Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Librarians' Line-Up: Favorite Recent Non-Fiction Read

For this round of the librarians' line-up, we're talking non-fiction. We mostly talk about fiction books on here, but I promise, we do read non-fiction too. Check out our favorite recent non-fiction reads below!

Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson. Two famous treasure hunters search for pirate Joseph Bannister's sunken ship. With only one other pirate ship ever positively identified, finding and diving a shipwreck takes courage, perseverance, intelligence, and a love of history. With two years and a million dollars on the line, this highly engaging, adventurous, and character driven story will make you root for the pirates and the men looking for what remains of them. Pirate Hunters is a wonderful, historical detective true story which I highly recommend to any reader.  
~Mary P.

The third volume of William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill, The Last Lion, Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 is long, so long in fact that Manchester himself didn’t live to complete it. That task fell to Paul Reid, but the transition is seamless. It is a compelling read, especially Manchester’s narration of the years 1940 and 1941, when Britain stood alone, breasting the storm of Nazi aggression. Churchill was a peculiar fellow, but also arguably the greatest statesman in living memory. If you’re thinking about seeing the films Churchill or Dunkirk, read this first.

~John F.

The best nonfiction I’ve read recently is the award-winning March trilogy by Congressman John Lewis. I get goosebumps when I think about these books, that’s how good they are! In this set of graphic novels, Lewis gives an accessible, personal account of his experiences during the civil rights movement. Eye-opening and inspiring, to say the least.
~Ariel J.

When Jackie Saved Grand Central: The True Story of Jacqueline Kennedy’s Fight for an American Icon by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Alexandra Bioger
My pick for best non-fiction of the year is When Jackie Saved Grand Central. First Lady Jackie Kennedy was born and raised in New York. She loved everything about her city, including Grand Central Station. But one day the owners of Grand Central Station wanted to tear it down to build a skyscraper. Jackie knew that she had to stop them and save the iconic landmark, and she took her fight all the way to the Supreme Court. 

I personally was not familiar with this story, and it’s always wonderful to learn something new. I would say the best part of the book is the artwork. I’m a sucker for watercolor and gouache illustrations, and the blue, red, and gold themes are both reminiscent of Grand Central Station and tie in with the patriotic themes of the story. 
~Marilyn W.

Earlier this summer I visited some of the historic sites in the Hudson River Valley. One location in particular I found fascinating was Val-Kill, the home of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. I wanted to learn more about her, so I picked up Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 1: The Early Years, 1884-1933​ by Blanche Wisen Cook. Full disclosure, I haven't yet finished this 600-plus page biography, but this first book covers Eleanor's privileged upbringing through the beginning of FDR's first term as president. In particular interest to me was her rocky marriage to FDR, which ended up leading her to an independent life of political activism. 
~Meredith T.

The New York Times calls Edward McLelland's How to Speak Midwestern "a dictionary wrapped in some serious dialectology inside a gift book trailing a serious whiff of Relevance." That's a pretty apt description. The first half of the book contains several short essays that are organized regionally--McLelland divides the Midwest into The Inland North (upstate New York, lower Michigan, and southeastern Wisconsin), Midland (western Pennsylvania, Ohio, most of Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Oklahoma),  and North Central (central and northern Wisconsin, the U.P., Minnesota, and the Dakotas)--while the second half is glossary of Midwestern terms. It makes for a relatable, rollicking experience. This was on full display during McLelland's recent visit to MPL as part of our author series, which kept the audience laughing and eagerly sharing their own lingual anecdotes all night.
~Travis F.

I've been trying to read more non-fiction the last few years, and I've read some stand-outs in the last year. My most recent favorite is Theft By Finding by the ever-entertaining David Sedaris. It is a collection of his diary entries from 1977 to 2002. Spanning from his twenties to mid-forties, as a reader I was able to watch Sedaris grow into the affluent writer he's become. His popular works have focused primarily on his upbringing, and this collection felt like much of the same. It was interesting to see the beginnings of the writer in his diary entries, before that even became his pursued path. The way he sees the world is intelligent as well as humorous, and I already can't wait for the next installment of these diary entries. 
~Cailey W.

My favorite recent non-fiction is Body Love by Kelly LeVeque. This is not a diet book! The author says so right up front and after quickly flipping through it, I believe her. Like many others, I have dealt with the constant struggle to eat healthy. It can all seem expensive, time-consuming, and just overwhelming in general. This book breaks down the science behind how our bodies process the food we eat in a way that is easy to understand. There is advice on how to eat in a balanced way that maximizes energy and minimizes cravings, all without obsessing over food. And if you like smoothies, there are several pages of recipes that look amazing!
~Ragan S.

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