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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: 'Is This Anything?'

"Is This Anything?" by Jerry Seinfeld

★★★★★ If you're a child of the 80's and 90's like I am, you might enjoy catching up with Jerry Seinfeld by reading Is This Anything? The first chapter begins with him explaining his passion for comedy and how even though he had other hobbies and interests growing up, they meant nothing to him after his first stand-up experience. Lots of "bits" for which...

Audience: adults | Genre: biography, celebrity, comedy, nonfiction

Cover: 'Tea Time Around the World'

"Tea Time Around the World" by Denyse Waissbluth

★★★★★ Take a trip around the world with tea! This traditional, yet diverse beverage can be warm or cold, sweet or tart. Did you know that tea can also contain yak butter or tapioca bubbles? Tea can also steep in a samovar and be prepared as an entertaining show!  Learn about tea in various cultures with the poetic rhythm of a...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'On Wings of Words: The Extraordinary Life of Emily Dickinson'

"On Wings of Words: The Extraordinary Life of Emily Dickinson" by Jennifer Berne, Becca Stadtlander

★★★★★ Beautifully illustrated with just the right amount of text to a page, this picture book biography is great to share with young poets. It tells how Emily lived a secluded life enjoying her family, close friends, and the natural world. In books and in her mind she experienced much that she described in her poems. Though she published few in her lifetime, her...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Plant-Powered Protein'

"Plant-Powered Protein" by Nava Atlas

★★★★ In this fully illustrated new cookbook, the author combined over 100 recipes that work with the ever growing (and delicious!) meat alternatives that are available today for consumers. Including soups, baked dished, pastas, sandwiches, and breakfast recipes, this cookbook is packed full of tantalizing recipes that work with not only meat alternatives, but...

Audience: adults | Genre: cookbook, nonfiction

Cover: 'How to Be Fine'

"How to Be Fine" by Jolenta Greenberg, Kristen Meinzer

★★★★ Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer, co-hosts of the podcast "By the Book," decided to live by self-help books for two weeks each, to determine what personally worked for them and what didn't. This book is the result of that experiment, and as the authors say, readers can try some of the tips along with the authors, or just read along for pure...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'If You Want a Friend in Washington'

"If You Want a Friend in Washington" by Erin McGill

★★★★ Explore a wackier side of life in the White House in this fun and entertaining book about presidential pets!  The President of the United States has a lot of responsibility and has to make hard decisions. Citizens and fellow politicians might agree, or disagree with these decisions, making friends hard to come by. Many presidents hoped for...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice'

"Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice" by Mahogany L. Browne, Theodore Taylor III, Elizabeth Acevedo, Olivia Gatwood

★★★★★ This is an absolutely beautiful collection of thought-provoking poems by an amazing collection of talented poets that tackles topics from discrimination to immigration to intersectionality to privilege ("What's in my Toolbox" and "A Me-Shaped Box" are both must reads on the topic of privilege and stereotypes). It is a beautifully illustrated reflection on...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times'

"Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times" by Katherine May

★★★★ I was drawn to this book by the very title, the promise that it would give the readers ways in which we can care for our wellbeing when life is truly difficult, and how to build ourselves back up. Is there really a more fitting book to read after 2020? This book takes readers through the author's own personal journey with difficult times, where she...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Oh She Glows for Dinner'

"Oh She Glows for Dinner" by Angela Liddon

★★★★ Looking for healthy recipes that will support your immune system as well as taste delicious? This is a wonderful new cookbook from Angela Liddon, full of plant based meals that will support your health while also satisfying your taste buds!  Her sneaky protein-packed mashed potatoes and creamy mushroom, green bean, and wild rice casserole were...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Norse Mythology'

"Norse Mythology" by Neil Gaiman

★★★★★ Neil Gaiman’s excellent retelling of the chief stories of Norse mythology is perfect as a first introduction to the material and well worth reading for those familiar with other versions of these tales.  The setting remains the ancient time of the gods, so in that respect it is not a modern retelling. Gaiman does, however, significantly develop the...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Notes from an Apocalypse'

"Notes from an Apocalypse" by Mark O'Connell

★★★ Author Mark O’Connell writes that he’s always had a pessimistic outlook, and nothing has reinforced that attitude more than the events of recent years. O’Connell writes that an increase in extreme weather events due to climate change, the growing gap between poverty and wealth, and intense division and societal unrest in the United States and other...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'From Here to Eternity'

"From Here to Eternity" by Caitlin Doughty

★★★★★ Caitlin Doughty is one of my favorite nonfiction authors, Her writing is easily digestible, funny, clever, and fascinating. Caitlin Doughty is a mortician, and From Here to Eternity is a chronicle of her adventures around the world learning about other cultures relationship with death and funeral practices. Sectioned by location, the book starts in...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Great Successor'

"The Great Successor" by Anna Fifield

★★★★★ Kim Jong Un is known the world around as the leader of North Korea. Some view him as a ruthless dictator who keeps the people of his country under harsh, suffocating control while others see him as a power-hungry – though mostly harmless – ruler who strives for more respect and standing on the international stage. In The Great Successor, journalist Anna...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography

Cover: 'Death in Mud Lick'

"Death in Mud Lick" by Eric Eyre

★★★★★ This fascinating book details not only the flood of opioids into West Virginia and its impact on the state's citizens, but also shows the power of investigative journalism to bring that information to light and affect change. Journalist Eric Eyre spent years writing hundreds of stories on the opioid crisis for the Charleston Gazette-Mail newspaper...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Forest Bathing'

"Forest Bathing" by Qing Li

★★★★ A book full of beautiful photographs, this talks about the Japanese science and art of forest bathing, shinrin-yoku. As someone who’s always felt a connection to any forest and craves daily doses of nature, I was instantly intrigued by this. The author describes the science behind forest bathing, how to practice it, and tips on bringing the outside in, all...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Big Bing'

"The Big Bing" by Stanley Bing

★★★ This is a book about office politics and uses humor and self-help recommendations. The author uses information from his own experiences and, although this is an older book, it still has information that can be used today. The author writes about climbing the corporate ladder and how you should observe your surroundings. Listen to your colleague’s advice...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, business

Cover: 'American Prison'

"American Prison" by Shane Bauer

★★★★ Investigative journalist Shane Bauer spent four months making $9 an hour as a guard at a privately-run prison in Louisiana and documented his experience - and the history of the for-profit prison industry - in this interesting book. Bauer used his real name to work at the prison but was otherwise "undercover" because no one knew he planned to write about...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Dear Girls'

"Dear Girls" by Ali Wong

★★★★ Comedian Ali Wong is perhaps best known for her Netflix comedy specials Baby Cobra and Hard Knock Wife, or for her romantic comedy Always Be My Maybe. In this hilarious, side-splitting memoir, Wong recounts her youth, getting started as a comedian, and her adventures in parenting through a series of letters addressed to her two young daughters (with the...

Audience: adults | Genre: memoir, nonfiction

Cover: 'A Long Time Ago in a Cutting Room Far, far Away...'

"A Long Time Ago in a Cutting Room Far, far Away..." by Paul Hirsch

★★★★ Oscar-winning editor Paul Hirsch breaks down his career movie-by-movie, and in the process provides an inside look at an integral part of making movies, but one that seldom receives much attention. Directors, actors, score composers and even cinematographers receive praise (or criticism) for movies they make, but the editor is the one responsible...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, movies

Cover: 'Acid for the Children'

"Acid for the Children" by Flea

★★★★★ Flea, a musician and actor best known as the bassist for the rock/funk band Red Hot Chili Peppers, has written a memoir covering his early years growing up in Australia, New York City and eventually Los Angeles. His love of literature had a positive impact on Flea's own writing abilities, and his memoir is well-written, funny, sad, moving, poetic and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, music

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