West Coast Rap, Urban Planning, and Time Travel: Fall 2016 Nonfiction Preview

West Coast Rap, Urban Planning, and Time Travel: Fall 2016 Nonfiction Preview

Fall is here, and we couldn’t be happier about it. The leaves are changing colors, the nights are getting cooler, and there are a ton of exciting new nonfiction books to look forward to. This season truly has a book for every reader, whether you’re obsessed with time travel, fascinated by racist doomsday cults, or really want to get to know Jennifer Weiner better. So grab a cozy blanket and a pumpkin spice latte, and get started on this list of nonfiction reads. We know you won’t be disappointed.

The World in Flames

The end is near

Jerald Walker’s childhood was different from yours. When he was young, his family belonged to the Worldwide Church of God, which was a doomsday cult. According to the cult, the world was going to end in 1975. What compounded matters was that Walker’s family was black, and the cult was full of white supremacists. Walker tells the story of how his family came to the cult, and how he and his parents were treated by its members. For readers interested in race, but also in the dynamics of cults, there is no better book to read this fall. Readers will be amazed by what Walker has endured, and inspired by his will to separate himself from the group.

On shelves: September 6

Original Gangstas

West coast, best coast

Music buffs, rap enthusiasts, and pop culture addicts: Listen up. This is the hip-hop book of the season, and it gives readers a thorough and engaging history of the West coast rap scene, with particular focus on Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and Tupac Shakur. Author Ben Westhoff is well positioned to write this history, as he is the former music editor of L.A. Weekly, and has written extensively about the evolution of Southern rap (as in his most recent book, Dirty South). We think you’ll flip for this book Kirkus is calling “An elaborately detailed, darkly surprising, definitive history of the LA gangsta rap era.”

On shelves: September 13

Eyes on the Street

Urban planning

In certain urban planning circles, Jane Jacobs is revered as a queen. Here, readers can learn about Jacobs’ life story, and her work on what is now seen as one of the most important books in the field: The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Jacobs is known for her love of Greenwich Village, her belief in the importance of communities, and her desire to keep certain… ahem, power brokers… from building expressways through the middle of neighborhoods. Sadly, Jacobs passed away in 2006, but this book is poised to enlighten a new generation of readers and thinkers, and keep her ideas alive and thriving. Team Jane Jacobs: 1. Team Robert Moses: 0.

On shelves: September 20

Blood at the Root

Racial violence

In the early 20th century in Forsyth County, Georgia, something horrific was afoot. Author Patrick Phillips moved there himself in 1977, and learned about the area’s extremely violent, hateful history. Here, Phillips share with readers what he discovered through his inquiries. In 1912, a white woman in Forsyth was attacked, and three black men were accused of the crime. White supremacists in Forsyth then perpetrated a series of violent crimes—arson, lynching—against the black residents. Eventually, all 1,098 black residents of Forsyth were forced out of the county. Phillips walks readers through this abominable racial cleansing, and adds a dark chapter to the story of race in America.

On shelves: September 20

Time Travel: A History

Turn back time

James Gleick has a way of taking impossible subjects and making them into fascinating books that totally change your outlook on life. On the heels of 2011’s The Information, Gleick returns with Time Travel: A History, which gives readers a chronology of time travel, both in science and in pop culture. We mostly take time for granted today—we know how it works, how quickly it passes, and how it relates to changes in the weather and length of each day—but this has not always been the case. Gleick unpacks exactly what is confounding and intriguing about time (or spacetime, if we’re being technical) and will open readers’ minds to engrossing questions about the relationship between time and the internet. Now if only we had a time machine to make it September 27 already….

On shelves: September 27


The great outdoors

Mary Oliver is a renowned poet, and she has the Pulitzer Prize to prove it. Here, however, she’s switched forms: Upstream is a collection of her essays, most of them dealing with her love of the outdoors. These essays are wide-ranging, and loaded with observations about everything from climate change to Walt Whitman to sharks. For readers who love nothing more than a quiet afternoon outdoors, soaking in the sunshine and feeling the breeze on their skin, this collection is sure to resonate. This is the perfect book to enjoy in a quiet corner of Central Park.

On shelves: October 11

Hungry Heart

Girl crush

Here at Bookish, we think Jennifer Weiner is pretty awesome (and not just because we got to meet her last year!). Weiner may be best known for her novels, but in this book, she’s telling a different story—her own. From her childhood (spoiler alert: She loved to read and write) to her time at Princeton studying under greats like Joyce Carol Oates, on to the publication of her first book, readers can follow Weiner’s story and experience the highs and lows alongside her. Publishers Weekly writes, “In this generous, entertaining memoir, novelist Weiner, known for her plus-size heroines, authentic voice, and hilarious one-liners, offers her fans and others a front-row seat to the drama of her life.”

On shelves: October 11

Such a Lovely Little War

Graphic violence

Marcelino Truong was a young child at the beginning of the Vietnam War. When his family moved from Washington, D.C. to Saigon, he saw the war up close and personal. Here, in this graphic memoir, he recounts the story of what he heard and saw during that turbulent time. There aren’t overt political overtones to what Truong presents in this memoir; rather, there’s a childlike innocence that feels true to the age of the narrator when all of this was happening. Fans of graphic memoirs are sure to enjoy this powerful work, as well as history buffs interested in a different take on the Vietnam War.

On shelves: October 11

Black Elk


Black Elk was an Oglala Lakota medicine man whose words have lived on in the form of the famous book Black Elk Speaks. Here, Joe Jackson writes a thorough and engrossing biography of the man behind this famous text. Black Elk was born in 1863 in Wyoming (before it was officially a state), and had a vision as a child that would change the course of his life. He would go on to become a medicine man and healer, a leader, a warrior, and an instrumental figure in the American Indian Wars. Jackson’s storytelling is nuanced and exciting, and readers will gain a deeper understanding of Black Elk’s life and the mark he left on history.

On shelves: October 25

Walk Through Walls

The artist is present

You can’t really talk about performance art without at least tangentially talking about Marina Abramović. Her work has been hugely influential, and has changed the role of women in performance art forever. Here, the renowned artist tells readers her own story, beginning with her childhood in Yugoslavia. The story then stretches up through her influential love affair with Ulay (another performance artist), and her breakthrough performance of The Artist is Present at MoMA in 2010. Readers enamored with the art world—and performance in particular—will find a lot to love about this exciting new memoir.

On shelves: October 25

Eat Live Love Die

Good taste

No, this isn’t a fatalistic sequel to Eat, Pray, Love. It’s a collection of essays from Betty Fussell, a winner of the James Beard Foundation’s Journalism Award and renowned food and travel writer. She’s lived a full-to-the-brim and fascinating life, and here are some of her best essays collected  into one volume for readers to savor. These essays take a variety of forms (personal history, profile, reported story), and touch on food, family, culture, and history, with titles like “Love and Mayonnaise,” “Corn Porn,” and “My Son the Bodybuilder.” This is the perfect fall book for foodies and essay enthusiasts alike.

On shelves: November 15

Thank You for Being Late

Moving forward

According to Thomas Friedman, not only is the world flat (see his mega-famous book, The World Is Flat), but it’s also accelerating. Friedman’s newest book, Thank You For Being Late advertises itself as “an optimist’s guide to thriving in the age of accelerations,” which sounds pretty useful to us. Massive leaps in computing power combined with heightened economic interdependency around the globe, plus climate change, all mean that we are living in a world that is evolving incredibly rapidly. Friedman’s book is about how to live with those changes and use them to your advantage. This is sure to be one of the most talked-about nonfiction releases of the season.

On shelves: November 22



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