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.

New Social Science Titles

Looking for a new social science title to read? Here are some new and upcoming releases hitting our shelves! If any of these books interest you, you can use the links below to place a hold in our catalog, or you can always give us a call to put one on hold for you.

The Black Agenda: Bold Solutions for a Broken System by Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman (editor)

This collection of essays explores several key aspects of social justice and reform to address one essential question: what’s next for America? Featuring scholarly contributors from across a spectrum of disciplines (such as economics, education, health, climate, and technology), this title examines multiple perspectives and considers essential ideas on how to go about healing the racial inequity throughout America. This title was released on February 1st.

Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland’s Extraordinary Women and How They are Changing the World by Eliza Reid

Written by the First Lady of Iceland, this title is an exploration of how the extraordinary women, or “sprakkar,” of this island nation are leading the way in closing the equality gap between men and women. This book features dozens of interviews, as well as Reid’s personal experiences, showcasing how Iceland is setting the example for how more progressive actions can be taken around the globe. This title was released on February 8th.

White Lies: The Double Life of Walter F. White and America’s Darkest Secret by A.J. Baime

This biography details the life of Walter F. White, a Black civil rights activist who lived an incredibly dangerous double life. Simultaneously acting as a leader of the NAACP and passing as white to document lynching crimes as a journalist, White’s activism was absolutely fundamental in bringing about civil rights legislation. While White may not yet be a household name, this book is sure to help spread his courageous story and make him one. This title was released on February 8th.

The Naked Don’t Fear the Water: An Underground Journey with Afghan Refugees by Matthieu Aikins

This personal narrative follows the harrowing journey of a journalist who accompanies a close friend out of Afghanistan upon the latter becoming a refugee. Leaving his entire identity and life behind, he goes underground and experiences the distressing and heart wrenching struggles refugees face, learning first-hand what lies at the heart of migration crises. This title was released on February 15th.

Bone Deep: Untangling the Betsy Faria Murder Case by Charles Bosworth, Jr. & Joel J. Schwartz

The basis for the popular TV series The Thing About Pam (featuring Renée Zellweger), this true crime account delves into the murder of Betsy Faria, who was found stabbed fifty-five times in her home. Despite evidence proving her husband’s innocence, he was convicted until undeniable evidence of a change in beneficiary came to light implicating the involvement of Betsy’s friend, Pamela Hupp. This title was released on February 22nd.

Rise: A Pop History of Asian America from the Nineties to Now by Jeff Yang

Full of graphic essays, images, and history, this title details and documents the cultural shifts and landmarks of Asian America throughout the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s. Ranging from the popularity of Crazy Rich Asians and the band BTS to the significance of electing the first Asian American Vice President, this informative, yet entertaining book walks readers through these pop landmarks and everything in between. Dedicated to “the ones who come next,” this book celebrates what it means to be Asian American. This title was released on March 1st.

Beyond Innocence: The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt by Phoebe Zerwick

Detailing the harrowing experience of a man who spent nearly 20 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, this memoir tells the story of Darryl Hunt who, despite evidence proving his innocence, was accused and convicted of raping and murdering a white woman at just 19 years old. Written by the very journalist who sought to secure his release, this book encapsulates the distressing consequences of those oppressed and unjustly persecuted in a justice system founded on systemic racism and issues a resounding call for change. This title was released on March 8th.

In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women Are Still on Trial by Mona Chollet

Written by a prominent feminist, this book identifies and examines three types of women who have historically been accused of witchcraft: the independent woman, the childless woman, and the elderly woman. Arguing that these kinds of women experience similar mediums of sexism today, this book takes a look at both historical and modern day societal trends perpetuating the association between the label “witches”  and the women who defy social expectations steeped in misogyny. This title was released on March 8th.

Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy Became a Battle for Truth by Elizabeth Williamson

While the majority of people across the United States and the world mourned the young lives lost in the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there were some who, in the catastrophic aftermath, began sharing and perpetuating conspiracy theories online stating the shooting never happened. Containing interviews of survivors, family members, first responders, and others forever scarred by that day, this book details how the families of Sandy Hook refused to let the truth be washed out by lies and fought to secure the memories and legacies of all those who lost their lives. This title was released on March 8th.

On the Line: A Story of Class, Solidarity, and Two Women’s Epic Fight to Build a Union by Daisy Pitkin

Written by a young labor organizer, this book documents the fight to establish a union for industrial laundry factories in Phoenix, Arizona. Subjected to harsh and dangerous working conditions, ranging from exposure to bodily fluids and needles to not having safety guards on machines, author Pitkin worked together with Alma, an immigrant worker at one of these factories, to spearhead the fight to establish a voice and rights for these workers. Exploring the complex proceedings of politics, classism, and the history of unions themselves, this book gives agency to those who are often rendered speechless. This title will be released on March 29th.

If you would like to keep up with even more new releases hitting our shelves, please visit our “New Releases” LibGuide here. Additionally, if you want to find more titles revolving around social justice issues specifically, I invite you to also visit our “Social Justice Reads” LibGuide here.

Oprah’s Latest Book Club Pick

Join our Best Sellers Club to have certain celebrity book club picks automatically put on hold for you: Reese Witherspoon, Jenna Bush Hager, and Oprah Winfrey. While Reese and Jenna generally announce a new title each month, Oprah’s selections are more sporadic. She has just announced hew newest selection! Reminder that if you join our Best Sellers Club, these titles will automatically be put on hold for you.

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Oprah Winfrey has selected  The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self by Martha Beck for her latest pick.

Curious what The Way of Integrity is about? Check out the following description provided by the author.

Bestselling author, life coach, and sociologist Martha Beck explains why “integrity”—being in harmony with ourselves—is the key to a meaningful and joyful life.

As Martha Beck says in her book, “Integrity is the cure for psychological suffering. Period.”

In The Way of Integrity, Martha presents a four-stage process that anyone can use to find integrity, and with it, a sense of purpose, emotional healing, and a life free of mental suffering. Much of what plagues us—people pleasing, worry and anxiety, negative habits—all point to what happens when we are out of touch with what truly makes us feel whole.

Inspired by The Divine Comedy, Martha uses Dante’s classic hero’s journey as a framework to break down the process of attaining personal integrity into small, manageable steps. She shows how to read our internal signals that lead us towards our true path, and to recognize what we actually yearn for versus what our culture sells us.

With techniques tested on hundreds of her clients, Martha brings her expertise as a social scientist, life coach and human being to help readers to discover what integrity looks like in their own lives. She takes us on a spiritual adventure that will change the direction of our lives, and bring us to a place of genuine happiness.

This book is also available in the following format:

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Join our Best Sellers Club to have Oprah’s adult selections automatically put on hold for you!

Straight off the Shelf: Demystifying Disability by Emily Ladau

“If the disability community wants a world that’s accessible to us, then we must make ideas and experiences of disability accessible to the world.”

I hope all of our dedicated readers are well as the days get crisper, the nights grow longer, and the holidays come upon us! I am excited to start a new blog series titled “Straight off the Shelf,” in which I will feature a nonfiction book straight from our new shelves here at the library and pair it up with similar titles in our collection. This first selection comes from our social sciences section and is titled Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to be an Ally  by Emily Ladau.

First, a little bit of background about the author. A disability rights activist, writer, and speaker, Emily Ladau began her activism at just the young age of ten when she starred on Sesame Street to teach children about what it is like to live with a physical disability. She continues her advocacy today by providing consulting and editorial services to several disability-focused organizations, as well as by managing a blog (Rooted in Rights) focused on sharing and amplifying disability experiences and co-hosting a podcast (The Accessible Stall) that considers important issues within the disability community. She has also received several honors, including being named a “10 Under 10 Young Alumni” at her alma matter of Adelphi University and being selected as the recipient of the American Association of People With Disabilities’ Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Award in 2018.

In Ladau’s words, “[a]ll of my activism is driven by my belief that it is by sharing our stories and making the disability experience accessible to the world that we will reach a world that is accessible to the disability community.” One of the very first statistics presented in this book is that an estimated 15% of the global population, or more than one billion people, lives with a disability, making up the world’s largest minority. With this in mind, Ladau describes this book as a 101 guide or handbook for anyone and everyone looking to better understand various aspects of disability, as well as how to become a stronger ally and advocate. Broken down into six primary parts, it delves into what a disability actually is, how to understand disability as part of a whole person, an overview of disability history, ableism and accessibility,  disability etiquette, and how disability is portrayed in the media. Ladau also includes several additional resources for further reading, including books, films, online videos, and hashtags to follow on social media; a complete list of resources from this title can also be found here: https://emilyladau.com/demystifying-disability-bibliography/

I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about this new title! If it piqued your interest and/or you would like to continue demystifying disability, here are some similar books housed in our library collection:

About Us: Essays for the Disability Series of the New York Times edited by Peter Catapano

This title compiles several significant and powerful essays and reflections that have been featured in a column entitled “Disability” in the New York Times since its inception in 2016. Here is a brief description from the publisher:

“Boldly claiming a space where people with disabilities tell the stories of their own lives―not other’s stories about them―About Us captures the voices of a community that has for too long been stereotyped and misrepresented. Speaking not only to people with disabilities and their support networks, but to all of us, the authors in About Us offer intimate stories of how they navigate a world not built for them. Echoing the refrain of the disability rights movement, ‘nothing about us without us,’ this collection, with a foreword by Andrew Solomon, is a landmark publication of the disability movement for readers of all backgrounds, communities, and abilities.”

I Live a Life Like Yours: A Memoir by Jan Grue

This memoir provides a searing and insightful look into what it is like to live with a disability and the journey of coming to accept the limitations a disability poses while also loving life. Here is a brief description from the publisher:

“Jan Grue was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at the age of three. Shifting between specific periods of his life—his youth with his parents and sister in Norway; his years of study in Berkeley, St. Petersburg, and Amsterdam; and his current life as a professor, husband, and father—he intersperses these histories with elegant, astonishingly wise reflections on the world, social structures, disability, loss, relationships, and the body: in short, on what it means to be human. Along the way, Grue moves effortlessly between his own story and those of others, incorporating reflections on philosophy, film, art, and the work of writers from Joan Didion to Michael Foucault. He revives the cold, clinical language of his childhood, drawing from a stack of medical records that first forced the boy who thought of himself as “just Jan” to perceive that his body, and therefore his self, was defined by its defects.

I Live a Life Like Yours is a love story. It is rich with loss, sorrow, and joy, and with the details of one life: a girlfriend pushing Grue through the airport and forgetting him next to the baggage claim; schoolmates forming a chain behind his wheelchair on the ice one winter day; his parents writing desperate letters in search of proper treatment for their son; his own young son climbing into his lap as he sits in his wheelchair, only to leap down and run away too quickly to catch. It is a story about accepting one’s own body and limitations, and learning to love life as it is while remaining open to hope and discovery.”

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

This autobiography provides an acute analysis on living with a disability in an ableist world and considers how ableism is deeply embedded in our culture. Here is a brief description from the publisher:

“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.”

Trending Social Science Titles

Looking for a new social science read? Here are some new and upcoming titles that are trending! If any of these books pique your interest, you can use the links below to place a hold in our catalog, or you can always give us a call to put one on hold for you.

Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement by Tarana Burke (September 14th)

This memoir explores the origins of one of the greatest movements of social activism in American history and the woman behind it: Tarana Burke. Here is a brief description from the publisher:

Tarana didn’t always have the courage to say “me too.” As a child, she reeled from her sexual assault, believing she was responsible. Unable to confess what she thought of as her own sins for fear of shattering her family, her soul split in two. One side was the bright, intellectually curious third generation Bronxite steeped in Black literature and power, and the other was the bad, shame ridden girl who thought of herself as a vile rule breaker, not as a victim. She tucked one away, hidden behind a wall of pain and anger, which seemed to work…until it didn’t.

Tarana fought to reunite her fractured self, through organizing, pursuing justice, and finding community. In her debut memoir she shares her extensive work supporting and empowering Black and brown girls, and the devastating realization that to truly help these girls she needed to help that scared, ashamed child still in her soul. She needed to stop running and confront what had happened to her, for Heaven and Diamond and the countless other young Black women for whom she cared. They gave her the courage to embrace her power. A power which in turn she shared with the entire world. Through these young Black and brown women, Tarana found that we can only offer empathy to others if we first offer it to ourselves.

Unbound is the story of an inimitable woman’s inner strength and perseverance, all in pursuit of bringing healing to her community and the world around her, but it is also a story of possibility, of empathy, of power, and of the leader we all have inside ourselves. In sharing her path toward healing and saying “me too,” Tarana reaches out a hand to help us all on our own journeys.”

Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliott (October 5th)

Spanning from 2012 to 2020, this title follows the story of young Dasani Coates, a young girl who grew up in a homeless shelter in Brooklyn alongside her seven siblings. Here is a brief description from the publisher:

“Invisible Child follows eight dramatic years in the life of a girl whose imagination is as soaring as the skyscrapers near her Brooklyn shelter. Dasani was named after the bottled water that signaled Brooklyn’s gentrification and the shared aspirations of a divided city. In this sweeping narrative, Elliott weaves the story of Dasani’s childhood with the history of her family, tracing the passage of their ancestors from slavery to the Great Migration north. As Dasani comes of age, the homeless crisis in New York City has exploded amid the deepening chasm between rich and poor. 

Dasani must guide her siblings through a city riddled by hunger, violence, drug addiction, homelessness, and the monitoring of child protection services. Out on the street, Dasani becomes a fierce fighter to protect the ones she loves. When she finally escapes city life to enroll in a boarding school, she faces an impossible question: What if leaving poverty means abandoning your family, and yourself? By turns heartbreaking and inspiring, Invisible Child tells an astonishing story about the power of resilience, the importance of family, and the cost of inequality. Based on nearly a decade of reporting, Invisible Child illuminates some of the most critical issues in contemporary America through the life of one remarkable girl.”

100 Things We’ve Lost to the Internet by Pamela Paul (October 26th)

Considering the ways in which everyday life has changed and shifted with the invention and advancement of the Internet, Pamela Paul offers a nostalgic look at the seemingly major and minor things we have lost in the process. Here is a brief description from the publisher:

“Remember all those ingrained habits, cherished ideas, beloved objects, and stubborn preferences from the pre-Internet age? They’re gone. To some of those things we can say good riddance. But many we miss terribly. Whatever our emotional response to this departed realm, we are faced with the fact that nearly every aspect of modern life now takes place in filtered, isolated corners of cyberspace—a space that has slowly subsumed our physical habitats, replacing or transforming the office, our local library, a favorite bar, the movie theater, and the coffee shop where people met one another’s gaze from across the room. Even as we’ve gained the ability to gather without leaving our house, many of the fundamentally human experiences that have sustained us have disappeared. In one hundred glimpses of that pre-Internet world, Pamela Paul, editor of The New York Times Book Review, presents a captivating record, enlivened with illustrations, of the world before cyberspace—from voicemails to blind dates to punctuation to civility. There are the small losses: postcards, the blessings of an adolescence largely spared of documentation, the Rolodex, and the genuine surprises at high school reunions. But there are larger repercussions, too: weaker memories, the inability to entertain oneself, and the utter demolition of privacy.100 Things We’ve Lost to the Internet is at once an evocative swan song for a disappearing era and, perhaps, a guide to reclaiming just a little bit more of the world IRL.”

Entertaining Race: Performing Blackness in America by Michael Eric Dyson (November 2nd)

Author of more than 20 books, including Tears We Cannot Stop and Long Time Coming, Michael Eric Dyson delves into the history behind the concept of “performing Blackness” in America through essays, speeches, and interviews in his newest release. Here is a brief description from the publisher:

“For more than thirty years, Michael Eric Dyson has played a prominent role in the nation as a public intellectual, university professor, cultural critic, social activist and ordained Baptist minister. He has presented a rich and resourceful set of ideas about American history and culture. Now for the first time he brings together the various components of his multihued identity and eclectic pursuits.

Entertaining Race is a testament to Dyson’s consistent celebration of the outsized impact of African American culture and politics on this country. Black people were forced to entertain white people in slavery, have been forced to entertain the idea of race from the start, and must find entertaining ways to make race an object of national conversation. Dyson’s career embodies these and other ways of performing Blackness, and in these pages, ranging from 1991 to the present, he entertains race with his pen, voice and body, and occasionally, alongside luminaries like Cornel West, David Blight, Ibram X. Kendi, Master P, MC Lyte, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Alicia Garza, John McWhorter, and Jordan Peterson.

Most of this work will be new to readers, a fresh light for many of his long-time fans and an inspiring introduction for newcomers. Entertaining Race offers a compelling vision from the mind and heart of one of America’s most important and enduring voices.”

White Hot Hate: A True Story of Domestic Terrorism in America’s Heartland by Dick Lehr (November 30th)

In this harrowing account, Dick Lehr investigates how a plot of domestic terrorism was foiled in a small Kansas town. Here is a brief description from the publisher:

“In the spring of 2016, as immigration debates rocked the United States, three men in a militia group known as the Crusaders grew aggravated over one Kansas town’s growing Somali community. They decided that complaining about their new neighbors and threatening them directly wasn’t enough. The men plotted to bomb a mosque, aiming to kill hundreds and inspire other attacks against Muslims in America. But they would wait until after the presidential election, so that their actions wouldn’t hurt Donald Trump’s chances of winning.

An FBI informant befriended the three men, acting as law enforcement’s eyes and ears for eight months. His secretly taped conversations with the militia were pivotal in obstructing their plans and were a lynchpin in the resulting trial and convictions for conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.

White Hot Hate will tell the riveting true story of an averted case of domestic terrorism in one of the most remote towns in the US, not far from the infamous town where Capote’s In Cold Blood was set. In the gripping details of this foiled scheme, we see in intimate focus the chilling, immediate threat of domestic terrorism—and racist anxiety in America writ large.”

Flying Blind: The 737 Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing by Peter Robison (November 30th)

Reporting on one of the most well-known and iconic aerospace companies in the world, Peter Robison delves into the details behind two major crashes in Boeing’s recent history and the ways in which the corporation has contributed to its ongoing crisis. Here is a brief description from the publisher:

“Boeing is a century-old titan of industry. It played a major role in the early days of commercial flight, World War II bombing missions, and moon landings. The planemaker remains a cornerstone of the U.S. economy, as well as a linchpin in the awesome routine of modern air travel. But in 2018 and 2019, two crashes of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 killed 346 people. The crashes exposed a shocking pattern of malfeasance, leading to the biggest crisis in the company’s history—and one of the costliest corporate scandals ever. 
 
How did things go so horribly wrong at Boeing?
 
Flying Blind is the definitive exposé of the disasters that transfixed the world. Drawing from exclusive interviews with current and former employees of Boeing and the FAA; industry executives and analysts; and family members of the victims, it reveals how a broken corporate culture paved the way for catastrophe. It shows how in the race to beat the competition and reward top executives, Boeing skimped on testing, pressured employees to meet unrealistic deadlines, and convinced regulators to put planes into service without properly equipping them or their pilots for flight. It examines how the company, once a treasured American innovator, became obsessed with the bottom line, putting shareholders over customers, employees, and communities.
 
By Bloomberg investigative journalist Peter Robison, who covered Boeing as a beat reporter during the company’s fateful merger with McDonnell Douglas in the late ‘90s, this is the story of a business gone wildly off course. At once riveting and disturbing, it shows how an iconic company fell prey to a win-at-all-costs mentality, threatening an industry and endangering countless lives.”

Presence by Amy Cuddy

A very convincing, evidence-based explanation of how our posture has a huge impact on how we think, feel, and behave, Amy Cuddy’s Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges is the book of science-backed empowerment we all need. It’s the bestselling follow-up to her popular TED talk, “Your Body Language May  Shape Who You Are”.

After a brain injury in college, Amy Cuddy began a lifelong fascination with identity, self-confidence, self-doubt, and how good performance happens. When she became a psychology researcher, Cuddy began investigating the role of the body in determining or changing psychological states. In this book, she explains all the research, her own and that of others, that demonstrates the power of body posture to change mood, thoughts, and behaviors. Basically, using open, expansive postures (shoulders back, head up, chest out – things that make you physically bigger) leads to greater feelings of confidence, calm, and self-efficacy, which translates into taking more risks, having better pain tolerance, and much more. On the flip side, getting stuck in contracted, closed postures (hunched shoulders, crossed arms or ankles – anything that shrinks you into less space) makes you feel and act more timid and powerless. Cuddy gives specific examples of how this works, also digging into the role of gender, cultural differences, and more.

My favorite thing I learned in this book is the concept of “personal power”, as opposed to “social power”. Where social power is the authority and status that allows you to direct or control other people, personal power is an inner feeling, a wellspring of resources that gives you the capability of meeting any challenge or situation with poise. You can have personal power without having social power, and it’s not something anyone externally can take away from you. It’s personal power that is increased by changing your body language. I loved how understandable and achievable Cuddy made this concept through clear writing and good advice.

The second-best concept from this book is the “iHunch” – this is less empowering, but very important. Cuddy describes research into the effect of continually hunching over a mobile phone (which she dubs iHunch or iPosture), research which indicates that this posture not only has bad health effects but also makes you feel and act more powerless. For me, that was an important cautionary tale, giving me just one more reason to get off my phone.

If you want to feel better, perform better in challenging situations, or just generally have more confidence, I definitely recommend you read this book – or at least try a power pose or two. It turns out that, as long as you do it in private and not to grandstand or intimidate, standing like Wonder Woman with your hands on your hips or manspreading in a chair might just be good for you.

Childfree by Choice by Dr. Amy Blackstone

A deeply evidence-based look at the real experiences of those who choose not to have children, 2019’s Childfree by Choice is an honest and empowering look at the many ways of creating lives of meaning and fulfillment.

A childfree woman herself, Dr. Blackstone has always been interested in the way childfree people live in a world that doesn’t really support them. In this book, she pulls together years of research – her own and that of others – to dive deep into what it really means to be childfree. She addresses the numerous myths and threats childfree people face (“You’ll regret it!” “You’re selfish!” “You hate kids!”, etc.) and debunks them all with her own experience alongside verifiable facts drawn from numerous research studies.

What I really liked about this book – aside from her hardcore commitment to evidence and citations supporting her every claim – was the way she carefully explained the difference between what our culture might say, where those assumptions come from, and what is actually true. It’s easy to accept common wisdom at face value, but it’s far more interesting to understand the issue in a nuanced way. Perhaps more importantly, Blackstone maintains an honest, calm and reasonable tone throughout and never comes across condescending or defensive. She never claims that either choice is better or worse, but only states the facts: some people have kids, some people don’t, and either way is a good way to live, as long as it works for you.

If you want to learn about an invisible population, feel empowered to create your own future, or have your eyes opened to the many wonderful ways to make a family, you might be interested in Childfree by Choice.

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 July 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 provided by the publishers on the four titles our selectors have picked for July.

True Crime pick

What Happened to Paula by Katherine Dykstra

In July 1970, eighteen-year-old Paula Oberbroeckling left her house in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and never returned. A cold case for fifty years, Paula’s story had been largely forgotten when Katherine Dykstra began looking for answers. A woman was dead. Why had no one been held responsible? How could a community give up and move on? Could there ever be justice for Paula?

Tracing the knowns and unknowns, Dykstra discovers a girl who was hemmed in by the culture of the late 1960s, when women’s rights had been brought to the fore but had little practical bearing on actual lives. The more she learns about Paula, the more parallels Dykstra finds in the lives of the women who knew Paula, the lives of the women in her own family, and even in her own life.

Captivating and expertly crafted, What Happened to Paula is a timely, powerful look at gender, autonomy, and the cost of being a woman.

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

‘ This brand-new book investigates the 1970 murder of Paula Oberbroeckling, an eighteen-year-old woman who left her home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and never returned. Four months later, her remains were discovered near the Cedar River, but the case was never solved and quickly forgotten by the police and local media. Fifty years later, author and journalist Katherine Dykstra began searching for answers, weaving together the loose threads of this cold case to determine why the crime had been abandoned so quickly. Through police reports and case files, interviews with Paula’s family and friends, and further investigation on the scene, Dykstra discovered the complex circumstances of Paula’s story. As a young white woman in the 1960s, Paula defied many social norms that may have impacted the reception of and actions taken for the case; from having a Black ex-boyfriend to a rumored pregnancy and abortion, Dykstra considers how this particular case was deeply entangled with the social expectations of the time, as well as the overarching question of how much agency women have over their own bodies in our society.

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 was due to its somewhat local connection – this happened less than two hours away from Davenport! Lastly, I chose this book due to its melding of true crime story, memoir, and social history; one review likened this book to our previous selection of We Keep the Dead Close by Becky Cooper due to its consideration of larger social themes at work in true crime stories.’

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Social Justice pick

On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed

Weaving together American history, dramatic family chronicle, and searing episodes of memoir, Annette Gordon-Reed’s On Juneteenth provides a historian’s view of the country’s long road to Juneteenth, recounting both its origins in Texas and the enormous hardships that African-Americans have endured in the century since, from Reconstruction through Jim Crow and beyond. All too aware of the stories of cowboys, ranchers, and oilmen that have long dominated the lore of the Lone Star State, Gordon-Reed—herself a Texas native and the descendant of enslaved people brought to Texas as early as the 1820s—forges a new and profoundly truthful narrative of her home state, with implications for us all.

Combining personal anecdotes with poignant facts gleaned from the annals of American history, Gordon-Reed shows how, from the earliest presence of Black people in Texas to the day in Galveston on June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of legalized slavery in the state, African-Americans played an integral role in the Texas story.

Reworking the traditional “Alamo” framework, she powerfully demonstrates, among other things, that the slave- and race-based economy not only defined the fractious era of Texas independence but precipitated the Mexican-American War and, indeed, the Civil War itself.

In its concision, eloquence, and clear presentation of history, On Juneteenth vitally revises conventional renderings of Texas and national history. Especially now that the U.S. recognizes Juneteenth (June 19) as a national holiday, On Juneteenth is both an essential account and a stark reminder that the fight for equality is exigent and ongoing.

Librarian Anna has the following to say about this pick:

‘Published in May, this title delves into the Texan history of Juneteenth, as well as the lived experiences of the author and her family as Texas natives. A Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian and professor at Harvard University, Gordon-Reed presents an elucidating history lesson, while also piecing together her family history, to call attention to the legacy of slavery, her personal experiences of racial injustice, and how we can move forward. Described by Kirkus Reviews as a “concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths,” this book is made up of several short, accessible essays to draw in any and all readers.

I primarily selected this title for the BSC due to several positive reviews it received from acclaimed journals and reader communities upon publication, but also because of the possibility of Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday this year (which it officially has – hooray!). I also had the privilege of watching a webinar in which Gordon-Reed talked about this publication. It was absolutely inspiring to not only hear about what it took to write her family’s history, but also how she hopes readers will realize that the past is a part of who we are today and that we need to truly consider both the human experience and the reality of racism’s past, present, and future impacts to achieve true social justice and freedom for everyone.’

This book is also available in the following format:

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Biography pick

Brat: an ’80s Story  by Andrew McCarthy

Most people know Andrew McCarthy from his movie roles in Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire, Weekend at Bernie’s, and Less than Zero, and as a charter member of Hollywood’s Brat Pack. That iconic group of ingenues and heartthrobs included Rob Lowe, Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, and Demi Moore, and has come to represent both a genre of film and an era of pop culture.

In his memoir Brat: An ’80s Story, McCarthy focuses his gaze on that singular moment in time. The result is a revealing look at coming of age in a maelstrom, reckoning with conflicted ambition, innocence, addiction, and masculinity. New York City of the 1980s is brought to vivid life in these pages, from scoring loose joints in Washington Square Park to skipping school in favor of the dark revival houses of the Village where he fell in love with the movies that would change his life. Filled with personal revelations of innocence lost to heady days in Hollywood with John Hughes and an iconic cast of characters, Brat is a surprising and intimate story of an outsider caught up in a most unwitting success.

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Cookbook Pick

Zoe Bakes Cakes by Zoe Francois

Cake is the ultimate symbol of celebration, used to mark birthdays, weddings, or even just a Tuesday night. Yet too many people use chemical-laden mixes even though a cake is so easy to make from scratch and infinitely more fun to share. In Zoë Bakes Cakes, bestselling author Zoë François demystifies the craft of cakes with more than 100 easy-to-use recipes, showing how to get gorgeous confections on the table to mark any occasion, big or small.

Librarian Ann says the following about her newest pick:

‘Initially I choose this cookbook for the cover: an exquisite chocolate cake topped with cubes of marbled goodness. Inside are more pictures of beautiful, drool-worthy cakes. But this is more than a picture book – recipes are concise and clear, ingredients are easily found (mostly in your pantry) and the presentation of each cake is fun and innovative. In addition, the opening chapters offer a virtual master class in baking techniques allowing even a beginner baker to master these delicious creations. Finally, I love Zoe’s philosophy, that any day can be made better with cake, even a Tuesday!

Zoe Francois also hosts the television series “Zoe Bakes” which can be seen on the Magnolia Network.’

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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.

New True Crime Titles

Looking for a new true crime book to read? Here are some titles that hit the shelves in January, February, and March. If any of these titles interest you, you can use the links below to place a hold in our catalog, or you can always give us a call to put one on hold for you. The following descriptions were provided by the publisher.

At Any Cost: A Father’s Betrayal, a Wife’s Murder, and a Ten-year War for Justice by Rebecca Rosenberg

At Any Cost unravels the twisted story of Rod Covlin, whose unrepentant greed drove him to an unspeakable act of murder and betrayal that rocked New York City.

Wealthy, beautiful, and brilliant, Shele Danishefsky had fulfillment at her fingertips. Having conquered Wall Street, she was eager to build a family with her much younger husband, promising Ivy League graduate Rod Covlin. But when his hidden vices surfaced, marital harmony gave way to a merciless divorce. Rod had long depended on Shele’s income to fund his tastes for high stakes backgammon and infidelity–and she finally vowed to sever him from her will. In late December 2009, Shele made an appointment with her lawyer to block him from her millions. She would never make it to that meeting.

Two days later, on New Year’s Eve, Shele was found dead in the bathtub of her Upper West Side apartment. Police ruled it an accident, and Shele’s deeply Orthodox Jewish family quickly buried her without an autopsy on religious grounds. Rod had a clear path to his ex-wife’s fortune, but suspicions about her death lingered. As the two families warred over custody of Shele’s children—and their inheritance— Rod concocted a series of increasingly demented schemes, even plotting to kill his own parents, to secure the treasure. And as investigators closed in, Rod committed a final, desperate act to frame his own daughter for her mother’s death.

Journalists Rebecca Rosenberg and Selim Algar reconstruct the ten years that passed between the day Shele was found dead and the day her killer faced justice in this riveting account of how one man’s irrepressible greed devolved into obsession, manipulation, and murder.

The Babysitter: My Summers with a Serial Killer by Liza Rodman and Jennifer Jordan

A chilling true story—part memoir, part crime investigation—reminiscent of Ann Rule’s classic The Stranger Beside Me, about a little girl longing for love and how she found friendship with her charismatic babysitter—who was also a vicious serial killer.

 Growing up on Cape Cod in the 1960s, Liza Rodman was a lonely little girl. During the summers, while her mother worked days in a local motel and danced most nights in the Provincetown bars, her babysitter—the kind, handsome handyman at the motel where her mother worked—took her and her sister on adventures in his truck. He bought them popsicles and together, they visited his “secret garden” in the Truro woods. To Liza, he was one of the few kind and understanding adults in her life. Everyone thought he was just a “great guy.”

But there was one thing she didn’t know; their babysitter was a serial killer.

Some of his victims were buried—in pieces—right there, in his garden in the woods. Though Tony Costa’s gruesome case made screaming headlines in 1969 and beyond, Liza never made the connection between her friendly babysitter and the infamous killer of numerous women, including four in Massachusetts, until decades later.

Haunted by nightmares and horrified by what she learned, Liza became obsessed with the case. Now, she and cowriter Jennifer Jordan reveal the chilling and unforgettable true story of a charming but brutal psychopath through the eyes of a young girl who once called him her friend.

Blood Gun Money: How America Arms Gangs and Cartels by Ioan Grillo

From the author of El Narco, a searing investigation into the enormous black market for firearms, essential to cartels and gangs in the drug trade and contributing to the epidemic of mass shootings.

The gun control debate is revived with every mass shooting. But far more people die from gun deaths on the street corners of inner city America and across the border as Mexico’s powerful cartels battle to control the drug trade. Guns and drugs aren’t often connected in our heated discussions of gun control-but they should be. In Ioan Grillo’s groundbreaking new work of investigative journalism, he shows us this connection by following the market for guns in the Americas and how it has made the continent the most murderous on earth.

Grillo travels to gun manufacturers, strolls the aisles of gun shows and gun shops, talks to FBI agents who have infiltrated biker gangs, hangs out on Baltimore street corners, and visits the ATF gun tracing center in West Virginia. Along the way, he details the many ways that legal guns can cross over into the black market and into the hands of criminals, fueling violence here and south of the border. Simple legislative measures would help close these loopholes, but America’s powerful gun lobby is uncompromising in its defense of the hallowed Second Amendment. Perhaps, however, if guns were seen not as symbols of freedom, but as key accessories in our epidemics of addiction, the conversation would shift. Blood Gun Money is that conversation shifter.

The Haunting of Alma Fielding: A True Ghost Story by Kate Summerscale

Internationally bestselling and Edgar Award-winning author Kate Summerscale follows a ghost hunter in 1938 London in a case that illuminates changing social attitudes toward psychoanalysis, sexuality, and the supernatural

London, 1938. In the suburbs of the city, a young housewife has become the eye in a storm of chaos. In Alma Fielding’s modest home, china flies off the shelves and eggs fly through the air; stolen jewellery appears on her fingers, white mice crawl out of her handbag, beetles appear from under her gloves; in the middle of a car journey, a turtle materializes on her lap. The culprit is incorporeal. As Alma cannot call the police, she calls the papers instead.

After the sensational story headlines the news, Nandor Fodor, a Hungarian ghost hunter for the International Institute for Psychical Research, arrives to investigate the poltergeist. But when he embarks on his scrupulous investigation, he discovers that the case is even stranger than it seems.

By unravelling Alma’s peculiar history, Fodor finds a different and darker type of haunting, a tale of trauma, alienation, loss and revenge. He comes to believe that Alma’s past has bled into her present, her mind into her body. There are no words for processing her experience, so it comes to possess her. As the threat of a world war looms, and as Fodor’s obsession with the case deepens, Alma becomes ever more disturbed.

With characteristic rigor and insight, Kate Summerscale brilliantly captures the rich atmosphere of a haunting that transforms into a very modern battle between the supernatural and the subconscious.

Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York by Elon Green

The gripping true story, told here for the first time, of the Last Call Killer and the gay community of New York City that he preyed upon.

The Townhouse Bar, midtown, July 1992: The piano player seems to know every song ever written, the crowd belts out the lyrics to their favorites, and a man standing nearby is drinking a Scotch and water. The man strikes the piano player as forgettable.

He looks bland and inconspicuous. Not at all what you think a serial killer looks like. But that’s what he is, and tonight, he has his sights set on a gray haired man. He will not be his first victim.

Nor will he be his last.

The Last Call Killer preyed upon gay men in New York in the ‘80s and ‘90s and had all the hallmarks of the most notorious serial killers. Yet because of the sexuality of his victims, the skyhigh murder rates, and the AIDS epidemic, his murders have been almost entirely forgotten.

This gripping true-crime narrative tells the story of the Last Call Killer and the decades-long chase to find him. And at the same time, it paints a portrait of his victims and a vibrant community navigating threat and resilience.

Two Truths and a Lie: A Murder, A Private Investigator, and Her Search for Justice by Ellen McGarrahan

In 1990, Ellen McGarrahan was a young reporter for the Miami Herald when she covered the execution of Jesse Tafero, a man convicted of murdering two police officers. When it later emerged that Tafero may have been innocent, McGarrahan was appalled by her unquestioning acceptance of the state’s version of events. The revelation propelled her into a new career as a private investigator.

Decades later, McGarrahan finally decides to find out the truth of what really happened in Florida. Her investigation plunges her back into the Miami of the 1960s and 1970s, a dangerous world of nightclubs, speed boats, and cartels, all awash in violence. She combs through stacks of court files and interviews everyone involved in the case. But even as McGarrahan circles closer to the truth, the story of guilt and innocence becomes more complex, and she gradually discovers that she hasn’t been alone in her need for closure. Because whenever a human life is forcibly taken—by bullet, or by electric chair—the reckoning is long and difficult for all.

A fascinating glimpse into the mind of a private investigator, Two Truths and a Lie is ultimately a deeply personal exploration of one woman’s quest to find answers in a chaotic world.

We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence by Becky Cooper

You have to remember, he reminded me, that Harvard is older than the U.S. government. You have to remember because Harvard doesn’t let you forget.

1969: the height of counterculture and the year universities would seek to curb the unruly spectacle of student protest; the winter that Harvard University would begin the tumultuous process of merging with Radcliffe, its all-female sister school; and the year that Jane Britton, an ambitious twenty-three-year-old graduate student in Harvard’s Anthropology Department and daughter of Radcliffe Vice President J. Boyd Britton, would be found bludgeoned to death in her Cambridge, Massachusetts apartment.

 Forty years later, Becky Cooper a curious undergrad, will hear the first whispers of the story. In the first telling the body was nameless. The story was this: a Harvard student had had an affair with her professor, and the professor had murdered her in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology because she’d threatened to talk about the affair. Though the rumor proves false, the story that unfolds, one that Cooper will follow for ten years, is even more complex: a tale of gender inequality in academia, a ‘cowboy culture’ among empowered male elites, the silencing effect of institutions, and our compulsion to rewrite the stories of female victims.

 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.

We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops, and Corruption by Justin Fenton

Baltimore, 2015. Riots were erupting across the city as citizens demanded justice for Freddie Gray, a twenty-five-year old black man who had died while in police custody. At the same time, drug and violent crime were surging, and that year, Baltimore would reach its deadliest year in over two decades: 342 homicides in a city of six hundred thousand people. Under intense scrutiny–and a federal investigation over Gray’s death–the Baltimore police department turned to a rank-and-file hero, Sergeant Wayne Jenkins, and his elite unit, the Gun Trace Task Force, to help get guns and drugs off the street.

And yet, despite intense scrutiny, what The New York Times would call “one of the most startling police corruption scandals in a generation” was unfolding. Entrusted with fixing the city’s drug crisis, Jenkins and his posse of corrupt cops were instead stealing from its citizens–skimming from the drug busts they made, pocketing thousands in cash found in private homes, and planting fake evidence to throw Internal Affairs off their scent. Their brazen crime spree would go unchecked for years, and would result in countless wrongful convictions, the death of an innocent person–and the mysterious death of one cop who was shot in the head the day before he was scheduled to testify against the Force.

Award-winning investigative journalist Justin Fenton has been relentlessly exposing the scandal since 2017, conducting hundreds of interviews and poring over thousands of court documents. The result is an astounding feat of reportage about a rogue police unit, and the American city they held hostage.

The Woman Who Stole Vermeer: The True Story of Rose Dugdale and the Russborough Art Heist by Anthony M. Amore

The extraordinary life and crimes of heiress-turned-revolutionary Rose Dugdale, who in 1974 became the only woman to pull off a major art heist.

In the world of crime, there exists an unusual commonality between those who steal art and those who repeatedly kill: they are almost exclusively male. But, as with all things, there is always an outlier – someone who bucks the trend, defying the reliable profiles and leaving investigators and researchers scratching their heads. In the history of major art heists, that outlier is Rose Dugdale.

Dugdale’s life is singularly notorious. Born into extreme wealth, she abandoned her life as an Oxford-trained PhD and heiress to join the cause of Irish Republicanism. While on the surface she appears to be the British version of Patricia Hearst, she is anything but.

Dugdale ran head-first towards the action, spearheading the first aerial terrorist attack in British history and pulling off the biggest art theft of her time. In 1974, she led a gang into the opulent Russborough House in Ireland and made off with millions in prized paintings, including works by Goya, Gainsborough, and Rubens, as well as Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid by the mysterious master Johannes Vermeer. Dugdale thus became – to this day – the only woman to pull off a major art heist. And as Anthony Amore explores in The Woman Who Stole Vermeer, it’s likely that this was not her only such heist.

The Woman Who Stole Vermeer is Rose Dugdale’s story, from her idyllic upbringing in Devonshire and her presentation to Elizabeth II as a debutante to her university years and her eventual radical lifestyle. Her life of crime and activism is at turns unbelievable and awe-inspiring, and sure to engross readers.