Nonfiction Holiday Picks 2019

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Love Unknown: The Life and Worlds of Elizabeth Bishop By Thomas Travisano Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780525428817
Published: Viking - November 5th, 2019

Despite only publishing one hundred poems, Elizabeth Bishop established herself as one of the greatest American poets of the 20th century, winning a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Award. Now, in Thomas Travisano’s illuminating record of her life, we finally have a biography worthy of her incredible talent. Delving into her personal papers and correspondence, drawing on fresh interviews and newly discovered manuscript materials, Travisano captures the woman behind the poetry, connecting the lines of her literary work to the threads of her own life and relationships. The result is a fuller understanding of the deeply personal nature of Bishop’s writing, as well as an appreciation for the inner strength that she must have possessed to bring her art into the world.

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Edison By Edmund Morris Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780812993110
Published: Random House - October 22nd, 2019

From Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Edmund Morris comes a revelatory new record of the most prolific genius in American history. Beginning his story at the end of Thomas Alva Edison’s life—when the famed inventor was imperious and lionized—Morris then moves backward, decade by decade, bringing to life the unknown pieces of Edison’s character—Edison the philosopher, the futurist, the chemist, the botanist, the wartime defense adviser, the founder of nearly 250 companies—while deconstructing the myths that clutter his history. Informed by seven years of research among the five-million pages of documents preserved in Edison’s laboratory, as well as privileged access to family papers still held in trust, Morris has compiled a fully-realized portrait of Edison that never fails to inform, amuse, and astound.

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The Seine: The River that Made Paris By Elaine Sciolino Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393609356
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - October 29th, 2019

Many of us have fallen in love with the Seine as it wends its way through movies, paintings, and our romantic fantasies, and journalist Elaine Sciolino was no exception, becoming seduced when she came to Paris as a young correspondent. Now, in a book that’s part-travelogue, part-love letter, Sciolino brings the river to life in a unique and fully realized way, telling the story of the Seine from its source on a remote plateau in Burgundy, illustrating its history with the rich characters who have populated its banks. She patrols with river police, rows with a restorer of antique boats, sips champagne at a vineyard along the river, and even dips in for a swim. For every mile of the famed waterway, Sciolino has a story to tell, a piece of the past or present to call up from its currents.

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Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers By Natalie Eve Garrett Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781936787791
Published: Catapult - October 29th, 2019

Finding comfort in food is universal, and the meals that nourish us in challenging times are forever stored in our minds. These experiences are the foundation to this delightful collection of essays by some of our favorite writers today, detailing meals and the stories that inspired them. The authors have vastly different tales to tell, varying from humorous to heartbreaking, but each powerfully illustrates the emotions that bind the food we eat with the struggles we face. The book is beautifully illustrated and includes recipes of both the inspired and nostalgic variety. This collection is the perfect comfort food for the soul.

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Vanity Fair's Women on Women By Radhika Jones (Editor), David Friend (Editor) Cover Image
By Radhika Jones (Editor), David Friend (Editor)
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ISBN: 9780525562146
Published: Penguin Press - October 29th, 2019

Gail Sheehy writing on Hillary Clinton, Ingrid Sischy on Nicole Kidman, Jacqueline Woodson on Lena Waithe, Leslie Bennetts on Michelle Obama—looking back at the last thirty-five years, Women on Women features a selection of the best profiles, essays, and columns about women, written by women. The pieces featured include profiles on everyone from Gloria Steinem to Whoopi Goldberg, essays on workplace sexual harassment, and a post-#MeToo reassessment of the Clinton scandal (by Monica Lewinsky). Taken together, they tell a singular story about female identity over the last four decades. When Vanity Fair’s inaugural editor, Frank Crowninshield, took the helm of the magazine in 1914, his mission statement declared: “We hereby announce ourselves as determined and bigoted feminists.” Under the leadership of current editor-in-chief Radhika Jones, Vanity Fair continues its proud tradition of highlighting the voices of women and the many ways that they define our culture.

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The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness By Susannah Cahalan Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781538715284
Published: Grand Central Publishing - November 5th, 2019

In 1973, Stanford psychologist David Rosenhan convinced seven sane individuals to join him in committing themselves to mental hospitals to test the legitimacy of psychiatry’s labels. They were forced to remain inside until they’d “proven” themselves sane. All eight emerged with alarming diagnoses and troubling stories of their treatments, hastening the closure of such institutions and changing the field of mental health diagnosis permanently. Yet as New York Times-bestselling author Susannah Cahalan shows in her compelling work of narrative nonfiction, very little in this saga is exactly as it seems. An extraordinary piece of investigative work, The Great Pretender not only exposes a startling mystery that lay hidden in plain sight for nearly fifty years, but also offers a searing look at a culture in which a single experiment could change the course of modern medicine.

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The Zookeepers' War: An Incredible True Story from the Cold War By J.W. Mohnhaupt, Shelley Frisch (Translated by) Cover Image
By J.W. Mohnhaupt, Shelley Frisch (Translated by)
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ISBN: 9781501188497
Published: Simon & Schuster - November 12th, 2019

West Berlin in the ’60s often felt like a zoo, everyone packed together behind a wall while being constantly watched by the world. On the other side of the Iron Curtain, the East Berlin zoo was spacious and lush, a socialist utopia where everything was perfectly planned...and then rarely completed. Berlin’s two zoos in East and West soon became symbols of the divided city’s two halves, as well as their competing ideologies, and thus an animal arms race was born. Rather than stockpiling nuclear warheads, the head zookeepers competed to have the most pandas and hippos, with state funds being diverted to improving habitats and West Germany’s presidential candidates discussing zoo policy on the campaign trail. A quirky piece of Cold War history unlike anything you’ve heard before, The Zookeepers’ War is an epic tale of desperate rivalries, human follies, and an animal-mad city in which zookeeping became a proxy war for the politics of the time.

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This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving By David J. Silverman Cover Image
ISBN: 9781632869241
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - November 5th, 2019

In March 1621, when Plymouth's survival was hanging in the balance, the Wampanoag sachem (or chief), Ousamequin (Massasoit), and Plymouth's governor, John Carver, declared their people's friendship for each other and a commitment to mutual defense. Later that autumn, the English gathered their first successful harvest, and Ousamequin and 90 of his men visited Plymouth for the “First Thanksgiving.” The treaty remained operative until King Philip's War in 1675, when 50 years of uneasy peace between the two parties would come to an end. 400 years after that famous first meal, historian David J. Silverman sheds profound new light on the events behind the creation and bloody dissolution of that alliance. Focusing on the Wampanoag Indians, Silverman considers the tensions that developed well before 1620 and lasted long after the devastating war of 1675, tracing the Wampanoags' ongoing struggle for self-determination up to this very day. This Land is Their Land underscores why some modern Native people hold a Day of Mourning on Thanksgiving—a holiday which fundamentally celebrates a myth of colonialism and white proprietorship of the United States—and challenges Americans to rethink how we, as a pluralistic nation, tell the history of the holiday.