13 New Nonfiction Releases Coming in 2020

One post of new nonfiction to look forward to is never enough, so here’s a second roundup of some upcoming titles in 2020 that have caught my eye. This time I’ve got macabre science stories, tales of obsession, badass women of World War II, current social and political commentary, multiple trips to Paris and Siberia, plus tigers, tigers, and a third dose of even more tigers!

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The Golden Flea: A Story of Obsession and Collecting, by Michael Rips (April 21) – I love a good story about people’s obsessions, and this one focuses on Manhattan’s famous (and sadly closed) Chelsea flea market and the quirky characters who bought and sold there. It sounds like it’ll have a Susan Orlean-style, and celebrates a bygone NYC institution. Amazon / Book Depository

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Gory Details: Adventures From the Dark Side of Science, by Erika Engelhaupt (May 12) – This promises “Mary Roach-style humor and science” around “oft-ignored but alluring facets of biology, anatomy, space exploration, nature, and more” from science writer Engelhaupt. Sounds like perfection. Amazon / Book Depository

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The Hunting of Hillary: The Forty-Year Campaign to Destroy Hillary Clinton, by Michael D’Antonio (May 19) – Presidential biographer D’Antonio digs into why so much acrimony exists towards Hillary Clinton, who’s been the subject of conspiracy theories, allegations, and vitriol unrivaled by other women in politics. An exploration of this, including the no-win position Clinton found herself in, sounds not only illuminating but important for understanding the complications faced by powerful women. Amazon / Book Depository

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Nothing Is Wrong and Here Is Why: Essays, by Alexandra Petri (June 2) – “These impossibly cheerful essays on the routine horrors of the present era explain everything from the resurgence of measles to the fiasco of the presidency.” I don’t really need those things explained to me, but it does lessen the pain to read funny, relevant analysis of all the bullshit of the present moment. Plus it’s recommended for fans of Veep which made my heart skip a beat. Amazon / Book Depository

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Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl, by Jonathan C. Slaght (June 2) – As I’ve mentioned one or two or 1,000 times, one of my favorite books is The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survivalwhich takes place in the Primorye region of Siberia. As does this, which follows a scientist and conservationist tracking the Blakiston’s fish owl, the largest owl species, found only in eastern Russia. “We join a small team for late-night monitoring missions and on mad dashes across thawing rivers; drink vodka with mystics, hermits, and scientists; and listen to fireside tales of Amur tigers. Most captivating of all are the fish owls themselves: vicious hunters, devoted parents, singers of eerie duets, and irrepressible survivors in a harsh and shrinking habitat.” I squealed in excitement. Amazon / Book Depository

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Let Them Eat Pancakes: How I Survived Living in Paris Without Losing My Head, by Craig Carlson (June 2) – American Craig Carlson made a little piece of Parisian history when he opened the first American diner in Paris, a journey with no shortage of obstacles chronicled in the warmly wonderful Pancakes in Paris. In this second memoir, he shares more tales from running Breakfast in America, his (now two) diners, under the rigors of French bureaucracy, while maintaining his optimism and delightful sense of humor. His first book was a joy, and in Paris last summer I finally got to experience Breakfast in America myself (twice!) so I can’t wait to read more. Amazon / Book Depository

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All the Way to the Tigers, by Mary Morris (June 9) – A personal catastrophe that left the author wheelchair-bound and dealing with surgery and rehab eventually led her on an odyssey to India “in search of the world’s most elusive apex predator.” I loved The Sound of a Wild Snail Eatinga meditative, brilliant memoir of another woman enduring an unimaginable illness and reconnecting to life through a particular creature, plus see above for my tiger books obsession, so I have high hopes for this travel memoir. Amazon / Book Depository

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My Place at the Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in Paris, by Alexander Lobrano (June 9) – From the description: “In this debut memoir, a James Beard Award–winning writer, whose childhood idea of fine dining was Howard Johnson’s, tells how he became one of Paris’s most influential food critics.” That’s enough for me to want this immediately. But Lobrano also covers his coming-of-age both in the Parisian dining world and his coming out, which makes this sound like a highly personal, illuminating blend of memoir and food culture, in the vein of Nigel Slater’s Toast. Book Depository

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Code Name Madeleine: A Sufi Spy in Nazi-Occupied Paris, by Arthur J. Magida (June 9) – The story of Noor Inayat Khan, an Indian mystic’s daughter who volunteered to help the British Special Operations Executive as an undercover agent in Nazi-occupied France. I’m not the biggest spy story fan, but the biography of another exceptional lady spy was one of my favorites last year, plus Rachel at Pace, Amore, Libri gave a fantastic introduction to Khan when she reviewed another biography of her, so I’m especially intrigued by this incredible woman’s life and service. Not to mention the detail of her being a Muslim woman, a not-so-common heroine of narrative nonfiction. Amazon / Book Depository

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The Lost Pianos of Siberia, by Sophy Roberts (June 16) – British journalist Roberts went on a three-year journey to learn more about Siberia’s unique music culture. This remote landscape is apparently peppered with pianos, both fancy grands and humble uprights which “tell the story of how, ever since entering Russian culture under the westernizing influence of Catherine the Great, piano music has run through the country like blood.” It explores the beauty in a region known for a lot of historical ugliness. Tigers are allegedly involved too, making this the third book on this list that includes tigers. Thrilling! Amazon / Book Depository

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The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos, by Judy Batalion (June 23) – This tells the stories of the Jewish women in Poland who “helped transform the Jewish youth groups into resistance cells to fight the Nazis.” It’s another corner of history that hasn’t gotten the attention it’s deserved, and it continually amazes me that these still emerge from the Second World War era when it’s such a busy genre. This introduces us to weapons smugglers, “couriers, armed fighters, intelligence agents, and saboteurs.” If that doesn’t catch your interest, it’s likened to A Train in Winter, which is enough to sell me on it immediately. Amazon / Book Depository

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The Cold Vanish: Seeking the Missing in North America’s Wildlands, by Jon Billman (July 7) – Billman is a former wildland firefighter with an MFA in Fiction and an interest in the missing and the void they leave behind. This looks at cases of people who have disappeared in National Parks and wildlands; the bafflement of their friends, families, and searchers trying to make sense of the strange circumstances; and the “eccentric, determined characters who try to find them.” I couldn’t be more intrigued. Amazon / Book Depository

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The Case of the Vanishing Blonde and Other True Crime Stories, Mark Bowden (July 7) – Bowden is an outstanding writer of narrative true crime, and I actually prefer his long-form journalism to a book on a single case, although he’s compelling to read no matter what. These are six true crime stories from throughout his career, including “a story of a campus rape at the University of Pennsylvania in 1983 that unleashed a moral debate over the nature of consent when drinking and drugs are involved to three cold cases featuring the inimitable Long Island private detective Ken Brennan and a startling investigation that reveals a murderer within the LAPD’s ranks.” Amazon / Book Depository

As always, publication dates were correct when posted, but keep an eye on any you’re interested in because they often change.

Are you looking forward to any of these too?

56 thoughts on “13 New Nonfiction Releases Coming in 2020

Add yours

  1. You always select the most fascinating topics for exploration. I didn’t get to read much non fiction in 2019 but I amassed quite a few books because of you. It’s more than a goal this year, it’s an intention to read them.

    That book about Hilary will probably make me angry and want to cry. The Bowden and Billman books will hook me. Frankly, all of these have some appeal. Can’t wait to read your reviews💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jonetta! ❤ You know I support this more nonfiction goal 🙂 I'm so excited to see what you'll be reading this year!

      I think the book about Hillary is going to be pretty rage-inducing but I want to understand better where these things came from because I STILL hear people trotting these old, nutso stories based on zero evidence or else misinformation.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m thrilled I can give you some ideas towards that goal!! I would only say read Pancakes in Paris first before his new one comes out. I would imagine it would help to have a foundation about his background and what he went through opening the first diner before reading the second part. I really loved that book though, it was one of those that cheered me up when I needed it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooh what a great selection. So many tigers! The Hunting of Hillary sounds brilliant but also sounds like it may make me too angry. I LOVE the cover of Nothing Is Wrong and Here Is Why, I cannot get enough of this recent trend of using bold font on classical artwork for covers. The Lost Pianos of Siberia sounds great as well. And yay for Noor Khan, obviously! I have high hopes for that book. The Shrabani Basu biography I read was fantastic, I just had a couple of issues with it that I hope won’t crop up again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think The Hunting of Hillary will be infuriating but I still want to know it. People still have so many misconceptions about her and I want to better understand where they came from and what information there is to counter it, although reasoning with such types is usually just an exercise in futility. I love that cover as well! And thanks for putting her on my radar, she sounded like such an excellent biography subject, and like we already discussed I think that publisher usually puts out really well done stuff so I have high hopes for that one too. I’ll be excited to hear your thoughts on it too!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Loving all the tigers!

    I have added three of these to my list just from your descriptions here! Owls of the Eastern Ice – I love owls!! And then All the Way to the Tigers, as you referenced Wild Snail!!! And then The Cold Vanish sounds fascinating!

    Thanks for sharing this amazing list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, SO many tigers! They’re actually really fascinating to read about so I was excited to see so many involved. I have no idea if that book will be anything like Wild Snail (I owe you BIG TIME for that recommendation, I LOVED that book and it helped ease my mind and calm me down a bit during a stressful move, what an amazing thing, really) but just the premise kind of reminded me of it. I like that idea of addressing something unimaginably difficult in your life by relating to something far outside of yourself. Excited to see how the author does it!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for including my book on your list!! Incidentally I read an advanced copy of “Lost Pianos of Siberia” and absolutely loved it. Sophy Roberts traces the paths of political prisoners, convicts, and conscripts determined to find, through music, beauty in exile. And there is indeed a tiger cameo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t know you loved The Tiger too!! I feel like I’ve been pushing that book on anyone who’ll listen since I first read it back when it came out. It’s just the perfect book to me. Owls of the Eastern Ice sounds incredibly promising and I just like anything set in that region.

      How are you doing, by the way? Feeling better?

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      1. Yes, exactly! It was just stunning and all the parts worked so well. Usually when there’s so much going on one element tends to fall apart a but but it was absolutely perfect there.

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  5. Really interested in Code Name Madeleine – I learnt a little bit about Khan when visiting Bletchley Park a couple of years ago, but I would love to learn more as I think she’s such an interesting person. Same for The Light of Days – a few years ago now I read How the Girl Guides Won the War, which I thought was really fascinating history that deserved a better retelling. One of the things in that book that I wanted to learn more about was the apparently significant involvement of Girl Guides in the Polish resistance – it sounds like The Light of Days will cover similar ground, and maybe in a more compelling way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, these ones you’re mentioning all sound fascinating! I agree, it’s a history that really deserves good retelling, or sometimes just being told in the first place. It continually astonishes me how many new stories we’re still getting from that time. Khan sounds like a completely fascinating character and very unusual for her time. I have high hopes for that one! (Also how cool that you got to visit Bletchley Park, I would love to go there someday!)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. your montage is so funny, should I dare to say, hilarious? For a minute, I thought : The Case of the Vanishing Blonde and Hilary were the same title.
    Other than that, I really enjoyed Craig Carlson’s first book. I didn’t know anything about the Sufi spy, it sounds fascinating, but probably depressing as well. My grand-parents spent some time in Dachau actually, but they made it out.
    The book on Siberia is tempting me!
    Thanks for sharing these upcoming treasures

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my gosh I hadn’t even noticed that and now I’m cracking up!!! Poor Hillary…
      I really enjoyed his first book too, and was excited to see he’d written another. I loved his attitude towards dealing with tough, stressy bureaucracy and coming out of it still feeling positive and motivated. Something that’s always helpful to read.
      It sounds like your grandparents have quite the story too!!
      Glad I could introduce you to some that sound good to you 🙂

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  7. I’ve told you this so many times, but I know better than to read through one of your book lists—I always walk away wanting to read a stack that’s taller than me. At least this time there were a few already on my radar, so I can’t totally blame you!

    Funny, though, because I was just thinking earlier today that I’m not sure I could read another book on Hillary for a while. But D’Antonio could change my mind. And I think Alexandra Petri is a hilarious, so her book is a must-read … Oh, hell, to be fair, all of these are must-reads at this point!

    Though My Place at the Table might be top of the list … No surprise to you, I’m sure. How could either of us resist a food book? 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, that’s the drawback of book blogging, the reading list is just forever endless. Sorry to pile even more on, but I think there are a plenty of worthwhile ones here!

      I was really impressed that D’Antonio is a presidential biographer taking on Hillary, I have high hopes for that one. And I just like the angle, because it’s something I’ve struggled to understand over the years too. I’ve read a couple of books on her too, plus about the election, and kind of thought I’d had enough too but I’m definitely making an exception for that one.

      How do you know of Alexandra Petri? I wasn’t familiar with her at all. I’d like to be before reading it though, although it’s definitely enough to know she’s hilarious! I’m so excited for My Place at the Table too, like you said, you and I were obviously never going to be able to pass that one by 😂

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      1. Oh, I guess I can forgive you! I mean, since I’m getting introduced to more great books and all that.

        It’s funny because I actually just pulled a couple of D’Antonio books from my TBR shelf on Goodreads because I just couldn’t imagine ever wanting to get around to them—as interesting as they might be. So who would have thought a Clinton book would make me reconsider things? Fingers crossed it’s great and informative. Though, if not, I guess we can caterwaul about it together.

        I actually found out about Petri through Twitter … I’m not sure if I knew who she was before seeing one of her tweets, but now I regularly read her stuff on The Washington Post. She had a great column the other day about endorsing all the Democratic candidates.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was reading a bit about D’Antonio and he seems very respected as a presidential biographer but I also can’t imagine I’d really want to dive into any of those. I can’t wait for the Hillary one though, I just feel like I’ve been waiting for that book to be written for a long time. And absolutely, you know I’m always up for a good caterwauling when necessary!!

        I’m off to find that column about the candidates, that sounds fascinating. I don’t do Twitter so maybe that’s why I missed her, but she sounds really worth following!

        Liked by 1 person

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