Are you ready for some stats? I hope so, ’cause here they come. 47% of the books I’ve read so far this year were nonfiction. I know, it’s still March and will probably snow again and I shouldn’t go around throwing stats yet, but that’s a big jump from last year’s 38% (which was already a big increase for me). All I’m trying to say here is I’m really loving nonfiction lately. Maybe you can scope out these upcoming titles and join me?
“Broken Three Times is a story about child abuse in America. It begins with snapshots from a mother’s abusive childhood, then fast-forwards to her family’s first involvement with Connecticut protective services when her children are eleven and ten. After a brief investigation, the family’s case is closed, and despite their many needs, they are not provided links to any ongoing supportive services…Each chapter of the book provides a launching point for discussing state-of-the-art policy, practice, and scientific updates relevant for understanding risk, promoting resilience, and improving the child welfare system.”
“As the notorious leader of the American anarchist movement, Emma Goldman captured newspaper headlines across the country as she urged audiences to reject authority and aspire for individual autonomy. A public woman in a time when to be public and a woman was a paradox, Goldman spoke and wrote openly about distinctly private matters, including sexuality, free love, and birth control. Recognizing women’s bodies as a site of struggle for autonomy, she created a discursive space for women to engage in the public sphere and act as sexual agents. In turn, her ideas contributed to the rise of a feminist consciousness that recognized the personal as political and rejected dualistic notions of gender and sex.”
“After having been sexually harassed on public transport, Laura Bates started a project called Everyday Sexism. After an astounding response that came pouring in from all over the world, the project quickly became one of the biggest social media success stories of the internet. In April of 2015, to commemorate the 100,000th entry to The Everyday Sexism Project, the author led a successful Thunderclap campaign that enabled the project to become the #1 internationally trending topic that day, gaining several million retweets to become the leading tweet in the English speaking world.”
“One in four Americans reject any affiliation with organized religion, and nearly half of those under thirty describe themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious.’ But as the airwaves resound with the haranguing of preachers and pundits, who speaks for the millions who find no joy in whittling the wonder of existence to a simple yes/no choice? Lesley Hazleton does. In this provocative, brilliant book, she gives voice to the case for agnosticism, breaks it free of its stereotypes as watered-down atheism or amorphous ‘seeking,’ and celebrates it as a reasoned, revealing, and sustaining stance toward life.”
“Hamilton: The Revolution gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages–‘since before this was even a show,’ according to Miranda–traces its development from an improbable performance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.”
“Far and Away collects Andrew Solomon’s writings about places undergoing seismic shifts—political, cultural, and spiritual. Chronicling his stint on the barricades in Moscow in 1991, when he joined artists in resisting the coup whose failure ended the Soviet Union, his 2002 account of the rebirth of culture in Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban, his insightful appraisal of a Myanmar seeped in contradictions as it slowly, fitfully pushes toward freedom, and many other stories of profound upheaval, this book provides a unique window onto the very idea of social change.”
“What separates your mind from an animal’s? Maybe you think it’s your ability to design tools, your sense of self, or your grasp of past and future—all traits that have helped us define ourselves as the planet’s preeminent species. But in recent decades, these claims have eroded, or even been disproven outright, by a revolution in the study of animal cognition…Based on research involving crows, dolphins, parrots, sheep, wasps, bats, whales, and of course chimpanzees and bonobos, Frans de Waal explores both the scope and the depth of animal intelligence. He offers a firsthand account of how science has stood traditional behaviorism on its head by revealing how smart animals really are, and how we’ve underestimated their abilities for too long.”
“Inherited family trauma is currently an area of growing interest, as science increasingly explores what we know intuitively: that the effects of trauma can pass from one generation to the next, and that the answers to some of our greatest life problems often lie not within our own story, but in the experiences of our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and extended family. Even if the person who suffered the original trauma has died, or the story has been forgotten or silenced, memory and feelings can live on in those in the present. And while inherited physical traits are easily discernible, this emotional legacy is often hidden, encoded in everything from gene expression to everyday language.”
“From the tangled underpinnings of our food taste to our unsettling insecurity before unfamiliar works of art to the complex dynamics of our playlists and the pop charts, our preferences and opinions are constantly being shaped by countless forces. And in the digital age, a nonstop procession of ‘thumbs up’ and ‘likes’ and ‘stars’ is helping dictate our choices. Taste has moved online—there are more ways than ever for us, and companies, to see what and how we are consuming. If you’ve ever wondered how Netflix recommends movies, how to spot a fake Yelp review, or why books often see a sudden decline in Amazon ratings after they win a major prize, Tom Vanderbilt has answers to these questions and many more that you’ve probably never thought to ask.”
“West has rocked readers in work published everywhere from The Guardian to GQ to This American Life. She is a catalyst for a national conversation in a world where not all stories are created equal and not every body is treated with equal respect. Shrill is comprised of a series of essays that bravely shares her life, including her transition from quiet to feminist-out-loud, coming of age in a popular culture that is hostile to women (especially fat, funny women) and how keeping quiet is not an option for any of us.”
Which nonfiction titles are you looking forward to reading this Spring?