Brain Scans, Soccer, and One Krazy Kat: Winter 2017 Nonfiction Preview

Brain Scans, Soccer, and One Krazy Kat: Winter 2017 Nonfiction Preview

’Tis the season to pick up a great nonfiction book… that’s how the song goes, right? For readers who love true stories, we can’t imagine a stronger lineup of new releases this winter. There’s an epistolary book about soccer, a fascinating history of the Spanish-American War, and even a biography of George Lucas in store for readers. So deck the halls, whip up some hot cocoa, and grab a comfy chair. You’ve got reading to do!

Crown of Blood

The Nine-Day Queen

Lady Jane Grey was only 17 years old when she was beheaded with an axe in February of 1554. Her crime? Treason. In Nicola Tallis’ new book, Crown of Blood, readers will learn how this grisly execution came to be, and what historical events precipitated it. Jane, who was the de facto monarch of England for just shy of two weeks, was very active in religious circles in 16th century England around the time of the English Reformation. Tallis makes Jane’s intelligence and fervor shine on the page, and readers will find themselves totally engrossed. It’s hard to imagine a better book for European history buffs and lovers of narrative nonfiction.

On shelves: December 6


Think fast

You’ve probably heard of the MIT Media Lab. They’re famous for making numerous scientific and technological breakthroughs in a range of fields. You could say that in today’s quickly changing world, the MIT Media Lab has learned how to keep up. In Whiplash, the director of the lab, Joi Ito, teams up with Jeff Howe (author of Crowdsourcing) to deliver a handbook of sorts for readers who hope to keep abreast of new innovations in the technology field. This book will fascinate and inspire readers, particularly those who dream of changing the world with discoveries of their own.

On shelves: December 6


The cat came back

George Herriman lived from 1880 to 1944, and is best remembered as the man who brought “Krazy Kat” to life. “Krazy Kat,” for the uninitiated, was a comic strip that ran from 1913 until Herriman’s death. Here, author Michael Tisserand takes readers inside the world of Herriman and his comic strip. Herriman himself spent much of his life passing as white, and his commentary on race lurks just beneath the surface of his work. Whether or not you pored over “Krazy Kat” in the cartoon’s heyday, this is a gripping piece of American history that is sure to entertain and inform.

On shelves: December 6

George Lucas

May the force be with you

Attention, Star Wars fans (Indiana Jones lovers might want to listen up, too): If you’ve always been curious about the life of George Lucas, creator of the two aforementioned and beloved franchises, then you’re in luck. Brian Bay Jones has written a biography of Lucas that will pull back the curtain on the mind of the man responsible for transporting all of us to a galaxy far, far away. Kirkus raved in a starred review, “Masterful and engaging: just what Lucas’ fans and buffs, who love the nitty-gritty of filmmaking, have been waiting for.”

On shelves: December 6

Mrs. Sherlock Holmes

Girl power

Delve into the life of Grace Humiston, the first woman to hold the position of U.S. district attorney, in this exciting new book from Brad Ricca. Humiston worked on many cases during her tenure as district attorney, but her most famous was the case of Ruth Cruger, a young woman who vanished in Harlem in the winter of 1917. Readers will find themselves totally engrossed by the Cruger case, while also enjoying Ricca’s forays into Humiston’s other notable investigations. If you love a good mystery and have been hankering for a piece of narrative nonfiction, then this is the book for you.

On shelves: January 3

Home and Away

Having a ball

Two famous Scandinavian writers trade letters in this epistolary tome on soccer. You probably know Karl Ove Knausgaard as the author of the My Struggle series of autobiographical novels, and here, he teams up with novelist and poet Fredrik Ekelund to take on topics surrounding what they call “the beautiful game.” While nominally a book about soccer, Knausgaard and Ekelund find ways to connect the game to a number of tangential topics that span from food all the way to ineffable parts of the human experience. Whether you’re an avid soccer player and spectator, or just a fan of smart cultural commentary, this book delivers.

On shelves: January 10

A Really Good Day

Lucy in the sky with diamonds

In her new book, author Ayelet Waldman gives readers a fascinating account of her experience taking microdoses of LSD in hopes of improving her depression. A Really Good Day explores a 30-day period when Waldman, losing hope that she would be able to treat her depression effectively, turned to very small doses of a psychedelic substance. For anyone fascinated by brains and treatment of mental illness, this book is a must-read. A Really Good Day is a brave and engaging piece of nonfiction.

On shelves: January 10

Once We Were Sisters

Sisterly love

In Once We Were Sisters, author Sheila Kohler writes about enduring one of the most painful experiences imaginable: losing a sibling. Kohler’s older sister, Maxine, wasn’t even 40 yet when her car (driven by her husband) flew off of the road and she died. Maxine had been a friend and confidante to Kohler, and the two had shared the special bond that comes along with growing up in the same household. Kohler writes lovingly about their shared history and the ways in which their relationship grew and changed over the years as they matured and entered strained marriages. Readers, prepare to be moved.

On shelves: January 17

How America Lost Its Secrets

Top secret

It sounds like fodder for a thriller, but this story is 100 percent true. How America Lost Its Secrets is the tale of Edward Snowden, a computer security expert who formerly worked for the CIA and made headlines when he leaked internal documents from the National Security Agency in 2013. Author Edward Jay Epstein weaves the story of Snowden’s upbringing and career, and helps readers to understand the bevy of complicated issues surrounding the NSA leak. This book will keep nonfiction lovers as well as thriller junkies on the edge of their seats.

On shelves: January 17

The True Flag

American imperialism

History buffs, listen up. Stephen Kinzer’s latest, The True Flag, will take readers into the political fight surrounding the Spanish-American War in 1898. At this time in U.S. history, the country was eyeing various places around the globe—including Hawaii—and thinking about expansion. This was controversial, and the cultural and political conversation around it will fascinate and enlighten readers seeking to understand the lasting impact of American imperialism. Kirkus wrote in a starred review, “A tremendously elucidating book that should be required reading for civics courses.”

On shelves: January 24

The Perpetual Now

Living in the present

It’s no secret that we’re a little obsessed with brain books here at Bookish, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’re excited about this new title from Michael D. Lemonick. Lemonick tells the story of Lonni Sue Johnson, a woman whose brain was damaged by encephalitis in 2007. Lonni Sue lost much of her memory because of what the infection did to her hippocampus, limiting her memory to 10 or 15 minutes. Lemonick weaves Lonni Sue’s life story with a broader narrative about our understanding of how the brain stores memories, raising fascinating questions about what is undoubtedly our most mysterious organ.

On shelves: February 7

The Brain Defense

Broken brain

Ok, readers, you caught us. There’s another brain book on this list. But this one, by Kevin Davis, is completely different and engrossing in its own way. Davis spins the tale of a 1991 murder case in New York City, when a husband killed his wife by beating her and then throwing her out of a 12th story window. The husband did not have a history of this sort of brutal, blinding rage, and so brain scans were used to determine what might have (literally) been going on in his head at the time. The answer? A massive brain cyst. As a result, the husband’s brain scans became an important part of his trial. Readers interested in law and medicine will find this story utterly gripping.

On shelves: February 28



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