Friday, May 4, 2012

6 Non-fiction Titles to Look for in May

It's been just over a year since we started including monthly "fiction to watch for" posts in the regular roster of things here at The Reader (the first of which was posted in April 2011). With that feature now well established, it seems only logical that we should start devoting a bit of space each month to the books that our non-fiction readers might want to keep an eye out for. Here are 6 great non-fiction reads released in May.

It seems appropriate that our first listing in this new series would be for a book by Mark Kurlansky. Kurlansky, author of Cod: the biography of the fish that changed the world and Salt: a world history, is one of the main names that cited when people talk about the growth of microhistories over the past decade or so. Kurlansky's latest is Birdseye: the adventures of a curious man (M) (May 8th), a biographical account of the creator of mass market frozen food.

The publisher describes The Tale Of Two Nazanins (M) by Nazanin Afshin-jam and Susan McClelland (May 22nd) more succinctly than I can: "The remarkable story of two women named Nazanin—one a Canadian at the height of her career, the other a teenager on death row in Iran—and how one email changed their lives forever." The teenager is Nazanin Fatehi, who was facing death in Iran for stabbing a man who had tried to rape her. The book is the story of how the Canadian Nazanin Afshin-jam worked to bring justice to a woman who shared her name but lived a world away. The library is pleased to be hosting Nazanin Afshin-jam for a reading from her book at the Keshen Goodman Library on Monday June 4th at 6 pm.

Last year the Steven Soderbergh film Contagion thrilled and terrified audiences with its graphic and chilling look at a deadly virus unleashed in America. For those who want a more true to life account of the fight against contagious disease No Time To Lose: a life in pursuit of deadly viruses (M) by Peter Piot (May 1st) may be a place to start. Piot is a doctor and the director of London School of Tropical Medicine and this is "the story of a microbiologist's remarkable career, from identifying the Ebola virus to pioneering AIDS research and policy." (publisher)

How To Cook Like A Man: a memoir of cookbook obsession (M) by Daniel Duane (May 1st). I cringe slightly over any book title that offers to tell me how to do something "like a man"—or "like a woman" for that matter—but the premise of this book interests me enough to forgive its title. When the author (whose previous books include Caught Inside: A Surfer's Year on the California Coast—a topic which reveals a fair bit about the author's pre-culinary persona) becomes a dad, he decides to learn to cook. He turns to a name he knows: Alice Waters, who happened to be his preschool teacher in a life before she was one of America's best known chefs. From her Chez Panisse cookbook, Duane dives into world he never knew, and gives us a book that will surely be of interest to aspiring cooks everywhere.

I'm not much of a sports fan, so I have to guess that it can only be my continued obsession with last year's great baseball novel The Art of Fielding that makes me interested in this next title. A Pirate for Life (M) by Steve Blass and Erik Sherman (May 1st) is the memoir of Steve Blass, former Pirates pitcher whose successful career ended seemingly over night when he lost the ability to throw a pitch.

And finally, a book that combines self-help with a good dose of irreverence, This Is How: proven aid in overcoming shyness, molestation, fatness, spinsterhood, grief, disease, lushery, decrepitude and more, for young and old alike (M) (phew! that's quite a title) by Augusten Burroughs. (May 8th) Burroughs' memoirs Running with Scissors and Dry are bestsellers: this one is more advice oriented but will have something for fans of his past writing as well as those looking for some direction (but who don't mind a bit of tough love). The publisher calls it "a groundbreaking book that explores how to survive the "un-survivable" and will challenge your notion of self-help books".

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