Medicine, Missing Corpses, and Murder Techniques: Fall 2015 Nonfiction Preview

Medicine, Missing Corpses, and Murder Techniques: Fall 2015 Nonfiction Preview

This may be a big season for fiction, but that doesn’t mean that this fall will bring skimpy nonfiction picks. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Whether you’re interested in the specific poisons used in Agatha Christie mystery novels, or you wonder what people used to gossip about in late Victorian/Edwardian England, we’ve got the nonfiction releases to open your mind and broaden your horizons. This fall also brings exciting books from Pulitzer Prize winners Margo Jefferson and Marilynne Robinson, rounding out a seriously star-studded list of authors. Whatever you’re in the mood for, we’ve got you covered.


A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie

C is for Chemistry

Agatha Christie superfans, this one is for you. Chemist Kathryn Harkup takes readers on a journey through the various poisons used in the works of famed murder mystery writer Agatha Christie. Christie herself had a background as a volunteer nurse, which allowed her to write impressively accurate descriptions of certain poisons in her novels. Here, Harkup takes things one step further, and delves into what is known about 14 poisons that occur in some favorite Agatha Christie mysteries. Whether you’re a Murder on the Orient Express fan, or you lean towards And Then There Were None, we think you’ll enjoy this.

On shelves: September 8



Growing up in Chicago

Margo Jefferson is best known for her cultural criticism, and rightfully so–it has won her a Pulitzer Prize, after all. But here, she turns her laser-sharp focus on her own upbringing. Jefferson grew up in Chicago, and writes about being part of an upper class black community where her father was a prominent doctor. Her prose is engaging, and she helps the reader to make sense of how upbringing can inform the people we believe ourselves to be. Jefferson takes on race and class with a keen eye for the complexities of identity, and writes an eye-opening book that will stay with readers long after they have turned the final page.

On shelves: September 8


Black Man in a White Coat

The doctor is in

Negroland isn’t the only great nonfiction book about race coming out this fall: Damon Tweedy M.D.’s memoir Black Man in a White Coat is also an important book that deserves your attention. Once you graduate from medical school and get to don your white coat and stethoscope, you’re set, right? Wrong. Tweedy writes honestly and vividly about his numerous experiences in the medical field where his race led his peers, professors, and patients alike to make incorrect assumptions about him. He also discusses how to provide better treatment for black patients (many of whom face substantial health risks related to poverty), and invites the reader to consider the ways in which healthcare might serve all of us a little bit better.

On shelves: September 8


Why Not Me?

The Mindy project

If you’ve been hankering for more Mindy Kaling since the release of her last memoir, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, then you’re in luck: She’s back. Some of us here at Bookish (hi Kelly!) think this second memoir is even better than Mindy’s first. Here, Mindy is as funny, relatable, and insightful as ever. Whether you want to read about Hollywood’s obsession with actresses’ weight, or get some the dirt on Mindy’s unconventional relationship with her ex, B.J. Novak, this book packs all of the humor and warmth that any Mindy fan could want.

On shelves: September 15


The Shift

12 hours

A lot can happen in 12 hours, particularly if you are a nurse on a cancer ward. No one knows this better than Theresa Brown, who takes readers inside her world as a nurse working a 12-hour shift in a high-stress and high-stakes environment. Over the course of this book, Brown tells the story of four patients she saw during a single shift, and recounts the complexities of making decisions that would affect their lives—potentially forever. Readers will be riveted by the fast-paced drama, and moved by Brown’s tremendous compassion and her insistence on seeing her patients as people rather than faces without names.

On shelves: September 22

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The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse

A family affair

Well, the name really says it all, doesn’t it? Piu Marie Eatwell tells an almost unbelievable story from Victorian/Edwardian England about a situation known as the Druce-Portland affair. Here’s what you need to know: In 1987, Anna Maria Druce asked to have her father-in-law’s grave exhumed. You’d be right in assuming that this is a pretty strange request. Anna Maria was pretty sure, she claimed, that when his coffin was eventually opened, there would be no body inside. To find out more, you’ll have to read this book about a decade-long legal battle that fascinated England.

On shelves: October 5


Infectious Madness

The infection connection

Take everything you know about how people “catch” mental illness, and forget it. That is essentially what Harriet A. Washington is asking her readers to do when they pick up this book. Washington makes an argument that many kinds of mental illness are caused by infection. The medical community already recognizes that some infections do cause symptoms of mental illness, but Washington’s argument concerns diseases like anorexia and obsessive compulsive disorder, which are not currently thought of in that way. Washington makes a truly interesting and compelling argument that is bound to ruffle some feathers but also prompt a substantive dialogue about the nature of mental illness. Kirkus said it best: “An unproven but undoubtedly provocative case. Expect dissent and discussion.”

On shelves: October 6


The Arab of the Future

Growing up in the Middle East

Here at Bookish, we love a good graphic memoir, and frankly, we feel that there aren’t enough of them out in the world. Here, French cartoonist Riad Sattouf writes an account of his childhood in France, Libya, and Syria that manages to be both unexpectedly humorous and sad. Riad’s father was devoted to the idea of pan-Arabism, whose advocates encouraged the consolidation of the Arab world, including many of the countries in West Asia and North Africa. While watching his father pursue this cause, Riad developed a complicated relationship with religion and his own identity. Readers will be happy to know, this is just the first installment of several.

On shelves: October 20


The Givenness of Things

A spiritual journey

You probably already know who Marilynne Robinson is: a critically acclaimed novelist, and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Here, in 17 essays, Robinson shifts gears a little and takes on the subject of Christianity. Robinson asks difficult questions of herself and other Christians, and conducts a thorough examination of her own faith as well as faith in America today. Her message, by the end of this collection, is one of hope. Whether her readers are Christian, or even religious, they are sure to be inspired by the contemplative and intellectually daring tenor of this book.

On shelves: October 27


Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill

Oh my darling Clementine

You know what they say: Behind every great man, there is a great woman. This certainly seems to have been true in the case of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his wife, Clementine. She was a strong woman, that much is certain. Sonia Purnell writes of her unfailing devotion to her husband, her feminism, her vital input when it came to Churchill’s political strategy, and her unbending perfectionism. Of course, no one is perfect: Purnell is up front with the reader about Clementine’s shortfalls, particularly when it came to weighing the needs of her children against those of her husband. History buffs: This one is for you.

On shelves: October 27


He Killed Them All

“Killed them all, of course.”

Did you lose some sleep earlier this year after discovering the HBO miniseries about Robert Durst, The Jinx? We sure did. And now, after Durst’s shocking (if muttered) slip in the series finale, former New York prosecutor Jeanine Pirro has something to say about it. Pirro has made no secret of the fact that she has long believed Durst to be guilty in the disappearance of his wife, Kathleen, and now, she is telling the whole horrifying story from start to finish. If you loved The Jinx, you won’t want to miss this one. If you’re prone to nightmares, maybe you will.

On shelves: November 3


The Comedians

A stand-up book

If you love stand-up comedy, you cannot–we repeat, cannot–skip this book. Author Kliph Nesteroff, host of Classic Showbiz Talk Show, takes his readers on a hugely entertaining ride through the American stand-up comedy scene. From Shecky Greene to Twitter, Nesteroff’s survey of stand-up is comprehensive and full of carefully formulated insights. While he doesn’t excerpt much from old comedy acts (comedy, just like dairy products, has a shelf life after all) he is careful to contextualize the work of older comics within the events of the day and the reception of his or her fellow comedians. Whether you’re a casual fan or a serious student of stand-up comedy, you must read this book.

On shelves: November 3


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