October’s Simply Held Nonfiction Picks

Have you joined Simply Held? If not, you’re missing out! Ten different nonfiction titles are chosen four times a year by our librarians and automatically placed on hold for you. Those selections come from the following categories: biography, body mind spirit, cookbook, explore your world, poetry, self-help, social justice, strength through struggle, theologies, and true crime. Join Simply Held to have any of the new nonfiction picks automatically put on hold for you four times a year.

Biography pick

Never Give Up: A Prairie Family’s Story by Tom Brokaw

In this moving story, the New York Times bestselling author of The Greatest Generation chronicles the values and lessons he absorbed from his parents and other people who worked hard to build lives on the prairie during the first half of the twentieth century.

“In our fractured times, this inspiring book reminds us how we can rise to meet our current challenges by honoring the fortitude of the generations before us.”—Walter Isaacson

Tom’s father, Red, left school in the second grade to work in the family hotel—the Brokaw House, established in Bristol, South Dakota, by R. P. Brokaw in 1883. Eventually, through work on construction jobs, Red developed an exceptional talent for machines. Tom’s mother, Jean, was the daughter of a farmer who lost everything during the Great Depression. They met after a high school play, when Jean played the lead and Red fell in love with her from the audience. Although they didn’t have much money early in their marriage, especially once they had three boys at home, Red’s philosophy of “Never give up” served them well. His big break came after World War II, when he went to work for the Army Corps of Engineers building great dams across the Missouri River, magnificent structures like the Fort Randall and the Gavins Point dams. Late in life, Red surprised his family by recording his memories of the hard times of his early life, reflections that inspired this book.

Tom Brokaw is known as one of the most successful people in broadcast journalism. Throughout his legendary career, Brokaw has always asked what we can learn from world events and from our history. Within Never Give Up is one answer, a portrait of the resilience and respect for others at the heart of one American family’s story.  – Penguin Random House

This title is also available in large print.

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Body, Mind, Spirit pick

The Witches’ Sabbath: An Exploration of History, Folklore & Modern Practice by Kelden

Discover the Hidden Depths of the Sabbath

Take flight for a mesmerizing exploration of an event long shrouded in fear and mystery—the Witches’ Sabbath. Kelden presents an in-depth examination of the Sabbath’s historical and folkloric development as well as its re-emergence within the modern practice of Witchcraft. From discussions on the folklore of flight and the events of nocturnal gatherings to enchanting rituals and recipes, you’ll find everything you need to not only understand the nature of the legendary Sabbath, but also journey there yourself. Offering impressive research and compelling stories from across Europe and the early American colonies, this book is the ultimate resource for discovering an oft misunderstood and overlooked aspect of Witchcraft.

Includes a foreword by Jason Mankey, author of The Horned God of the Witches  – Llewellyn Worldwide

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Cookbook Pick

Live Longer, Live Better: Lessons for Longevity from the World’s Healthiest Zones by Melissa Petitto, R.D.

Discover how the five cultures with the longest-living people eat and live, then enjoy 50 healthy recipes inspired by those locations—and perhaps live longer yourself.

When researchers identified a region in Sardinia as having the highest concentration of male centenarians, they later zeroed in on villages around the world with the highest longevity: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California, among the Seventh-Day Adventists.

In Live Longer, Live Better, nutritionist and chef Melissa Petitto, RD, looks at the food and lifestyle choices of the people in these regions and presents it in an easily digestible format. The first part of the book describes these areas of the world, what they have in common, and how their residents excel at living a healthy lifestyle that can lead to exceptional longevity. Similar characteristics of these communities include:

Happiness and emotional wellness
Family and community connections
Natural-movement physical activity
Disease prevention

The second part of the book provides 50 original, healthy recipes that reflect each of the locations, focusing on plant-based meals, as well as a typical day-in-the-life of a resident. Guidelines for this type of eating include reducing consumption of meat and dairy (but not altogether), cutting back on eggs and fish, slashing sugar, and increasing consumption of nuts, water, beans, and whole foods. The recipes offer ideas for rounding out meals so you can eat this way wherever you are. Some recipes include:

Okinawa: Bitter Melon and Tofu Stir Fry; Okinawan Milk Tea; and Kokuto, Banana, and Dark Chocolate Muffins
Sardinia: Sardinian Herb, Fennel, and Bean Soup; Fregola with Wild Mushrooms; and Sardinian Artichokes with Lemon and Pecorino
Loma Linda: California Veggie Bowl with Tahini Dressing; Quinoa and Spinach Stuffed Peppers with Cashew Cream; and No Bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Ikaria: Warm Figs with Honey and Pistachio Drizzle; Ikarian Ratatouille; and Cornmeal Pie with Dried Fruit and Olive Oil
Nicoya: Tomato Rice with Grilled Avocado and Lime; Potato, Sweet Pepper, Corn, and Tomato Hash; and Chan Seed Pineapple Aqua Fresca

Because there’s no counting calories or nutrient grams, eating this way doesn’t have to be complicated. So what are you waiting for? There’s no time like now to start living better longer! – Chartwell Books, an imprint of the Quarto Group

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Explore Your World pick

From One Cell: A Journey into Life’s Origins and the Future of Medicine by Ben Stanger

Inside the quest to unlock the mysteries of development—and find the key to transforming our future.

Each of us began life as a single cell. From this humble origin, we embarked on a risky journey fraught with opportunities for disaster. Yet, amazingly, we reached our destination intact, emerging as dazzlingly complex, exquisitely engineered assemblages of trillions of cells. This metamorphosis constitutes one of nature’s most spectacular yet commonplace magic tricks—and one of its most coveted secrets. In From One Cell, physician and researcher Ben Stanger offers a breathtaking glimpse into what scientists are discovering about how life and the body take shape, and how these revelations stand to revolutionize medicine and the future of human health.

In vivid prose, Stanger leads readers on a gripping odyssey retracing this universal, yet unremembered, rite of passage. Through the eyes of the scientists unraveling development’s riddles in experiments as painstaking as they are inventive, we confront fascinating puzzles: how does the plethora of different tissues that compose our bodies arise from a single source? How do cells know what they are meant to become—skin or bone, blood or muscle—when all carry the same set of genetic instructions? Once a cell starts developing down one path, can it change its mind, or is its destiny irrevocably sealed?

As Stanger shows us, the answers to these questions may at last empower us to solve some of our most persistently confounding medical challenges, from cancer to cognitive decline to degenerative disease. Recognizing tumors as evil doppelgangers of the embryo points the way toward new, more targeted cancer therapies. Learning how cells choose their identities and find their way in space could unlock lifesaving breakthroughs in regenerative medicine. The possibilities are extraordinary.

Popular science at its best, From One Cell celebrates the power and beauty of understanding our collective beginnings.  – W.W. Norton

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Poetry pick

Invasives: Poems by Emily Kingery

INVASIVES is a dark daydream in a small Midwestern town: a place of hunger, dizzying narcotics, and dormant lies in children’s minds. Here, a coming-of-age story emerges in delectable scenes, words that open and close like petals, and images that knife as easily as if through stems. INVASIVES conjures familiar dangers, then slices them open and enchants them. It softens into myth a love that refuses to disappear. – Emily Kingery

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Self-Help pick

Happiness Becomes You: A Guide to Changing Your Life for Good by Tina Turner with Taro Gold and Regula Curti

I dedicate this book to you…
in honor of your
unseen efforts to
triumph over each problem
life sends your way.

Tina was a global icon of inspiration. And here, with Happiness Becomes You: A Guide to Changing Your Life for Good, Tina shows how anyone can overcome life’s obstacles—even transform the “impossible” to possible—and fulfill our dreams. She shows how we, too, can improve our lives, empowering us with spiritual tools and sage advice to enrich our unique paths.

Buddhism has been a central part of Tina Turner’s life for decades and, in music, film, and live performances, she has shined as an example of generating hope from nothing, breaking through all limitations, and succeeding in life. Drawing from the lessons of her own life, from adversity to stratospheric heights, Tina effortlessly shows how the spiritual lessons of Buddhism help her transform from sorrow, adversity, and poverty into joy, stability, and prosperity.

Here, Tina shares the wisdom of an extraordinary lifetime in Happiness Becomes You making this the perfect gift of inspiration for you or a loved one. – Simon & Schuster

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Social Justice pick

Pulling the Chariot of the Sun: a Memoir of a Kidnapping by Shane McCrae

An unforgettable memoir by an award-winning poet about being kidnapped from his Black father and raised by his white supremacist grandparents.

When Shane McCrae was three years old, his grandparents kidnapped him and took him to suburban Texas. His mom was white and his dad was Black, and to hide his Blackness from him, his maternal grandparents stole him from his father. In the years that followed, they manipulated and controlled him, refusing to acknowledge his heritage—all the while believing they were doing what was best for him.

For their own safety and to ensure the kidnapping remained a success, Shane’s grandparents had to make sure that he never knew the full story, so he was raised to participate in his own disappearance. But despite elaborate fabrications and unreliable memories, Shane begins to reconstruct his own story and to forge his own identity. Gradually, the truth unveils itself, and with the truth, comes a path to reuniting with his father and finding his own place in the world.

A revelatory account of a singularly American childhood that hauntingly echoes the larger story of race in our country, Pulling the Chariot of the Sun is written with the virtuosity and heart of one of the finest poets writing today. And it is also a powerful reflection on what is broken in America—but also what might heal and make it whole again.  – Simon & Schuster

This title is also available as a Libby eAudiobook

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Strength Through Struggle pick

Where the Children Take Us: How One Family Achieved the Unimaginable by Zain E. Asher

In this spellbinding memoir, popular CNN anchor Zain E. Asher pays tribute to her mother’s strength and determination to raise four successful children in the shadow of tragedy.

Awaiting the return of her husband and young son from a road trip, Obiajulu Ejiofor receives shattering news. There’s been a fatal car crash, and one of them is dead.

In Where the Children Take Us, Obiajulu’s daughter, Zain E. Asher, tells the story of her mother’s harrowing fight to raise four children as a widowed immigrant in South London. There is tragedy in this tale, but it is not a tragedy. Drawing on tough-love parenting strategies, Obiajulu teaches her sons and daughters to overcome the daily pressures of poverty, crime and prejudice—and much more. With her relentless support, the children exceed all expectations—becoming a CNN anchor, an Oscar-nominated actor—Asher’s older brother Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)—a medical doctor, and a thriving entrepreneur.

The generations-old Nigerian parenting techniques that lead to the family’s salvation were born in the village where young Obiajulu and Arinze meet with their country on the brink of war. Together, they emigrate to London in the 1970s to escape the violence, but soon confront a different set of challenges in the West.

When grief threatens to engulf her fractured family after the accident, Obiajulu, suddenly a single mother in a foreign land, refuses to accept defeat. As her children veer down the wrong path, she instills a family book club with Western literary classics, testing their resolve and challenging their deeper understanding. Desperate for inspiration, she plasters newspaper clippings of Black success stories on the walls and hunts for overachieving neighbors to serve as role models, all while running Shakespeare theatre lines with her son and finishing homework into the early morning with Zain. When distractions persist, she literally cuts the TV cord and installs a residential pay phone.

The story of a woman who survived genocide, famine, poverty, and crushing grief to rise from war torn Africa to the streets of South London and eventually the drawing rooms of Buckingham Palace, Where the Children Take Us is an unforgettable portrait of strength, tenacity, love, and perseverance embodied in one towering woman.  – HarperCollins

This title is also available in large print and a Libby eBook.

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Theologies pick

Becoming Eve: My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman by Abby Stein

The powerful coming-of-age story of an ultra-Orthodox child who was born to become a rabbinic leader and instead became a woman

Abby Stein was raised in a Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, isolated in a culture that lives according to the laws and practices of eighteenth-century Eastern Europe, speaking only Yiddish and Hebrew and shunning modern life. Stein was born as the first son in a dynastic rabbinical family, poised to become a leader of the next generation of Hasidic Jews.

But Abby felt certain at a young age that she was a girl. She suppressed her desire for a new body while looking for answers wherever she could find them, from forbidden religious texts to smuggled secular examinations of faith. Finally, she orchestrated a personal exodus from ultra-Orthodox manhood to mainstream femininity-a radical choice that forced her to leave her home, her family, her way of life.

Powerful in the truths it reveals about biology, culture, faith, and identity, Becoming Eve poses the enduring question: How far will you go to become the person you were meant to be? – Seal Press, Hachette Book Group

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True Crime pick

I Know Who You Are: How an Amateur DNA Sleuth Unmasked the Golden State Killer and Changed Crime Fighting Forever by Barbara Rae-Venter

For twelve years the Golden State Killer terrorized California, stalking victims and killing without remorse. Then he simply disappeared, for the next forty-four years, until an amateur DNA sleuth opened her laptop. In I Know Who You Are, Barbara Rae-Venter reveals how she went from researching her family history as a retiree to hunting for a notorious serial killer—and how she became the nation’s leading authority on investigative genetic genealogy, the most dazzling new crime-fighting weapon to appear in decades.

Rae-Venter leads readers on a vivid journey through the many cases she tackled, often starting with little more than a DNA sample. From the first criminal case she ever solved—uncovering the long-lost identity of a child abductee—to the heartbreaking story of the Billboard Boy, whose skeletal remains were discovered along a highway, to the search for the Golden State Killer, Rae-Venter shares haunting, often thrilling accounts of how she helped solve some of America’s most chilling cold cases in the span of just three years.

For each investigation, Rae-Venter brings readers inside her unique “grasshopper mind” as she analyzes DNA data and pores through obituaries, marriage records, and old newspaper articles. Readers join in on urgent calls with sheriffs, FBI agents, and district attorneys as she details the struggle to obtain usable crime scene DNA samples, until, finally, a critical piece of the puzzle tumbles into place.

I Know Who You Are captures both the exhilaration of the moment of discovery and the sheer depth of emotion that lingers around cold cases, informing Rae-Venter’s careful approach to her work. It is a story of relentless curiosity, of constant invention and reinvention, and of human beings striving to answer the most elemental questions about themselves: What defines identity? Where do we belong? And are we truly who we think we are? – Ballantine Books

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

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