MCPL logo

Marathon County Public Library

Skip Navigation UPDATED 3/24: Due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), all MCPL locations are closed 3/17–4/26.

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: '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

Cover: 'Unfollow'

"Unfollow" by Megan Phelps-Roper

★★★★ From the time she was five years old, Megan Phelps-Roper would stand alongside her parents, siblings and other members of the Westboro Baptist Church and protest various parks, government buildings and religious institutions around the city of Topeka, Kansas. As she got older, the church grew in notoriety thanks in part to its controversial picket signs,...

Audience: adults | Genre: memoir, nonfiction

Cover: 'Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA and the Secret History of the Sixties'

"Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA and the Secret History of the Sixties" by Tom O'Neill

★★★★★ Most true crime fans like a new Charles Manson book. Often, they tell the same story. Creepy-crawly. Sharon Tate. The Family. Drugs and Helter Skelter. But so often, those books have a timeless, placeless kind of quality; the crimes shrouded in a haze of smoke and lies. Meet Tom O’Neill. As a freelance journalist, he was approached in 1989 to write an...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, true crime

Cover: 'Writers and Their Pets: True Stories of Famous Authors and Their Animal Friends'

"Writers and Their Pets: True Stories of Famous Authors and Their Animal Friends" by Kathleen Krull, Violet Lemay

★★★★★ Do you have a pet? What kinds of animals do you like? Have you ever given your pets names like Bambino, You Know, Catterina, Mooky, Littless Kitty, Friendless, or Colonel Eggbert? In this read you will learn about the pets and animals 20 famous authors loved! Author Kathleen Krull offers insight into the backgrounds of the authors from childhood to them...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Me'

"Me" by Elton John

★★★★★ If you’re an inhabitant of planet Earth, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Elton John. Maybe you’re familiar with some of the wild outfits and costumes he’s worn over the years, or you know a couple of his (many) hit songs. Perhaps you know him from his work on Disney’s The Lion King, or you’ve seen the 2019 biopic Rocketman. If you know anything about...

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

Cover: 'Toil & Trouble'

"Toil & Trouble" by Augusten Burroughs

★★★★ Augusten Burroughs, well-known writer and memoirist of such books as Running with Scissors and Lust & Wonder, has been keeping a secret from almost everyone in his life. But in his latest work, Toil & Trouble, Burroughs finally comes clean and reveals a part of himself that he’s never shared with the world before – the fact that he’s a witch....

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'The Fate of Food'

"The Fate of Food" by Amanda Little

★★★★★ In today’s world, more and more people want to know about the food they eat, where it comes from, and how it’s grown. But what does the future hold for consumers – and the food on their plates – in a world that’s getting increasingly hotter, drier and that has more extreme weather? In The Fate of Food, author Amanda Little explores the different...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Hungry'

"Hungry" by Jeff Gordinier

★★★★ Step inside the restless, forward-thinking mind of one of the best chefs in the world with author Jeff Gordiner's account of years spent on-and-off with Rene Redzepi. Redzepi is the owner and head chef of Noma, the Copenhagen, Denmark restaurant consistently ranked one of the best (sometimes the best) restaurants in the world. It's difficult to...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography, memoir

Cover: '101 Ways To Go Zero Waste'

"101 Ways To Go Zero Waste" by Kathryn Kellogg

★★★★★ Are you tired of taking out the trash? Does it bother you that only nine percent of plastic is actually recycled? That it takes three liters of water to produce once liter of bottled water? Everyone is familiar with the saying: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. What Kathryn Kellogg emphasizes in this guide is that recycle comes last. First, what can you do...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Grave's End'

"Grave's End" by Elaine Mercado

★★★★★ This book is an account of the actual terrors the author and her family experienced while living in a home they bought in Brooklyn New York.  While I can’t say that the story is incredibly well-written, the fear that was felt is credible, even to someone that doesn’t believe in the paranormal. I found myself not reading it at night, as I usually do....

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, horror

Cover: 'The Invisible War'

"The Invisible War" by Ailsa Wild

★★★★ World War I was a time of great changes when it came to warfare - from mustard gas to the Browning Automatic Rifle, the way the world fought wars had changed. Unfortunately, medical science hadn't caught up with many of these changes. Soldiers suffered from debilitating wounds that often led to a slow, painful death or traumatic amputations. Many soldiers...

Audience: teens, tweens | Genre: graphic novel, nonfiction

Cover: 'Furious Hours'

"Furious Hours" by Casey Cep

★★★★★ Author Casey Cep takes a page out of Harper Lee's book to recreate her own fact-checking non-fiction title. The book starts out by detailing the tale of Reverend Willie Maxwell, a man accused of murdering multiple family members in order to claim insurance policies he held in their names. This causes quite the stir as the public starts to believe Maxwell to...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography, true crime

Cover: 'Ladies Who Punch'

"Ladies Who Punch" by Ramin Setoodeh

★★★★★ The View has been a staple of daytime television for more than 20 years. Since debuting in the summer of 1997, the show has seen 23 co-hosts come and go, and has had its fair share of high-profile arguments and controversies. For creator and executive producer Barbara Walters, the show started as a labor of love. For years leading up to the...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, celebrities

Cover: 'Maybe You Should Talk to Someone'

"Maybe You Should Talk to Someone" by Lori Gottlieb

★★★★★ For most people, a breakup can be a difficult life event to process. Sometimes, it can even cause folks to seek out help in the form of talk therapy. But what if you’re a therapist and you’re the one who’s being broken up with? As a therapist, Lori Gottlieb has helped clients with a myriad of problems, from cheating spouses to adults who were abused or...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, self-help

Cover: 'What the Health'

"What the Health" by Kip Andersen, Keegan Kuhn, Eunice Wong

★★★★★ Based on the Netflix documentary of the same name, this is an absolute must read for anyone looking for the truth behind the Standard American Diet and information on what the healthiest way of eating actually is. Backed by scientific studies and packed with recipes, this is an eye-opening resource for anyone looking to take control of their health. As...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Freak Kingdom'

"Freak Kingdom" by Timothy Denevi

★★★★ Hunter S. Thompson was an American journalist who wrote for Rolling Stone and other magazines, and is best known for this books Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72. He was one of the pioneers of an immersive style of journalism in which he inserted himself into the events around him and included his own...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography

Cover: 'The Faithful Spy'

"The Faithful Spy" by John Hendrix

★★★★★ This creative, colorful, biography tells the life story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor, a member of the German Resistance, and double agent working for the Abwehr during World War II. Bonhoeffer opposed Hitler’s ideology of Aryan supremacy early on in his rise to power, long before the outbreak of the second world war. He watched with...

Audience: children, teens, tweens | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'My Struggle, Book 1'

"My Struggle, Book 1" by Karl Ove Knausgaard

★★★★ My Struggle is a very serious book; if you couldn’t guess as much from the title, you will find out from the first pages of book one, which are a reflection on death. The author returns to this theme of death—specifically the death of his father—throughout the book in seamless passages, recollections that touch on his childhood, his adolescence, and his...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Travel Atlas'

"The Travel Atlas" by Lonely Planet

★★★★★ If you love to travel the world, you will love this book!  This travel atlas covers the entire globe, providing highlights for each country or region, along with sample itineraries to help jump start a trip. As an atlas, there are maps and pictures provided for a reference point as you go through the book. I found the book to be half...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Delish: Eat Like Every Day's the Weekend'

"Delish: Eat Like Every Day's the Weekend" by Joanna Saltz, the Editors of Delish

★★★★★ Total honesty?  I judged his book by it's delicious looking cover and boy am I glad that I did!  I had never heard of the online sensation that is Delish, but will now start to follow them on social media.  Their recipes don't cater to a special diet, nor do they require special skills in the kitchen.  All of the ingredients are easy to...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Becoming'

"Becoming" by Michelle Obama

★★★★★ Would you like to learn how a little girl from the South Side of Chicago rose above her circumstances to attend Princeton, become a successful lawyer, and eventually the First Lady of the United States?  Michelle Obama did a great job writing her first book about her upbringing, who made her who she is today, and how she stays true to herself through...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, politics

Cover: 'The Road Ahead'

"The Road Ahead" by Jane Seymour

★★★★★ Do you need inspiration to be a better version of yourself? What if you could find it in a book?  In Jane Seymour’s book, The Road Ahead, real-life stories are shared, with  inspirational messages at the beginning of each section.  The stories give you hope and encouragement during difficult situations that we all have in our everyday lives....

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, inspiration, self-help

Cover: 'Pandemic'

"Pandemic" by Connie Goldsmith

★★★★★ I love a good book about pandemics. For whatever reason, they fascinate me. Learning the reasons behind the Black Death or Ebola can be an adventure story and "Pandemic" covers everything you need to know.  This book was very readable, with great pictures of viruses, bacteria and  insects, as well as interesting side notes that help clarify...

Audience: children, teens | Genre: nonfiction, epidemics, health

Cover: 'One-Dish Vegan'

"One-Dish Vegan" by Robin G. Robertson

★★★★★ This new vegan cookbook has a plethora of scrumptious-sounding recipes for anyone looking for healthy, satisfying meals. I literally want to make about 90% of the recipes in this book, and don't know which one I want to make first! Some of the recipes have a longer ingredient list, but there's a lot of flavorful spices included, so don't be daunted by that...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Pages