Nonfiction to Look for in Spring 2016

Nonfiction to Look for in Spring 2016

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 by Joan Kaufman (April 1st)

“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.”


Tongue of Fire by Donna M. Kowal (April 1st)

“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.”


Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates (April 5th)

“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.”


Agnostic by Lesley Hazleton (April 5th)

“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 by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter (April 12th)

“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 by Andrew Solomon (April 19th)

“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.”


Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal (April 25th)

“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.”


It Didn’t Start with You by Mark Wolynn (April 26th)

“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.”


You May Also Like by Tom Vanderbilt (May 10th)

“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.”


Shrill by Lindy West (May 17th)

“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?

  • EVERYDAY SEXISM is a must read. It is heartbreaking because it’s true. It’s been out for a couple of years in the UK. I’m so glad it has finally crossed the ocean.

    • I just started reading it yesterday and I’m SO EXCITED. I’ve been waiting for it since I first heard about it over there.

  • The one that appeals to me the most is Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are?. Tongue of Fire and Everyday Sexism also sound good. I think I might be animal first, then woman. :)

  • You’re doing awesome with your nonfiction this year! It’s one of my goals for the year and I need to do better :) You May Also Like and It Didn’t Start With You sound fascinating – adding them to the TBR!

  • Tongue of Fire sounds really good. I have to admit that most of my Goldman knowledge comes straight from Ragtime the musical. It might be time to broaden my horizons there…

  • Ooh I need to read Tongue of Fire, Everyday Sexism, Hamilton, and Shrill! I’ve been so out of the loop lately; thanks for sharing these!

  • Thanks for bringing all of these to attention. I’m going to put Everyday Sexism, Agnostic, Didn’t Start With You and the Animals on hold right now before anyone else. I think I’m too late for the Hamilton party. I’m always late to the parties. :)

  • If I were to keep stats, then mine for reading NF so far this year would be way low. But I think that might change in April. On your list, I am most intrigued by Far and Away and It Didn’t Start With You.

    • Nonfiction seems to be the only thing really working for me this year, but I keep wishing some fiction would blow me away!

  • Uh thanks for adding to my list – there weren’t enough books on there.
    In all seriousness though – NON FICTION! I’m having such a year with non-fiction and I love it. I didn’t know Andrew Solomon had a book coming out and I am here for it. Far From the Tree remains one of the most important, incredible books I’ve ever read. Everyday Sexism, It Didn’t Start With You and Tongue of Fire are all on the list too. Excited!

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one loving all the nonfiction this year! It’s just working and I’m so thankful, otherwise I’m not sure I’d be reading anything at all.

  • Sign me up for Agnostic, Hamilton, and Everyday Sexism. I’ve got The Gunning of America on my shelf, I’m reading Children of Paradise, and I recently finished The Violet Hour (which was amazing–it was a library read that I had to return, so I’ll have to write up a mini-review soon).

  • While everything sounds interesting, I am intrigue by ‘Agnostic’. :)

  • Wow, those all look great. I’d be especially interested to read the book about child abuse and how it’s dealt with structurally in this country. My dad was a child protection worker for most of his career, so it’s especially interesting to me.

    The de Waal book also sounds great. I wonder what he’ll say about cats! Are cats smart? ARE THEY. They are unTESTable and it is susPICious.

  • Eve’s Bookish Confections

    Your stats rock and are really encouraging! It Didn’t Start With You and Shrill are definitely going to on library request list.

  • Yikes! Another 4 books on my TBR listing! How did I not know about Are We Smart Enough?!? I’m always saying that “people” must reach a higher level of consciousness before we can begin to truly understand or know animals. I’m convinced we just don’t get it. I guess The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony is the one book that finally convinced me. (If you’ve not read that one, I really think you should…) I think Left in he Wind by Ed Gray looks good, The Hundred-Year Walk by Dawn Anahid MacKeen, and for my grandkids, How Kate Warne Saved President Lincoln by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk and Valentina Belloni. I still haven’t read A Thousand Naked Strangers yet either! :(

    • Are We Smart Enough sounds like it’s going to be fascinating. I added it to my library holds and feel like I’m counting down the days until it gets here!

  • Are We Smart Enough is on my list of books I’m looking forward to too :) Shrill and Everyday Sexism both caught my attention because of the topic, but didn’t make my list – Shrill because I was scared off by the current goodreads reviews and Everyday Sexism since it looks to like a re-publication to me. Everyday Sexism is still on my to-read list though and maybe Shrill eventually will be as well. I’m curious to hear what you think if you pick it up!

    • Just finished Everyday Sexism and it was a good read! It was published last year in the UK and just now getting here to the US. Definitely worth checking out :)

  • I just started following everyday sexism on twitter. The book is on my to read list, though I have a feeling it’s going to be a tough one to get through. Are We Smart Enough sounds like a good follow up to Jane Goodall’s book Through a Window, which I just finished reading.