Friday, March 1, 2013

5 Nonfiction Titles to Watch for in March

Wonder what's new in Nonfiction this month? Here's a few choice titles to check out!

Contagious: why things catch on (M)
by Jonah Berger (March 5).

All winter long we've been thinking about the contagions we want to avoid, but with cold and flu season hopefully behind us, it's time to think about the positive ways things can be contagious. Hyper fast trends and things "going viral" seem to be the norm these days -- but how does it happen? This is actually a business book -- i.e. how to make your idea catch on -- but I think it will make interesting general reading too.

"Contagious combines groundbreaking research with powerful stories. Learn how a luxury steakhouse found popularity through the lowly cheese-steak, why anti-drug commercials might have actually increased drug use, and why more than 200 million consumers shared a video about one of the seemingly most boring products there is: a blender. If you’ve wondered why certain stories get shared, e-mails get forwarded, or videos go viral, Contagious explains why, and shows how to leverage these concepts to craft contagious content."

The Stop: how the fight for good food transformed a community and inspired a movement (M)
by Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis (March 19).

Food issues books are in the spotlight these days, although in general these books are looking at food safety and/or nutrition. Saul and Curtis tell the story of food and community and offer a whole lot of inspiration along the way.

"It began as a food bank. It turned into a movement. In 1998, when Nick Saul became executive director of The Stop, the little urban food bank was like thousands of other cramped, dreary, makeshift spaces, a last-hope refuge where desperate people could stave off hunger for one more day with a hamper full of canned salt, sugar and fat. The produce was wilted and the packaged foods were food-industry castoffs—mislabelled products and misguided experiments that no one wanted to buy. For users of the food bank, knowing that this was their best bet for a meal was a humiliating experience. Since that time, The Stop has undergone a radical reinvention. Participation has overcome embarrassment, and the isolation of poverty has been replaced with a vibrant community that uses food to build hope and skills, and to reach out to those who need a meal, a hand and a voice. It is now a thriving, internationally respected Community Food Centre with gardens, kitchens, a greenhouse, farmers’ markets and a mission to revolutionize our food system. Celebrities and benefactors have embraced the vision because they have never seen anything like The Stop."

Nocturne: on the life and death of my brother (M)
by Helen Humphreys (March 19).

Award-winning and critically acclaimed novelist Helen Humpheys' name will be familiar to many Canadian Literature fans. In her newest book, the novelist turns her considerable skill to memoir and tells a powerful and personal of family and loss that will touch many readers.

"Helen Humphreys’ younger brother was gone before she could come to terms with the fact that he had terminal cancer. Diagnosed with stage 4B pancreatic cancer at the age of forty-five, he died four months later, leaving behind a grieving family. Martin was an extraordinary pianist who debuted at the Royal Festival Hall in London at the age of twenty, later becoming a piano teacher and senior examiner at the Royal Conservatory of Music. The two siblings, though often living far apart, were bonded on many levels. Now Humphreys has written a deeply felt, haunting memoir both about and for her brother. Speaking directly to him, she lays bare their secrets, their disagreements, their early childhood together, their intense though unspoken love for each other. A memoir of grief, an honest self-examination in the face of profound pain, this poetic, candid and intimate book is an offering not only to the memory of Martin but to all those who are living through the death of family and friends."

The Ballad of Jacob Peck (M)
by Debra Komar (March 26).

Torn from the pages of history, a forensic investigation of a rural New Brunswick murder that asks controversial questions about responsibility religion and justice.

"On a frigid February evening in 1805, Amos Babcock brutally murdered Mercy Hall. Believing that he was being instructed by God, Babcock stabbed and disemboweled his own sister, before dumping her lifeless body in a rural New Brunswick snowbank. The Ballad of Jacob Peck is the tragic and fascinating story of how isolation, duplicity, and religious mania turned impover­ished, hard-working people violent, leading to a murder and an execution. Babcock was hanged for the murder of his sister, but in her meticulously researched book, Debra Komar shows that itinerant preacher Jacob Peck should have swung right beside him. The mystery lies not in the whodunit, but rather in a lingering question: should Jacob Peck, whose incendiary sermons directly contributed to the killing, have been charged with the murder of Mercy Hall?" Publisher Goose Lane Editions has a book trailer on their website.

Hidden Cities: travels to the secret corners of the world's great metropolises; a memoir of urban exploration (M)
by Moses Gates (March 26).

The title says much about this book that will appeal to travellers who wish they could get off the tour bus and explore the intricate depths of the places they visit.

"In this finely-written book, Gates describes his immersion in the worldwide subculture of urban exploration; how he joined a world of people who create secret art galleries in subway tunnels, break into national monuments for fun, and travel the globe sleeping in centuries-old catacombs and abandoned Soviet relics rather than hotels or bed-and-breakfasts. They push each other further and further—visiting the hidden side of a dozen countries, discovering ancient underground Roman ruins, scaling the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg bridges, partying in tunnels, sneaking into Stonehenge, and even finding themselves under arrest on top of Notre Dame Cathedral."

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