Winter 2018 Nonfiction Preview: Soccer, Sabotage, and Suzanne Valadon

Winter 2018 Nonfiction Preview: Soccer, Sabotage, and Suzanne Valadon

It’s the holidays, and there are so many seasonal tales to indulge in. Some of them concern reindeer with bright red noses, and others describe magical snowmen. But what if you’re in the mood for something grounded in reality instead of up in the air (say, pulling a sleigh)? Well, look no further. Here, we’ve rounded up the season’s most exciting nonfiction releases. Whether you’d like to dive into the art world, travel to Greenland, or read about a massive manhunt for a famous LSD advocate, there’s a nonfiction book here for every reader.

The Saboteur

Secret agent man

In this exciting biography, author Paul Kix tells the story of Robert de La Rochefoucald, who worked to sabotage the Nazis during World War II. La Rochefoucald grew up in a wealthy family in France, but following the Nazi invasion, left for England. There, he received training from the famous Special Operations Executive, which prepared him to travel back to France and organize against the Nazis. And organize he did. This is nonfiction that reads like a straight-up thriller, and the fact that the story is true just makes it that much more incredible. History buffs, adrenaline junkies, and WWII nerds—this one is for you.

On shelves: December 5

The Most Dangerous Man in America

Lucy in the sky with diamonds

Readers, meet Dr. Timothy Leary. In 1970, he escaped from prison, sparking a massive manhunt. Leary was, at the time, the most famous advocate of LSD use in the United States, and his escape caught the attention of then-President Richard Nixon, who was deeply unhappy over Leary’s escape and gave Leary the nickname that forms the title of this book. Nixon’s reach was considerable, and as Leary ran for it, many who were loyal to the president surfaced all over the globe to try to catch him. Authors Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis weave a riveting tale that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

On shelves: January 9

The Wizard and the Prophet

An uncertain future

You may not have heard of Norman Borlaug or William Vogt, but after reading Charles C. Mann’s exciting new dual biography, you’ll be fascinated by both of them. The titular wizard is Norman Borlaug, who believed that modern science would support more and more humans inhabiting the planet. The prophet is William Vogt, who worried that humans have taken too much from the planet and that mass starvation is a likely outcome. Without siding with either camp, Mann tells the story of these two men, and raises riveting questions about humanity and the future of our planet.

On shelves: January 23

The Monk of Mokha

A cup of coffee

Serious coffee aficionados may already be familiar with Port of Mokha coffee. But you don’t have to be a caffeine fiend to enjoy this new book from Dave Eggers, which tells the life story of Port of Mokha’s founder, Mokhtar Alkhanshali. Alkhanshali was raised in San Francisco in a large Yemeni family, and as a young adult realized he had a passion for coffee. He went to Yemen to do more research and gather samples, but then, in 2015, civil war broke out and left him stuck in Yemen. This is the incredible story of his escape with his coffee samples and his struggle to keep his dream alive. We recommend reading this one with a steaming cup of joe.

On shelves: January 30

Heart Berries

When we were young

In Heart Berries, Terese Marie Mailhot writes about growing up on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation and dealing with both bipolar disorder and PTSD. Mailhot’s writing style is evocative and distinctive, and recalls poetry in its syntax and voice. Kirkus wrote: “Slim, elegiac, and delivered with an economy of meticulous prose, the book calibrates the author’s history as an abused child and an adult constantly at war with the demons of mental illness.” This is a thought-provoking memoir that readers won’t soon forget.

On shelves: February 6

The Heart Is a Shifting Sea

A love like no other

No two relationships are the same. In the case of this book by Elizabeth Flock, no three relationships are the same. Flock takes readers into the lives of three couples living in India to explore cultural norms and expectations around love, marriage, and family. Each of the marriages described in this book has its tribulations, whether infertility, infidelity, or something else entirely. For readers who love real-life love stories that are complicated, messy, and ultimately illuminating, then there’s no better book to pick up this winter.

On shelves: February 6

The Line Becomes a River

Experience is the best teacher

Francisco Cantú lived near the border between Mexico and the United States as a child, and remained fascinated by that line long into his adulthood. He earned a graduate degree in the subject of border relations, but felt that there were some things he could only learn through experience. It was with that in mind that he joined the Border Patrol as a field agent. Here, Cantú writes about that period of his life and what he witnessed. In doing so, Cantú makes it possible to see policy questions in terms of the lives that they impact.

On shelves: February 6

A Wilder Time

A walk on the wild side

Travel to Greenland in this new book from geologist William E. Glassley. On this planet, there are only so many places that remain utterly wild. Greenland is one of them. Here, Glassley writes about what that wildness can teach us about the Earth’s history, the natural world, and the possibilities of science. This text will transport readers across the world and deep into the past, while suggesting a way forward into the future. For budding naturalists, armchair geologists, and anyone who loves a good expedition, this is an ideal read.

On shelves: February 13

Renoir’s Dancer

Not just a pretty face

In this biography, author Catherine Hewitt tells the story of Suzanne Valadon. Valadon’s fame up until this point has been largely in relation to the male artists in her circle: As the title of this book suggests, she was the model for the dancer in a famous Pierre-Auguste Renoir painting. She also had a son who grew up to be a famous artist, and she rubbed shoulders with Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. But Valadon deserves her own fame: She was an exceptional artist, and her work stands on its own without being associated with famous male artists. Whether you live and work in the art world or just wish that you did, this is a fascinating and much-needed biography about an important artist.

On shelves: February 27

Eat the Apple

Life during wartime

At the tender age of 18, after a bad car crash under the influence of alcohol, Matt Young joined the Marine Corps. This memoir is the story of his time as a Marine and his three deployments to Iraq. There, he experienced war firsthand, and saw and felt things that would never leave him. This memoir takes an unusual form, combining more traditional memoir tactics with drawings and other narrative techniques. The end result is a unique and affecting story.

On shelves: February 27

Time Pieces

Old stomping ground

You already know who John Banville is, but in case you need a refresher: He’s a novelist who has won a Man Booker Prize, a Franz Kafka Prize, and an Irish PEN Award, among others. Here, he writes about his hometown of Dublin and the ways in which the famous city inspired and impacted his later work. For anyone who likes to look behind the scenes and learn more about the life of an author they admire, Time Pieces is an ideal choice this winter. Plus, the reader is in for a special treat: This volume also contains photographs of Dublin by Paul Joyce.

On shelves: February 27

One Goal

We’re on each other’s team

Before Somali refugees began moving to Lewiston, Maine, the town was predominantly white. When the influx of Somalis began, people noticed, and not all of the attention was positive. The then-mayor of Lewiston, Laurier Raymond, went so far as to write a letter to the Somali refugees, requesting that they stop settling in Lewiston. One Goal is the story of how a high school soccer team helped to unite the community during this time. In a starred review, Kirkus called One Goal: “An edifying and adrenaline-charged tale of how immigrant soccer players were able to translate ‘tight-knit family and community connection to success on the field.’”

On shelves: February 27

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