July’s Best Sellers Club Nonfiction Picks

Have you joined the Best Sellers Club? If not, you’re missing out! Four times a year, our librarians choose four nonfiction titles for our Best Sellers Club 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 July.

Social Justice pick

Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire, and Revolution in the Borderlands by Kelly Lytle Hernández

“Rebel historian” Kelly Lytle Hernández reframes our understanding of U.S. history in this groundbreaking narrative of revolution in the borderlands.

Bad Mexicans tells the dramatic story of the magonistas, the migrant rebels who sparked the 1910 Mexican Revolution from the United States. Led by a brilliant but ill-tempered radical named Ricardo Flores Magón, the magonistas were a motley band of journalists, miners, migrant workers, and more, who organized thousands of Mexican workers—and American dissidents—to their cause. Determined to oust Mexico’s dictator, Porfirio Díaz, who encouraged the plunder of his country by U.S. imperialists such as Guggenheim and Rockefeller, the rebels had to outrun and outsmart the swarm of U. S. authorities vested in protecting the Diaz regime. The U.S. Departments of War, State, Treasury, and Justice as well as police, sheriffs, and spies, hunted the magonistas across the country. Capturing Ricardo Flores Magón was one of the FBI’s first cases.

But the magonistas persevered. They lived in hiding, wrote in secret code, and launched armed raids into Mexico until they ignited the world’s first social revolution of the twentieth century.

Taking readers to the frontlines of the magonista uprising and the counterinsurgency campaign that failed to stop them, Kelly Lytle Hernández puts the magonista revolt at the heart of U.S. history. Long ignored by textbooks, the magonistas threatened to undo the rise of Anglo-American power, on both sides of the border, and inspired a revolution that gave birth to the Mexican-American population, making the magonistas’ story integral to modern American life.

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True Crime pick

The Gotti Wars: Taking Down America’s Most Notorious Mobster by John Gleeson

A riveting, decades-in-the-writing memoir from the determined young prosecutor who, in two of America’s most celebrated trials, managed to convict famed mob boss John Gotti—and subsequently took down the Mafia altogether.

John Gotti was without a doubt the flashiest and most feared Mafioso in American history. He became the boss of the Gambino Crime Family in spectacular fashion—with the brazen and very public murder of Paul Castellano in front of Sparks Steakhouse in midtown Manhattan in 1985. Not one to stay below law enforcement’s radar, Gotti instead became the first celebrity crime boss. His penchant for eye-catching apparel earned him the nickname “The Dapper Don;” his ability to beat criminal charges led to another: “The Teflon Don.”

This is the captivating story of Gotti’s meteoric rise to power and his equally dramatic downfall. Every step of the way, Gotti’s legal adversary—John Gleeson, an Assistant US Attorney in Brooklyn—was watching. When Gotti finally faced two federal racketeering prosecutions, Gleeson prosecuted both. As the junior lawyer in the first case—a bitter seven-month battle that ended in Gotti’s acquittal—Gleeson found himself in Gotti’s crosshairs, falsely accused of serious crimes by a defense witness Gotti intimidated into committing perjury.

Five years later, Gleeson was in charge of the second racketeering investigation and trial. Armed with the FBI’s secret recordings of Gotti’s conversations with his underboss and consigliere in the apartment above Gotti’s Little Italy hangout, Gleeson indicted all three. He “flipped” underboss Sammy the Bull Gravano, killer of nineteen men, who became history’s highest-ranking mob turncoat—resulting in Gotti’s murder conviction. Gleeson ended not just Gotti’s reign, but eventually that of the entire mob.

An epic, page-turning courtroom drama, The Gotti Wars is a brilliantly told crime story that illuminates a time in our nation’s history when lawyers and mobsters dominated the news, but it’s also the story of a tenacious young man, in the glare of the media spotlight, who mastered the art of becoming a great attorney.

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Biography pick

We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story by Simu Liu

The star of Marvel’s first Asian superhero film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, tells his own origin story of being a Chinese immigrant, his battles with cultural stereotypes and his own identity, becoming a TV star, and landing the role of a lifetime.

In this honest, inspiring and relatable memoir, newly-minted superhero Simu Liu chronicles his family’s journey from China to the bright lights of Hollywood with razor-sharp wit and humor.

Simu’s parents left him in the care of his grandparents, then brought him to Canada when he was four. Life as a Canuck, however, is not all that it was cracked up to be; Simu’s new guardians lack the gentle touch of his grandparents, resulting in harsh words and hurt feelings. His parents, on the other hand, find their new son emotionally distant and difficult to relate to – although they are related by blood, they are separated by culture, language, and values.

As Simu grows up, he plays the part of the pious child flawlessly – he gets straight A’s, crushes national math competitions and makes his parents proud. But as time passes, he grows increasingly disillusioned with the path that has been laid out for him. Less than a year out of college, at the tender age of 22, his life hits rock bottom when he is laid off from his first job as an accountant. Left to his own devices, and with nothing left to lose, Simu embarks on a journey that will take him far outside of his comfort zone into the world of show business.

Through a swath of rejection and comical mishaps, Simu’s determination to carve out a path for himself leads him to not only succeed as an actor, but also to open the door to reconciling with his parents.

We Were Dreamers is more than a celebrity memoir – it’s a story about growing up between cultures, finding your family, and becoming the master of your own extraordinary circumstance.

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Cookbook Pick

Fabulous Modern Cookies by Paul Arguin and Chris Taylor

With bolder-than-ever flavors and spectacularly scientific techniques, cookies have truly never been more fabulous.

Chris Taylor and Paul Arguin bring fresh perspective and heaps of creativity to everything they bake. Now reinventing America’s most traditional handheld dessert—the cookie—they offer 100 reliable and exciting recipes that are sure to impress. From Pumpkin Snickercrinkles to Black-Bottom Lemon Squares, and Coffee Bean Crunchers to Bronze Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, these are next-level cookies.

Combining their passion for serious baking with their professional backgrounds as accomplished scientists, Taylor and Arguin apply new methods and modern ingredient pairings to develop novel base recipes with innovative techniques. In these pages, they share what they’ve learned in lively tips and tricks for every recipe and style of cookie. Complete with mouthwatering photos, options to make ahead, decorate, or infinitely adapt, these outside-the-box recipes are the very definition of fabulous.

Librarian Ann says this about her July pick:

‘Who doesn’t love a homemade cookie? It’s a little bit of happiness you can hold in your hand! Fabulous Modern Cookies will help you raise the level of your cookie game with fun and innovative flavor combinations plus great tips and techniques for your best cookies yet.’

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

April’s Best Sellers Club Nonfiction Picks

Have you joined the Best Sellers Club? If not, you’re missing out! Four times a year, our librarians choose four nonfiction titles for our Best Sellers Club 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 January.

Social Justice pick

An Abolitionist’s Handbook: 12 Steps to Changing Yourself and the World by Patrisse Cullors

In An Abolitionist’s Handbook, Cullors charts a framework for how everyday activists can effectively fight for an abolitionist present and future. Filled with relatable pedagogy on the history of abolition, a reimagining of what reparations look like for Black lives and real-life anecdotes from Cullors.

An Abolitionist’s Handbook offers a bold, innovative, and humanistic approach to how to be a modern-day abolitionist. Cullors asks us to lead with love, fierce compassion, and precision.

In An Abolitionist’s Handbook readers will learn how to:

– have courageous conversations
– move away from reaction and towards response
– take care of oneself while fighting for others
– turn inter-community conflict into a transformative action
– expand one’s imagination, think creatively, and find the courage to experiment
– make justice joyful
– practice active forgiveness
– make space for difficult feelings and honor mental health
– practice non-harm and cultivate compassion
– organize local and national governments to work towards abolition
– move away from cancel culture

An Abolitionist’s Handbook is for those who are looking to reimagine a world where communities are treated with dignity, care and respect. It gives us permission to move away from cancel culture and into visioning change and healing.

Librarian Anna has the following to say about her Social Justice pick:

‘Published in January, this handbook outlines twelve essential steps for readers to follow in order to be an abolitionist in the 21st century. Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and author of the bestselling memoir When They Call You a Terrorist, guides readers through the ways in which they can engage in activism to make real, impactful social change and work to heal communities; she not only offers tips and example scenarios, but also shares personal stories and experiences to help readers make connections they may not have otherwise made before. While she primarily focuses on issues of policing and mass incarceration, the steps featured in this book are applicable to several forms of activism, some of which include the following: having courageous conversations, moving away from reactions and toward response, turning inter-community conflict into a transformative action, practicing active forgiveness, and taking care of oneself to fight for others. Written as a ready-reference book and not a textbook “to live on a bookshelf,” Cullors has created a practical and thoughtful tool catered to current or aspiring activists who wish to engage in and perpetuate positive and necessary societal change.

I primarily selected this title for the BSC due to several positive reviews it received from acclaimed journals and reader communities upon publication. I also selected this title due to the popularity and interest of readers who want to know where to start when it comes to engaging in activism; the format and intentional creation of this title as a handbook with specific steps, tips, and examples is very intuitive to use and fits this trending interest. Finally, I chose this title due to a powerful, yet vulnerable quote I read in the preface, in which she addresses the question “why this book?” ‘

“These 12 principles or steps are about goal setting. They are about understanding who you are and how to bring the idea of abolition to the forefront in your life and in the lives of others. I can’t say I always live up to every principle that we need to dismantle white supremacy, but these are the ingredients. My version of the recipe is not always perfect. I get up and try every day.”

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True Crime pick

The Three Death Sentences of Clarence Henderson: A Battle for Racial Justice at the Dawn of the Civil Rights Era by Chris Joyner

The story of Clarence Henderson, a Black sharecropper convicted and sentenced to death three times for a murder he didn’t commit

The Three Death Sentences of Clarence Henderson is the story of Clarence Henderson, a wrongfully accused Black sharecropper who was sentenced to die three different times for a murder he didn’t commit, and the prosecution desperate to pin the crime on him despite scant evidence. His first trial lasted only a day and featured a lackluster public defense. The book also tells the story of Homer Chase, a former World War II paratrooper and New England radical who was sent to the South by the Communist Party to recruit African Americans to the cause while offering them a chance at increased freedom. And it’s the story of Thurgood Marshall’s NAACP and their battle against not only entrenched racism but a Communist Party—despite facing nearly as much prejudice as those they were trying to help—intent on winning the hearts and minds of Black voters. The bitter battle between the two groups played out as the sides sparred over who would take the lead on Henderson’s defense, a period in which he spent years in prison away from a daughter he had never seen.

Through it all, The Three Death Sentences of Clarence Henderson is a portrait of a community, and a country, at a crossroads, trying to choose between the path it knows is right and the path of least resistance. The case pitted powerful forces—often those steering legal and journalistic institutions—attempting to use racism and Red-Scare tactics against a populace that by and large believed the case against Henderson was suspect at best. But ultimately, it’s a hopeful story about how even when things look dark, some small measure of justice can be achieved against all the odds, and actual progress is possible. It’s the rare book that is a timely read, yet still manages to shed an informative light on America’s past and future, as well as its present.

Librarian Anna has the following to say about this True Crime pick:

‘Published in January, this title explores the intersection of true crime and race through the story of Clarence Henderson, a Black man who stood trial on three separate occasions for a crime he didn’t commit. With a death sentence on the line each time, Henderson was repeatedly tried and convicted for the 1948 murder of Carl “Buddy” Stevens Jr. based on minimal evidence and the decisions of all-white juries. This book also details the involvement of both the NAACP and the Communist Party in the trial, as both forces vied against one another to represent Henderson’s defense. Planned and researched for years, this book has documented a vital story at the dawn of the Civil Rights Era that may have otherwise been lost to history.

I primarily selected this title for the BSC due to its highly anticipated demand, as well as due to the positive reviews it received from acclaimed journals and reader communities upon publication. Another major reason I selected this title is due to Joyner delving into the deep and complex historical context surrounding the case, as the tensions reverberating through this particular trial were representative and reflective of some of the largest tensions present in postwar America. Finally, I chose this title because of its timeliness and applicability for America’s past, present, and future; circumstances of this case are sure to resonate with the racial prejudices and tensions existing today, and there is nothing more important than taking the time and opportunity to learn from our past to create a better future.’

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Biography pick

Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality by Tomiko Brown-Nagin

With the US Supreme Court nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson, “it makes sense to revisit the life and work of another Black woman who profoundly shaped the law: Constance Baker Motley” (CNN). The first major biography of one of our most influential judges—an activist lawyer who became the first Black woman appointed to the federal judiciary—that provides an eye-opening account of the twin struggles for gender equality and civil rights in the 20th Century.

“A must-read for anyone who dares to believe that equal justice under the law is possible and is in search of a model for how to make it a reality.” —Anita Hill

Born to an aspirational blue-collar family during the Great Depression, Constance Baker Motley was expected to find herself a good career as a hair dresser. Instead, she became the first black woman to argue a case in front of the Supreme Court, the first of ten she would eventually argue. The only black woman member in the legal team at the NAACP’s Inc. Fund at the time, she defended Martin Luther King in Birmingham, helped to argue in Brown vs. The Board of Education, and played a critical role in vanquishing Jim Crow laws throughout the South. She was the first black woman elected to the state Senate in New York, the first woman elected Manhattan Borough President, and the first black woman appointed to the federal judiciary.

Civil Rights Queen captures the story of a remarkable American life, a figure who remade law and inspired the imaginations of African Americans across the country. Burnished with an extraordinary wealth of research, award-winning, esteemed Civil Rights and legal historian and dean of the Harvard Radcliffe Institute, Tomiko Brown-Nagin brings Motley to life in these pages. Brown-Nagin compels us to ponder some of our most timeless and urgent questions–how do the historically marginalized access the corridors of power? What is the price of the ticket? How does access to power shape individuals committed to social justice? In Civil Rights Queen, she dramatically fills out the picture of some of the most profound judicial and societal change made in twentieth-century America.

Librarian Rachel has the following to say about her pick:

‘Constance Baker Motley was the first black woman to argue a case in front of the Supreme Court, the first of ten appearances. She defended Martin Luther King, Jr in Birmingham.  Motley also argued in the case of Brown vs the Board of Education and she played a role in vanquishing the Jim Crow laws in the South. She was the first black woman elected to the State Senate in New York and the first black woman on the federal judiciary. Constance Baker Motley is an incredible woman that through her legal work as a lawyer and a judge has made judicial and societal changes in twentieth century America. ‘

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Cookbook Pick

Good Enough: A Cookbook: Embracing the Joys of Imperfection & Practicing Self-Care in the Kitchen by Leanne Brown

You’ve got this!

Good enough is a cookbook, but it’s as much about the healing process of cooking as it is about delicious recipes. It’s about acknowledging the fears and anxieties many of us have when we get in the kitchen, then learning to let them go in the sensory experience of working with food. It’s about slowing down, honoring the beautiful act of feeding yourself and your loved ones, and releasing the worries about whether what you’ve made is good enough. It is.

A generous mix of essays, stories, and nearly 100 dazzling recipes, Good Enough is a deeply personal cookbook. It’s subject is more than Smoky Honey Shrimp Tacos with Spicy Fennel Slaw or Sticky Toffee Cookies; ultimately it’s about learning to love and accept yourself, in and out of the kitchen.

Librarian Ann says this about her April pick:

“My intention for this book is to be a gentle hug and a whisper in your ear that you are stronger than you know, and you deserve love and care, wherever you are, whoever you are, and not matter what anyone else might have told you.”

After the past two years of upheaval and the ongoing global crisis’ that we face, this may be the perfect time to pick up a cookbook that brings equal measures of encouragement and simple, delicious recipes than Good Enough by Leanne Brown. The emphasis is not on Instagram-worthy dishes (although there are many beautiful photos), but on food that brings comfort to prepare, to eat and to share. There is a nice balance of familiar favorites (hamburgers, salads, pasta) with simple flavor twists to more ambitious (but still do-able) treats.

Best of all are the insightful essays interspersed throughout. Many tackle difficult topics (loneliness, anxiety, the curse of perfection) that are thoughtful and helpful while other essays take a lighthearted look at getting through each day. This is an easy choice for comfort, entertainment and great recipes!

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

January’s Best Sellers Club Nonfiction Picks

Have you joined the Best Sellers Club? If not, you’re missing out! Four times a year, our librarians choose four nonfiction titles for our Best Sellers Club 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 January.

Social Justice pick

Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman’s Fight to End Ableism by Elsa Sjunneson

A Deafblind writer and professor explores how the misrepresentation of disability in books, movies, and TV harms both the disabled community and everyone else.

As a Deafblind woman with partial vision in one eye and bilateral hearing aids, Elsa Sjunneson lives at the crossroads of blindness and sight, hearing and deafness—much to the confusion of the world around her. While she cannot see well enough to operate without a guide dog or cane, she can see enough to know when someone is reacting to the visible signs of her blindness and can hear when they’re whispering behind her back. And she certainly knows how wrong our one-size-fits-all definitions of disability can be.

As a media studies professor, she’s also seen the full range of blind and deaf portrayals on film, and here she deconstructs their impact, following common tropes through horror, romance, and everything in between. Part memoir, part cultural criticism, part history of the Deafblind experience, Being Seen explores how our cultural concept of disability is more myth than fact, and the damage it does to us all.

Librarian Anna has the following to say about her Social Justice pick:

‘Published in October, this title considers the ways in which ableism is embedded within our culture and how it manifests in our society, especially through books, movies, and TV. As a deafblind woman with partial vision in one eye and bilateral hearing aids, author Elsa Sjunneson asserts the consistent misrepresentation of disability coursing through these prominent modes of media is ultimately harmful to society as a whole, not just the disabled community, and that things need to change. Serving as both a memoir and cultural critique, she reflects on her experience living in a world that is not “built” for her, while also exploring the harm of false representation through her expertise as a media studies professor.

I primarily selected this title for the BSC due to several positive reviews it received from acclaimed journals and reader communities upon publication. I also selected this title due to the aforementioned intersection of memoir and cultural critique, as Sjunneson’s experience living with a disability in an ableist world, paired with her expertise in the ways in which this ableism is perpetuated through tropes in media, lends such a powerful and insightful voice in the fight for social justice for this community. Finally, I had the privilege of watching a couple of short interviews with Sjunneson, and it was truly eye-opening and moving to hear her experience and passion for just representation. While I found it inspiring, she emphasizes in the book that she herself does not wish to be viewed as an inspiration; rather, she hopes readers will be inspired to start doing the hard work of “dismantling the ableist system we live in.” ‘

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True Crime pick

Boys Enter the House: The Victims of John Wayne Gacy and the Lives They Left Behind by David Nelson

As investigators brought out the bagged remains of several dozen young men from a small Chicago ranch home and paraded them in front of a crowd of TV reporters and spectators, attention quickly turned to the owner of the house. John Gacy was an upstanding citizen, active in local politics and charities, famous for his themed parties and appearances as Pogo the Clown.

But in the winter of 1978–79, he became known as one of many so-called “sex murderers” who had begun gaining notoriety in the random brutality of the 1970s. As public interest grew rapidly, victims became footnotes and statistics, lives lost not just to violence, but to history.

Through the testimony of siblings, parents, friends, lovers, and other witnesses close to the case, Boys Enter the House retraces the footsteps of these victims as they make their way to the doorstep of the Gacy house itself.

Librarian Anna has the following to say about this True Crime pick:

‘Published in October, this book explores and documents the lives of the victims of John Wayne Gacy, the notorious “Killer Clown” who is recorded to have heinously taken the lives of at least 33 young men in Cook County, Illinois, throughout the 1960s and ‘70s. Rather than delve into details about the killer himself, however, this title reverses the typical true crime framework and puts the victims first, shining a light on the lives almost lost to history as “footnotes” and “statistics” and who have too often simply been “dismissed as runaways, throwaways, hustlers, [and] homosexuals.” Incorporating testimony from interviews with family, friends, lovers, and other individuals associated with the known victims, Nelson pieces together the lives of several of these young men all the way up until their final moments in Gacy’s clutches.

I primarily selected this title for the BSC due to its highly anticipated demand, as well as due to the positive reviews it received from acclaimed journals and reader communities upon publication. Another major reason I selected this title is because of the acute and unique focus on the victims. While many of the previous selections have revolved around the lives and actions of the killers themselves, this title allows Timothy McCoy, Billy Kindred, and Rob Piest, among many others, to have a voice and live on in memory, rather than be overshadowed as “one of Gacy’s victims.” Finally, I selected this title due to the fact that, at the end of October, Francis Wayne Alexander (another victim of Gacy’s) was identified using DNA samples; I find it absolutely fascinating that the forensic knowledge and tools we have today can be used to solve mysteries such as this and bring families closure, even so many years later.’

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Biography pick

The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of King George III by Andrew Roberts

The last king of America, George III, has been ridiculed as a complete disaster who frittered away the colonies and went mad in his old age. The truth is much more nuanced and fascinating–and will completely change the way readers and historians view his reign and legacy.

Most Americans dismiss George III as a buffoon–a heartless and terrible monarch with few, if any, redeeming qualities. The best-known modern interpretation of him is Jonathan Groff’s preening, spitting, and pompous take in Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway masterpiece. But this deeply unflattering characterization is rooted in the prejudiced and brilliantly persuasive opinions of eighteenth-century revolutionaries like Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, who needed to make the king appear evil in order to achieve their own political aims. After combing through hundreds of thousands of pages of never-before-published correspondence, award-winning historian Andrew Roberts has uncovered the truth: George III was in fact a wise, humane, and even enlightened monarch who was beset by talented enemies, debilitating mental illness, incompetent ministers, and disastrous luck.

In The Last King of America, Roberts paints a deft and nuanced portrait of the much-maligned monarch and outlines his accomplishments, which have been almost universally forgotten. Two hundred and forty-five years after the end of George III’s American rule, it is time for Americans to look back on their last king with greater understanding: to see him as he was and to come to terms with the last time they were ruled by a monarch.

Librarian Rachel has the following to say about her pick:

‘King George III of England is often portrayed as dim-witted, tyrannical and evil. However, after extensive research, Andrew Roberts has found that the king was wise and humane and battled a mental illness, incompetent ministers, and enemies. This book sheds light on the real King George III and lays the rumors to rest.’

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Cookbook Pick

The Sweet Side of Sourdough: 50 Irresistible Recipes for Pastries, Buns, Cakes, Cookies and More by Caroline Schiff

Sourdough isn’t just for savory baking! The robust tanginess of sourdough adds that little bit of something extra to your favorite cakes, bars, tarts, sweet breads and more that you didn’t know you were looking for, and pastry chef Caroline Schiff couldn’t make it easier to do. Set yourself up for sourdough success with her best tips for building and maintaining a starter and then bake your way to sweet sourdough bliss.

Add a new layer of flavor to pie and tart crusts in mouthwatering recipes like Spiced Pear, Crème Fraiche and Almond Galette, Apple Maple Crumble Pie and Malted Milk Chocolate Ganache Tart. Make breakfast the most delicious meal of the day with pastries like Orange Ricotta Drop Biscuits and Dark Chocolate Chunk Scones that are the things of your wildest sourdough dreams. And every special occasion is made even more special with cakes that perfectly balance the sweet and sour, like Grapefruit Brown Sugar Brulée Cake, Raspberry Coconut Cake with Lime Glaze and Apple Sour Cream Crumb Cake.

Caroline’s reliable recipes take your favorite sweet treats up to the next level AND give you exciting, innovative ways to use your trusty sourdough starter.

Librarian Ann says this about her January pick:

‘Did you try your hand at sourdough bread baking during the COVID shutdown? Did you get tired of maintaining the starter, or just tired of the same flavors? Then The Sweet Side of Sourdough by Caroline Schiff is for you! The tanginess of the sourdough is a great compliment to sweet treats such as cakes, cookies, pies and sweet breads. Recipes cover everything from breakfast pastries to desserts for after dinner. Expand (or begin!) your sourdough knowledge with these fun and innovative recipes!’

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

Best Sellers Club October Nonfiction Picks

Have you joined the Best Sellers Club? If not, you’re missing out! Four times a year, our librarians choose four nonfiction titles for our Best Sellers Club 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

Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement by Tarana Burke

From the founder and activist behind the largest movement of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Tarana Burke shares her never never before revealed life story of how she first came to say me too and launch one of the largest cultural events in American history.

After a long, difficult day working with young Black girls who had suffered the unimaginable, Tarana tossed in her bed, unable to sleep as a fit of memories intruded into her thoughts. How could she help these girls if she couldn’t even be honest with herself and face her own demons. A fitful night led to pages and pages of scribbled notes with two clear words at the top: Me too.

Tarana Burke is the founder and activist behind the largest social movement of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the me too movement, but first she had to find the strength to say me too herself. Unbound is the story of how she came to those two words, after a childhood growing up in the Bronx with a loving mother that took a terrible turn when she was sexual assaulted. She became withdrawn and her self split, there was the Tarana that was a good student, model kid, and eager to please young girl, and then there was the Tarana that she hid from everyone else, the one she believed to be bad. The one that would take all the love in her life away if she revealed.

Tarana’s debut memoir explores how to piece back together our fractured selves. How to not just bring the me too movement back to empathy, but how to empathize with our past selves, with out bad selves, and how to begin to love ourselves unabashedly. Healing starts with empowerment, and to Tarana empowerment starts with empathy. This is her story of finding that for herself, and then spreading it to an entire world.

Librarian Anna has the following to say about her Social Justice pick:

‘I primarily selected this title for the BSC due to the anticipated high demand, several positive reviews it received from acclaimed journals and reader communities upon publication, and its heightened significance in today’s culture. I also selected this title due to the intersectionality of identity presented in this memoir. While the “Me Too” movement was created to be representative of and empowering for every woman impacted by sexual assault, this was especially born out of an effort to support black women in this struggle. One heart wrenching and powerful quote denoting this reads: “Standing and fighting against the diminishment and destruction of Black bodies had become a proxy for the diminishment and destruction of my own Black body.” The sheer strength of sharing such traumatic experiences, as well as Burke’s liberation of them, is sure to validate, empower, and resonate with those who have experienced similar situations, while also drawing empathy and advocacy from others who share in the fight for social justice.’

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True Crime pick

The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer by Dean Jobb

“When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals,” Sherlock Holmes observed during one of his most baffling investigations. “He has nerve and he has knowledge.”

In the span of fifteen years, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream poisoned at least ten people in the United States, Britain, and Canada, a death toll with almost no precedents. Structured around Cream’s London murder trial in 1892, when he was finally brought to justice, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream exposes the blind trust given to medical practitioners, as well as the flawed detection methods, bungled investigations, corrupt officials, and stifling morality of Victorian society that allowed Cream to prey on vulnerable and desperate women, many of whom had turned to him for medical help.

Dean Jobb vividly re-creates this largely forgotten historical account against the backdrop of the birth of modern policing and newly adopted forensic methods, though most police departments still scoffed at using science to solve crimes. But then most police departments could hardly imagine that serial killers existed—the term was unknown at the time. As the Chicago Tribune wrote then, Cream’s crimes marked the emergence of a new breed of killer, one who operated without motive or remorse, who “murdered simply for the sake of murder.”

Librarian Anna has the following to say about this pick:

‘I primarily selected this title for the BSC due to its highly anticipated demand, as well as due to the positive reviews it received from acclaimed journals and reader communities upon publication. Another major reason I selected this title is because of the relatively forgotten status of this killer; while many have heard of Jack the Ripper and H.H. Holmes, this figure who preceded them is often lost to history, despite his equally wicked crimes. Finally, I selected this title due to its interesting historical lens, as several of our previous selections have been focused on contemporary true crime accounts.’

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Biography pick

Tarantino: A Retrospective by Tom Shone

Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Reservoir Dogs by diving into the brilliant, twisted mind of Quentin Tarantino and discover the artistic process of an Oscar-winning legend.

Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1963, Quentin Tarantino spent many Saturday evenings during his childhood accompanying his mother to the movies, nourishing a love of film that was, over the course of his life, to become all-consuming. The script for his first movie took him four years to complete: My Best Friend’s Birthday, a seventy-minute film in which he both acted and directed. The script for his second film, Reservoir Dogs (1992), took him just under four weeks to complete. When it debuted, he was immediately hailed as one of the most exciting new directors in the industry.

Known for his highly cinematic visual style, out-of-sequence storytelling, and grandiose violence, Tarantino’s films have provoked both praise and criticism over the course of his career. They’ve also won him a host of awards—including Oscars, Golden Globes, and BAFTA awards—usually for his original screenplays. His oeuvre includes the cult classic Pulp Fiction, bloody revenge saga Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, and historical epics Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained, and The Hateful Eight . This stunning retrospective catalogs each of Quentin Tarantino’s movies in detail, from My Best Friend’s Birthday to The Hateful Eight. The book is a tribute to a unique directing and writing talent, celebrating an uncompromising, passionate director’s enthralling career at the heart of cult filmmaking.

Librarian Rachel has the following to say about her selection:

“Quentin Tarantino is one of the most popular directors of the modern era. His film career started thirty years ago and he has been popular ever since. Tarantino has stated that he is only going to direct ten films and so far, he has directed nine. With only one film left, this biography will shed light on the man behind the camera that has directed such films as ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’.”

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Cookbook Pick

Baking for the Holidays: 50+ Treats for a Festive Season by Sarah Kieffer

A charming holiday baking cookbook brimming with delicious, indulgent recipes, cozy winter photography, and lots of holiday cheer from Sarah Kieffer.

Here’s a festive holiday baking book to celebrate this very special time of year. Sarah Kieffer, author of 100 Cookies, beloved baker behind The Vanilla Bean Blog, and creator of the “bang-the-pan” method offers more than 50 delicious recipes for seasonal brunches, cookie swaps, and all those Christmas, Hanukah, and New Year’s Eve parties.

Delight family and friends with edible gifts and whip up some delicious baked goods to treat yourself through the long winter months after the holidays have ended. Recipes include: Triple Chocolate Peppermint Bark, Meyer Lemon–White Chocolate Scones, Pear-Almond Danish Bread, Hot Chocolate Cake, and Pumpkin Pie with Candied Pepita Streusel.

With cozy holiday imagery, a lovely, clean aesthetic, and easy yet innovative recipes, this is a go-to cookbook for baking enthusiasts, anyone who loves the holiday season, and, of course, fans of Sarah Kieffer and her hugely popular cookie book, 100 Cookies.

GREAT GIFT OPPORTUNITY: With happy, festive photography and anyone-can-do-it recipes, this is a perfect holiday gift alongside a cute apron or baking product. It’s sure to please anyone in your life who loves to while away the winter months in their warm and cozy kitchen.

BELOVED, ACCOMPLISHED BLOGGER AND AUTHOR: Sarah Kieffer is the beloved blogger behind The Vanilla Bean Baking Blog, which won the SAVEUR Reader’s Choice Best Baking & Desserts Blog in 2014. Her pan-banging cookie technique went viral on the New York Times website. She has written two cookbooks and been featured by Food52, The Today Show, Mashable, The Kitchn, America’s Test Kitchen, Huffington Post, and more.

Perfect for:

• Bakers of all ages
• Holiday bakers
• Fans of Sarah’s bang-the-pan cookies, 100 Cookies, and The Vanilla Bean Blog
• Holiday gift givers

Librarian Ann says the following about her newest pick:

‘Filled with inspiration for the winter holidays, Baking for the Holidays by Sara Keiffer offers a wide range of delicious treats, from cakes and pies to cookies to breakfast pastries all beautifully presented in this gorgeous cookbook. This book also includes a chapter on gifting home baked goods for friends and family. Recipes range from beginner friendly to more challenging.’

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

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.

January Best Sellers Club – Nonfiction Picks

Have you joined our Best Sellers Club yet? Every quarter, our librarians pick out new books on certain topics: true crime, cookbooks, and biography. Join our Best Sellers Club  and automatically have selected titles put on hold for you. Want the hottest new release from your favorite author? Want to stay current with a celebrity book club? Love nonfiction? We’ve got that too! Choose any author, celebrity pick, and/or nonfiction pick and have us put the latest title on hold for you automatically. Select as many as you want!

Let’s go over the true crime, cookbook, and biography selections for January!

We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence by Becky Cooper has been chosen for the Best Sellers Club January True Crime pick! Librarian Anna has this to say about her latest selection:

I primarily selected this title for the BSC due to its highly anticipated demand, as well as due to the positive and starred reviews it received from acclaimed journals and reader communities upon publication. I was also immediately hooked by the following description of this title from Goodreads: “We Keep the Dead Close is a memoir of mirrors, misogyny, and murder. It is at once a rumination on the violence and oppression that rules our revered institutions, a ghost story reflecting one young woman’s past onto another’s present, and a love story for a girl who was lost to history.”

Want to know more about We Keep the Dead Close ? Check out the following description provided by Anna:

Published in November, this highly anticipated title investigates the 1969 murder of Jane Britton, a 23-year-old anthropology graduate student at Harvard University who was found bludgeoned to death in her apartment. Her body was surrounded by red ochre, a substance often found at ancient burial sites around the world, and appeared to have been killed with a small, sharp weapon, not unlike an archeological tool. At the time of her death and for many years after, rumors circulated that a tenured professor at the university had had an affair with Britton and killed her when she threatened to disclose the nature of their affair. Despite the scale of this scandal and the fact that Britton’s father held a powerful position at Radcliffe College, Harvard’s all-female sister school that was merging with Harvard that very year, this murder was never deeply investigated and faded quietly into the background for nearly half of a century. Forty years later, author Becky Cooper first heard this rumor as a Harvard undergraduate student herself and embarked on what would become a decade-long pursuit to get to the bottom of this mystery, which was just closed in 2018.

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Our January cookbook pick for the Best Sellers Club is Pie Academy by Ken Haedrich.

Want to know more about what Pie Academy is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

Novice and experienced bakers alike will discover the secrets to baking a pie from scratch with recipes, crust savvy, tips and tutorials, advice about tools and ingredients, and more. Foolproof step-by-step photos give you the confidence you need to choose and prepare the best crust for different types of fillings. Learn how to make pie dough using butter, lard, or both; how to work with all-purpose, whole-wheat, or gluten-free flour; how to roll out dough; which pie pan to use; and how to add flawless finishing details like fluting and lattice tops. Next are 255 recipes for every kind and style of pie, from classic apple pie and pumpkin pie to summer berry, fruit, nut, custard, chiffon, and cream pies, freezer pies, slab pies, hand pies, turnovers, and much more. This beast of a collection, with gorgeous color photos throughout, weighs in at nearly four pounds and serves up forty years of pie wisdom in a single, satisfying package.

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The January biography pick for the Best Sellers Club is Unceasing Militant: The Life of Mary Church Terrell by Alison M. Parker.

For more information about what Unceasing Militant is about, check out the following description provided by the publisher.

Born into slavery during the Civil War, Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954) would become one of the most prominent activists of her time, with a career bridging the late nineteenth century to the civil rights movement of the 1950s. The first president of the National Association of Colored Women and a founding member of the NAACP, Terrell collaborated closely with the likes of Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, and W. E. B. Du Bois. Unceasing Militant is the first full-length biography of Terrell, bringing her vibrant voice and personality to life. Though most accounts of Terrell focus almost exclusively on her public activism, Alison M. Parker also looks at the often turbulent, unexplored moments in her life to provide a more complete account of a woman dedicated to changing the culture and institutions that perpetuated inequality throughout the United States.

Drawing on newly discovered letters and diaries, Parker weaves together the joys and struggles of Terrell’s personal, private life with the challenges and achievements of her public, political career, producing a stunning portrait of an often-under recognized political leader.

October Cookbook pick – The Well Plated Cookbook

Our October cookbook pick for the Best Sellers Club is The Well Plated Cookbook by Erin Clarke.

Want to know more about what The Well Plated Cookbook? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

Known for her incredibly approachable, slimmed-down, and outrageously delicious recipes, Erin Clarke is the creator of the smash-hit food blog in the healthy-eating blogosphere, Well Plated by Erin. Clarke’s site welcomes more than 3 million visitors a month, and with good reason: Her recipes are fast, budget-friendly, and clever; she never includes an ingredient you can’t find in a regular supermarket or that isn’t essential to a dish’s success, and she hacks her recipes for maximum nutrition by using the “stealthy healthy” ingredient swaps she’s mastered so that you don’t lose an ounce of flavor. In this essential cookbook for everyday cooking, Clarke shares more than 130 brand-new rapid-fire recipes, along with secrets to lightening up classic comfortfavorites inspired by her midwestern roots, and clever recipe hacks that will enable you to put a healthy meal on the table any night of the week. Many of the recipes feature a single ingredient used in multiple, ingenious ways, such as Sweet Potato Boats 5 Ways. The recipes are affordable and keep practicality top-of-mind. She’s eliminated odd leftover “orphan” ingredients and included Market Swaps so you can adjust the ingredients based on the season or what you have on hand. To help you make the mostof your cooking, she’s even included tips to store and reheat leftovers, as well as clever ideas to turn them into an entirely new dish. From One-Pot Creamy Sundried Tomato Orzo to Sheet Pan Tandoori Chicken, all of the meals are ready to make when you need them, and so indulgent you won’t detect the healthy ingredients. As Clarke always hears from her readers, “My family doesn’t like healthy food, but they LOVED this!” This is your homey guide to a healthier kitchen.

Join our Best Sellers Club  and automatically have selected titles put on hold for you. Want the hottest new release from your favorite author? Want to stay current with a celebrity book club? Love nonfiction? We’ve got that too! Choose any author, celebrity pick, and/or nonfiction pick and have us put the latest title on hold for you automatically. Select as many as you want!

In a Nutshell by Cara Tannenbaum

in a nutshellThe only cookbook of its kind, In a Nutshell is a complete guide to cooking and baking with nuts and seeds.

After working for years as instructors at the Institute of Culinary Education, Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian deliver the essential cookbook for Mother Nature’s most versatile and nutritious ingredients. With more than 250 recipes exploring the culinary and cultural history of nuts and seeds in everything from Pumpkin Seed Guacamole to Hazelnut Roulade, In a Nutshell unites the smooth, crunchy, savory, and sweet. In a Nutshell is organized to reflect the way we eat meals today, with chapters like Nibbles, Dip It, Noodles and Nuts, and Family Style. Omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike will delight in dishes both simple and complex, from Almond-Crusted Mac-and-Cheese to Pistachio Biryiani.

Culinary cheerleaders for the powerful team of sixteen nuts and seeds featured in the book, Tannenbaum and Tutunjian prove that nuts are so much more than a happy-hour snack. (description by publisher)

Bitter by Jennifer McLagan

bitterIn Bitter, Jennifer McLagan turns her attention to a fascinating, underappreciated, and trending topic: bitterness.

What do coffee, IPA beer, dark chocolate, and radicchio all have in common? They’re bitter. While some culinary cultures, such as in Italy and parts of Asia, have an inherent appreciation for bitter flavors (think Campari and Chinese bitter melon), little attention has been given to bitterness in North America: we’re much more likely to reach for salty or sweet. However, with a surge in the popularity of craft beers, dark chocolate, coffee, greens like arugula, dandelion, radicchio, and frisée, high-quality olive oil and cocktails made with Campari and absinthe – all foods and drinks with elements of bitterness – bitter is finally getting its due.

In this deep and fascinating exploration of bitter through science, culture, history, and 100 deliciously idiosyncratic recipes – like Cardoon Beef Tagine, White Asparagus with Blood Orange Sauce, and Campari Granita – award-winning author Jennifer McLagan makes a case for this misunderstood flavor and explains how adding a touch of bitter to a dish creates an exciting taste dimension that will bring your cooking to life. (description from publisher)

 

Beating the Lunch Box Blues by J.M. Hirsch

beating the lunch boxIf you’re anything like me, packing a healthy, flavorful lunch day after day is a surprisingly difficult task.  So I was pretty excited when I found Beating the Lunch Box Blues: Fresh Ideas for Lunches on the Go! by J.M. Hirsch.  Utilizing a combination of leftovers and fresh ingredients, Beating the Lunch Box Blues was created not only to provide recipes, but to give inspiration.

This book gives very simple, practical advice. As I perused the pages, I had a lot of a-ha moments. Why had I never thought that I should cook a little extra couscous to save for lunch that week?  Why did I bring leftovers exactly as they had been cooked the night before?  Why couldn’t I bring the leftover chicken from dinner as part of a salad for lunch? (I’m clearly not a creative lunch maker.)  And why do I never plan lunches, but just toss them together as I’m running out the door?

Hirsch’s recipes focus on creating variety in your meals and planning ahead.  This will save time in the end and might prevent you from buying that bag of chips from the vending machine. If you’re looking for additional ideas check out Hirsch’s blog: www.lunchboxblues.com or these other lunch box cookbooks from DPL: Best Lunch Box Ever by Kate Sullivan Morford and Vegan Lunch Box by Jennifer McCann.