January’s Simply Held Nonfiction Picks

We have rebranded our Best Sellers Club to now be called Simply Held! Have you joined Simply Held? If not, you’re missing out! Four times a year, our librarians choose four nonfiction titles for Simply Held members to read: a biography, a cookbook, a social justice, and a true crime title. Below you will find information provided by the publishers on the four titles our selectors have picked for October.

Social Justice pick

Making Americans: Stories of Historic Struggles, New Ideas, and Inspiration in Immigrant Education by Jessica Lander

A landmark work that weaves captivating stories about the past, present, and personal into an inspiring vision for how America can educate immigrant students

Setting out from her classroom, Jessica Lander takes the reader on a powerful and urgent journey to understand what it takes for immigrant students to become Americans. A compelling read for everyone who cares about America’s future, Making Americans brims with innovative ideas for educators and policy makers across the country.

Lander brings to life the history of America’s efforts to educate immigrants through rich stories, including these:
-The Nebraska teacher arrested for teaching an eleven-year-old boy in German who took his case to the Supreme Court
-The California families who overturned school segregation for Mexican American children
-The Texas families who risked deportation to establish the right for undocumented children to attend public schools

She visits innovative classrooms across the country that work with immigrant-origin students, such as these:
-A school in Georgia for refugee girls who have been kept from school by violence, poverty, and natural disaster
-Five schools in Aurora, Colorado, that came together to collaborate with community groups, businesses, a hospital, and families to support newcomer children.
-A North Carolina school district of more than 100 schools who rethought how they teach their immigrant-origin students

She shares inspiring stories of how seven of her own immigrant students created new homes in America, including the following:
-The boy who escaped Baghdad and found a home in his school’s ROTC program
-The daughter of Cambodian genocide survivors who dreamed of becoming a computer scientist
-The orphaned boy who escaped violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and created a new community here

Making Americans is an exploration of immigrant education across the country told through key historical moments, current experiments to improve immigrant education, and profiles of immigrant students. Making Americans is a remarkable book that will reshape how we all think about nurturing one of America’s greatest assets: the newcomers who enrich this country with their energy, talents, and drive.

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True Crime pick

The Forever Witness: How DNA and Genealogy Solved a Cold Case Double Murder by Edward Humes

A relentless detective and an amateur genealogist solve a haunting cold case—and launch a crime-fighting revolution that tests the fragile line between justice and privacy.

In November 1987, a young couple on an overnight trip to Seattle vanished without a trace. A week later, the bodies of Tanya Van Cuylenborg and her boyfriend Jay Cook were found in rural Washington. It was a brutal crime, and it was the perfect crime: With few clues and no witnesses, an international manhunt turned up empty, and the sensational case that shocked the Pacific Northwest gradually slipped from the headlines.

In deep-freeze, long-term storage, biological evidence from the crime sat waiting, as Detective Jim Scharf poured over old case files looking for clues his predecessors missed. Meanwhile, 1,200 miles away in California, CeCe Moore began her lifelong fascination with genetic genealogy, a powerful forensic tool that emerged not from the crime lab, but through the wildly popular home DNA ancestry tests purchased by more than 40 million Americans. When Scharf decided to send the cold case’s decades-old DNA to Parabon NanoLabs, he hoped he would finally bring closure to the Van Cuylenborg and Cook families. He didn’t know that he and Moore would make history.

Genetic genealogy, long the province of family tree hobbyists and adoptees seeking their birth families, has made headlines as a cold case solution machine, capable of exposing the darkest secrets of seemingly upstanding citizens. In the hands of a tenacious detective like Scharf, genetic genealogy has solved one baffling killing after another. But as this crime-fighting technique spreads, its sheer power has sparked a national debate: Can we use DNA to catch the murderers among us, yet still protect our last shred of privacy in the digital age—the right to the very blueprint of who we are?

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Biography pick

Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe by David Maraniss

A riveting new biography of America’s greatest all-around athlete by the bestselling author of the classic biography When Pride Still Mattered.

Jim Thorpe rose to world fame as a mythic talent who excelled at every sport. He won gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, was an All-American football player at the Carlisle Indian School, the star of the first class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and played major league baseball for John McGraw’s New York Giants. Even in a golden age of sports celebrities, he was one of a kind.

But despite his colossal skills, Thorpe’s life was a struggle against the odds. As a member of the Sac and Fox Nation, he encountered duplicitous authorities who turned away from him when their reputations were at risk. At Carlisle, he dealt with the racist assimilationist philosophy “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” His gold medals were unfairly rescinded because he had played minor league baseball. His later life was troubled by alcohol, broken marriages, and financial distress. He roamed from state to state and took bit parts in Hollywood, but even the film of his own life failed to improve his fortunes. But for all his travails, Thorpe did not succumb. The man survived, complications and all, and so did the myth.

Path Lit by Lightning is a great American story from a master biographer.

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Cookbook Pick

What’s for Dessert: Simple Recipes for Dessert People by Claire Saffitz

Filled with decadent delights to satisfy any sweet tooth, this all-new collection of straightforward and simple recipes for dessert people is filled with loads of troubleshooting advice that readers have come to count on.

“Whether you’re into flambés, soufflés, or simple loaf cakes this book offers over 100 different answers to that all-important question: What’s for dessert?”—Claire Saffitz

Claire Saffitz returns with 100 recipes for all dessert people—whether you’re into impressive-yet-easy molten lava cakes, comforting rice pudding, or decadent chestnut brownies. In this all-new collection, Claire shares recipes for icebox cakes, pies, cobblers, custards, cookies and more, all crafted to be as streamlined as possible. (No stand mixer? No problem! You won’t need one.) To keep the recipes straightforward and simple, Claire makes sure each recipe is extra efficient, whether you’re making a Whipped Tres Leches Cake with Hazelnuts or Caramel Peanut Popcorn Bars. Fans will find all the warmth, encouragement, and deliciously foolproof recipes with loads of troubleshooting advice that they’ve come to count on from Claire.

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Join Simply Held to have the new nonfiction picks automatically put on hold for you four times a year.

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