October’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

No More Police: A Case for Abolition by Marianne Kaba and Andrea Ritchie

In this powerful call to action, New York Times bestselling author Mariame Kaba and attorney and organizer Andrea J. Ritchie detail why policing doesn’t stop violence, instead perpetuating widespread harm; outline the many failures of contemporary police reforms; and explore demands to defund police, divest from policing, and invest in community resources to create greater safety through a Black feminist lens.

Centering survivors of state, interpersonal, and community-based violence, and highlighting uprisings, campaigns, and community-based projects, No More Police makes a compelling case for a world where the tools required to prevent, interrupt, and transform violence in all its forms are abundant. Part handbook, part road map, No More Police calls on us to turn away from systems that perpetrate violence in the name of ending it toward a world where violence is the exception, and safe, well-resourced and thriving communities are the rule.

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True Crime pick

Dangerous Rhythms by TJ English

Dangerous Rhythms tells the symbiotic story of jazz and the underworld: a relationship fostered in some of 20th century America’s most notorious vice districts. For the first half of the century mobsters and musicians enjoyed a mutually beneficial partnership. By offering artists like Louis Armstrong, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, and Ella Fitzgerald a stage, the mob, including major players Al Capone, Meyer Lansky, and Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, provided opportunities that would not otherwise have existed.

Even so, at the heart of this relationship was a festering racial inequity. The musicians were mostly African American, and the clubs and means of production were owned by white men. It was a glorified plantation system that, over time, would find itself out of tune with an emerging Civil Rights movement. Some artists, including Louis Armstrong, believed they were safer and more likely to be paid fairly if they worked in “protected” joints. Others believed that playing in venues outside mob rule would make it easier to have control over their careers.

Through English’s voluminous research and keen narrative skills, Dangerous Rhythms reveals this deeply fascinating slice of American history in all its sordid glory.

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Biography pick

Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman by Lucy Worsley

A new, fascinating account of the life of Agatha Christie from celebrated literary and cultural historian Lucy Worsley.

“Nobody in the world was more inadequate to act the heroine than I was.”

Why did Agatha Christie spend her career pretending that she was “just” an ordinary housewife, when clearly she wasn’t? Her life is fascinating for its mysteries and its passions and, as Lucy Worsley says, “She was thrillingly, scintillatingly modern.” She went surfing in Hawaii, she loved fast cars, and she was intrigued by the new science of psychology, which helped her through devastating mental illness.

So why—despite all the evidence to the contrary—did Agatha present herself as a retiring Edwardian lady of leisure?

She was born in 1890 into a world that had its own rules about what women could and couldn’t do. Lucy Worsley’s biography is not just of a massively, internationally successful writer. It’s also the story of a person who, despite the obstacles of class and gender, became an astonishingly successful working woman.

With access to personal letters and papers that have rarely been seen, Lucy Worsley’s biography is both authoritative and entertaining and makes us realize what an extraordinary pioneer Agatha Christie was—truly a woman who wrote the twentieth century.

Librarian Rachel has the following to say about her pick:

Everyone knows Agatha Christie for her popular mystery books. She is considered to be the best selling novelist of all time and only the Bible and Shakespeare have sold more copies than she has. Her numerous novels include two popular characters, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple and each have their own series. So even though many people have read her books and enjoyed her stories, fewer people know the story of the woman writing these novels. Agatha Christie was a fascinating woman as the author Lucy Worsley details. 

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Cookbook Pick

Mi Cocina: Recipes and Rapture From My Kitchen in México by Rick Martínez

Join Rick Martínez on a once-in-a-lifetime culinary journey throughout México that begins in Mexico City and continues through 32 states, in 156 cities, and across 20,000 incredibly delicious miles. In Mi Cocina, Rick shares deeply personal recipes as he re-creates the dishes and specialties he tasted throughout his journey. Inspired by his travels, the recipes are based on his taste memories and experiences. True to his spirit and reflective of his deep connections with people and places, these dishes will revitalize your pantry and transform your cooking repertoire.

Highlighting the diversity, richness, and complexity of Mexican cuisine, he includes recipes like herb and cheese meatballs bathed in a smoky, spicy chipotle sauce from Oaxaca called Albóndigas en Chipotle; northern México’s grilled Carne Asada that he stuffs into a grilled quesadilla for full-on cheesy-meaty food euphoria; and tender sweet corn tamales packed with succulent shrimp, chiles, and roasted tomatoes from Sinaloa on the west coast. Rick’s poignant essays throughout lend context—both personal and cultural—to quilt together a story that is rich and beautiful, touching and insightful.

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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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