Best Sellers Club April Nonfiction Picks

Have you joined the Best Sellers Club? If not, you’re missing out! Four times a year, our librarians choose three nonfiction titles for our Best Sellers Club to read: a biography, a cookbook, and a true crime title. Below you will find information on the three titles they have picked for April.

Cookbook Pick

Cook Real Hawai’i by Sheldon Simeon with Garrett Snyder

Written by a favorite Top Chef finalist, Cook Real Hawai’i brings together the many cultures that have influenced Hawaiian cuisine. These are recipes that are eaten at home with family and friends. During this time of quarantine and social distancing, this cookbook can bring back fond memories of past travels, or help you dream of future adventures.

The story of Hawaiian cooking, by a two-time Top Chef finalist and Fan Favorite, through 100 recipes that embody the beautiful cross-cultural exchange of the islands. On two seasons of Top Chef, Sheldon Simeon established himself as a leading young, creative chef (he was both a finalist and Fan Favorite on both seasons). The role he is even more proud to fill, though, is as the storyteller of Hawaiian cuisine and the many cultures that have come together there to create it: the native Hawaiian traditions, Japanese influences, Portuguese cooking techniques, and dynamic flavors that are closest to Sheldon’s heart.

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True Crime pick

Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters and Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion by Tori Telfer

A thoroughly entertaining and darkly humorous roundup of history’s notorious but often forgotten female con artists and their bold, outrageous scams—by the acclaimed author of Lady Killers.

From Elizabeth Holmes and Anna Delvey to Frank Abagnale and Charles Ponzi, audacious scams and charismatic scammers continue to intrigue us as a culture. As Tori Telfer reveals in Confident Women, the art of the con has a long and venerable tradition, and its female practitioners are some of the best—or worst.

In the 1700s in Paris, Jeanne de Saint-Rémy scammed the royal jewelers out of a necklace made from six hundred and forty-seven diamonds by pretending she was best friends with Queen Marie Antoinette.

In the mid-1800s, sisters Kate and Maggie Fox began pretending they could speak to spirits and accidentally started a religious movement that was soon crawling with female con artists. A gal calling herself Loreta Janeta Velasquez claimed to be a soldier and convinced people she worked for the Confederacy—or the Union, depending on who she was talking to. Meanwhile, Cassie Chadwick was forging paperwork and getting banks to loan her upwards of $40,000 by telling people she was Andrew Carnegie’s illegitimate daughter.

In the 1900s, a 40something woman named Margaret Lydia Burton embezzled money all over the country and stole upwards of forty prized show dogs, while a few decades later, a teenager named Roxie Ann Rice scammed the entire NFL. And since the death of the Romanovs, women claiming to be Anastasia have been selling their stories to magazines. What about today? Spoiler alert: these “artists” are still conning.

Confident Women asks the provocative question: Where does chutzpah intersect with a uniquely female pathology—and how were these notorious women able to so spectacularly dupe and swindle their victims?

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Biography pick

Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight by Julia Sweig

A magisterial portrait of Lady Bird Johnson, and a major reevaluation of the profound yet underappreciated impact the First Lady’s political instincts had on LBJ’s presidency.

In the spring of 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson had a decision to make. Just months after moving into the White House under the worst of circumstances–following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy–he had to decide whether to run to win the presidency in his own right. He turned to his most reliable, trusted political strategist: his wife, Lady Bird Johnson. The strategy memo she produced for him, emblematic of her own political acumen and largely overlooked by biographers, is just one revealing example of how their marriage was truly a decades-long political partnership.

Perhaps the most underestimated First Lady of the twentieth century, Lady Bird Johnson was also one of the most accomplished and often her husband’s secret weapon. Managing the White House in years of national upheaval, through the civil rights movement and the escalation of the Vietnam War, Lady Bird projected a sense of calm and, following the glamorous and modern Jackie Kennedy, an old-fashioned image of a First Lady. In truth, she was anything but. As the first First Lady to run the East Wing like a professional office, she took on her own policy initiatives, including the most ambitious national environmental effort since Teddy Roosevelt. Occupying the White House during the beginning of the women’s liberation movement, she hosted professional women from all walks of life in the White House, including urban planning and environmental pioneers like Jane Jacobs and Barbara Ward, encouraging women everywhere to pursue their own careers, even if her own style of leadership and official role was to lead by supporting others.

Where no presidential biographer has understood the full impact of Lady Bird Johnson’s work in the White House, Julia Sweig is the first to draw substantially on Lady Bird’s own voice in her White House diaries to place Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Johnson center stage and to reveal a woman ahead of her time–and an accomplished politician in her own right.

Join the Best Sellers Club to have the new nonfiction picks automatically put on hold for you four times a year.

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