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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: 'My Struggle, Book 1'

"My Struggle, Book 1" by Karl Ove Knausgaard

★★★★ My Struggle is a very serious book; if you couldn’t guess as much from the title, you will find out from the first pages of book one, which are a reflection on death. The author returns to this theme of death—specifically the death of his father—throughout the book in seamless passages, recollections that touch on his childhood, his adolescence, and his...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Travel Atlas'

"The Travel Atlas" by Lonely Planet

★★★★★ If you love to travel the world, you will love this book!  This travel atlas covers the entire globe, providing highlights for each country or region, along with sample itineraries to help jump start a trip. As an atlas, there are maps and pictures provided for a reference point as you go through the book. I found the book to be half...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Delish: Eat Like Every Day's the Weekend'

"Delish: Eat Like Every Day's the Weekend" by Joanna Saltz, the Editors of Delish

★★★★★ Total honesty?  I judged his book by it's delicious looking cover and boy am I glad that I did!  I had never heard of the online sensation that is Delish, but will now start to follow them on social media.  Their recipes don't cater to a special diet, nor do they require special skills in the kitchen.  All of the ingredients are easy to...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Becoming'

"Becoming" by Michelle Obama

★★★★★ Would you like to learn how a little girl from the South Side of Chicago rose above her circumstances to attend Princeton, become a successful lawyer, and eventually the First Lady of the United States?  Michelle Obama did a great job writing her first book about her upbringing, who made her who she is today, and how she stays true to herself through...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, politics

Cover: 'The Road Ahead'

"The Road Ahead" by Jane Seymour

★★★★★ Do you need inspiration to be a better version of yourself? What if you could find it in a book?  In Jane Seymour’s book, The Road Ahead, real-life stories are shared, with  inspirational messages at the beginning of each section.  The stories give you hope and encouragement during difficult situations that we all have in our everyday lives....

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, inspiration, self-help

Cover: 'Pandemic'

"Pandemic" by Connie Goldsmith

★★★★★ I love a good book about pandemics. For whatever reason, they fascinate me. Learning the reasons behind the Black Death or Ebola can be an adventure story and "Pandemic" covers everything you need to know.  This book was very readable, with great pictures of viruses, bacteria and  insects, as well as interesting side notes that help clarify...

Audience: children, teens | Genre: nonfiction, epidemics, health

Cover: 'One-Dish Vegan'

"One-Dish Vegan" by Robin G. Robertson

★★★★★ This new vegan cookbook has a plethora of scrumptious-sounding recipes for anyone looking for healthy, satisfying meals. I literally want to make about 90% of the recipes in this book, and don't know which one I want to make first! Some of the recipes have a longer ingredient list, but there's a lot of flavorful spices included, so don't be daunted by that...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Sex and the City and Us'

"Sex and the City and Us" by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

★★★ Are you a Carrie, a Samantha, a Charlotte or a Miranda? If you know the answer to that question, chances are you’re a fan of Sex and the City. Airing on HBO from 1998-2004, Sex and the City followed the lives of four women living in New York City as they navigated the worlds of dating, sex and relationships. The show became beloved for its witty dialog...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants'

"David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants" by Malcom Gladwell

★★★★ This non-fiction selection is really a discussion about the art of winning (success). The author starts with a description and analysis of the original (Biblical) "battle" between David and Goliath.  The author hypothesizes that, seemingly weaker David, won over the giant (in physical respects) Goliath because quite actually, he used his already...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Soup & Bread Cookbook'

"The Soup & Bread Cookbook" by Beatrice Ojakangas

★★★★★ 'Whether you love hearty stews and warm bread in the winter or cold soups in the summer, this is the book for you. This cookbook is subdivided into chapters for Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter based on what fresh produce is available. The soups are impressive and sophisticated (like my favorite the apple-brie soup) but may not appeal to everyone; children...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Jack The Ripper: The Terrible Legacy'

"Jack The Ripper: The Terrible Legacy" by The Whitechapel Society

★★★★★ Many know of the five women brutally killed by Jack the Ripper in London in 1888. However, the failure to bring the killer to justice left many unintentional victims in its wake. Conspiracies abounded about who was responsible for the crime. Numerous men were falsely accused of being Jack the Ripper. Many more were tainted by connections, however tenuous,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history, true crime

Cover: 'The Far Away Brothers'

"The Far Away Brothers" by Lauren Markham

★★★★★ Author Lauren Markham's deeply reported book tells the story of identical twins, the Flores brothers, who migrate from their home in El Salvador to California, not only to escape the violence of their native land but also in an effort to help their parents and siblings who stay behind in El Salvador. A mix of Markham's own firsthand accounts and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography

Cover: 'Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering'

"Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering" by Joanna Gaines

★★★★★ This is a cookbook straight out of the very real kitchen of Joanna Gaines with recipes you know that she has made many times!  I am, in general, a fan of the Gaines Family and have watched several installments of their TV show Fixer Upper.  I picked up this cookbook more out of curiosity than anything else.  These days I have found that many...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Calypso'

"Calypso" by David Sedaris

★★★★ In David Sedaris’ latest compilation of observational essays, he and his longtime partner have purchased a beach house on the coast of North Carolina. Many of the essays in the book take place at this house, which Sedaris and his family use as a place to vacation in the summer or to gather during the holidays. The book contains 21 vastly different essays...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, humor, essays

Cover: 'Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story'

"Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story" by Chris Nashawaty

★★★ Nearly 40 years after its theatrical release, the film Caddyshack has an established spot in the history of pop culture through memorable quotes (“Did somebody step on a duck?”) and memorable characters like groundskeeper Carl Spackler, played by Bill Murray. Author Chris Nashawaty sets out to share not only the history of how the film was made and how...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Hillbilly Elegy'

"Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance

★★★ Author J.D. Vance grew up among what he refers to as “hillbillys” – white, working class (and mostly poor) folks in Appalachia. Vance spent his adolescence split between extended family in Jackson, Kentucky and in Middleton, Ohio, a town in a state of decline after its main source of local jobs closes, leaving thousands without a job. In this memoir,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'Love Warrior'

"Love Warrior" by Glennon Doyle Melton

★★★ Since she was 10 years old, Glennon Doyle Melton didn’t feel at home in her body. Due to the pressures of society, she never felt she could be thin enough, pretty enough, accepted enough, or loved enough. So, she turned to bulimia, binge drinking and casual sex to mask her fears and insecurities. In her twenties, Glennon finds herself pregnant and at a...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'What to Do When I'm Gone: A Mother's Wisdom to Her Daughter'

"What to Do When I'm Gone: A Mother's Wisdom to Her Daughter" by Suzy Hopkins, Hallie Bateman

★★★★★ No one is ever really ready to lose a loved one, and this book tries to help with that in it's own unique way.  As the title states, the author's mother provides preemptive advice on how to function in the event of her death. The advice walks her daughter through day-by-day instructions on what to do, days, even years, after her passing.  As...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Creative Quest'

"Creative Quest" by Questlove and Ben Greenman

★★★★★ Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson is a busy guy: drummer for the rap group The Roots, which is also the house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon; DJ; restaurateur; and author of two previous books, Mo' Meta Blues and somethingtofoodabout. His newest book, as the title suggests, is all about creativity: what defines it, how to tap into your...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Feather Thief'

"The Feather Thief" by Kirk W. Johnson

★★★★ In 2009, 20-year-old American Edwin Rist broke into the Tring museum, a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History. His quest: to steal rare bird specimens - some collected more 150 years earlier - with gorgeous feathers sought the world over by people who shared Edwin's obsession of the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying....

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

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

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