Non-Fiction

  1. Janet Leigh: A Biography

    Janet Leigh was best known for her portrayal of Marion Crane in the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock classic thriller, Psycho and her eleven-year marriage to Tony Curtis. She starred in mostly low-budget films throughout her film career which spanned from 1947-1999. Hollywood film moguls were attracted to her natural beauty. She endured the unwanted attention of Howard Hughes.

  2. What If?

    What If? by Randall Munroe

    Randall Munroe earned a degree in physics at Christopher Newport University (VA) and went on to work on robots at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia before quitting to become a cartoonist  (xkcd.com: “a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language”).  He employs humorous stick figure sketches to help provide scientific answers to absurd hypotheticals submitted to him through his website.

  3. Drawing Autism

    Drawing Autism

    Drawing Autism showcases the artistic talents of individuals with autism spectrum disorder while giving perspective on how these artists relate to the world around them.  Temple Grandin has written the forward which is a perfect introduction and sets the tone for the rest of the book.  Author Jill Mullin, a behavior analyst with a clinical background in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), divided the selected works into themes.  Her goal was to provide an overview of the autism spectrum while celebrating the individuality of each person.  Artists selected for the b

  4. The girls of Atomic City

    The Girls of Atomic City

    If your country needed your help would you give up your career, your comfortable home and endanger your relationships for an unknown job in a location that didn’t appear on any map?  Could you handle never speaking of your job to your spouse, or knowing where and why they had to leave for weeks? Could you work on just one small job over and over for years, not knowing what came before or would come after?

  5. The Obamas

    This book reminded me a bit of watching West Wing. We don’t realize how the White House is buzzing 24/7. Kantor takes us inside for an eye-opening expose of life in America’s most famous mansion. Michelle and Barack Obama managed to adapt to a very dramatic change in their lifestyle with grace and maturity. But it wasn’t all rosy.

  6. Unbroken

    "Unbroken" is the story of an undaunted human spirit presented by author Laura Hillenbrand; who chronicles the extraordinary life of Olympic runner, Louis Zamperini.  When faced with supposed insurmountable obstacles, Louie proves to be a survivor and an example of the power one person can have over his own destiny.  

  7. Unruly Places

    If you like pouring over old atlases or scrolling though Google maps, you will probably like this book. The author is a geographer, not a travel guide, and this comes through in the tone of the book as well as subjects covered.

    The connection of what makes each of these places so strange is human intervention, either through physical occupation or mapmaking.  The book’s first entry is about Sandy Island, which was neither sandy nor an island. But it was on maps for centuries.

  8. Neil Sedaka: Rock ‘N’ Roll Survivor:

    Those of us of a certain age grew up to the strains of comma comma down dooby doo down down, comma comma, down dooby doo down down, breaking up is hard to do. That is Neil Sedaka’s signature song, Breaking up is Hard to do. It was released in 1962. Podolsky tells the story of Neil’s early days in Brooklyn. He started his musical training at the prestigious Juilliard School at the tender age of seven.

  9. Mama Built a Little Nest

    It’s a science book!  It’s a rhyming story!  It’s a picture art book!

  10. John Adams

    He was honest, witty, loyal, brilliant, and indefatigable.  He was also pompous, arrogant, insecure, petty, and cranky.  He probably did more than anyone else to persuade Congress to declare American independence, bu

  11. Pat and Dick: The Nixons, an Intimate Portrait of a Marriage.

    Richard Nixon graduated number three from his Duke University Law School class. Thelma (Pat) Ryan was an orphan in Depression-era California yet she attained the equivalent of a master’s degree in merchandising and she taught high school typing and shorthand classes. Swift tells the story of the Nixon courtship, political life and death after 53 years of marriage. Along the way we read about Nixon’s involvement with the Communist scare, 1960 presidential election footing Nixon against John F.

  12. Pavement chalk artist

    My interest in street art has led me to view numerous pictures on the internet.  Many are wonders of creativity and determination—from murals on a building to 3D art made from objects already in place.  Street art can have an important message or be a small scale drawing, there just to make you smile. 

    One of my favorite types of street art is chalk art.  While temporary, in the hand of a master artist they can be incredibly detailed and convincing.  Chalk art combines art, creativity, perspective, and even performance.

  13. Land of Lincoln

    The writer Andrew Ferguson set out to explore how Abraham Lincoln is viewed and commemorated across the nation nearly 150 years after his death.  He visits Lincoln places across the country and talks with those obsessed with our 16th president, wheth

  14. No Monkeys, No Chocolate

    No Monkeys, No Chocolate

     

     

     

     

     

     

    so much chocolate depends

    upon

     

    a white cocoa

    bean

     

    glazed with monkey

    spit

     

    among the red

    ants.

     

    This great picture book about what makes chocolate possible is recommended for grades 3 - 7.

    (Thanks, William Carlos Williams!)

  15. Weber's Big Book of Burgers

    Weber's Big Book of Burgers

    I love burgers and trying new recipes. While the (rumored) arrival of summer is bound to make most all of us happy, trying nearly all of this title's beef recipes will further sweeten the deal for me. Also included are recipes for bison, lamb, pork, poultry, seafood, and vegetarian burgers, as well as condiments and sides.

  16. The Secret Life of Sleep

    The Secret Life of Sleep

    Kat Duff’s book had its beginnings as a blog for the “sleepy, the sleepless and the curious” and that sets the tone for the book. The chapters are short, interesting, folksy and informative.

  17. My dog : the paradox, a lovable discourse about man's best friend

     	My dog : the paradox, a lovable discourse about man's best friend
    Matthew Inman drawing

    The intro to this book begins with the quote- “Every Pet is a tiny tragedy waiting to happen”, (George Carlin).  But apart from facing the relatively short mortality of our pet “children”, this book is also an affirmation of the joys and idiosyncrasies that are part of sharing our lives with pets.

  18. The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius (2013)

    The Mad Potter : George E Ohr, Eccentric Genius

     

     

     This biography, a Sibert Honor recipient, introduces readers to a little known, but unforgettable artist.

  19. A Walk in the Woods

    A Walk in the Woods

    The Appalachian Trail runs over 2,000 miles, through 14 states, from Georgia to Maine, and Bill Bryson decided to walk it.  Fans of Bryson’s other travel books (In a Sunburned Country,

  20. Survival Lessons

     

    I have always enjoyed Alice Hoffman’s novels, being introduced to her at age 16 and awaiting each new release. Her books have elements of magical realism and dystopian fiction, with several having ended up on bestseller lists and turned into feature films. I was very interested to learn, then, that she had written and published her very first non-fiction book.

  21. Books on Fermenting

    Books on Fermentation

     

    Over the last couple years there are several books on fermentation that I have quite enjoyed.

    Wild Fermentation, by Sandor Katz

    The Art of Fermentation: an in-depth exploration of essential concepts and processes from around the world, by Sandor Katz

  22. The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever

     

    Kate was a little girl growing up in northern California in the mid-1800’s. She loved to get her hands dirty and study science - even though girls weren’t supposed to do either at this time. When she graduated from college, Kate moved to San Diego and became a teacher. Surprised by the desert terrain, Kate carefully researched plants and trees that grow in arid climates. Eventually, she transformed the landscape of San Diego into a lush garden oasis.

  23. The Dogma of Rufus

    The Dogma of Rufus

    Rufus writes a guide for young dogs in which he shares essential ancient wisdom passed down over the ages from dog to dog. He also includes intimate knowledge of the human condition so young dogs can be better prepared to help humans lead a less pathetic existence.  Some things are left out, in case a human might be reading this book.

    The book is divided into three sections-The Fundamentals, Troubleshooting and Raising Humans.

  24. The Battle for Christmas

    The Battle for Christmas

    Now and again we hear about how there is a war being waged on Christmas. Yet the Puritans did not celebrate Christmas. In 1659, the Massachusetts General Court even declared celebrating Christmas to be a criminal offense. How did we get from there to here?

  25. Johnny Cash: The Life

    Hilburn delivers a highly detailed but readable account of the legendary country singer, Johnny Cash. Virtually every aspect of his career and personal life is covered including his boyhood in Dyess, Arkansas, his admiration for Jimmie Rodgers,  the start of his recording career with Sun Records, Cash’s first gold record (the album Ring of Fire), his marriage into the Carter family, and his highly acclaimed video of Hurt which was produced by Rick Rubin.

  26. The Black Count

    The Black Count by Tom Reiss

     This year’s Pulitzer Prize winner in Biography was also the best book I’ve listened to in 2013. The Black Count by Tom Reiss is both informative and entertaining. Read by Paul Michael, an actor who gave the story even more depth with his expressive style and excellent pronunciation, this book is a step above the average biography. I was enthralled not only by the amazing adventures of the man who was the inspiration for the Count of Monte Cristo but by the writing style of the author.

  27. Out of Our Minds

    If you have a child in public schools or even if you don’t, you have likely heard of the Common Core curriculum. Common Core sets benchmarks in learning for each grade level K-12. Here is a quick overview directly from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

  28. A Little Book of Sloth

    Meet the most adorable sloths in Costa Rica's Sloth Sanctuary!  The photographs are stunning and the humorously presented information about sloths will keep the reader’s attention.  Meet the cutest baby sloths and some of their older companions.  Learn about all their goofy personalities and silly antics.  Also learn how the sanctuary he

  29. Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball

    In 1891 a school teacher named James Naismith, desperate to manage a rowdy gym class in Springfield, Massachusetts, invented a new game he called "Basket Ball". It started with a list of rules scratched on paper, two old peach baskets and a soccer ball. The game was an instant sensation. The origin of the national sport of basketball is humorously written and illustrated in this picture book. Enjoy the original first draft of "Basket Ball" rules inside the cover. Author's notes add biographical details for the curious reader.

  30. Outliers

    Outliers: The Story of Success

    Malcolm Gladwell has made a career of looking at things we thought we knew from a different perspective, as he did in his previous best-sellers Blink and The Tipping Point.  In Outliers, he examines success.  What makes someone successful?  Sure it’s hard work—did you know that it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated work to master just about any field?—but it’s also opportunity.  And culture.  And pure accident.  Using examples from the famous and the unknown, along with the most recent scientific studies, Gladwell presents a surprising c

  31. Great Balls of Cheese

    Great Balls of Cheese, by Michelle Buffardi

    Just in time for the holidays, this short cookbook has new and traditional sweet and savory cheese ball recipes. If you are inclined, take the time to copy the cheese-ball-sculptures; it will definitely amuse your friends and family. While I'm not one to spend much time on presentation (solely due to lack of skill), the recipes themselves are really good on their own.

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