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February 2016

New Nonfiction (with commentary): 29 February 2016

A weekly series, published each Monday, sharing a selected list of new nonfiction titles to be published during the week. List originally published at The Reader's Advisor Online. Text in bold is commentary.

Amundsen, Lucie - Locally Laid: How We Built a Plucky, Industry-changing Egg Farm–from Scratch [50,000 first printing, but I just don't think I can do any more of these back to the land, sustainable living, let's all grow our own food books.]
Bakewell, Sara – At the Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Others
Blackmon, Jimmy - Pale Horse: Hunting Terrorists and Commanding Heroes with the 101st Airborne Division [50,000 first printing.]
Canessa, Roberto - I Had to Survive: How a Plane Crash in the Andes Inspired My Calling to Save Lives [100,000 first printing. By one of the survivors of the plane crash in the Andes that was the subject of Piers Paul Read's bestselling book Alive. I thought Alive was one of the most fascinating books I've ever read, and I also read another survivor, Nando Parrado's, book Miracle in the Andes, so I'll be getting this one too.]
Cooper, Alex - Saving Alex: When I Was Fifteen I Told My Mormon Parents I Was Gay, and That's When My Nightmare Began [50,000 first printing. Cooper recounts the story of telling her parents she was gay, and her experiences in a religious "re-education" facility for eight months.]
Desmond, Matthew - Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City [Investigative nonfiction set in some of the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I just don't know if I have the strength to read it.]
Egan, Timothy - The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero [75,000 first printing. Egan's a popular nonfiction author, perhaps best known for his book The Worst Hard Time, about the Dust Bowl.]
Feinstein, John - The Legends Club: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano and the Story of an Epic College Basketball Rivalry [Feinstein's a hugely popular sports nonfiction author--hence, the 150,000 first printing.]
Furtick, Steven – (Un)Qualified: How God Uses Broken People to Do Big Things
Maclaine, Shirley - Above the Line: My Wild Oats Adventure [Maclaine's memoir of filming "Wild Oats" in the Canary Islands. 125,000 first printing.]
Meyer, Joyce - Overload: How to Unplug, Unwind, and Unleash Yourself from the Pressure of Stress [Wow, Joyce Meyer really pumps out books. She's a popular religious and self-help author.]
O'Keeffe, Stuart - Quick Six Fix: 100 No-Fuss, Full-Flavor Recipes - Six Ingredients, Six Minutes Prep, Six Minutes Cleanup
Rovelli, Carlo – Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
Slater, Fanny - Orange, Lavender & Figs: Deliciously Different Recipes from a Passionate Eater
Wachob, Jason - Wellth: How I Learned to Build a Life, Not a Résumé [I didn't even bother looking this title up, because the title alone makes me want to punch the author. Or perhaps that indicates I really need this book.]
Walton, Bill - Back from the Dead [Evidently I don't pay enough attention to sports--evidently Walton is an "icon"? Here's the ad copy: "This inspiring memoir from sports and cultural icon Bill Walton recounts his devastating injuries and amazing recoveries, set in the context of his UCLA triumphs under John Wooden, his storied NBA career, and his affinity for music and the Grateful Dead."]
Yang, Jingduan - Facing East: Time-Honored Health and Beauty Secrets for the Modern Age

So, what do you think? Anything look good there?

What's a Good Book on...Civil Rights?

A while back I had this idea that I would work on some book lists with some "good" books on a variety of topics. I didn't necessarily mean books that I considered "good," or even just that I had enjoyed, but rather a list of representative books. Some well-reviewed books, some well-known/popular books, some "definitive" books, even some lesser-known outliers. I've had this idea for a million years, because when people used to ask me for nonfiction suggestions at the library, often they would ask for help like this:

"What do you think is the one book to read on the Crusades?"*

So I'm just going to sneak this one in under the wire, for February as Black History Month. What are some "good books" on civil rights?

This Little Light of Mine, by Kay Mills. A biography of civil rights hero Fannie Lou Hamer. I've talked about this one before; it's one of my all-time favorite reads. You hear hardly anything about Fannie Lou Hamer anymore, but the scope of her life is amazing when you consider the circumstances into which she was born and the sheer energy it must have taken for her just to live her life AND fight (amazingly effectively) to advance civil rights. A very readable biography of an entirely unique hero. One of her most famous quotes was "I am sick and tired of being sick and tired." AMEN, Fannie Lou Hamer.

Taylor Branch's trilogy about Martin Luther King, Jr. (Parting the Waters, Pillar of Fire, and At Canaan's Edge.)I've not read all of these--only parts of one--but if you are looking for the definitive books on MLKjr, these arguably could be the ones. Comprehensive, yet very story-driven, covering America in the years from 1954-1968.)

Savage Inequalities, by Jonathan Kozol. Kozol has made a career out of writing about racial inequalities in the education system, and I remember this one as being very eye-opening. He's also a snappy and personal writer; although it is extremely dated, his first book, Death at an Early Age, is also worth a look. That one's notable because it was published at a time when very few civil rights had really been won (1967), and when you realize, sure, it's old, but it's really not that old in the grand scheme of things, well, that gives you pause. Or at least it should.

Civil rights reading often seems to coincide with narratives about education. The personal side of the integration story is powerfully on display in Melba Pattillo Beals's memoir Warriors Don't Cry. She was one of the original Little Rock Nine who went to Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas, to try and further integration. Also of interest on Little Rock: Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock, a book about Elizabeth Eckford, another one of the Little Rock Nine, and Hazel Bryan Massery; they were both subjects of a famous photograph showing Hazel protesting the integration while walking behind Eckford.

Paul Hendrickson's Sons of Mississippi is the outlier book here. Full disclosure: I LOVE Paul Hendrickson. For my money there's not a better nonfiction prose stylist anywhere. And all of his skills are on display in this book that was born out of the consideration of a single photograph: the one on the cover, picturing white lawmen preparing for unrest when African American man James Meredith first started attending Ole Miss. Hendrickson delves into all of the men's stories, as well as Meredith's, and uncovers many quietly unsettling facts about living in the American South.

Novels: Please skip Kathryn Stockett's The Help and Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees. I mean, you can read them if you want to read some bestsellers, but to me they both seemed like the simplest of schlock focusing on a number of tired tropes: women sticking together despite race, the "feisty" African American maid who exacts revenge on her boss and is made to suffer, the quiet and wise black sisters living together. I thought a much more interesting read was Denise Nicholas's Freshwater Road. This one's about a young black woman from Michigan, who goes to Mississippi in 1964 to help with voter registration and education tasks. (Nicholas was also a long-time cast member on In the Heat of the Night.) It was not a quickly paced novel, but one of the reasons I liked it because it really showed some of the main character's struggles with going from the Michigan environment to the Mississippi environment, physically and culturally, and I really REALLY liked it because it was very visceral and it actually made me feel the heat and humidity of Mississippi in a way that most other Southern novels do not.

Bonus pick for the kids: Christopher Paul Curtis's The Watsons Go To Birmingham 1963. About a family from Flint, Michigan who goes to visit other family in Birmingham, during the summer when a well-known African American church was blown up.

Honorable Mentions: Michael Durham's Powerful Days: The Civil Rights Photography of Charles Moore; Nick Kotz's Judgment Days: Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Laws that Changed America; and David J. Garrows's Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

*This example is true, and I always felt badly that I didn't really have an answer, although we did find some books on the subject that seemed to make the patron happy. Sadly, though, I didn't really get such questions as often as I had hoped when I first studied to be a librarian. Mostly the questions I got were: Where are the tax forms? Why can't I have more than 90 minutes on the Internet per day? Where are the video game cheat code books? I'm a teacher doing a unit on climate, could you pull together all your books on that for me and I'll stop in one minute before you close to check them all out, thereby making you do all my work AND keeping you past your paid worktime? (I paraphrased that last one a bit.) Ah, the glamorous life of the reference librarian.

Link: A Presidents' Day reading list.

Courtesy of Becky at RA for All, a great list of authors for books about American presidents, both fiction and nonfiction:

Enjoy! Maybe if you keep busy reading any of those books you'll be able to ignore the rat race (and I do mean race of actual rats) of this year's presidential election season.


Sometimes you just need a big beautiful coffee table book: Sinatra: The Photographs.

If you are at all a fan of Frank Sinatra*, you're going to want to peruse Andrew Howick's book Sinatra: The Photographs.

AveryIt was published last year, in honor, of course, of the Chairman of the Board's 100th birth anniversary. And it does not disappoint. Gorgeous photographs, and just enough text to be interesting but not to bog you down. I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it.

But then, I am a fan. And I don't use a lot of photos at this blog. But I had to use this one, by Sid Avery, taken at Capitol Records in 1958. How can you not love this photo? Mr. CR was underwhelmed, but I love it, and particularly that it is titled "Playback." Everything I've read indicates Sinatra really was a master in recording sessions, and a perfectionist. To see him listening, working, like this--it's good stuff.

*Come on. How can you not be?

New Nonfiction (with commentary): 22 February 2016

A weekly series, published each Monday, sharing a selected list of new nonfiction titles to be published during the week. List originally published at The Reader's Advisor Online. Text in bold is commentary.

Frank, Thomas - Listen, Liberal: Or, Whatever Happened to the Party of the People? [Frank is perhaps best known for his political book What's the Matter with Kansas? I like him, and will probably look into this book. I like how the ad copy pulls no punches: "Frank points out that the Democrats have done little to advance traditional liberal goals: expanding opportunity, fighting for social justice, and ensuring that workers get a fair deal." Exactly.]
Fury, Shawn - Rise and Fire: The Origins, Evolution, and Science of the Jump Shot--and How It Transformed Basketball Forever [Wow, 35,000 first printing. Sports books of any kind must really sell.]
Gallo, Carmine - The Storyteller's Secret: From TED Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch On and Others Don't [75,000 first printing. This could be a good book, in the tradition of Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point and other sociology/"big idea" books like that.]
Gleiberman, Owen - Movie Freak: My Life Watching Movies [Gleiberman is a long-time movie critic for Entertainment Weekly.]
Gramm, Jeff - Dear Chairman: Boardroom Battles and the Rise of Shareholder Activism
Hayden, Michael V. - Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror
Hyman, Mark, MD - Eat Fat, Get Thin: The Surprising Truth about the Fat We Eat--The Key to Sustained Weight Loss and Vibrant Health
Lindstrom, Martin - Small Data: The Tiny Clues that Uncover Big Trends [Another book that might appeal to fans of books like those written by Malcolm Gladwell. Might be good, but I am rather tired of all things "data." 50,000 first printing.]
Phelps, Isela - Loom Knitting Primer, Second Edition: A Beginner’s Guide to Knitting on a Loom with Over 30 Fun Projects [Ugh, knitting. I group it with all things sewing. I am NOT INTERESTED.*]
Pomroy, Haylie - Fast Metabolism Food Rx: 7 Powerful Prescriptions to Feed Your Body Back to Health [150,000 first printing.]
Rioux, Anne Boyd - Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist [Huh. Evidently she was a contemporary of Henry James and a popular novelist in the nineteenth century. Could be a good read to try or suggest for March, which is Women's History Month.]
Sernovitz, Gary - The Green and the Black [About fracking and oil.]
Shah, Sonia - Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond [Oh God, I'm a worrier and a total germophobe, so I should really leave this one alone, but I can't. I love these sorts of books.]
Teigen, Chrissy - Cravings: Recipes for What You Want to Eat [By the supermodel and wife of John Legend.]
Waldman, Michael - The Fight to Vote
Whittington, Hillary - Raising Ryland: Our Story of Parenting a Transgender Child with No Strings Attached [75,000 first printing.]

*My mother gave me a sewing machine for Christmas in eighth grade, and I'm still working on forgiving her.

So, what do you think? Anything look good there?

A Thousand Naked Strangers, by Kevin Hazzard.

I really enjoy doing the weekly New Nonfiction list, but it's made my TBR list so long that it is laughable.

I just finished one of the first books that really jumped out at me from one of those lists: Kevin Hazzard's A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedics Wild Ride to the Edge and Back. Of course I had to get this one, as I am a total sucker for Work Memoirs of any kind*.

This one's about Hazzard's decade-long stint as a paramedic in the Atlanta area, and it's a good read. Not a great one, mind you--I've read other memoirs on similar subjects that I've enjoyed far more (Michael Perry's Population 485, about his years living in his Wisconsin hometown and working as an emergency responder, comes to mind, as does Jane Stern's Ambulance Girl: How I Saved Myself by Becoming an EMT), but this one was certainly enlightening in its own way:

"I grab the blood pressure cuff and check Mr. Perry's pressure. If he has one, I can't tell what it is. I've pushed my fingers into his neck to count his thready pulse when, without warning, he opens his mouth and shoots a geyser of dark brown blood straight up into the air.

I scream for help, but Jonathan keeps driving. There's nothing to do but roll Mr. Perry onto his side and let him soak the cabinets, the equipment, the sheets, everything, with partially digested blood. A Stephen King novel has nothing on this." (p. 44.)

And that's in his FIRST week of working. And that anecdote precedes the second one, wherein his partner in the ambulance pays a local homeless guy ten bucks to wash the ambulance down.

It occurs to me now that if you're at all squeamish, this might not be the book for you. I found it interesting, and it was quickly paced, although some of the chapters felt a bit unfinished to me. I think that's my criticism of the entire book: a vivid look behind the scenes of working in an ambulance, without much in the way of reflection or closure.

*And: the blurbs are a rich source of similar work memoirs, yay: Joe Connelly's Bringing Out the Dead, Theresa Brown's Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything In Between, Judy Melinek's Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, and Julie Holland's Weekends at Bellevue: Nine Years on the Night Shift at the Psych ER.

The Water Knife, by Paolo Bacigalupi.

Water Knife
by National Park Service and National Park ServiceHardcover

So, just a couple of months ago, I was thinking about dystopian novels. What I thought was, someone should write a dystopian novel that looks a lot like our society does now, but just carries all our boring old unsexy problems to their logical and horrifying conclusions. You know, like the unsexy problem of how our health care costs in this country are going to bury us all alive. (I think I actually had this thought after trying to figure out health insurance plans and medical bills.)

And, lo and behold, Paolo Bacigalupi has come along and done in it his novel The Water Knife. But what's the unsexy problem he follows to its logical conclusion? Oh yeah, that would be the one where we're wasting the natural resource of water like we're never going to run short of it. Now, on most days my worries run along very small and predictable lines: I hope no one needs to visit Urgent Care today. I sure would like to make a bit more money so I never have to staff a public library desk at 9 p.m. again. I hope people I love who are aging and lonely don't suffer too much as all our times start to run out. You know, those sorts of things. But sometimes I like to treat myself to BIG worries about the future and the world, and the one worry I land on the most is that something is going to go awry with our water supply. (I'm not alone in this concern.) And not only because we need to ingest it to live. Primarily because I know that if I couldn't start the day with a hot shower, I would want to kill someone (mostly myself) all the time.

The book is set mainly in Phoenix, Arizona (a Phoenix going down the tubes, with its own #PhoenixDowntheTubes hashtag to match) and bounces in perspective among the various main characters of Angel Velasquez (the Water Knife himself, employed by a cutthroat administrator doing anything to ensure her own city of Las Vegas's water rights); journalist Lucy Monroe, who decides at a very bad time that she wants to write bigger stories about the growing ugliness in the fights for water, and Maria Villarosa, a refugee from Texas (very bad things have happened to Texas in this book's near future) doing whatever she can to survive between criminals and non-criminals driven to the criminal because they are struggling. And really? It's horrifying. And yet it ends on a very interesting, not completely horrifying note.

And it's well worth the read. I thought some of the characters' actions toward the end started becoming a bit out of character, but that's a minor quibble. I'll say this: I thought it was about a million times better than Lauren Groff's novel Fates and Furies*, and everyone fell all over that one as the best novel of the year. I think this book got robbed of that title.

*Every review of this book that I read said it was such an astounding take on the complexities of marriage. Yeah, whatever. To me it just seemed like some overblown, completely unrealistic, Greek-tragedy-meets-magical-realism literary fiction novel.

New Nonfiction (with commentary): 15 February 2016

A weekly series, published each Monday, sharing a selected list of new nonfiction titles to be published during the week. List originally published at The Reader's Advisor Online. Text in bold is commentary.

Bell-Scott, Patricia - The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship; Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice [From Amazon: "how a brilliant writer-turned-activist, granddaughter of a mulatto slave, and the first lady of the United States...forged an enduring friendship." Looks interesting, and I've always found Eleanor a sympathetic character, but 480 pages? Now may not be the time.]
Booker, Cory - United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good [150,000 first printing. On the author: "Raised in northern New Jersey, Cory Booker went to Stanford University on a football scholarship, accepted a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, then studied at Yale Law School."]
Coleman, David & others - The Presidential Recordings: John F. Kennedy Volumes IV–VI: The Winds of Change: October 29, 1962 [I've kind of gone off the Kennedys lately, for whatever reason, although at one point I did find books about them interesting.]
Denton, Sally - The Profiteers: Bechtel and the Men Who Built the World [OOOhhh..."the inside story of the Bechtel family and the empire they’ve controlled since the construction of the Hoover Dam." I must have it.]
Fang Lizhi - The Most Wanted Man in China: My Journey from Scientist to Enemy of the State [From Amazon: "The long-awaited memoir by Fang Lizhi, the celebrated physicist whose clashes with the Chinese regime helped inspire the Tiananmen Square protests." 30,000 first printing.]
Frankopan, Peter - The Silk Roads: A New History of the World [This sounds good, I think. Although, oof, 672 pages.]
Goyal, Nikhil - Schools on Trial: How Freedom and Creativity Can Fix Our Educational Malpractice
Grey, Joel - Master of Ceremonies: A Memoir ["Joel Grey, the Tony and Academy Award-winning Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret finally tells his remarkable life story." 75,000 first printing.]
Hudson, Kate - Pretty Happy: Healthy Ways to Love Your Body [I find actress Kate Hudson very dull.]
Jacoby, Susan - Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion [Jacoby got a lot of press in 2009 for her book The Age of American Unreason.]
Klebold, Sue - A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy [By the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine shooters. 200,000 first printing.]
Martinez, Juan - Conviction: The Untold Story of Putting Jodi Arias Behind Bars [100,000 first printing.]
Monro, Alexander - The Paper Trail: An Unexpected History of a Revolutionary Invention
Nocera, Joe & Ben Strauss - Indentured: The Epic Scandal of the NCAA [Ugh. Sounds interesting, but I can't do it. To be honest, I haven't looked at college sports the same way since indexing/reading Scoreboard, Baby. 150,000 first printing.]
Seidel, Frederick - Widening Income Inequality: Poems
Stiglitz, Joseph - The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe [Stiglitz is a well-known economist. I'd almost forgotten about it, but I did try to read his book The Three Trillion Dollar War, but I just couldn't do it.]
Walsh, James D. - Playing Against the House : The Undercover Life of a Union Organizer in America’s Service Economy [I'm absolutely addicted to work memoirs of any kind. I'll have to get this one.]

So, what do you think? Anything look good there?

I love this link so much I want to marry it.

Happy Valentine's Day, all, and for the day please do consider looking at this link from Flavorwire, explaining which couples from popular rom-coms would never, ever last past the end credits. I agree with most of these (and particularly enjoyed the sentiment "Among the many, many things to hate about Love, Actually..."):

10 Movie Couples Who Definitely Didn't Make It, Sorry

A couple of notes: do watch the Knocked Up clip, if only to see Paul Rudd being hilarious at the end of it. The only thing that saves me from absolutely loathing Judd Apatow and his too-long, not-funny-enough movies is the fact that he seems to recognize that Paul Rudd is an underappreciated comic genius and casts him a lot. And, I'll admit it: I still kind of hope Lloyd Dobler and Diane Court made it.

But Enough About Me by Burt Reynolds.

Before my truly epic and unbelievably mucus-productive cold hit this January, I was able to blow through Burt Reynolds's autobiography But Enough About Me.

Why, you say? Well, why not? I'm not really any kind of Burt Reynolds fan but a. I did enjoy "Smokey and the Bandit" when I first saw it, and b. as a former film major, I've always felt a bit bad about never having watched the movie "Deliverance," which is, by all accounts, a film classic.*

And you know what? I really enjoyed it. As are most celebrity autobiographies, it was a quick read, and although you learned a bit about some of Reynolds's many friendships and relationships in the business (who knew he dated Dinah Shore, when she was in her fifties and twenty years his senior?), Reynolds and his co-writer Jon Winokur really kept everything pretty light. That said, there were a couple of anecdotes I enjoyed, like the one where he advocated for the casting of Sally Field as his love interest:

"When I told Universal that I wanted Sally Field for 'Smokey and the Bandit,' they said, 'Why would you want the goddamn Flying Nun?'

'Because she has talent,' I said.

'She isn't ready to star in a feature film, and she isn't sexy.'

'You don't understand,' I said. 'Talent is sexy.'" (p. 188.)

And although he married her, he didn't have good things to say about Loni Anderson:

"I didn't see Loni again until a few years later, at an awards gala, after Sally and I had broken up. She asked me to dance and whispered in y ear, 'I want to have your baby.'

'Right here?' I said.

'You know what I mean,' she said.

'Yeah, I know what you mean and I'm flattered, but don't you think we should find out if we like each other first?'

The truth is, I never did like her. We'd be together and she'd be gorgeous, though I always thought she wore too much makeup. It would be nice and all that, but I'd be thinking, 'This is not the person for me. What the hell am I doing with her?'" (p. 203.)

Something about that was just so funny. Like he was just powerless when big intimidating Loni Anderson came around and forced him to marry her. But anyway: I'm not sorry I read it. Particularly because after I did I got a real urge to re-watch "Smokey and the Bandit," which I did, and, since he was still up, LilCR watched it with us, a circumstance about which Mr. CR was conflicted. I said, Dear, if he remembers watching "Smokey and the Bandit" when he starts to drive, and tries to outrun cops, well, then you can yell at me. And LilCR REALLY enjoyed it. The next morning, he said, in his piping LilCR voice: "Watch. Car. Movie. Again?"**


*The one thing that I know about "Deliverance," as does everyone else, is that it includes the depiction of a man being raped by another man. Yeah, I just can't get myself to watch that, even if it's a small part of the picture. I can just barely read about such things, but watching them on film is one of my deal breakers.

**LilCR talks like this, like he's trying each new word for. the. first. time? Ending with the up inflection. It's like living with a diminutive and male Valley Girl.

New Nonfiction (with commentary): 8 February 2016

A weekly series, published each Monday, sharing a selected list of new nonfiction titles to be published during the week. List originally published at The Reader's Advisor Online. Text in bold is commentary.

Also: Sorry for the lack of posting this month. Turns out when you have a cold that never goes away it might actually be pneumonia. Good to know. Now, onward!

Brooks, John – The Girl Behind the Door: A Father’s Quest To Understand His Daughter’s Suicide
Damour, Lisa – Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood [It seems to be fate that these top two titles are right next to each other.]
Dillon, Roxy – Bio-Young: Get Younger at a Cellular and Hormonal Level [You got anything easier? And more easily apparent? Like being younger at the completely superficial level? No more post-40-year-old-lady neck?]
Engel, Richard – And Then All Hell Broke Loose: A Reporter’s Two Decades in Arabia
Glenny, Misha – Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio [I don't know why I know the name Misha Glenny; I've never read any of his books. But they all look interesting. This one is about Rio's criminal underworld. Yikes.]
Giudice, Teresa – Turning the Tables: From Housewife to Inmate and Back Again [You've got to go check out that cover. Honestly. I can't find one single pair of basic sneakers that fits me without bugging some part of my foot--how does this woman or any woman wear those shoes? Giudice is of course the former star of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," who just served prison time for being convicted on federal fraud charges.]
Hardt, Marah J. – Sex in the Sea:  Our Intimate Connection with Kinky Crustaceans, Sex-Changing Fish, Romantic Lobsters and Other Salty Erotica of the Deep [40,000 first printing. I'm always wary of science titles that try to make their books sound too, well, sexy, but I'll admit I'm intrigued by this one.]
Lahiri, Jhumpa – In Other Words [The novelist's account of moving to Rome and learning to live and work in Italian.]
Light, Alan – What Happened, Miss Simone? The Nina Simone Diaries
Mason, Paul – Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future [Sounds kind of intriguing.]
Ratliff, Ben – Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways To Listen in an Age of Musical Plenty
Ribacoff. Daniel – I, Spy: How to Be Your Own Private Investigator [60,000 first printing. For some reason I am addicted to books like this. I don't know why. What little I can investigate about people without trying very hard already pretty much horrifies me. Here's a tip: if you work anywhere in public service, never look anyone up in court databases. What you find won't make you happier.]
Scott, A. O. – Better Living Through Criticism: How To Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth [I love books on criticism, for the most part, although sometimes they are too intellectual too me. And I like the title of this one. I'll be looking into it.]
Stein, Jean – West of Eden: An American Place [An oral history of Los Angeles.]

So, what do you think? Anything look good there?