How has your nonfiction reading been so far this year? I’ve read so many good ones! A list of midyear favorites is coming around the end of the month.
But as we reach the year’s mid-point, I already can’t wait to look ahead at what’s coming out in fall. Here’s some of the new nonfiction coming later this year that’s caught my eye.
The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America, by Karen Abbott (August 6) — “The unforgettable, stranger-than-fiction story of a rags-to-riches entrepreneur and a long-forgotten heroine, of the excesses and absurdities of the Jazz Age, and of the infinite human capacity to deceive.” This era is always fun to read about and the author is known for her work in it, throw in historical true crime with an unsung heroine and writing with “novelistic flair” and I’m in. Preorder it: Amazon / Book Depository
The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of September 11, 2001 by Garrett M. Graff (September 10) — Journalist Graff brings us the “first comprehensive oral history” of 9/11, “a panoramic narrative woven from hundreds of interviews with government officials, first responders, survivors, friends, and family members.” Oral histories are so compelling, hearing testimony in someone’s own words is singularly powerful. Graff also had access to recently declassified documents, among other new materials. Preorder it: Amazon / Book Depository
Toil & Trouble: A Memoir, by Augusten Burroughs (October 1) — Memoirist Burroughs, beloved for Running with Scissors, among others, claims to be a witch. I’m not sure what to think of this. I was a big fan of his books at one point but lost interest in later stuff, around A Wolf at the Table. Is he scraping the bottom of his life’s barrel for memoir material? It’s testing the limits of my willingness to believe it’s all true. At the same time, when someone tells you they’re a witch, it’s hard to be indifferent to whatever story follows. Preorder it: Amazon / Book Depository
Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl: A Memoir, by Jeannie Vanasco (October 1) — Fourteen years after being raped, Vanasco reaches out to the rapist, a close high school friend. On her mind: “Is it possible for a good person to commit a terrible act?” Described as “part memoir, part true crime record, and part testament to the strength of female friendships—a recounting and reckoning that will inspire us to ask harder questions and interrogate our biases.” Heavy stuff, but it also promises a challenge of the notions of victimhood, and seems like it was cathartic for the author and potentially helpful for others. Preorder it: Amazon / Book Depository
Hardcore History: History at the Extremes, by Dan Carlin (October 22) — The creator of the Hardcore History podcast “challenges the way we look at the past and ourselves”. The podcast is on my radar but I haven’t yet listened because it’s exhaustive, with multi-episode arcs lasting hours. It’s much-lauded, and this book inspired by it sounds promising: “Carlin approaches history like a magician, employing completely unorthodox and always entertaining ways of re-looking at what we think we know about wars, empires, and leaders across centuries and millennia. But what happens to the everyman caught in the gears of history?” Preorder it: Amazon / Book Depository
Erosion: Essays of Undoing, by Terry Tempest Williams (October 8) — I just finished an advance, it’s intense. Gorgeously written, meditative, angry, and hopeful. It’s my first of Williams’, a beloved and prolific nature writer and conservationist, and made me want to explore her back catalog. It’s a must-read for those concerned with / distraught by climate change and the fight over it in politics, enhanced by Williams’ deeply personal stories and moving nature writing. Preorder it: Amazon / Book Depository
Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church, by Megan Phelps-Roper (October 8) — The notoriously hateful Westboro Baptist Church was founded by Phelps-Roper’s grandfather; she would eventually be its Twitter spokesperson. Her engagement online opened her eyes to all that was wrong and seems to have facilitated her escape. I’m a sucker for women leaving religion stories, and I don’t know much about this extremist group beyond their heinous attention-grabby picketing stunts. Her account “exposes the dangers of black-and-white thinking and the need for true humility in a time of angry polarization.” Preorder it: Amazon / Book Depository
American Food: A Not-So-Serious History, by Rachel Wharton, illustrated by Kimberly Ellen Hall (October 8) — This “clever and whimsical illustrated history of 26 iconic American foods, from Ambrosia to Zucchini Bread” sounds delightful, although I’m suspicious of too much whimsy. Willing to overlook though, as this just seems fun. It offers a look at “occasionally dubious” food lore, under-sung heroes, and connections to significant places around foods we take for granted, plus illustrations. That’s an unbeatable combo. Preorder it: Amazon / Book Depository
The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity, by Axton Betz-Hamilton (October 15) — The author, an expert on identity theft, had the harrowing childhood experience of both parents being victims of it. In adulthood, she found that she too had her identity stolen, but there’s more to the mysterious story. Identity theft makes me anxious, but worth pushing through for the irresistible hook of family secrets, as well as her professional insights into what to do if you’re victimized. Preorder it: Amazon / Book Depository
The Problem with Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture Wars, by Meghan Daum (October 22) — Essayist Daum “tries to make sense of the current landscape—from Donald Trump’s presidency to the #MeToo movement and beyond. In the process, she wades into the waters of identity politics and intersectionality, thinks deeply about the gender wage gap, and tests a theory about the divide between Gen Xers and millennials.” Daum has a singular funny, smart style and I’ve really connected with previous essays of hers, so I’m excited to hear her thoughts on current topics, although I detect the faint whiff of potential controversy. Preorder it: Amazon / Book Depository
One Day: The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary 24 Hours in America, by Gene Weingarten (October 22) — I love examining a specific narrative, event, or moment as microcosm of something greater. Pulitzer-winner Weingarten does just that, randomly picking a “seemingly insignificant” day (December 28, 1986) and using its events to “offer a diorama of American life that illuminates all that has changed—and all that hasn’t—in the last three decades.” Tell me more: “He finds that racial and economic disparity, and the mistreatment of minority groups are deep veins, running through even the quietest days in American history. And he shows that small dramas and kindnesses in the unremarkable news items can illuminate the often surprising moments of human connection.” Preorder it: Amazon / Book Depository
Do You Mind If I Cancel?: (Things That Still Annoy Me), by Gary Janetti (October 22) — TV writer/producer (Family Guy, Will & Grace) Janetti’s book is recommended for fans of David Sedaris, Jenny Lawson, and Tina Fey. Two of those are my lifetime forever favorites (haven’t read Lawson) so that got my attention. It covers his twenties in New York, struggling through crappy jobs, humorously “chronicling the pains and indignities of everyday life.” Put succinctly: “These are essays from my childhood and young adulthood about things that still annoy me.” I’m not a fan of his shows so unsure if the humor will click, but nevertheless sounds massively appealing. Preorder it: Amazon / Book Depository
Any of these spark your interest? What new nonfiction are you most looking forward to? PS: Pub dates were correct when posted, but can change in the meantime — keep an eye out!