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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: 'Main Street Vegan'

"Main Street Vegan" by Victoria Moran, Adair Moran

★★★★ Have you been thinking of going vegan? Or, are you already vegan (or mostly vegan) and would like more information on the reasons why this lifestyle is helpful to you and the environment? I found this book to be packed full of helpful information! As someone who eats vegan at least 90% of the time, I enjoyed gaining more specific information than what I...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, health, cookbook

Cover: 'Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis'

"Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis" by Robert D. Putnam

★★★★★ Americans like to believe that anyone, regardless of background, has the opportunity for a fair start in life through education and hard work. This book explores the “opportunity gap” that exists between children of “working- class” parents (defined as those with whose education did not go beyond high school) and children of “upper-middle-class” parents (...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'I'm Trying to Love Spiders'

"I'm Trying to Love Spiders" by Bethany Barton

★★★★★ For the record, I do not like spiders. However, I am trying to pass on a better view of them to my daughter. This book is very helpful for any young reader who would like to unmask the mystery of these sometimes creepy insects. The writing is simple so that anyone can learn about spiders in a fun way. Not only that, but the illustrations do a great job to...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Dirty Chick: Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer'

"Dirty Chick: Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer" by Antonia Murphy

★★★★★ Meet Antonia and Peter, a couple who move from America to New Zealand and end up becoming farmers of a sort. This is the story of how this couple traveled to New Zealand in a sail boat, how they started a family and then became hobby farmers. The hobby farm grew one animal at a time as their family constantly fell in love with the idea of a new animal to...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers'

"Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers" by Nick Offerman

★★★★ Anyone familiar with Nick Offerman or his on-screen alter ego, Ron Swanson, will not be surprised to learn that he values gumption and those who embody it. In this book, Offerman provides profiles twenty-one Americans who inspire him with their gumption-fueled actions across a wide range of professions. For example, he includes founding fathers, writers (...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'A Field Guide to Awkward Silences'

"A Field Guide to Awkward Silences" by Alexandra Petri

★★★★ Washington Post columnist and twenty-something Alexandra Petri has never been afraid to embrace the awkward and to march to beat of her own eccentric drummer. This humorous memoir is composed of essays on a number of experiences that explore varying types and degrees of awkwardness. Experiences include participation in an international pun championship,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)'

"You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)" by Felicia Day

★★★★ For those of you out there who are wondering who Felicia Day is, once you see her picture you will wonder where you know her from. Many are familiar with her online presence from various geek-doms and others will know her from television and commercials. She reveals a lot about why she became a gamer and how she grew to love that culture. Let's get real...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'Cooking Light The Good Pantry: Homemade Foods & Mixes Lower in Sugar, Salt & Fat'

"Cooking Light The Good Pantry: Homemade Foods & Mixes Lower in Sugar, Salt & Fat" by Cooking Light Magazine

★★★★ This new cookbook is packed full of homemade mixes, meals, doughs, snacks, and jams utilizing pantry items. I appreciated that each recipe is fully illustrated and is marked if nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and gluten-free for all of us allergy sufferers. I was surprised that even though I can't have soy, dairy, or egg, I was still able to find a few...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Little Author in the Big Woods'

"Little Author in the Big Woods" by Yona Zeldis McDonough, Jennifer Thermes

★★★★★ This new children's biography of perhaps Wisconsin’s most well known and loved author, Laura Ingalls Wilder, is a great addition for all her fans. Written in a plain, simple style it includes most of the facts we know about her and her family. The illustrations by Yona Zeldis McDonough are simple, warm and homey, reminiscent of the illustrations by Garth...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: nonfiction, biography

Cover: 'So You've Been Publicly Shamed'

"So You've Been Publicly Shamed" by Jon Ronson

★★★★★ Has social media, particularly Twitter, become the modern day equivalent of the stocks or pillory as public shamings become commonplace on the web? That question leads Jon Ronson to explore the history of public shaming and its current manifestations on social media, where an admittedly ill-advised or inappropriate comment or photo can turn into a wave of...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Stolen, Smuggled Sold: On the Hunt for Cultural Treasures'

"Stolen, Smuggled Sold: On the Hunt for Cultural Treasures" by Nancy Moses

★★★★ Moses is a woman intimately familiar with museums and the world of art. In this book she explores the rather shadowy world of art, ownership by individuals and museums, and acquisitions of spectacularly famous and valuable items under sometimes questionable methods. The book is divided into eight separate chapters covering the discovery, ownership,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, printz award winner, award-winning

Cover: 'The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry'

"The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry" by Jon Ronson

★★★★ Jon Ronson is an English journalist who gets called to help decipher a homemade book delivered to scientists around the world. But beyond that, he is asked to determine if there is some “secret message” being relayed to the recipients or is this some elaborate hoax. In his quest he is led to a larger pursuit, i.e. who is or isn’t crazy, who decides who is...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Under the Same Sky'

"Under the Same Sky" by Joseph Kim, Stephan Talty

★★★ In this book Joseph tells us the story of his life in communist-ruled North Korea. In North Korea he starved for 10 years due to inflated prices of food and his country's inability to grow their own food. He tempts fate when he crosses the Tumen River during the day and is "free" in China. Once in China, where he could be exported at any time, he finds life...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'The Truck Food Cookbook: 150 Recipes and Ramblings from America's Best Restaurants on Wheels'

"The Truck Food Cookbook: 150 Recipes and Ramblings from America's Best Restaurants on Wheels" by John T. Edge

★★★★★ Don't let the title of this book fool you; yes, it is a cookbook but it is also a book about food trucks in major cities across the country and where to find them. All the food looks and sounds delicious! Good thing I live close to two of the cities highlighted here in the Midwest; Minneapolis and Madison. Not only does this book give you an inside look and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Well Fed, Flat Broke: Recipes for Modest Budgets and Messy Kitchens'

"Well Fed, Flat Broke: Recipes for Modest Budgets and Messy Kitchens" by Emily Wight

★★★★ I enjoyed this cookbook and its approach to eating well on a tight budget. Most of us can relate to the author needing to prepare meals on a budget. This cookbook does a good job of giving you new ideas of what to cook that you can add to your repertoire at home. The layout of the book is easy to follow and pictures help give you an idea of what a dish...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'A Train in Winter'

"A Train in Winter" by A Train in Winter

★★★★★ If you are interested in history (particularly WWII), human behavior, France, heroism or human suffering under spectacular circumstances, "A Train in Winter" will prove an engrossing read. The author takes the reader behind the word “French Resistance” fighter to reveal the real individuals, specifically the females who played a significant role in...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I've Learned from Reading Too Much'

"How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I've Learned from Reading Too Much" by Samantha Ellis

★★★★★ "How to Be a Heroine" is an engaging blend of memoir and literary criticism that was prompted by Ellis’ debate with her best friend over whom she’d rather be: Cathy Earnshaw (of Wuthering Heights) or Jane Eyre. This debate launched her into a re-evaluation of the heroines that had inspired her throughout her life. I enjoyed meeting her literary heroines (...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Boys in the Boat'

"The Boys in the Boat" by Daniel James Brown

★★★★★ This book is amazing! A great mix of technical explanation and the personal journey of the rowers, this is one book I couldn't put down. Throughout the book, we follow the story of Joe Rantz as he grows from a boy abandoned, to a resourceful teenager, to the young man who will struggle and do anything to make the Washington rowing team. His story will tug...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history, sports

Cover: 'Sheet Pan Suppers'

"Sheet Pan Suppers" by Molly Gilbert

★★★★★ Are you as sick of playing the crock pot game as I am? Do you have better success with roasting? My answer to these questions is yes! This book is amazing and has so many wonderful recipes! I had started to mark pages that I wanted to photocopy, however it turned out to be most of the book! This will simply have to be a purchase for my personal collection...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'March: Book Two'

"March: Book Two" by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

★★★★★ "March: Book Two" is the second graphic novel in a trilogy that recounts the Civil Rights movement from the perspective of Congressman John Lewis, a key figure of the movement. This volume picks up the story in late 1960 in Nashville and recounts events including the Freedom Rides in 1961, Lewis’s incarceration in Mississippi, and the March on Washington in...

Audience: teens | Genre: nonfiction, graphic novel

Cover: 'The Geeky Chef Cookbook: Real-Life Recipes for Your Favorite Fantasy Foods'

"The Geeky Chef Cookbook: Real-Life Recipes for Your Favorite Fantasy Foods" by Cassandra Reeder

★★★★★ Calling all fellow geeks out there! Have you ever pondered how the food from your favorite TV shows, movies and video games would taste? Here is your chance to experience what was once a mystery! This book is full of unofficial recipes from Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, The Legend of Zelda... just to name a few. I am a self-proclaimed geek, and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Dairy-Free Ice Cream: 75 Recipes Made Without Eggs, Gluten, Soy, or Refined Sugar'

"Dairy-Free Ice Cream: 75 Recipes Made Without Eggs, Gluten, Soy, or Refined Sugar" by Kelly V. Brozyna

★★★★★ I am completely ecstatic to try every single recipe in this beautifully illustrated book. Every recipe looks absolutely delicious, and won't make me sick! For all of us ice cream lovers with food allergies, rejoice! These recipes are made without eggs, gluten, soy, dairy, or refined sugar. As someone who can't have soy or dairy, finding dessert recipes has...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Raw and Simple Detox: A Delicious Body Reboot for Health, Energy, and Weight Loss'

"Raw and Simple Detox: A Delicious Body Reboot for Health, Energy, and Weight Loss" by Judita Wignall

★★★★ This a great new resource for anyone looking to eat delicious, healthy raw foods. Included is helpful information and guides to detoxing for those interested. For me, having food allergies and eating a mostly vegan diet, I just enjoyed the recipes that are naturally safe for me and great for my body. Included on my list to try: rustic raw lasagna,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'My Organic Life'

"My Organic Life" by Nora Pouillon

★★★★ It's easy to find organic produce and hormone-free meat now, but 50 years ago, that was not the case. Nora Pouillon is a Vienna-born chef and founder of Restaurant Nora, the first certified organic restaurant in the United States. When Nora came to Washington D.C. in the 1960s, she was horrified at the lack of seasonal produce and meat filled with hormones...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, food

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