MCPL logo

Marathon County Public Library

Skip Navigation

Staff Reviews: nonfiction

Check out these reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library! (For reviews in all genres, visit our main Staff Reviews webpage.) Staff book reviews are also published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates.


Cover: 'One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: Essays'

"One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: Essays" by Scaachi Koul

★★★★★ Scaachi Koul is the daughter of Indian immigrants. She was born and raised in Canada surrounded by western culture. She is also thoughtful and hilarious. All this comes together in “One Day We’ll All Be Dead And None Of This Will Matter,” a delightful collection of essays. Many of Koul’s stories clue us in on what it is like to bear the scrutiny of being a...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, essays, humor

Cover: 'I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy'

"I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy" by Erin Carlson

★★★★ This book provides readers with a brief history of Ephron’s life prior to her filmmaking years, but the main focus is a behind-the-scenes tour of the writing, filming, and releases of Nora Ephron’s three classic romantic comedies: When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail. While the spotlight is on Ephron and her transition from...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden'

"The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden" by Kevin DeYoung, Don Clark

★★★★ This brilliantly illustrated book covers the Bible’s central message in just 10 chapters using simple, casually styled language. It describes the Bible story of the snake crusher (that’s Jesus), defeating death forever so that we can live with God in the garden as the biggest story the world has ever known. DeYoung’s writing makes the Bible accessible to...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Last Black Unicorn'

"The Last Black Unicorn" by Tiffany Haddish

★★★★★ Stand-up comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish makes a living out of entertaining others and making people laugh. That might not seem like anything extraordinary, until you learn about all of the strife and setbacks Haddish faced in her life, especially before reaching adulthood. While growing up, Haddish had an absentee father, a mother who verbally and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, celebrities, humor

Cover: 'Dear Pope Francis'

"Dear Pope Francis" by Pope Francis

★★★★★ This book is a delightful and refreshingly candid look at Pope Francis and the children from around the world who had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write a letter and ask the leader of the Catholic Church any questions they wished. The questions they ask are honest, surprising, and ones that people of all ages would be interested in hearing his...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Educated'

"Educated" by Tara Westover

★★★★★ Tara Westover has an impressive academic pedigree that includes Harvard and Cambridge, but she did not set foot into a classroom until she enrolled at Brigham Young University at the age of seventeen. This compelling memoir immerses the reader into the isolated world in which she was raised in rural Idaho as the youngest of six children. Her father, a...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi'

"The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi" by Phil Szostak

★★★★★ The Star Wars universe is a vast and constantly growing thing. But did you ever stop to wonder what makes something look like it belongs in a Star Wars movie? In The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, readers see the various stages of planning that went into creating new creatures, vehicles, costumes and locations for the latest film in the franchise....

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, movies, movie tie-ins

Cover: 'The Death and Life of the Great Lakes'

"The Death and Life of the Great Lakes" by Dan Egan

★★★★★ Dan Egan, a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, provides a comprehensive portrayal of the Great Lakes, past and present, and a thorough analysis of the challenges the lakes have endured and continue to face. After establishing a portrait of the Great Lakes as they would have been experienced by the first European explorers, Egan traces the history...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Year of Yes'

"Year of Yes" by Shonda Rhimes

★★★ Shonda Rhimes is the creative mind behind of some of the hottest shows on television, including Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. Though Rhimes was thriving professionally, her personal life had devolved into a cycle of sleeping, eating, working and just getting by. After being told by her older sister that “You...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography, biography and memoir

Cover: 'Herbs for Flavor, Health, and Natural Beauty'

"Herbs for Flavor, Health, and Natural Beauty" by Jim Rude, Jena Carlin

★★★★ Looking for ideas on how to use fresh herbs? This book is covered with gorgeous, fully illustrated pages packed full of ideas on how to utilize fresh herbs, from recipes to health and wellness ideas. I grabbed a few recipes that were included that I'm excited to tweak to make vegan and try. My only critique is that I wish there was more to it! I would have...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl'

"The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl" by Issa Rae

★★★ Issa Rae is the creator, head writer and star of Insecure, a dramedy on HBO about the lives of a group of African American millennials. Watching that highly-entertaining series is what me aware of this book and Rae’s semi-autobiographical web series Awkward Black Girl (on which Insecure is based). This book, chapter by chapter, outlines the various ways...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, humor

Cover: 'American Fire'

"American Fire" by Monica Hesse

★★★★★ American Fire is the true story of a five month arson spree in rural Accomack County, Virginia that started in November 2012 when four fires were set in a 24 hour period. By its conclusion, more than 60 fires were set. Hesse, a Washington Post reporter, provides a compelling account of the crimes, the public hysteria, and efforts by law enforcement to...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Janesville: An American Story'

"Janesville: An American Story" by Amy Goldstein

★★★★★ Janesville, Wisconsin was home to the longest-operating GM plant in the world at the time of its closure in December 2008. This book provides a narrative account of life in Janesville after the closure of the plant, including long term effects, and includes the stories of employees of the GM plant and the local suppliers that supported it, their families,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life'

"Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life" by David R. Montgomery

★★★★ Many people choose sides between conventional and organic methods of farming, assuming that you will have to settle for lower harvests and smaller produce if you don’t want your food to be poisoned by carcinogenic pesticides. Montgomery brings the reader’s attention to a third option: conservative agriculture. This means not tilling fields with a plow,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Norah Gaughan's Knitted Cable Sourcebook'

"Norah Gaughan's Knitted Cable Sourcebook" by Norah Gaughan

★★★★★ I love this book! Every pattern in this book is beautiful. Clear, clean-looking photographs display cable patterns ranging from beginner to advanced in skill level. The hard part is deciding where to start! The instructions are written so that knitters can really experiment and individualize each design to suit their projects. The author includes 2–3...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'You Can't Touch My Hair'

"You Can't Touch My Hair" by Phoebe Robinson

★★★★★ Whether comedian Phoebe Robinson is performing stand up, hosting one of her two successful podcasts, or critiquing pop culture on Instagram, you’ll find yourself laughing and wanting more when reading this book. You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain, is a series of essays where Robinson explains cultural and racial...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, humor

Cover: 'The Astronaut Wives Club'

"The Astronaut Wives Club" by Lily Koppel

★★★★ 45 years have passed since humankind's last visit to the moon, during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. In that time, NASA and other space agencies around the globe have sent numerous satellites and rovers into the depths of space, but nothing to rival the awe and fanfare the agency's space program drummed up during the space race of the 1960s. Author Lily...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history, outer space

Cover: 'Lust & Wonder'

"Lust & Wonder" by Augusten Burroughs

★★★★★ After chronicling his extraordinarily unstable upbringing in Running with Scissors and his journey to become sober in Dry, Augusten Burroughs uses his latest book to explore the two romantic relationships that led to him meeting his husband, Christopher. The first section of this page-turner covers his 1990s-era relationship with Mitch, a successful-yet-...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'Over The Hills And Far Away: The Life of Beatrix Potter'

"Over The Hills And Far Away: The Life of Beatrix Potter" by Matthew Dennison

★★★★ Famous for her many ‘little books’ such as Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, Beatrix Potter’s life has been extensively documented. For those who don’t know where to begin I recommend this short biography. Each chapter smoothly moves through the stages in Potter’s life with frequent direct quotations from her own journals, which she kept meticulously....

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Sad Animal Facts'

"Sad Animal Facts" by Brooke Barker

★★★★ For those of you who like animal trivia facts, this book is for you. There are over 150 hand-drawn illustrations with little known facts about your favorite animal. For example, did you know that a koi fish can live 200 years? Or that gorillas can catch human colds or that camels can drink 30 gallons of water in 15 minutes? This book is a quick read...

Audience: adults, children, teens | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'My Two Elaines'

"My Two Elaines" by Martin J. Schreiber

★★★★★ “My Two Elaines” is the perfect title for this book. Former Wisconsin Governor, Martin J. Schreiber fell in love with his wife, Elaine, when in high school. They married during college and pledged a lifelong commitment to each other. Together they raised a family and had successful careers. That is, until the “other Elaine” came into the story....

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, mental health

Cover: 'The Stranger in the Woods'

"The Stranger in the Woods" by Michael Finkel

★★★★ For 27 years, Christopher Knight lived in complete solitude in the woods of Maine, becoming known by locals as the North Pond Hermit. Knight only encountered a handful of wayward hikers in his quarter century in isolation, tucked away in a large camp that he made into his own makeshift home. Year after year, Knight survived on his own, meticulously...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography

Cover: 'Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars'

"Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars" by Nathalia Holt

★★★★★ This book is an account of women who were human computers (and later computer programmers and engineers) at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in California. Rather than choose one of the occupations most commonly pursued by women of their time (teacher, nurse, or secretary), these women put their math and science skills to work in order to generate equations and...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'What's It Like in Space?: Stories from Astronauts Who've Been There'

"What's It Like in Space?: Stories from Astronauts Who've Been There" by Ariel Waldman

★★★★ If you're like me, you've often wondered what it's like for astronauts up in outer space; what it smells like, what it sounds like, and the overall difficulty of adapting to daily life. Now, there's a book that answers a lot of those questions and provides other interesting facts straight from the men and women who have traveled there and back! The...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Ugly'

"Ugly" by Robert Hoge

★★★★ Growing up fairly normal-looking is difficult enough, but when you are, well, ugly, it is almost unimaginable. Born with a tennis ball-shaped tumor in the middle of his face instead of a nose, and with short twisted, mangled legs, Robert Hoge was not the sort of baby mothers rush to take home. As a matter of fact, his mother didn’t. After knowing the facts...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Pages