December 2008

Librarians’ Choice 2008 · Nonfiction

cover of A  Few Seconds of Panic A Few Seconds of Panic: A 5-foot-8, 170-pound, 43-year-old Sportswriter Plays in the NFL
Stefan Fatsis
Forty-three-year-old sportswriter Fatsis got permission from the NFL and the Denver Broncos, allowing him to join the team as a place kicker for preseason workouts and training camp in 2006. His experience as a soccer player scarcely prepares Fatsis for the rigors and psychological demands of kicking in American football as this outsider’s account entertainingly reveals.

cover of The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood
Helene Coooper
The family of this reporter for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal fled a privilege life in Liberia amid the bloody coup d’etat in 1980. Left behind, however, was Eunice, Helene’s adopted stepsister. Twenty-three years later, Helene returns to her troubled homeland to examine its conflicted social and political climate and be reunited with Eunice. A deeply personal and moving memior.

cover of Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey through His Son's Addiction Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey through His Son’s Addiction
David Sheff
Journalist David Sheff offers the heartrending story of Nic, his teenaged son who became addicted to crystal meth, and the harrowing emotional impact it had on the entire family. For the other side of the story, read Nic Sheff’s Tweak.

cover of Madness: A Bipolar Life Madness: A Bipolar Life
Marya Hornbacher
The author of a novel, The Center of Winter, and the bestseller, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, documents her experience as a victim of bipolar disorder. Her gifts as a writer and her objective stance with regard to her illness render the book intensely personal as well as medically informative. A moving and heartbreaking work.

cover of Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
Bill Buford
What begins as a profile of celebrity chef Mario Batali becomes a quirky, life-changing experience for journalist Buford, who apprentices in the kitchen of Batali's restaurant, before making a pilgrimage to Italy to study with the chef’s teachers.

cover of Mirroring People:  The New Science of How We Connect with Others Mirroring People: The New Science of How We Connect with Others
Marco Iacoboni
Recent experiments in the field of “mirror neurons” are offering astonishing clues about how humans (and other animals) recognize the intentions of others, anticipate their actions, learn social behavior, and, in the case of humans, learn language. Iacoboni provides a clear and fascinating look at this exciting new branch of neuroscience.

cover of The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher
Kate Summerscale
A Victorian crime that baffled the courts and shocked the nation is given a highly readable and detailed account. The murder of a child in a respectable country house tested Victorian attitudes about the sanctity of the home, the roles of women, the divisions of class, and the professionalism of the new Scotland Yard.

cover of This Republic of Suffering:  Death and the American Civil War This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War
Drew Gilpin Faust
This absorbing history of how the Civil War changed American attitudes toward death was written by the president of Harvard University. With its massive casualty figures, the Civil War posed heart-aching challenges to traditional beliefs, and it still influences the American way of death. A unique look at our cultural history.

cover of Vermeer's Hat:  The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World
Timothy Brook
Historian Brook uses the objects glimpsed in Vermeer’s paintings of prosperous Dutch households to explore how economy and culture became globalized in the seventeenth century. The fur trade, the porcelain trade, and worldwide exploration brought cultures together in an unprecedented way.

cover of The Unthinkable:  Who Survives When Disaster Strikes-And Why The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes-And Why
Amanda Ripley
What happens when catastrophe strikes? Why do some people survive and others don’t? How does catastrophe make heroes? Ripley, a writer for Time magazine, explores famous disasters (including 9/11, Katrina, the Columbine shootings, and the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire) to trace the psychology of sudden and overwhelming crisis.

cover of Traffic:  Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says about Us) Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says about Us)
Tom Vanderbilt
Do you obey the highway merge sign, or do you wait till the last second to get over? How you act in traffic (and how traffic reacts to you) reveals a lot about human psychology, culture, evolutionary biology, and engineering design. Vanderbilt’s book is a very enjoyable study of this very complex human activity.

cover of Vanity Fair, The Portraits: A Century of Iconic Images Vanity Fair, The Portraits: A Century of Iconic Images
Graydon Carter
Striking photographs of some of the most important names of the 20th century have graced the pages of Vanity Fair magazine since its inception in 1913. This new book showcases both the images and the photographers responsible for them.

cover of Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of a New Hollywood Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of a New Hollywood
Mark Harris
Harris illuminates the social and cultural changes roiling the country in the late 1960s through an examination of the inception, production, and release of the nominees for best picture in 1967: Doctor Dolittle; The Graduate; Bonnie and Clyde; In the Heat of the Night; and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Film critics and professional reviewers lavishly praise this new film history.

cover of Around the World in 80 Dinners Around the World in 80 Dinners
Cheryl Jamison
Determined to make the most of their hoard of frequent flyer miles, professional chefs Bill and Cheryl Jamison embarked on a three-month odyssey to sample cuisines around the world. In addition to descriptions of memorable meals (smoked zebra, anyone?), the Jamisons share hotel and restaurant recommendations, and practical travel tips.

cover of Tell Me Where It Hurts Tell Me Where It Hurts
Nick Trout
What’s a day in the life of a veterinary surgeon really like? Dr. Nick Trout takes us along for the ride, beginning with 3:00 a.m. emergency surgery on a German Shepard. With heartfelt humor, Dr. Trout describes the next twenty-four hours in a style that has been dubbed “part ER and part Dog Whisperer.” A must-read for all animal lovers.

cover of Hello Cupcake: Irresistibly Playful Creations Anyone Can Make Hello Cupcake: Irresistibly Playful Creations Anyone Can Make
Alan Richardson
Clowns, penguins, terriers, corn on the cob, sharks, Easter eggs…guests at your next party won’t be able to resist Tack and Richardson’s inventive ideas for decorating cupcakes. One of our bloggers praised, “…easy and utterly captivating ideas, all made from cupcakes, candy, and colored frosting.”

cover of Ladies of Liberty Ladies of Liberty
Cokie Roberts
Drawing on letters, journals, and other primary source documents, ABC political commentator Roberts profiles influential women of the late 18th and early 19th century, who had “the ears of the Founding Fathers” and “laid the groundwork for a better society.”

cover of The Forever War The Forever War
Dexter Filkins
Foreign correspondent Dexter Filkins offers a harrowing and brutally honest account of his experience covering the frontlines of war in Afghanistan and Iraq for the New York Times. The Forever War was selected as a best book of the year by Time Magazine and the New York Times.

cover of Bon Apetit, Y'all: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking Bon Apetit, Y’all: Three Generations of Southern Cooking
Virginia Willis
From simple starters and slaws to generous entrees and desserts, Virginia Willis—one of the headlining authors for Books by the Banks 2008—makes down-home cooking refined and haute-cuisine friendly.

cover of The Red Leather Diary The Red Leather Diary
Lily Koppel
In 2003, a young New York Times writer discovered a 75-year-old diary in an old steamer trunk in her apartment’s basement. Captivated by the portrait of a bygone era and the remarkable life of the precocious teenager who kept the diary, Lily Koppel embarked on a quest to track down now-elderly Florence Wolfson, and reunite her with the red leather diary.

cover of Capture Cincinnati 2008 Capture Cincinnati 2008
Over 1,500 local photographers submitted 31,247 photos for inclusion in this volume. Locals voted on-line 1,739,417 times to whittle down the best of the best submissions. Capture Cincinnati is the result, a spectacular coffee table book that visually showcases the wonderful aspects of our city.

cover of The Suicide Index: Putting My Father's Death in Order The Suicide Index: Putting My Father's Death in Order
Joan Wickersham
On a cold February day in 1991, the author’s beloved father took his own life. Using a nonfiction index format to provide chapter titles (Suicide: act of; Suicide: anger about; Suicide: attitude toward; etc.) Wickersham attempts to impose a literary order to an intensely chaotic, deeply tragic, personal experience.

cover of When You Are Engulfed In Flames When You Are Engulfed In Flames
David Sedaris
Sedaris’ incisive and acidly funny observations about “the banalities of an absurd life” (Kirkus) are, unsurprisingly, laugh-out-loud funny. This collection of essays, many of which originally appeared in The New Yorker, are sure delight his many fans.

cover of Loot: The Battle Over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World Loot: The Battle Over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World
Sharon Waxman
Do the Elgin Marbles belong where they currently reside—in the British Museum? Or, should they be returned to Greece, their country of origin? Waxman, a former reporter for the Washington Post and the New York Times, explores the complexities of one of the thorniest and most controversial issues facing the muesum world.

cover of In Defense of Food: An Eater̵s Manifesto In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto
Michael Pollan
Once again, Pollan (An Omnivore’s Dilemma) challenges us to think critically about the American diet, and builds a strong case for the importance of embracing a simple eating philosophy (“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”).