New Nonfiction Books at the Library

Let’s talk about new nonfiction titles! Below you will find a mix of all different kinds of adult nonfiction that is new at the Library. Check them out and see if you would like to read any of them. All descriptions have been provided by the publishers.

The Socrates Express: In Search of Life Lessons from Dead Philosophers by Eric Weiner

The New York Times bestselling author of The Geography of Bliss embarks on a rollicking intellectual journey, following in the footsteps of history’s greatest thinkers and showing us how each—from Epicurus to Gandhi, Thoreau to Beauvoir—offers practical and spiritual lessons for today’s unsettled times.

We turn to philosophy for the same reasons we travel: to see the world from a dif­ferent perspective, to unearth hidden beauty, and to find new ways of being. We want to learn how to embrace wonder. Face regrets. Sustain hope.

Eric Weiner combines his twin passions for philosophy and global travel in a pil­grimage that uncovers surprising life lessons from great thinkers around the world, from Rousseau to Nietzsche, Confucius to Simone Weil. Traveling by train (the most thoughtful mode of transport), he journeys thousands of miles, making stops in Athens, Delhi, Wyoming, Coney Island, Frankfurt, and points in between to recon­nect with philosophy’s original purpose: teaching us how to lead wiser, more meaningful lives. From Socrates and ancient Athens to Simone de Beauvoir and twentieth-century Paris, Weiner’s chosen philosophers and places provide important signposts as we navigate today’s chaotic times.

In The Socrates Express, Weiner invites us to voyage alongside him on his life-changing pursuit of wisdom and discovery as he attempts to find answers to our most vital questions.

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The Ikigai Journey: A Practical Guide to Finding Happiness and Purpose the Japanese Way by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles

Discover the Japanese secret to a long and happy life with the internationally bestselling guide to ikigai.

The people of Japan believe that everyone has an ikigai – a reason to jump out of bed each morning. And according to the residents of the Japanese island of Okinawa – the world’s longest-living people – finding it is the key to a longer and more fulfilled life.

Inspiring and comforting, this book will give you the life-changing tools to uncover your personal ikigai. It will show you how to leave urgency behind, find your purpose, nurture friendships and throw yourself into your passions.

Bring meaning and joy to your every day with ikigai.

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The Art of Showing Up: How to Be There for Yourself and Your People by Rachel Wilkerson Miller

A revolutionary guide to friendship and self-care for those who feel alone

When it comes to adult friendships, we’re woefully inept: We barely manage to show up for our own commitments, let alone maintain our relationships. What’s more, we’re living in an uncharted social landscape with new conventions on how to relate—one where actual phone calls are reserved for Mom (if anyone), “dropping in” is unheard-of, and “flaking out” is routine.

The Art of Showing Up offers a roadmap through this morass to true connection with your friends, your family, and yourself. Author Rachel Wilkerson Miller teaches that “showing up” means connecting with others in a way that makes them feel seen and supported. And that begins with showing up for yourself: recognizing your needs, understanding your physical and mental health, and practicing self-compassion. Only then can you better support other people; witness their joy, pain, and true selves; validate their experiences; and help ease their burden.

When “showing up” for others, it’s not the grandest gesture that matters most—it’s how close you come to meeting your loved ones where they really are.

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Better, Not Perfect: A Realist’s Guide to Maximum Sustainable Goodness by Max H. Bazerman

Negotiation and decision-making expert Max Bazerman explores how we can make more ethical choices by aspiring to be better, not perfect.

Every day, you make hundreds of decisions. They’re largely personal, but these choices have an ethical twinge as well; they value certain principles and ends over others. Bazerman argues that we can better balance both dimensions—and we needn’t seek perfection to make a real difference for ourselves and the world.

Better, Not Perfect provides a deeply researched, prescriptive roadmap for how to maximize our pleasure and minimize pain. Bazerman shares a framework to be smarter and more efficient, honest and aware—to attain your “maximum sustainable goodness.” In Part Two, he identifies four training grounds to practice these newfound skills for outsized impact: how you think about equality and your tribe(s); waste—from garbage to corporate excess; the way you spend time; and your approach to giving—whether your attention or your money. Ready to nudge yourself toward better, Part Three trains your eye on how to extend what you’ve learned and positively influence others.

Melding philosophy and psychology as never before, this down-to-earth guide will help clarify your goals, assist you in doing more good with your limited time on the planet, and see greater satisfaction in the process.

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The Sprawl: Reconsidering the Weird American Suburbs by Jason Diamond

For decades the suburbs have been where art happens despite: despite the conformity, the emptiness, the sameness. Time and again, the story is one of gems formed under pressure and that resentment of the suburbs is the key ingredient for creative transcendence. But what if, contrary to that, the suburb has actually been an incubator for distinctly American art, as positively and as surely as in any other cultural hothouse? Mixing personal experience, cultural reportage, and history while rejecting clichés and pieties and these essays stretch across the country in an effort to show that this uniquely American milieu deserves another look.

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Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America by Laila Lalami

The acclaimed, award-winning novelist–author of The Moor’s Account and The Other Americans–now gives us a bracingly personal work of nonfiction that is concerned with the experiences of “conditional citizens.” What does it mean to be American? In this starkly illuminating and impassioned book, Pulitzer Prize Finalist Laila Lalami recounts her unlikely journey from Moroccan immigrant to U.S. citizen, using it as a starting point for her exploration of the rights, liberties, and protections that are traditionally associated with American citizenship. Tapping into history, politics, and literature, she elucidates how accidents of birth–such as national origin, race, or gender–that once determined the boundaries of Americanness still cast their shadows today. Throughout the book, she poignantly illustrates how white supremacy survives through adaptation and legislation, with the result that a caste system is maintained, keeping the modern equivalent of white male landowners at the top of the social hierarchy. Conditional citizens, she argues, are all the people whom America embraces with one arm, and pushes away with the other. Brilliantly argued and deeply personal, Conditional Citizens weaves together the author’s own experiences with explorations of the place of nonwhites in the broader American culture.

This book is also available in the following format:

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Agent Sonya: Moscow’s Most Daring Wartime Spy by Ben Macintyre

The true story behind the Cold War’s most intrepid female spy.

In 1942, in a quiet village in the leafy English Cotswolds, a thin, elegant woman lived in a small cottage with her three children and her husband, who worked as a machinist nearby. Ursula Burton was friendly but reserved, and spoke English with a slight foreign accent. By all accounts, she seemed to be living a simple, unassuming life. Her neighbors in the village knew little about her.

They didn’t know that she was a high-ranking Soviet intelligence officer. They didn’t know that her husband was also a spy, or that she was running powerful agents across Europe. Behind the facade of her picturesque life, Burton was a dedicated Communist, a Soviet colonel, and a veteran agent, gathering the scientific secrets that would enable the Soviet Union to build the bomb.

This true-life spy story is about the woman code-named “Sonya.” Over the course of her career, she was hunted by the Chinese, the Japanese, the Nazis, MI5, MI6, and the FBI—and she evaded them all. Her story reflects the great ideological clash of the twentieth century—between Communism, Fascism, and Western democracy—and casts new light on the spy battles and shifting allegiances of our own times.

With unparalleled access to Sonya’s diaries and correspondence and never-before-seen information on her clandestine activities, Ben Macintyre has written a history of a legendary secret agent, a woman who influenced the course of the Cold War and helped plunge the world into a decades-long standoff between nuclear superpowers.

This book is also available in the following format:

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We’re Better Than This: My Fight for the Future of Our Democracy by Elijah Cummings with James Dale

Baltimore Congressman Elijah Cummings was known for saying “We’re better than this.”

He said it in Baltimore, a city on the verge of explosion over police treatment of citizens. He said it in Congress when microphones were shut down, barring free speech. He said it when the President flaunted his power and ignored the Constitution. He said it when the President resorted to bullying, name-calling and feeding racial divisions. We are better than this. He continued to say it until his final days last October. He said it because he believed we must call out what is wrong and call on our better selves to make things right.

In We’re Better Than This, Cummings details the formative moments in his life that prepared him to hold President Donald Trump accountable for his actions while in office. Cummings powerfully weaves together the urgent drama of modern-day politics and the defining stories from his past. He offers a unique perspective on how his upbringing as the son of sharecroppers in a South Baltimore neighborhood, rampant with racism and poverty, laid the foundation of a life spent fighting for justice.

Cummings was known for his ability to referee contentious members of Congress and reach across the aisle for the sake of justice. Since his early days in politics, Cummings proved his abilities as a leader and legal mind who could operate at the highest levels of democracy, always working with – and for – the underserved.

Part memoir, part call-to-action, the book goes behind the scenes with the House Democratic leadership, offering an eye-opening account of the relentless and unprecedented obstructionism by both the President and GOP. Cummings’ final words present a vital defense of how government oversight defines our collective trust and makes the case that, even in the face of our nation’s most challenging times, we must remain rooted in the politics of optimism.

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Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body by Rebekah Taussig

A memoir-in-essays from disability advocate and creator of the Instagram account @sitting_pretty Rebekah Taussig, processing a lifetime of memories to paint a beautiful, nuanced portrait of a body that looks and moves differently than most.

Growing up as a paralyzed girl during the 90s and early 2000s, Rebekah Taussig only saw disability depicted as something monstrous (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), inspirational (Helen Keller), or angelic (Forrest Gump). None of this felt right; and as she got older, she longed for more stories that allowed disability to be complex and ordinary, uncomfortable and fine, painful and fulfilling.

Writing about the rhythms and textures of what it means to live in a body that doesn’t fit, Rebekah reflects on everything from the complications of kindness and charity, living both independently and dependently, experiencing intimacy, and how the pervasiveness of ableism in our everyday media directly translates to everyday life.

Disability affects all of us, directly or indirectly, at one point or another. By exploring this truth in poignant and lyrical essays, Taussig illustrates the need for more stories and more voices to understand the diversity of humanity. Sitting Pretty challenges us as a society to be patient and vigilant, practical and imaginative, kind and relentless, as we set to work to write an entirely different story.

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Son of Escobar: First Born by Roberto Sendoya Escobar

Pablo Escobar was the most notorious drug lord the world has ever seen. He became one of the ten richest men on the planet and controlled 80 per cent of the global cocaine trade before he was shot dead in 1993.

In 1965, a secret mission by Colombian Special Forces, led by an MI6 agent, to recover a cash hoard from a safe house used by a young Pablo Escobar culminates in a shoot-out leaving many dead. Escobar and several of his men escape. Only a baby survives, Roberto Sendoya Escobar. In a bizarre twist of fate, the MI6 agent takes pity on the child, brings him home and later adopts him.

Over the years, Pablo Escobar tries, repeatedly, to kidnap his son. The child, unaware of his true identity, is allowed regular meetings with Escobar and it becomes apparent that Roberto’s adopted father and the British government are working covertly with the gangster in an attempt to control the money laundering and drug trades.

Many years later in England, as Roberto’s father lies dying in hospital, he hands his son a coded piece of paper which, he says, reveals the secret hiding place of Escobar’s ‘missing millions’. The code is published in this book for the first time.

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A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door: The Dismantling of Public Education and the Future of School by Jack Schneider and Jennifer Berkshire

A trenchant analysis of how public education is being destroyed in overt and deceptive ways—and how to fight back

Betsy DeVos may be the most prominent face of the push to dismantle public education, but she is in fact part of a large movement that’s been steadily gaining power and notching progress for decades—amassing funds, honing their messaging, and crafting policies. While support for public education today is stronger than ever, the movement to save our schools remains fragmented, variable, and voluntary. Meanwhile, those set on destroying this beloved institution are unified, patient, and well-resourced.

In A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door, Jennifer Berkshire and Jack Schneider, co-hosts of the popular education podcast Have You Heard, lay out the increasingly potent network of conservative elected officials, advocacy groups, funders, and think tanks that have aligned behind a radical vision to unmake public education. They describe the dogma underpinning the work of the dismantlers and how it fits into the current political context, giving readers an up-close look at the policies—school vouchers, the war on teachers’ unions, tax credit scholarships, virtual schools, and more—driving the movement’s agenda. Finally they look forward, surveying the world the dismantlers threaten to build.

As teachers from coast to coast mobilize with renewed vigor, this smart, essential book sounds an alarm, one that should incite a public reckoning on behalf of the millions of families served by the American educational system—and many more who stand to suffer from its unmaking.

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The Language of Thieves: My Family’s Obsession with a Secret Code the Nazis Tried to Eliminate by Martin Puchner

Centuries ago in middle Europe, a coded language appeared, scrawled in graffiti and spoken only by people who were “wiz” (in the know). This hybrid language, dubbed Rotwelsch, facilitated survival for people in flight—whether escaping persecution or just down on their luck. It was a language of the road associated with vagabonds, travelers, Jews, and thieves that blended words from Yiddish, Hebrew, German, Romani, Czech, and other European languages and was rich in expressions for police, jail, or experiencing trouble, such as “being in a pickle.” This renegade language unsettled those in power, who responded by trying to stamp it out, none more vehemently than the Nazis.

As a boy, Martin Puchner learned this secret language from his father and uncle. Only as an adult did he discover, through a poisonous 1930s tract on Jewish names buried in the archives of Harvard’s Widener Library, that his own grandfather had been a committed Nazi who despised this “language of thieves.” Interweaving family memoir with an adventurous foray into the mysteries of language, Puchner crafts an entirely original narrative. In a language born of migration and survival, he discovers a witty and resourceful spirit of tolerance that remains essential in our volatile present.

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The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species by Marianne Taylor

Souvenirs of the planet: Ten (and a half) life forms, each of which explains a key aspect of life on Earth.If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This is the thought-provoking premise of Marianne Taylor’s The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species. Each life forms explains a key aspect about life on Earth. From the sponge that seems to be a plant but is really an animal to the almost extinct soft-shelled turtle deemed extremely unique and therefore extremely precious, these examples reveal how life itself is arranged across time and space, and how humanity increasingly dominates that vision.

Taylor, a prolific science writer, considers the chemistry of a green plant and ponders the possibility of life beyond our world; investigates the virus in an attempt to determine what a life form is; and wonders if the human–“a distinct and very dominant species with an inevitably biased view of life”– could evolve in a new direction. She tells us that the giraffe was one species, but is now four; that the dusky seaside sparrow may be revived through “re-evolution,” or cloning; explains the significance of Darwin’s finch to evolution; and much more. The “half” species is artificial intelligence. Itself an experiment to understand and model life, AI is central to our future–although from the alien visitor’s standpoint, unlikely to inherit the earth in the long run.

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Love, Zac: Small-Town Football and the Life and Death of an American Boy by Reid Forgrave

“I just can’t live with this pain anymore,” were among the final words in the diary of Zac Easter, a young man from small-town Iowa. In December 2015, Zac decided to take his own life rather than continue his losing battle against the traumatic brain injuries he had sustained as a no-holds-barred high school football player. In this deeply reported and powerfully moving true story, award-winning sportswriter Reid Forgrave speaks to Zac’s family, friends, and coaches; he explores Zac’s tightly knit, football-obsessed Midwestern community; he interviews cutting-edge brain scientists, psychologists, and sports historians; and he takes a deep dive into the triumphs and sins of the sports entertainment industry.

Forgrave shows us how football mirrors America, from the fighting spirit it has helped inscribe in our national character to the problematic side effects of traditional notions of manhood that it affirms. But, above all, this is a story of how one young man’s obsession with football led him and many of those entrusted with his care to ignore the warning signs of CTE until it was too late. What do Zac’s life and death mean for a society addicted to a sport that can be thrilling and character forming but also dangerous and sometimes tragic for those who play it?

Eye-opening, important, and ultimately inspiring, Love, Zac challenges us to think carefully about the ideals and values we as a nation want to instill in future generations.

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No Man’s Land: The Trailblazing Women who Ran Britain’s Most Extraordinary Military Hospital During World War I by Wendy Moore

In September 1914, a month after the outbreak of the First World War, two British doctors, Flora Murray and Louisa Garrett Anderson, set out for Paris. There, they built a makeshift hospital in Claridge’s, the luxury hotel, and treated hundreds of casualties carted in from France’s battlefields. Until this war called men to the front, female doctors had been restricted to treating only women and children. But even skeptical army officials who visited Flora and Louisa’s Paris hospital sent back glowing reports of their practice. Their wartime hospital was at the cutting edge of medical care — they were the first to use new antiseptic and the first to use x-ray technology to locate bullets and shrapnel. In No Man’s Land, Wendy Moore illuminates this turbulent moment when women were, for the first time, allowed to operate on men. Even as medical schools still denied them entry, Suffragettes across the country put down their bricks to volunteer, determined to prove the value of female doctors. Within months, Flora and Louisa were invited by the British Army to set up two more hospitals-the first in northern France and the second a major military hospital in the heart of London. Nicknamed the “Suffragettes’ Hospital,” Endell Street became renowned as “the best hospital in London,” thanks to its pioneering treatments and reputation for patriotism. It was also one of the liveliest, featuring concerts, tea parties, pantomimes, and picnics, in addition to surgeries. Moreover, Flora and Louisa were partners in life as well as in work. While they struggled to navigate the glass ceiling of early twentieth-century medical care, they also grappled with the stresses and joys of their own relationship. But although Flora, Louisa, and Endell Street effectively proved that women doctors could do the work of men, when the war was over, doors that had been opened were slammed shut. Women found themselves once more relegated to treating only women and children, and often in the poorest neighborhoods. It was not until World War II that women were again permitted to treat men. Drawing from letters, memoirs, diaries, army service records, and interviews, Moore brings these remarkable women and their patients to life and reclaims this important, spirited history. At a time when women are campaigning as hard as ever for equality, the fortitude and brilliance of Flora and Louisa serve as powerful reminders of what women can achieve against all odds.

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Storey’s Curious Compendium of Practical and Obscure Skills

With dozens of visual tutorials, this rich compendium will educate and inspire new hobbies and experiences. Have you ever wondered how to capture a swarm of bees? Predict the weather by the clouds? And just how do you darn a pair of socks, anyway? Anyone curious about the myriad ways people have taught themselves to make, grow, and build things will find everything they’ve ever wondered about in this colorful, inviting volume. With dozens of useful and intriguing visual tutorials selected from Storey’s extensive library of how-to books, you can learn how to carve a turkey, create a butterfly garden, set up a dog agility course, keep a nature sketchbook, navigate by the stars, and more. Whether you plan to “do it yourself” or just love reading about how things are done, this rich compendium will educate, fascinate, spark conversation, and inspire new hobbies and experiences.

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