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Marathon County Public Library

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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: '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

Cover: 'The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo'

"The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo" by Amy Schumer

★★★★ Celebrity memoirs almost always seem to promise to "bare it all" and give the reader an uncensored look at the star's life, but most only half-heartedly keep that promise. Amy Schumer, however, is not one of those stars. In her debut book, Schumer (perhaps best known for her Comedy Central sketch series or her semi-autobiographical comedy film "...

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

Cover: 'Steve McQueen: The Actor and His Films'

"Steve McQueen: The Actor and His Films" by Andrew Antoniades, Mike Siegel

★★★★★ A complex and enigmatic individual, Steve McQueen became a screen legend playing anti-authoritarian loners.   Authors Antoniades and Siegel combine talents to produce this weighty and wonderful account of the life and film career of McQueen. The book is an entertaining tribute to the King of Cool, featuring over 1,000 color and black and white...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, celebrities

Cover: 'Churchill Style: The Art of Being Winston Churchill'

"Churchill Style: The Art of Being Winston Churchill" by Barry Singer

★★★★★ Of all the major political figures of the 20th Century, Winston Churchill certainly lived life to the fullest. A master of the English language, prolific author and lover of cigars and fine brandy, Churchill relished the political and intellectual world as few others did. Barry Singer’s book offers an insightful and altogether charming portrait of the...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history

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