of the Essex, the boat that inspired Moby Dick!

    The Origins of Totalitarianism, by Hannah Arendt
    History can certainly inform the present….that is, if we the people aren’t informed. This book starts in the 1800’s and continues through World War I. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, history is history, and it never hurts to remember it.

    The Six Wives of Henry VIII, by Alison Weir
    On to a more scandalous historical figure…or six of them, actually! The wives of Henry VIII had interesting lives before they met him, and his impact on their lives—and in some cases, their deaths—altered history. Full of juicy details, this reads like a novel.

    Cleopatra, A Life, by Stacy Schiff
    Who WAS Cleopatra, a woman built into life by myth and legend? Historian Stacy Schiff gives you access to her palace and a world that you MUST read to believe: incest, murder, poison, infidelity, and more…why isn’t there a TV show about her again?

    MAUS I, by Art Spiegelman
    I first read this book when I was young, but the story has stayed with me forever. The author shares the story of his father’s experience during the holocaust in graphic novel form, using animals instead of humans to detail the horrifying experience.

    We Were Eight Years In Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    This collection of essays that follow President Obama’s two terms is a fascinating deep-dive into how race impacted Obama’s presidency and the ensuing 2016 election.

    The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
    Here’s an uncomfortable truth: The ripple effects of slavery and Jim Crow are still here due to a systemic mass incarceration problem, essentially enslaving millions of black men and women behind bars. Learn about this system of oppression in this difficult, but important book.

    Night, by Elie Wiesel
    This classic autobiography of one man’s journey to survive the Holocaust is a gripping portrait of both the depths of evil—and the precipice of hope—that human beings are capable of.

    How Google Works, by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg
    With terms like “net neutrality” leading in the news, it’s important to become informed on the intersection of tech and government…and where best to start than with Google? Learn about their founding history, philosophy, and what it takes to succeed there.

    Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
    If tech isn’t your thing, but art, writing, dance or performance are, definitely check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s treatise and lifestyle guide for living creatively.

    How We Got to Now, by Steven Johnson
    The modern world wasn’t built in a day, but it did innovate to evolve. This book is great for history buffs and factoid-finders (and maybe a reluctant reader or two, because there are illustrations!).

    The Crown, by Robert Lacey
    Season Two of the hit Netflix TV show has aired, you’ve marathoned it already, and you want more! Check out the book the show is based on and relive all the shocking and emotional moments, this time on the page.

    Mistress of the Vatican, by Eleanor Herman
    This salacious non-fiction history delves into the sordid and secretive history of the Vatican, and the forgotten woman who helped a man become Pope.

    The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson
    Look, 2017 was a rough year. So maybe the secret to success is not caring so much? Read this book and pass along the gospel of not giving a f*ck to your friends.

    Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle
    Glennon Doyle shares the heartbreaking story of learning her husband was unfaithful, and how she took her broken marriage and used the opportunity to piece herself back together again.

    It’s Okay to Laugh, by Nora McIerney
    This memoir about a woman’s journey through becoming a young, widowed mother (and losing her father shortly after her husband’s death) is surprisingly hilarious. That’s what Nora does: she uses dark humor to guide herself through grief, and if you could use a little bit of that, this book is for you.

    The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Malcolm X
    A definitive figure of the Civil Rights Movement, Malcom X’s biography is essential reading when it comes to understanding current race relations in the United States. Learn about his upbringing, his conversion to Islam, and his activism.

    Devil’s Bargain, by Joshua Green
    Moving from the past political situation to the present, this book is essential reading for newfound politicos who want to enter 2018 informed and engaged. It details Steve Bannon’s relationship with President Trump, and what it took to get him elected.

    Spark Joy, by Marie Kondo
    We all need a little more joy in our lives, so consult organizational specialist Marie Kondo for the ways you can get rid of clutter and make room in your heart for objects and people that make you happy.

    Bullies, by Alex Abramovich
    A fascinating story of a man who befriends his childhood bully later in life, this story can teach you about reaching beyond your bubble, finding common ground in common pain, and the importance of forgiveness.

    Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly
    Math is not my thing, but reading the story of the brilliant black women who got us to the moon totally is. These women worked as “human computers” and calculated what we would need to win the space race, but their stories have been lost to history until now.

    Stamped from the Beginning, by Ibram X. Kendi
    Be an informed citizen and read this detailed account of racism in America. Using the stories of prominent American intellectuals to frame the debates of assimilationists, segregationists, racists, and allies.

    Being Nixon, by Evan Thomas
    Learn about the man behind the Watergate scandal: his background with a troubled older brother, his service in the Navy, and his political ascent. We tend to define historical figures by one event, and this biography shares the whole picture.

    In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson
    Imagine being an American in the government….working with Adolf Hitler. This fascinating true story follows the Ambassador to Hitler’s Third Reich, William E. Dodd, and his family, as they enter the garden, are charmed by the snake, and witness the atrocities firsthand.

    Escape from Camp 14, by Blaine Harden
    We know most things about Hitler’s Germany, but North Korea’s totalitarian regime is still, in many ways, a mystery. This is the haunting story of a person born inside a North Korean prison camp who escaped—after witnessing the executions of his family, being taught to distrust his fellow prisoners, and even fighting his mother for food.

    Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson
    The definitive text on the urgency of man-made harm to planet Earth, this book follows the banning of DDT and the sweeping reform that followed.

    Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, by Elena Favilli
    This book rides the border between fiction and non-fiction, but I’ll allow it, because it’s so cool. Reinvented stories about amazing women throughout history using fairytales as a framing device? Read this book yourself, then get it for everyone you know.

    What Happened, by Hillary Clinton
    Have you been living under a rock, or are just too busy/depressed/overwhelmed to deal with politics? Start 2018 on an informed note by reading the first female candidate for President’s account of the 2016 election.

    World Without Mind, by Franklin Foer
    Technology is the defining innovation of our time…but is it also the greatest threat? This book tracks the history of technological innovation, especially on the internet, and how it presents unseen dangers we need to prepare ourselves for.

    The Blood of Emmett Till, by Timothy B. Tyson
    We see stories of police brutality daily, but this story of civilian brutality had inexorable consequences on the Civil Rights Movement. Who was Emmett Till? And why has his murder shaped American history?

    Shrill, by Lindy West
    This memoir-slash-lifestyle guide for how to be a loud feminist who takes up space in a world that often wants women to be quiet, sweet, and invisible, is full of true stories about the importance of speaking out, showing up, and not caring if people call you “shrill.”

    Sex Object, by Jessica Valenti
    This book, on a similar theme, explores the impacts of sexism on the day-to-day lives of women.

    Muslim Girl, by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh
    This painful and beautiful memoir details the reality of growing up Muslim in the wake of 9/11, and how Amani struggling with the impact of Islamophobia before launching her groundbreaking website.

    Orientalism, by Edward Said
    The origins of the problematic view of “orientalism” still persists, but this classic book breaks down the cultural and political perspectives of the Middle and Near East, aiming to combat prejudiced western philosophy.

    Welcome to the Universe, by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Michael A. Strauss, and J. Richard Gott
    Something for the science nerd! (Or, aspiring science nerd.) Take a tour of the universe (literally) with renowned scientists explaining planets, aliens, and so much more.

    Salt: A World History, by Mark Kurlansky
    Have you ever thought of the history of things we use every day, and totally take for granted? I never thought of salt as having a history, but it does, and this interesting book details where it comes from, and why it matters so much.

    Cooked, by Michael Pollan
    This memoir is one of the most unique on the list, structurally and content-wise! It follows a food writer’s journey through exploring the different ways we cook things—with fire, water, air, and earth—and mastering the techniques we use to perfect our food.

    Yes Please, by Amy Poheler
    A funny memoir by one of the best comediennes ever, read about Amy’s (rough) beginnings in Hollywood, her persistent optimism, and why she loves being funny.

    Bossypants, by Tina Fey
    If you read Amy’s memoir, you have to read her BFF’s! Tina Fey is wry, witty, and has lots to say on what it takes to succeed as a woman in a man’s world in this hilarious book.

    Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
    When your life collapses and there’s nothing left, where do you go? For Cheryl Strayed, to the Pacific Crest Trail, to figure out what she wants and who she wants to be by putting her body to the ultimate physical test.

    Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand
    The story of a pilot brought down during World War II begins with a boy who would become an Olympian, despite a difficult childhood with a tendency towards defiance. It’s that defiance which saved his life years later in the Pacific Ocean, with only a life raft to guide him home.

    Victoria the Queen, by Julia Baird
    She was fifth in line for the throne, and only a teenager, but she became Queen. The second longest-reigning Queen in history, Victoria led a fascinating, passionate life: all of which is detailed in this book!

    A Season With the Witch, by J.W. Ocker
    Salem is an infamous place, ground zero to the 1692 Witch Trials. So when this writer decided to move his family to Salem in 2015 to experience Halloween in the most infamous stomping ground for witches.

    Radium Girls, by Kate Moore
    Radium is everywhere; in everything, and considered an essential ingredient to the beauty industry during World War I. But there is a dark underbelly to this element, experienced by girls working in factories to produce it who suddenly become ill.

    Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes
    Part how-to guide, part memoir, this uplifting (and short, perfect for commutes!) read by showrunner and TV writer extraordinaire Shonda Rhimes is the guide to positivity you need going into 2018.

    We Should All be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    Based on her incredible TED Talk, this book explores the intersections of women’s issues, politics, and race using the author’s own experience against the backdrop of history.

    Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
    Roxane Gay’s essays on what it means to be a woman of color in the modern age are funny and profound, and touch upon everything from pop-culture, how Hollywood approaches rape, privilege, and much more. You’ll certainly impress at a cocktail party with some insights from this one.

    The post 50 Nonfiction Books that Will Make You Smarter in 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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