Marathon County Public Library

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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.


'Sex and the City and Us'  by  Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

"Sex and the City and Us" by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

★★★ Are you a Carrie, a Samantha, a Charlotte or a Miranda? If you know the answer to that question, chances are you’re a fan of Sex and the City. Airing on HBO from 1998-2004, Sex and the City followed the lives of four women living in New York City as they navigated the worlds of dating, sex and relationships. The show became beloved for its witty dialog...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants'  by  Malcom Gladwell

"David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants" by Malcom Gladwell

★★★★ This non-fiction selection is really a discussion about the art of winning (success). The author starts with a description and analysis of the original (Biblical) "battle" between David and Goliath.  The author hypothesizes that, seemingly weaker David, won over the giant (in physical respects) Goliath because quite actually, he used his already...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'The Soup & Bread Cookbook'  by  Beatrice Ojakangas

"The Soup & Bread Cookbook" by Beatrice Ojakangas

★★★★★ 'Whether you love hearty stews and warm bread in the winter or cold soups in the summer, this is the book for you. This cookbook is subdivided into chapters for Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter based on what fresh produce is available. The soups are impressive and sophisticated (like my favorite the apple-brie soup) but may not appeal to everyone; children...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Cookbook

'Jack The Ripper: The Terrible Legacy'  by  The Whitechapel Society

"Jack The Ripper: The Terrible Legacy" by The Whitechapel Society

★★★★★ Many know of the five women brutally killed by Jack the Ripper in London in 1888. However, the failure to bring the killer to justice left many unintentional victims in its wake. Conspiracies abounded about who was responsible for the crime. Numerous men were falsely accused of being Jack the Ripper. Many more were tainted by connections, however tenuous,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History, True Crime

'The Far Away Brothers'  by  Lauren Markham

"The Far Away Brothers" by Lauren Markham

★★★★★ Author Lauren Markham's deeply reported book tells the story of identical twins, the Flores brothers, who migrate from their home in El Salvador to California, not only to escape the violence of their native land but also in an effort to help their parents and siblings who stay behind in El Salvador. A mix of Markham's own firsthand accounts and...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography

'Calypso'  by  David Sedaris

"Calypso" by David Sedaris

★★★★ In David Sedaris’ latest compilation of observational essays, he and his longtime partner have purchased a beach house on the coast of North Carolina. Many of the essays in the book take place at this house, which Sedaris and his family use as a place to vacation in the summer or to gather during the holidays. The book contains 21 vastly different essays...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Humor, Essays

'Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story'  by  Chris Nashawaty

"Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story" by Chris Nashawaty

★★★ Nearly 40 years after its theatrical release, the film Caddyshack has an established spot in the history of pop culture through memorable quotes (“Did somebody step on a duck?”) and memorable characters like groundskeeper Carl Spackler, played by Bill Murray. Author Chris Nashawaty sets out to share not only the history of how the film was made and how...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'Hillbilly Elegy'  by  J.D. Vance

"Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance

★★★ Author J.D. Vance grew up among what he refers to as “hillbillys” – white, working class (and mostly poor) folks in Appalachia. Vance spent his adolescence split between extended family in Jackson, Kentucky and in Middleton, Ohio, a town in a state of decline after its main source of local jobs closes, leaving thousands without a job. In this memoir,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

'Love Warrior'  by  Glennon Doyle Melton

"Love Warrior" by Glennon Doyle Melton

★★★ Since she was 10 years old, Glennon Doyle Melton didn’t feel at home in her body. Due to the pressures of society, she never felt she could be thin enough, pretty enough, accepted enough, or loved enough. So, she turned to bulimia, binge drinking and casual sex to mask her fears and insecurities. In her twenties, Glennon finds herself pregnant and at a...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

'What to Do When I'm Gone: A Mother's Wisdom to Her Daughter'  by  Suzy Hopkins,  Hallie Bateman

"What to Do When I'm Gone: A Mother's Wisdom to Her Daughter" by Suzy Hopkins, Hallie Bateman

★★★★★ No one is ever really ready to lose a loved one, and this book tries to help with that in it's own unique way.  As the title states, the author's mother provides preemptive advice on how to function in the event of her death. The advice walks her daughter through day-by-day instructions on what to do, days, even years, after her passing.  As...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'Creative Quest'  by  Questlove and Ben Greenman

"Creative Quest" by Questlove and Ben Greenman

★★★★★ Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson is a busy guy: drummer for the rap group The Roots, which is also the house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon; DJ; restaurateur; and author of two previous books, Mo' Meta Blues and somethingtofoodabout. His newest book, as the title suggests, is all about creativity: what defines it, how to tap into your...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'The Feather Thief'  by  Kirk W. Johnson

"The Feather Thief" by Kirk W. Johnson

★★★★ In 2009, 20-year-old American Edwin Rist broke into the Tring museum, a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History. His quest: to steal rare bird specimens - some collected more 150 years earlier - with gorgeous feathers sought the world over by people who shared Edwin's obsession of the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying....

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: Essays'  by  Scaachi Koul

"One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: Essays" by Scaachi Koul

★★★★★ Scaachi Koul is the daughter of Indian immigrants. She was born and raised in Canada surrounded by western culture. She is also thoughtful and hilarious. All this comes together in “One Day We’ll All Be Dead And None Of This Will Matter,” a delightful collection of essays. Many of Koul’s stories clue us in on what it is like to bear the scrutiny of being a...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Essays, Humor

'I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy'  by  Erin Carlson

"I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy" by Erin Carlson

★★★★ This book provides readers with a brief history of Ephron’s life prior to her filmmaking years, but the main focus is a behind-the-scenes tour of the writing, filming, and releases of Nora Ephron’s three classic romantic comedies: When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail. While the spotlight is on Ephron and her transition from...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden'  by  Kevin DeYoung, Don Clark

"The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden" by Kevin DeYoung, Don Clark

★★★★ This brilliantly illustrated book covers the Bible’s central message in just 10 chapters using simple, casually styled language. It describes the Bible story of the snake crusher (that’s Jesus), defeating death forever so that we can live with God in the garden as the biggest story the world has ever known. DeYoung’s writing makes the Bible accessible to...

Audience: Children | Genre: Nonfiction

'The Last Black Unicorn'  by  Tiffany Haddish

"The Last Black Unicorn" by Tiffany Haddish

★★★★★ Stand-up comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish makes a living out of entertaining others and making people laugh. That might not seem like anything extraordinary, until you learn about all of the strife and setbacks Haddish faced in her life, especially before reaching adulthood. While growing up, Haddish had an absentee father, a mother who verbally and...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Celebrities, Humor

'Dear Pope Francis'  by  Pope Francis

"Dear Pope Francis" by Pope Francis

★★★★★ This book is a delightful and refreshingly candid look at Pope Francis and the children from around the world who had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write a letter and ask the leader of the Catholic Church any questions they wished. The questions they ask are honest, surprising, and ones that people of all ages would be interested in hearing his...

Audience: Children | Genre: Nonfiction

'Educated'  by  Tara Westover

"Educated" by Tara Westover

★★★★★ Tara Westover has an impressive academic pedigree that includes Harvard and Cambridge, but she did not set foot into a classroom until she enrolled at Brigham Young University at the age of seventeen. This compelling memoir immerses the reader into the isolated world in which she was raised in rural Idaho as the youngest of six children. Her father, a...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi'  by  Phil Szostak

"The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi" by Phil Szostak

★★★★★ The Star Wars universe is a vast and constantly growing thing. But did you ever stop to wonder what makes something look like it belongs in a Star Wars movie? In The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, readers see the various stages of planning that went into creating new creatures, vehicles, costumes and locations for the latest film in the franchise....

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Movies, Movie Tie-ins

'The Death and Life of the Great Lakes'  by  Dan Egan

"The Death and Life of the Great Lakes" by Dan Egan

★★★★★ Dan Egan, a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, provides a comprehensive portrayal of the Great Lakes, past and present, and a thorough analysis of the challenges the lakes have endured and continue to face. After establishing a portrait of the Great Lakes as they would have been experienced by the first European explorers, Egan traces the history...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'Year of Yes'  by  Shonda Rhimes

"Year of Yes" by Shonda Rhimes

★★★ Shonda Rhimes is the creative mind behind of some of the hottest shows on television, including Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. Though Rhimes was thriving professionally, her personal life had devolved into a cycle of sleeping, eating, working and just getting by. After being told by her older sister that “You...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, Biography And Memoir

'Herbs for Flavor, Health, and Natural Beauty'  by  Jim Rude, Jena Carlin

"Herbs for Flavor, Health, and Natural Beauty" by Jim Rude, Jena Carlin

★★★★ Looking for ideas on how to use fresh herbs? This book is covered with gorgeous, fully illustrated pages packed full of ideas on how to utilize fresh herbs, from recipes to health and wellness ideas. I grabbed a few recipes that were included that I'm excited to tweak to make vegan and try. My only critique is that I wish there was more to it! I would have...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl'  by  Issa Rae

"The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl" by Issa Rae

★★★ Issa Rae is the creator, head writer and star of Insecure, a dramedy on HBO about the lives of a group of African American millennials. Watching that highly-entertaining series is what me aware of this book and Rae’s semi-autobiographical web series Awkward Black Girl (on which Insecure is based). This book, chapter by chapter, outlines the various ways...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Humor

'American Fire'  by  Monica Hesse

"American Fire" by Monica Hesse

★★★★★ American Fire is the true story of a five month arson spree in rural Accomack County, Virginia that started in November 2012 when four fires were set in a 24 hour period. By its conclusion, more than 60 fires were set. Hesse, a Washington Post reporter, provides a compelling account of the crimes, the public hysteria, and efforts by law enforcement to...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

'Janesville: An American Story'  by  Amy Goldstein

"Janesville: An American Story" by Amy Goldstein

★★★★★ Janesville, Wisconsin was home to the longest-operating GM plant in the world at the time of its closure in December 2008. This book provides a narrative account of life in Janesville after the closure of the plant, including long term effects, and includes the stories of employees of the GM plant and the local suppliers that supported it, their families,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

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