Assassinations, Scrabble Hacks, and Innovators: Fall Nonfiction Preview

Assassinations, Scrabble Hacks, and Innovators: Fall Nonfiction Preview

‘Tis the season for memoirs by women who loom large in popular culture: Both Lena Dunham and Amy Poehler have books coming out this fall, and we’re all about it. But if you’re craving something a little heavier, we’ve still got you covered: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Matt Richtel’s book about texting and driving is sure change the conversation about the ill-advised practice, and Bettina Stangneth’s book about Adolf Eichmann is a groundbreaking portrait of a genuine monster. No matter what kind of nonfiction you prefer, there’s something on this list for everyone.

A mass murderer, unmasked

Once called the “Manager of the Holocaust,” Adolf Eichmann’s name lives in infamy for his involvement in the unspeakable horrors perpetrated against Jews before the fall of the Third Reich. As the world watched his highly-publicized trial in Jerusalem in 1961, Eichmann insisted that he had just been following orders within a large bureaucracy, and showed little remorse. Bettina Stangneth highlights Eichmann’s tremendous skill at manipulating those around him, demonstrating behaviors that could easily be described as sociopathic. In this book, she ultimately draws on more than 1,300 pages of Eichmann’s notes, and successfully paints a disturbing picture of a cold-blooded killer.

On shelves: September 2


The most important biography ever

If you identify as either a news junkie, TV aficionado, or a Democrat, odds are that you care about what Jon Stewart has to say. Beginning in 1999, Stewart shaped The Daily Show into one of the most influential programs on the air, and his legacy as an insightful commentator and, many would argue, voice of reason, continues today. In Angry Optimist, biographer Lisa Rogak breaks down what makes Jon Stewart’s voice such a powerful one in American culture and politics today.

On shelves: September 9


Driven to distraction

Texting while driving: We’ve all seen someone do it. But this relatively commonplace form of multitasking can have consequences that are nothing short of devastating. In this book, Pulitzer-winning journalist Matt Richteldelves into this destructive and sometimes deadly habit by telling the story of a young man in Utah who killed two scientists in an accident while texting and driving. This is a cautionary tale that ultimately asks a broader question about the pervasive nature of distracting technology and what it’s really costing us.

On shelves: September 23


How to get called a four-letter word

It’s possible that no one will ever want to play Scrabble with you ever again. But if you’ve just got to win that game of Words with Friends you’ve had going with your aunt since the holidays, we’ve got the book for you. In this slim volume, Stephin Merritt (of Magnetic Fields fame) writes a poem for each of the hundred and one two-letter words in the English language. With illustrations by celebrated New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, this book is the perfect gift for the recovering sesquipedalian in your life.

On shelves: September 29


Or a voice. Of a generation.

When Lena Dunham’s leaked book proposal hit the internet, it immediately went viral (at least, until her lawyer made sure that it was removed). In it, Dunham promised to dish on topics as diverse as virginity, her relationship with food and her body, and feminism. Hannah Horvath once said on Girls, “I think I may be the voice of my generation. Or at least a voice. Of a generation.” One can only assume that the same holds true for Horvath’s creator. It’s hard to imagine more zeitgeisty reading than this. For fans of the hit HBO series Girls and twenty-somethings just trying to figure it all out, Lena Dunham’s upcoming book of essays is a must-read.

On shelves: September 30


All’s well that ends well

Most doctors want to talk to you about living, not dying. But dying is a fact of life, and bestselling author and respected surgeon Atul Gawande tackles this uncomfortable but inevitable subject in his newest book, Being Mortal. It’s true that the goal of medicine is usually to help patients to live longer, healthier lives. Gawande, however, makes a strong case for medicine’s potential to provide a comfortable and dignified ending for patients, too. It’s probably true that most of us don’t want to think too hard about how we’ll die, but Gawande wants his readers to think about the ways in which medicine might at least make it painless.

On shelves: October 7


Outside the box

If we had a dollar for every time we’ve seen someone carting around the Walter Isaacson Steve Jobs biography, there’d be no end to the Apple devices we could buy. That said, there’s a reason that Isaacson’s last book was such a slam-dunk: He provided unparalleled insight into the life of a complicated man whose mark on global culture has been indelible. With The Innovators, Isaacson takes on a related topic. He sets out to tell the story of how the Digital Revolution came to be, and to account for how innovators have changed the course of history with their out-of-the-box thinking. Starting in the 1840s and ending near the present day, Isaacson spins a compelling yarn about how great minds gave us the Internet and the computer.

On shelves: October 7


Assassin’s creed

Robert Baer has seen some things, that’s for sure. After spending decades as CIA operative, he knows a thing or two about assassinations, and now he’s written a book summing up what he’s learned. Baer presents a series of case studies that illuminate something telling about political murders (successful and otherwise), but is careful not to write an instruction manual for readers who might be susceptible to his advice in a practical sense. This book is a fascinating history of assassinations, told by an accomplished writer who has seen all too much of this material up close.

On shelves: October 28


Smart girl at the party

What’s the female version of a bromance? We don’t know, but whatever it is, that’s how we’d describe the friendship between two of our biggest girl crushes, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Tina had Bossypants, and now it’s Amy’s turn to write a book that has us chuckling and secretly wishing we were that cool. Readers can look forward to Poehler dishing on everything from Sarah Palin to her divorce from Will Arnett. If you’ve been experiencing withdrawal symptoms since turning the last page of Bossypants, we bet Yes Please might be the perfect fix.

On shelves: October 28


Information liberation

Sci-fi fans will recognize Cory Doctorow’s name either from his own works of science fiction, or from his cameo in Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. But here, Doctorow gets down to brass tacks: Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free is a business book, and it has three main takeaways for the reader regarding intellectual property, fame, and the nature of information on the Internet. “Information doesn’t want to be free, but people do,” Doctorow toldLightspeed Magazine about the book’s third tenet. If there’s anyone we’d want to tell us about how to manage our Internet lives, it’s definitely Doctorow.

On shelves: November 4


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