5 New Nonfiction Books I’m ReadingLiteratur & Poesi
Like Crazy: Life With My Mother by Dan Matthews A touching story about the relationship between an aging, unstable mother and her son, and how family, even in the most trying of circumstances, can bring us together to give us the biggest and best moments we will have in our memories. Dan’s mother has always been “unhinged,” but when he brings her to Virginia to live with him, and discovers that she has lived her entire adult life as an undiagnosed schizophrenic, he realizes how precarious her life has always been. Darkly humorous, this is a rare gem about the rewards and costs of taking in a frail parent without your own life crumbling.
The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir by Michelle Harper A profoundly humane and beautifully written memoir by a doctor who looks to reckon with her own pain and suffering while tending to the pain that surrounds her, Harper is an African-American ER doctor out of Washington, D.C. whose husband leaves her just as she begins her first job after graduating from Harvard. She writes about her patients, each of whom teach her something important about recovery, fear, and letting go; how to tell the truth when it’s easier to overlook it; and how to understand that compassion isn’t the same as justice. In this powerful, page-turning book, the author take us inside the systemic disenfranchisement of patients’ healthcare as they struggle to maintain their health and dignity. Eloquent, honest, and compassionate, Harper takes us into to the deepest places of our souls, chronicling the ever-evolving journey of the human spirit and how we get there.
The Siren of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World by Sarah Johnson Stewart If you enjoy science writing and books like The Martian by Andy Weir and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rebecca Skloot, perhaps you will enjoy this as well. Mars was once Earth’s twin, over 3.5 billion years ago, but today it is covered in red dust, and scientists seem to be at a loss for an explanation. Yet multiple spacecraft circle Mars, sweeping the dunes of Elysium and Mare Sirenum, hoping to be at the brink of a staggering discovery for humankind. In this beautifully lyrical and deeply personal account, scientist Sarah Stewart Johnson tells how she and other researchers have scoured Mars for signs of life. Her fascination of the planet began in Kentucky, turning over rocks, and looking at planets in the night sky with her father. She has conducted fieldwork in some of the most hostile environments in the world, including Antarctica and Western Australia, of interlaces her story with that of other seekers, including one scientist who was convinced that a utopian society existed on Mars. In the end, she shows how Mars story is Earth’s story—and perhaps one day all roads lead back to Mars.
Case of the Vanishing Blonde: and Other True Crime Stories by Mark Bowden From the writer of Black Hawk Down, comes a collection of investigative true crime spanning the course of Bowden’s career at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Six stories, covering complicated and extraordinary circumstances, including a campus rape on the University of Pennsylvania in 1983; three cold cases on Long Island involving private detective Ken Brennan; and a murder investigation that uncovers a murderer within the ranks of the LAPD, shielded by fellow officers for 26 years. Bowden is a masterful narrative investigative journalist, and for anyone who adores true crime, this is your book. There is also a cascade of other true crime books that have just been unveiled within the last month: Hell in the Heartland by Jax Miller; Murder in the Garment District by David Witnwer & Catherine Rios; The Golden Thread by Ravi Somaiya; I Got a Murderer by Brandon Soderberg & Baynard Woods; Deep Delta Justice Matthew Van Meter; The Perfect Father by John Glatt; and Uspeakable Acts by Sarah Weinman. All books are available on my bookshop page at Bookshop.org.
The Book of Rosy: a Mother’s Story of Separation at the Border by Rosayra Pablo Cruz A compelling look at what life is truly like inside the detention camps at the Mexican-Arizona border, Pablo Cruz left Guamatela to escape the inescapable: spiraling crime, gangs, and chaos swirling ever closer to her family every day. When she finally made the choice to come to the U.S., she never could have imagined that she would be forcibly separated from her children and would be placed in a detention center with hundreds of others under Trump’s new “zero tolerance” policy. Her fight had only begun, and it would be more than eight months before she saw her children again. This book details the inhumane practices of the facilities where immigrants were held, how they have affected countless children and adults over the last three years, and the bottomless Orwellian bureaucracy that is meant to serve no one but itself. Pablo Cruz was able to write this because of the grassroots organization Immigration Families, and the friendship of their founder, Julie Schwietert Collazo, who helped her navigate through endless political and bureaucratic red tape. Book like these are meant to be shared—you tell everyone you know to read them because they are so important and so timely. Mine is in the mail.