Seattle Picks: Book Group Best Bets--Nonfiction
Annotation:In her signature warm and perceptive style, the author of In the Time of the Butterflies recounts her eye-opening experiences while visiting Haiti to attend a coffee farm employee’s wedding.
Annotation:More than a portrait of T. E. Lawrence, this rigorous group biography examines the lives of four men whose work and personalities shaped post–World War I and modern Middle East politics.
Annotation:Journalist and foster parent Beam paints compassionate portraits of those touched by foster care—biological and foster parents, case workers and the kids themselves—while providing a sobering and nuanced analysis of a broken system.
Annotation:Pulitzer Prize-winning Boo’s first book captures the abject poverty still rampant in Mumbai through the lives of four individuals living in slums near the airport.
Annotation:According to Cain, introverts comprise more than one-third of the population, yet they are often misunderstood. This thought-provoking book synthesizes scientific research and personal profiles to shed light on the talents and challenges of introverts.
Annotation:Beginning in 1861, Cixi ruled China as regent for four decades. Chang’s entertaining biography reexamines this long-maligned ruler and her contributions to the creation of modern China.
Annotation:Celebrated Seattle portrait photographer Edward Curtis embarked on an ambitious project in 1896: to document the traditional cultures of all remaining Native American tribes. Egan’s moving biography lucidly illuminates the personal costs of his quest.
Annotation:This chronicle of a dye manufacturing facility in Toms River, New Jersey, is an environmental thriller that is equal parts history, local politics, epidemiology and grassroots public health campaign.
Annotation:In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina severed all power and running water to New Orleans’ Memorial Hospital, with many patients and staff still inside. Fink’s engaging and atmospheric account describes subsequent events, ethical dilemmas and repercussions.
Annotation:Halloran, a primatologist at the Maderas Rainforest Conservancy in Nicaragua, conducted an in-depth study of how chimpanzees communicate. His captivating account reveals not only their language but also each chimp’s unique personality.
Annotation:A 6’7” weight-lifting Mormon with Tourette Syndrome, Hanagarne is not your typical librarian. With humor and honesty, he details his struggles to overcome his condition in this unusual and inspiring memoir.
Annotation:In 1942, the town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee sprang up overnight, a secret city of 75,000 with one secret goal: enrich uranium. Kiernan creates a compelling narrative of the largely female workforce and their role in developing atomic fusion.
Annotation:Scientists believe there have been five mass extinctions in Earth’s history and that we are likely heading toward a sixth. Journalist Kolbert’s investigation of this human-caused calamity is accessible, scientifically accurate and thought-provoking.
Annotation:Laskin’s epic and richly detailed narrative traces the major arcs of 20th-century Jewish experience—immigration to America, the Holocaust and the founding of Israel—through three branches of his own family tree.
Annotation:As Schwalbe accompanied his mother to chemotherapy sessions and doctor visits, they read and discussed books, characters and themes that connected to their lives. For lovers of books, memoirs and stories about families.
Annotation:This definitive biography traces Ride’s life and career, and also provides a history of the American space program and notes the challenges facing aspiring female astronauts and LGBT scientists today.
Annotation:With the same melancholy, self-deprecating humor that characterizes his fiction, Russian-American novelist Shteyngart chronicles his experiences adapting to American culture, from his misfit youth in New York City to his gradual emergence as an author.
Annotation:Think social media is a 21st-century phenomenon? Think again. The Economist’s digital editor draws insightful connections between various forms of human communication across the centuries to make a compelling case that “history retweets itself.”
Annotation:At a time of emotional crisis, the author (who had never carried a backpack) challenges herself to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. She chronicles lessons learned on the grueling, beautiful journey.
Annotation:Novelist Treuer brings a lyrical style to his overview of life on Native American reservations, combining personal memoir (he grew up on Leech Lake Reservation) and broader history into a gritty, moving narrative.