Best New Nonfiction at CA Library, Part 2

We continue our look at the best nonfiction added to the CA Library collection in the past year with some notable books for adults:

American History

  • The Historic Unfullfilled Promise by Howard Zinn (City Lights Books, 2012) — “This posthumous collection of Zinn’s passionate, iconoclastic, and wryly humorous articles from the Progressive magazine spans 30 years — from 1980 to 2010.” — Publishers Weekly
  • Shiloh, 1862 by Winston Groom (National Geographic, 2012) — “A provocatively rendered and persuasively argued study that demands a central place in Civil War historiography. Highly recommended.” — Library Journal
  • The Story Of America : Essays On Origins by Jill Lepore (Princeton University Press, 2012) — “Ranging from colonial times to the present, these essays are liberally sprinkled with fascinating facts…even the footnotes contain buried treasures; history buffs and general readers alike will savor this collection.” — Publishers Weekly

Global Studies

  • Behind The Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo (Random House, 2012) — “This first book by a New Yorker staff writer (and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Washington Post) jolts the reader’s consciousness with the opposing realities of poverty and wealth in a searing visit to the Annawaldi settlement, a flimflam slum that has recently sprung up in the western suburbs of the gigantic city of Mumbai, India.” — Booklist
  • Escape From Camp 14 : One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey From North Korea To Freedom In The West by Blaine Harden (Viking, 2012) — “Shin Dong-Hyuk was born in 1982 in one of North Korea’s gulags, Camp 14. At 23, he escaped, one of few to do so and survive. Following Shin’s story from North Korea to China to South Korea and eventually to the States and connecting it to the larger story of North Korea’s dictatorship and culture, Harden tells a gripping story.” — Library Journal
  • Jerusalem : Chronicles From The Holy City by Guy Delisle (Drawn & Quarterly, 2012) — “Delisle delivers a collection of vignettes and anecdotes culled from a year spent in the contentious holy city of Jerusalem. This beautiful book works as an unforgettable travelogue that delves deeply into finding connections and humanity in a routinely conflicted area.” — Booklist
  • Restless Empire : China And The World Since 1750 by Odd Arne Westad (Basic Books, 2012) — “A remarkable and timely glimpse behind the curtain that is required reading for anyone interested in Chinese political history and economic development and the future of China’s position in the international community.” — Booklist
  • The World Until Yesterday : What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies? by Jared M. Diamond (Viking, 2012) — “Diamond draws on his fieldwork in New Guinea, the Amazon, Kalahari, and other areas to compare the best and most questionable customs and practices of societies past and present, [bringing]  a fresh perspective to historic and contemporary ways of life with an eye toward those that are likely to enhance our future.” — Booklist

Science and Technology

  • Air : The Restless Shaper Of The World by William Bryant Logan (W.W. Norton, 2012) — “For everyone who has wondered just how a 747 manages to get off the ground, luxuriated in the intoxicating aroma of a bed of roses, or marveled at a tropical sunset, Logan’s meticulously researched and engagingly presented treatise is a breath of, well, fresh air.” — Booklist
  • The Forever Fix : Gene Therapy And The Boy Who Saved It by Ricki Lewis (St. Martin’s Press, 2012) — “In this impressive, meticulously researched study of the exciting new developments in gene therapy, geneticist and journalist Lewis looks closely at the history of setbacks plaguing the treatment of rare genetic diseases as well as recent breakthroughs.” — Publishers Weekly
  • Gulp : Adventures On The Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach (W.W. Norton & Company, 2013) — “Roach once again goes boldly into the fields of strange science. Adventurous kids and doctors alike will appreciate this fascinating and sometimes ghastly tour of the gastrointestinal system.” — Publishers Weekly
  • Letters To A Young Scientist by Edward O. Wilson (Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2013) — “Wilson’s celebration of creativity and discipline, love for the living world, and commitment to explicating its wonders and fragility will uplift every reader, no matter her or his calling. Warm, sage, and compelling, this concise and mighty book of wisdom and encouragement belongs in every library.” — Booklist
  • No Time To Lose : A Life In Pursuit Of Deadly Viruses by Peter Piot (W.W. Norton, 2012) — “Belgian physician Piot has been on the front lines of infectious disease research for the last three and one-half decades, and he details the battle against Ebola and AIDS in his timely and accessible memoir. Piot’s race to make a difference in the face of [the AIDS] epidemic makes for enthralling reading, and his determination, efforts, and accomplishments are inspiring.” — Booklist
  • The Story Of Earth : The First 4.5 Billion Years, From Stardust To Living Planet by Robert M. Hazen (Viking, 2012) — “With a blend of storytelling and science (from mineralogy and geology to biochemistry), Hazen illuminates the origins of Earth and the origins of life. This is a thoroughly accessible book, deftly mixing a variety of scientific disciplines to tell an unforgettable story.” — Publishers Weekly
  • Weird Life : The Search For Life That Is Very, Very Different From Our Own by David Toomey (W.W. Norton & Co., 2013) — “Toomey’s latest covers the strange, stranger, and strangest of life forms at the frontiers of biology. This title would be an excellent supplement to a physical science course and will be perfect for curious readers with humanities or social science backgrounds.” — Library Journal

Environmental Issues

  • Death At Seaworld : Shamu And The Dark Side Of Killer Whales In Captivity by David Kirby (St. Martin’s Press, 2012) — “Journalist Kirby offers another passionate industry expose, focusing on SeaWorld Orlando’s popular orca display and its costs in happiness and safety for both the animals and the humans who care for them. Kirby’s exhaustively researched chronicle offers the definitive look at its subject.” — Publishers Weekly
  • Full Body Burden : Growing Up In The Nuclear Shadow Of Rocky Flats by Kristen Iversen (Crown Publishers, 2012) — “National security has always trumped transparency, but Iverson’s well-researched, firsthand account of the effects of growing up a few miles from Rocky Flats, [a plutonium trigger plant] near Denver, is a bombshell. Teens interested in environmental causes will be amazed at the enormity of this issue and its implications for the future.” — School Library Journal
  • Garbology : Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash by Edward Humes (Avery, 2012) — “On average, every American will generate 102 tons of trash in their lifetime. Pulitzer Prize-winner Humes asks how that number came to be, and what can be done to reduce it; [his] take on the science and culture of ‘garbology’ is both academic and deeply personal, making this a fascinating read.” — Publishers Weekly
  • Global Weirdness : Severe Storms, Deadly Heat Waves, Relentless Drought, Rising Seas, And The Weather Of The Future, by Climate Central (Pantheon Books, 2012) — “Climate Central Inc., a nonprofit, nonpartisan science and journalism organization, wrote this guide in response to Thomas Friedman’s request in a 2010 New York Times column for the climate-science community to ‘convene its top experts’ to provide a simple, unimpeachably peer-reviewed 50-page report ‘summarizing everything we already know about climate change in language that a sixth-grader could understand.'” — Publishers Weekly
  • Nature Wars : The Incredible Story Of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards Into Battlegrounds by Jim Sterba (Crown, 2012) — “Sterba tells the story of, as he puts it, how we turned a wildlife comeback miracle into a mess. The eastern third of the U.S. hosts the majority of Americans and is also the home of a burgeoning population of animals that have adjusted to life near and among humans. This is an excellent introduction to a problem that is often one of human perception.” — Booklist
  • The Ocean Of Life : The Fate Of Man And The Sea by Callum Roberts (Viking, 2012) — “Biologist and conservation activist Roberts examines with clarity the relationships among fossil-fuel use, climate change, rising sea levels and ocean acidity, overfishing, and pollution from toxic chemicals, sewage, and fertilizers. Appropriate for the general public as well as high school and college students, this is essential reading for anyone concerned about the future of the planet.” — Library Journal


  • The Best American Travel Writing 2012, edited by William T. Vollmann (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012) — “Bold and questing writer and world traveler Vollmann is at the helm of the thirteenth edition of this superb travel annual, which has always been distinguished by its stellar guest editors. Vollmann’s best assemblage profoundly extends the reach of the ever-vital and enlightening art of travel writing.” — Booklist
  • Good Prose : The Art Of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder & Richard Todd (Random House, 2013) — “Kidder and veteran editor Todd, who have long worked together, have cowritten a treatise on writing nonfiction that not only focuses on art over craft, but rises to the level of art itself, while remaining accessible. This is a must read for nonfiction writers and is a strong choice as a textbook or required course reading covering the narrative nonfiction, essay, or memoir forms.” — Library Journal
  • My Bookstore : Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places To Browse, Read, And Shop, edited by Ronald Rice (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2012) — “Rice invited 84 outstanding writers to contribute to this essay collection, and one could do worse than to plan a road trip based solely on the bookstores featured in this unabashed paean to what may be a vanishing part of the American landscape, the independent bookstore.” — Booklist

Sports and Health

  • Muck City : Winning And Losing In Football’s Forgotten Town by Bryan Mealer (Crown Archetype, 2012) — “Drawing comparisons to the 1990 bestseller Friday Night Lights, this football narrative chronicles the evolution of high school football in Belle Glade, Fla. — among the poorest communities in the U.S. — home to Glades Central High School, an academic underachiever whose football team has sent more than 30 players to the NFL since 1985.” — Publishers Weekly
  • Salt, Sugar, Fat : How The Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss (Random House, 2013) — “American cuisine is just a delivery system for an addictive trinity of unhealthy ingredients, according to this eye-popping expose of the processed food industry. Pulitzer-winning New York Times reporter Moss explains the two-faced science of salt, sugar, and fat; the result is a mouth-watering, gut-wrenching look at the food we hate to love.” — Publishers Weekly


  • The Fish That Ate The Whale : The Life And Times Of America’s Banana King by Rich Cohen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012) — “This spirited book introduces readers to Samuel Zemurray, a Russian Jew who emigrated to Alabama in 1891, eventually settling in New Orleans, where he grew to be head of the United Fruit Company. This is popular history and biography at its best, making for an easy verdict: this book will appeal strongly to lay readers and scholars alike. Highly recommended to all.” — Library Journal


  • Glittering Images : A Journey Through Art From Egypt To Star Wars by Camille Paglia (Pantheon Books, 2012) — “Paglia, an ardent and often controversial defender of the arts and creative freedom, presents a commanding case for reclaiming the visual arts as a necessary and nurturing cultural force in a time of alarmingly diminished support for arts education; this bold and rigorous, handsomely illustrated and welcoming art iconography will accomplish her mission to provoke, enlighten, and inspire.” — Booklist
  • Mastering Comics : Drawing Words & Writing Pictures Continued : A Definitive Course In Comics Narrative by Jessica Abel (First Second, 2012) — “Filled with clear, engaging, and exact instructions; examples from well- and lesser-known comics; and loads of exercises meant to help both the prospective writer and potential artist flourish, the book leaves literally no area of the comic creation process unexamined. This belongs in every library that is pursuing a serious and expansive graphic novel collection.” — Booklist


  • Raiders! : The Story Of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made by Alan Eisenstock (Thomas Dunne Books, 2012) — Here’s a making-of book about the production of the coolest movie you might never see. Back in the early 1980s, when Raiders of the Lost Ark was still in theaters, a couple of kids (Eric Zala, 12, and Chris Strompolos, 11) decided to remake the movie, using a borrowed camera, a cast of friends, and as much realism and accuracy as they could muster. An amazing, one-of-a-kind book about a triumphant, one-of-a-kind film production.” — Booklist


  • How Children Succeed : Grit, Curiosity, And The Hidden Power Of Character by Paul Tough (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012) — “This American Life contributor Tough tackles new theories on childhood education; while traditional education relies heavily on memorization, new research conducted by James Heckman suggests that the conventional wisdom represented by those third-grade multiplication tables has failed some of our most vulnerable students. The ultimate lesson of Tough’s quest to explain a new wave of educational theories is that character strengths make up perhaps the single most compelling element of a child’s education, and these traits are rooted deep within the chemistry of the brain.” — Publishers Weekly


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