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Best Nonfiction of 2012


Anne Applebaum, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956. 947.084 APP
The author of Gulag discusses the creation of the Communist regimes that took hold in Eastern Europe at the end of World War II and describes what daily life was like in these countries.

Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. 305.569 BOO
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist profiles everyday life in the settlement of Annawadi as experienced by a Muslim teen, an ambitious rural mother of a prospective female college student and a young scrap metal thief.

Craig Brown, Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings. 920.02 BRO
A collection of whimsical true encounters between famous and infamous individuals describes the unlikely meetings of Marilyn Monroe with Frank Lloyd Wright, Michael Jackson with Nancy Reagan and more.

Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. 155.232 CAI
A book that explains how introverted people are misunderstood and undervalued in modern culture, charting the rise of extrovert ideology while sharing anecdotal examples of how to use introvert talents to adapt to various situations.

Joanne M. Ferraro, Venice: History of the Floating City. 945.31 FER
A sweeping historical portrait of the floating city of Venice from its foundations to the present day.

Bryce G. Hoffman, American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company. 338.76292 MUL
A behind-the-scenes account of the near-collapse of Ford in 2008 and the hard-fought effort of CEO Alan Mulally to save the company without accepting federal bailout money.

Karen Elliott House, On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines — And Future. 953.8 HOU
A journalist draws on three decades of firsthand experience to profile contemporary Saudi Arabia, offering insight into its leaders, citizens, cultural complexities, and international prospects.

Simon Lack, The Hedge Fund Mirage: The Illusion of Big Money and Why It’s Too Good to be True. 332.64524 LAC
An examination of the overall poor performance of hedge funds in the past, discussing some of the factors that contribute to this result and what safeguards new hedge fund managers can incorporate to protect their clients' investments and improve returns.

T.M. Luhrmann, When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God. 277.3083 LUH
An analysis of the American evangelical experience which draws on intimate interviews with members of the Vineyard church and explains the scientific aspects of intensely practiced prayer and collective supernatural experiences.

R. Jay Magill, Sincerity: How a Moral Ideal Born Five Hundred Years Ago Inspired Religious Wars, Modern Art, Hipster Chic, and the Curious Notion That We All Have Something to Say (No Matter How Dull). 179.9 MAG
Magill explores the history, religion, art, and politics behind the history of sincerity, spanning a timeline dotted with Protestant theology, paintings by the insane, French satire, and the anti-hipster movement.

Marty Makary, Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won't Tell you and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care. 610.696 MAK
The author argues for more transparent, democratic and safer healthcare practices to keep patients better informed and hold poor-performing doctors and flawed systems accountable.

Thomas K. McCraw, Founders and Finance: How Hamilton, Gallatin, and Other Immigrants Forged a New Economy. 330.973 MCC
A Harvard historian shows how immigrant founders like Alexander Hamilton, Albert Gallatin and others were more financially savvy than native-born plantation owners Washington, Jefferson and Madison and carried the nation to prosperity.

Anne Marie O’Connor, Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt's Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. 759.36 KLIMT
The story one of the most emblematic portraits of its time; of the beautiful, seductive Viennese Jewish salon hostess who sat for it; the notorious artist who painted it; the now vanished turn-of-the-century Vienna that shaped it; and the strange twisted fate that befell it.

Richard Lloyd Parry, People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo--And the Evil that Swallowed Her Up. 364.1523 PAR
A journalist looks at the disappearance and murder of Lucie Blackman in Tokyo, following every step of the investigation and offering a grim portrait of her suspected killer.

David Quammen, Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic. 614.4 QUA
A process called "spillover," where illness originates in wild animals before being passed to humans,  has the potential for the next huge pandemic.

Katie Roiphe, In Praise of Messy Lives: Essays. 814.54 ROI
A collection of essays by the provocative cultural critic includes her controversial New York Times Book Review cover piece on sex and the contemporary American male writer as well as writings on topics ranging from Facebook and friendship to travel and single parenthood.

David Rothkopf. Power, Inc.: The Epic Rivalry Between Big Business and Government--And the Reckoning that Lies Ahead. 322.3 ROT
A book that traces the rise of private power while explaining that thousands of companies have greater power than all but a handful of states, predicting struggles between major capitalist interests that are introducing new visions about how the world should work.

Oliver Sacks, Hallucinations. 154.4 SAC
An investigation into the types, physiological sources, and cultural resonances of hallucinations that traces everything from the disorientations of sleep and intoxication to the manifestations of injury and illness.

Alan Sepinwall, The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever. 791.4575 SEP
TV critic Alan Sepinwall chronicles the remarkable transformation of the small screen over the past fifteen years.

Nate Silver, The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — And Some Don’t. 519.542 SIL
The founder of challenges myths about predictions in subjects ranging from the financial market and weather to sports and politics, profiling the world of prediction to explain how readers can distinguish true signals from hype, and also reveals the sources and societal costs of wrongful predictions.

Andrew Solomon, Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity. 649.15 SOL
The author explores the consequences of extreme personal differences between parents and children, describing his own experiences as a gay child of straight parents while evaluating the circumstances of people affected by physical, developmental, or cultural factors that divide families.

Paul Tough, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. 370.114 TOU
The author challenges conventional views about standardized testing to argue that success is more determined by self-discipline, and describes the work of pioneering researchers and educators who have enabled effective new teaching methods.

John Fabian Witt, Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History. 343.01 WIT
A Yale historian presents the story of the pioneering American role in establishing modern laws of war, recounting decades of controversy and debate that resulted in a code of conduct adopted by the 16th President in the final years of the Civil War that influenced subsequent military conflicts.

Julie Zickefoose, The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds. 598.07234 ZIC
A wild bird rehabilitator and nature artist describes her painstaking efforts to rescue injured birds and her experiences when those birds come back to visit, looking at the personality and quirks of individual birds of different species.


Book Events You Won't Want to Miss:

Poetry Discussion

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 - 10:00am

Book Discussion: Sister Carrie

Monday, September 8, 2014 - 10:00am

Book Discussion: King Lear

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - 10:00am

Illinois Poetry Society Meeting

Sunday, September 14, 2014 - 1:00pm

Great Books

Monday, September 15, 2014 - 10:00am

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