Old New York’s Pirate and Gangster Legends Come Alive in a New History

Book review: The Last Pirate of New York, by Rich Cohen (Amazon / Book Depository) Author Rich Cohen’s father told him unusual bedtime stories: gangster tales. He opens his account of a murderous New York pirate by explaining his fascination with this subject, then allowing the story to take over in this concise account of a specific man, event, and moment in time. He wanted … Continue reading Old New York’s Pirate and Gangster Legends Come Alive in a New History

Vignettes Both Light and Dark from a Food Writer’s Childhood

Book review: Toast, by Nigel Slater (Amazon / Book Depository) “If you really want to, dear,’ was my mother’s answer for anything I wanted to do that she would rather I didn’t. This was her stock answer to my question: Can I make a fruit sundae? By make I meant assemble. My fruit sundae was a gloriously over-the-top mess of strawberry ice cream, tinned fruit … Continue reading Vignettes Both Light and Dark from a Food Writer’s Childhood

12 Upcoming Nonfiction Titles to Look Forward to in Fall 2019

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 … Continue reading 12 Upcoming Nonfiction Titles to Look Forward to in Fall 2019

The Life and Work of Virginia Hall: An Amazing Untold Spy Story

Book review: A Woman of No Importance, by Sonia Purnell (Amazon / Book Depository) To meet Virginia was clearly never to forget her… She was a woman ahead of her time who has much to say to us now. American spy Virginia Hall is one of the many heroes whose contribution to history has gone unsung, despite hers being extraordinary almost beyond belief. Historian Sonia … Continue reading The Life and Work of Virginia Hall: An Amazing Untold Spy Story

Losing Her Religion: A Former Jehovah’s Witness on Leaving the Faith

Book review: Leaving the Witness, by Amber Scorah (Amazon / Book Depository) A Witness cannot just fade away without anyone trying to intervene, and it was hard to find enough mental space to gain any perspective. It’s not the kind of religion that lets you walk away, because the people in it think that by walking away, you have lost your mind and interventions will … Continue reading Losing Her Religion: A Former Jehovah’s Witness on Leaving the Faith

Narrative Biography of a Trailblazing Lawyer Turned Detective, Almost Lost to History

Book review: Mrs. Sherlock Holmes, by Brad Ricca (Amazon / Book Depository) Newly told stories of women who have faded into the annals of history despite significant contributions from their life’s work are becoming an increasingly popular, welcomed trend. Author Brad Ricca’s Mrs. Sherlock Holmes covers one such story – that of Grace Humiston, a New York City lawyer in the early 1900s who earned … Continue reading Narrative Biography of a Trailblazing Lawyer Turned Detective, Almost Lost to History

The Wild, Wonderful World of Couchsurfing in Russia

Book review: Behind Putin’s Curtain, by Stephan Orth (Amazon / Book Depository) Hamburg-based journalist Stephan Orth has written several books about his global couchsurfing adventures in unconventional locales. Orth brings a certain cheerful openness and humorous curiosity to his adventuring, and of the touristic method of couchsurfing, he mentions that it offers “the mutual gift of time and curiosity,” something lacking in all-inclusive trips or … Continue reading The Wild, Wonderful World of Couchsurfing in Russia

Jon Krakauer’s Classic On An Ill-Fated Walk Into Wilderness

Book review: Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer (Amazon / Book Depository) His exact words were: “I think I’m going to disappear for a while.” At 24, Chris McCandless was a young man with, on the surface, a lot going for him. His family had provided wealth and economic stability, he was smart and college educated, and possessed a unique ability to connect with people, … Continue reading Jon Krakauer’s Classic On An Ill-Fated Walk Into Wilderness

Harper Lee’s Abandoned Work: A Crime Spree and a Mysterious Reverend in the Deep South

Book review: Furious Hours, by Casey Cep (Amazon / Book Depository) Seventeen years had passed since she’d published To Kill a Mockingbird and twelve since she’d finished helping her friend Truman Capote report the crime story in Kansas that became In Cold Blood. Now, finally, she was ready to try again. Novelist Harper Lee, long beloved for To Kill a Mockingbird, has always seemed a somewhat bittersweet figure … Continue reading Harper Lee’s Abandoned Work: A Crime Spree and a Mysterious Reverend in the Deep South

Narrative Nonfiction Classic on Ebola’s Origins

Book review: The Hot Zone, by Richard Preston (Amazon / Book Depository) Nature is anything but simple. This emerging virus was like a bat crossing the sky at evening. Just when you thought you saw it flicker through your field of view, it was gone. Richard Preston’s 1994 bestseller about the origins of Ebolavirus and early outbreaks, The Hot Zone, has been criticized for inaccurately depicting … Continue reading Narrative Nonfiction Classic on Ebola’s Origins

A Year Abroad As the Soviet Union Was Falling

Book review: Black Earth City, by Charlotte Hobson (Amazon / Book Depository) ‘You must understand,’ said Rita Yurievna, ‘that in Russian, verbs are not only about action. They are also about the experience. Think how different it feels if you walk down a street every morning of your life, and if you walk down it for the first and only time. It maybe be the … Continue reading A Year Abroad As the Soviet Union Was Falling

The Inflamed Brain and The Unreliable Narrator

Book review: Brain on Fire, by Susannah Cahalan (Amazon / Book Depository) The mind is like a circuit of Christmas tree lights. When the brain works well, all of the lights twinkle brilliantly, and it’s adaptable enough that, often, even if one bulb goes out, the rest will still shine on. But depending on where the damage is, sometimes that one blown bulb can make … Continue reading The Inflamed Brain and The Unreliable Narrator