April’s Simply Held Nonfiction Picks

Changes are coming to Simply Held starting July 1, 2024, but before that happens we wanted to share our April nonfiction picks for our patrons that are already signed up! Starting July 1, there will only be four nonfiction picks for you to choose from: biographies, cookbooks, social justice, and true crime. Our nonfiction picks are chosen quarterly and are available in regular print only. If you would like to update your selections or are a new patron who wants to receive picks from any of those four categories, sign up for Simply Held through our website!

Below you will find information provided by the publishers and authors on the titles we have selected for April from the following categories: biography, body mind spirit, cookbook, poetry, social justice, strength through struggle, and true crime.

Biography pick

John Lewis: In Search of the Beloved Community by Raymond Arsenault

For six decades John Robert Lewis (1940–2020) was a towering figure in the U.S. struggle for civil rights. As an activist and progressive congressman, he was renowned for his unshakable integrity, indomitable courage, and determination to get into “good trouble.”

In this first book-length biography of Lewis, Raymond Arsenault traces Lewis’s upbringing in rural Alabama, his activism as a Freedom Rider and leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, his championing of voting rights and anti-poverty initiatives, and his decades of service as the “conscience of Congress.”

Both in the streets and in Congress, Lewis promoted a philosophy of nonviolence to bring about change. He helped the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders plan the 1963 March on Washington, where he spoke at the Lincoln Memorial. Lewis’s activism led to repeated arrests and beatings, most notably when he suffered a skull fracture in Selma, Alabama, during the 1965 police attack later known as Bloody Sunday. He was instrumental in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and in Congress he advocated for racial and economic justice, immigration reform, LGBTQ rights, and national health care.

Arsenault recounts Lewis’s lifetime of work toward one overarching goal: realizing the “beloved community,” an ideal society based in equity and inclusion. Lewis never wavered in this pursuit, and even in death his influence endures, inspiring mobilization and resistance in the fight for social justice. – Yale University Press

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Body, Mind, Spirit pick

An apothecary of art: to soothe your soul by Ravenous Butterflies

Take a transformative journey to improve your mental wellbeing with this sumptuous collection of 80 paintings and uplifting quotes.

Ravenous Butterflies is the online brainchild of artist Lisa Azarmi and was designed to provide a safe sanctuary for emotional wellbeing. An Apothecary of Art is a soothing blend of 80 beautiful paintings and inspiring, comforting and uplifting quotes to lift the spirit, calm the mind and heal the soul.

The contents page is artfully divided into 24 emotional journeys that suggest routes in which to navigate the book to explore different feelings along the way, and to provide comfort and solace in difficult times. Within these pages you will find both the works of world-renowned masters and the paintings of lesser-known talents paired with uplifting thoughts from great poets, writers and thinkers. A biographical section on the featured artists will provide context on your new favourite finds.

This inspiring debut collection from Ravenous Butterflies features 80 exquisite works of art from the likes of Modigliani, Hasui Kawase, and Thomas Cooper Gotch with accompanying quotes from inspirational voices including Sappho, Pablo Neruda and Harriet Tubman. This illumination of the power of art as a source of wellbeing is modern yet timelessly beautiful – the perfect book to dip into to lift your spirits. – Batsford

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Cookbook pick

The Comfort Food Cookbook: Over 100 Delicious Recipes That Taste Like Home by the Coastal Kitchen

Over 100 tasty recipes that bring comfort to your kitchen.

Relive old family traditions with meals that bring warmth to the table. These nostalgic and cozy recipes are sure to become family favorites. Whether you’re looking for quick and easy family recipes, a way to placate picky kids, dishes for dinner parties, or just want a meal that tastes like home, these comfort classics will hit the mark and soothe the soul every time.

Inside you’ll find:

  • Over 100 hassle-free recipes for cozy breakfasts, satisfying snacks and appetizers, hearty dinners, and delectable desserts
  • Quick-fix dinners for weeknights and rich meals for Sunday dinners and potlucks
  • A variety of recipes ready in 30 minutes or less that are perfect for families and busy people

Serve food you can be sure you and your family will love. Indulge your cravings with Chicken Noodle Soup, Creamy Mac N’ Cheese, Meatloaf, Lasagna, Southern Fried Chicken, Chicken Enchiladas, Roasted Sausage with Peppers and Onions, Chicken Pot Pie, Borscht, Baked Pasta, Roasted Beef Brisket, Chicken and Dumplings, Mushroom Risotto, Pad Thai, and the best Grilled Cheese Sandwich you’ll ever have. Gather your family and friends around the table with wholesome dishes you’ll cherish with The Comfort Food Cookbook. – Cider Mill Press Book Publishers

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Poetry pick

You Don’t Have to Be Everything: Poems for Girls Becoming Themselves edited by Diana Whitney

Created and compiled just for young women, You Don’t Have to Be Everything is filled with works by a wide range of poets who are honest, unafraid, and skilled at addressing the complex feelings of coming-of-age, from loneliness to joy, longing to solace, attitude to humor. These unintimidating poems offer girls a message of self-acceptance and strength, giving them permission to let go of shame and perfectionism.

The cast of 68 poets is extraordinary: Amanda Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate, who read at Joe Biden’s inauguration; bestselling authors like Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Acevedo, Sharon Olds, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Mary Oliver; Instagram-famous poets including Kate Baer, Melody Lee, and Andrea Gibson; poets who are LGBTQ, poets of diverse racial and cultural backgrounds, poets who sing of human experience in ways that are free from conventional ideas of femininity. Illustrated in full color with work by three diverse artists, this book is an inspired gift for daughters and granddaughters—and anyone on the path to becoming themselves. – Workman Publishing Company

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Social Justice pick

Troubled: A Memoir of Foster Care, Family, and Social Class by Rob Kim Henderson

Rob Henderson was born to a drug-addicted mother and a father he never met, ultimately shuttling between ten different foster homes in California. When he was adopted into a loving family, he hoped that life would finally be stable and safe. Divorce, tragedy, poverty, and violence marked his adolescent and teen years, propelling Henderson to join the military upon completing high school.

An unflinching portrait of shattered families, desperation, and determination, Troubled recounts Henderson’s expectation-defying young life and juxtaposes his story with those of his friends who wound up incarcerated or killed. He retreads the steps and missteps he took to escape the drama and disorder of his youth. As he navigates the peaks and valleys of social class, Henderson finds that he remains on the outside looking in. His greatest achievements—a military career, an undergraduate education from Yale, a PhD from Cambridge—feel like hollow measures of success. He argues that stability at home is more important than external accomplishments, and he illustrates the ways the most privileged among us benefit from a set of social standards that actively harm the most vulnerable. – Gallery Books

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Strength Through Struggle pick

A Living Remedy: A Memoir by Nicole Chung

From the bestselling author of ALL YOU CAN EVER KNOW comes a searing memoir of family, class and grief—a daughter’s search to understand the lives her adoptive parents led, the life she forged as an adult, and the lives she’s lost.

In this country, unless you attain extraordinary wealth, you will likely be unable to help your loved ones in all the ways you’d hoped. You will learn to live with the specific, hollow guilt of those who leave hardship behind, yet are unable to bring anyone else with them.

Nicole Chung couldn’t hightail it out of her overwhelmingly white Oregon hometown fast enough. As a scholarship student at a private university on the East Coast, no longer the only Korean she knew, she found community and a path to the life she’d long wanted. But the middle class world she begins to raise a family in – where there are big homes, college funds, nice vacations – looks very different from the middle class world she thought she grew up in, where paychecks have to stretch to the end of the week, health insurance is often lacking, and there are no safety nets.

When her father dies at only sixty-seven, killed by diabetes and kidney disease, Nicole feels deep grief as well as rage, knowing that years of precarity and lack of access to healthcare contributed to his early death. And then the unthinkable happens – less than a year later, her beloved mother is diagnosed with cancer, and the physical distance between them becomes insurmountable as COVID-19 descends upon the world.

Exploring the enduring strength of family bonds in the face of hardship and tragedy, A Living Remedy examines what it takes to reconcile the distance between one life, one home, and another – and sheds needed light on some of the most persistent and grievous inequalities in American society. – Ecco

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True Crime pick

Behold the monster: confronting America’s most prolific serial killer by Jillian Lauren

New York Times best-selling author Jillian Lauren’s personal, haunting account of confronting serial killer Samuel Little, and her determination to lift up the voices of his victims for the first time.

Jillian Lauren had no idea what she was getting into when she asked LAPD homicide detective Mitzi Roberts about the case she was most proud of. It was when she put Samuel Little, the now deceased serial killer, behind bars for killing three women in Los Angeles. In fact, Little had murdered approximately ninety women over six decades, but many were cold cases and Mitzi didn’t have enough evidence (or jurisdiction) to prove it.

After doing more digging, Lauren, the New York Times best-selling author of two memoirs and a novel, was obsessed. Following months of exchanging letters with Little, Lauren finally got a face-to-face meeting. In the hundreds of hours of interviews that followed, Little confessed to dozens of murders for the first time. Lauren knew this harrowing journey was taking its toll, both psychologically and legally—but still, she couldn’t stop.

Little gave Lauren a powerful and terrifying window into the psyche of a serial killer, and as she delved deeper, she realized she needed a way to survive these encounters. To balance out his darkness, she would illuminate the lives of the women he killed, making sure they would be remembered as more than mere props in the drama of his life. She excavated their lives—visiting their hometowns, talking to their families, investigating all they left behind.

Harrowing, insightful, and extraordinarily adept at giving Little’s victims a chance to have their stories heard for the first time–including those of the four who survived–this is a truly unforgettable read. – Jillian Lauren

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