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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: 'Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography'

"Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography" by Neil Patrick Harris, David Javerbaum, Antony Hare

★★★★★ Whether your favorite Neil Patrick Harris character is Barney Stinson, Doogie Howser, or Hedwig, this book is highly recommended. NPH models his autobiography after the "Choose Your Own Adventure" children's series, where readers make a choice at the end of each chapter that will change the outcome of the story. This book is full of humor and quirky details...

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

Cover: 'A Travel Guide to Life: Transforming Yourself from Head to Soul'

"A Travel Guide to Life: Transforming Yourself from Head to Soul" by Anthony DeStefano

★★★★★ This book is a call to be honest about your life and your search for happiness. It doesn't just focus on material wealth or shallow happiness but looks deeper into the spiritual level and the important role that a healthy spiritual life has on overall happiness. It guides us to love ourselves, treat our happiness and well-being from a holistic perspective,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'So anyway...'

"So anyway..." by John Cleese

★★★★★ Whether you know him as a Python or as The Pink Panther's Charles Dreyfus, chances are that at some point in your life, John Cleese has made you laugh. Easily one of my favorite comedic actors, John Cleese's memoir is a book that was worth the wait. From his quiet beginnings as the only child of older parents in a sleepy English town, to his adventures in...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography and memoir

Cover: 'Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking'

"Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain

★★★★★ If you anyone has ever asked you, “Why are you so quiet?” or “Why don't you speak up?” or even “ Why are you so shy?” then this is the book for you. The author Susan Cain explores the preference for the extrovert personality in our culture. The author explores the many ways that these basic personality types differ starting with differences in the nervous...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography'

"Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography" by Meryle Secrest

★★★★ This well-written biography provides a fascinating glimpse into the life and times of fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli. The fiery Italian was a rival of Coco Chanel, good friend of Salvador Dali, and a mentor to Hubert De Givenchy. Schiaparelli created the famous lobster print dress that Wallis Simpson wore after she married the Duke of Windsor, and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Prune'

"Prune" by Gabrielle Hamilton

★★★★ Foodies, professional chefs, and serious home cooks will love this creative and unique cookbook from the chef and owner of the NYC restaurant Prune. It's presented like a how-to manual for new cooks at Prune, complete with Hamilton's hand-written (and occasionally snarky) notes and tips about preparing Prune's signature dishes. There is even a section about...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe'

"Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe" by Lisa Small, Stefano Tonchi, Caroline Weber

★★★★★ Shoe lovers, this is the book for you! Based on the information gathered for an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, this beautiful book is a photographic and short essay history of the high heel. From its fascinating origins to its present day art form, the high heel has been a status symbol for men and women, functional footwear, and a highly controversial...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, fashion, beauty

Cover: 'Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen: 150 Pizzas, Pastas, Pestos, Risottos, & Lots of Creamy Italian Classics'

"Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen: 150 Pizzas, Pastas, Pestos, Risottos, & Lots of Creamy Italian Classics" by Chloe Coscarelli

★★★★★ This is another fantastic vegan cookbook! Countless pasta, soup, and pizza recipes, as well as delicious desserts had me hooked. You no longer have to give up on the idea of alfredo sauce, gelato, biscotti, or any other of your Italian favorites. Coming from an Italian who can't have any more soy, dairy, or egg, (but who's favorite food is authentic gelato...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Sunday Casseroles: Complete Comfort in One Dish'

"Sunday Casseroles: Complete Comfort in One Dish" by Betty Rosbottom

★★★★★ If you love one-dish meals, this cookbook is for you. The photography in this book is beautiful and elevates the humble casserole from everyday dining to haute cuisine. I found all of the recipes easy to follow, and the first chapter contains useful tips and tricks for creating the perfect casserole. I have already made several of the recipes, and my...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'The Hot Zone'

"The Hot Zone" by Richard Preston

★★★★★ Stephen King considers this one of the most horrifying books he has ever read! Probably because it is nonfiction and relates the tale of death and destruction by the deadliest animals on earth. Those animals are also some of the smallest animals, the fatal virus Ebola and some of its close relatives. The author traces back the devastating and bloody trail...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, health

Cover: 'Little Humans'

"Little Humans" by Brandon Stanton

★★★★ From the author and photographer of the well-known blog "Humans of New York" comes a great picture book that celebrates the uniqueness, abilities, and diversity of the littlest humans--children. Brandon Stanton's photographs capture children doing everyday things like walking down the street, riding a bicycle, playing in the street, and making music. This...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, picture book

Cover: 'But I Could Never Go Vegan!: 125 Recipes That Prove You Can Live Without Cheese, It's Not All Rabbit Food, and Your Friends Will Still Come Over for Dinner'

"But I Could Never Go Vegan!: 125 Recipes That Prove You Can Live Without Cheese, It's Not All Rabbit Food, and Your Friends Will Still Come Over for Dinner" by Kristy Turner

★★★★★ This is a fantastic and entertaining cookbook for anyone looking to begin or add to a vegan (or similar) diet! Not only are the recipes eye-catching, but the author even titles her chapters after common misconceptions against a plant based diet (such as "I could never give up cheese!", "Where would I get my protein?", and "It's all rabbit food.") and then...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Humans of New York'

"Humans of New York" by Brandon Stanton

★★★★★ Chances are if you are on any type of social media, then you've probably been exposed to the fabulous photography of Humans of New York. While working as a bond trader in Chicago in January 2010, Stanton discovered a passion for photography. When his job ended, he decided to do something crazy and take up photography full time. He decided to go from city to...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, travel, photography

Cover: 'Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink'

"Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink" by Gail Carson Levine

★★★★  Ever been thinking about writing but don't know where to start? Or there's a step in the process or question that you're dying to ask an author? This was a new children's nonfiction book about writing that I found even applicable to me. I thought it was a great exploration of the process and the questions that arise when you're trying to write!  

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, writing

Cover: 'Little House in the Suburbs: Backyard Farming and Home Skills for Self-Sufficient Living'

"Little House in the Suburbs: Backyard Farming and Home Skills for Self-Sufficient Living" by Deanna Caswell, Daisy Siskins

★★★★ Looking to make your own homemade skin care or cleaning products, or start a co-op, or want tips on gardening? This is a great resource for those wanting to be more self-sufficient in any setting, or those who want to make cheaper homemade products free of chemicals. It includes sections on raising animals (like bees and goats), gardening, starting your own...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Half Broke Horses'

"Half Broke Horses" by Jeannette Walls

★★★★★ I loved this book! This is the story of the author's grandmother and her amazing life, told from a first person voice. We follow Lily Casey Smith as she grows from a tough little girl, breaking horses on her father's ranch at the tender age of six, to a strong and independent woman. Lily trains as a teacher, works as a maid when she tries out city life, and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'What I Know For Sure'

"What I Know For Sure" by Oprah Winfrey

★★★★★ This was a profound read for me. While I started this somewhat with trepidation, as I'm not one to usually read something like this, it struck me from the very beginning. As someone who has had a scary and difficult year, I found a lot of truth and connection to the stories told in this that deeply struck a cord with me. Oprah recounts some of her biggest...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, celebrities

Cover: 'Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul'

"Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul" by Aarti Sequeira

★★★★★ This cookbook is a beautiful celebration of Indian food and the author's past, present, and future. I really loved how personal the stories she included along with the tempting recipes were. She explains the most common ingredients in Indian recipes and how to use them, and her recipes look gorgeous and tasty! This is a must read if you love Indian food....

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'The Pizza Bible'

"The Pizza Bible" by Tony Gemignani

★★★ Written by the eleven time world pizza champ, this book features recipes for an assortment of pizza types, like deep dish, wood fired, and Sicilian styles, as well as pizzas native to certain areas like New York, Chicago, and more. It even includes "My Ten Commandments of Pizza", such as "thou shalt not rush the rise". Alongside tempting pictures of all the...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Libraries'

"Libraries" by Bjarne Hammer

★★★★ This gorgeous new book features beautiful libraries around the world, such as the Library of Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt and Trinity College Library in Dublin. Each of the captivating photos feature a snippet of interesting information about each location (in multiple languages) and highlights the unique architecture and accommodations of each beautiful...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Yes Please'

"Yes Please" by Amy Poehler

★★★★★ Are you ready to laugh, learn, and cry? Amy delivers all of this and more in her debut book. Anyone who is a fan of Amy from her television work and comedy will definitely appreciate her humor and stories about trying to make it in the business. She covers her childhood through her time on "Parks and Recreation." What I found to be the best part of this...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography and memoir

Cover: 'Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking)'

"Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking)" by Christian Rudder

★★★★ Mr. Rudder is a Harvard-educated mathematician and co-founder of OkCupid, an online dating service. If you want to explore the world of number crunching in the modern world of media and technology, this book is it. He shows through multiple examples, graphs and analysis what numbers reveal (that sometimes people are loath to). Much of the book uses OKCupid...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, technology

Cover: 'Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties'

"Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties" by Rachel Cooke

★★★★ A fascinating look at the role of women in the 1950s, this book shows us that there were definitely exceptions to the stereotypical housewife we've been shown. This book gives mini biographies of some of the extraordinary women who forged careers in a man's world and paved the way for the opportunities that women enjoy today. From race car drivers to...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'Best Mug Cakes Ever'

"Best Mug Cakes Ever" by Monica Sweeney

★★★★★ I thought it was brilliant when a friend e-mailed me a recipe for making cake in a mug a couple of years ago, so when I found this book I was ecstatic! This book is filled with fun recipes that can be used for a quick dessert anytime. They are ready start to finish in about five minutes. There is a little bit of guesswork when you first start out, depending...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'The Book With No Pictures'

"The Book With No Pictures" by B. J. Novak

★★★★ How can a book be a picture book if there are no pictures? B.J. Novak, best known for his writing and acting on "The Office," shows that a book can be fun without illustrations. But how? Well, the person reading the book has to say everything the words say...no matter what. Even if the words have no meaning or are down-right ridiculous, the reader still has...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, read-alouds

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