International model Cea Sunrise Person may have an unconventional career, but she had a very unconventional childhood.
In her memoir North of Normal, Person deftly details the "miserable excesses and occasional beauty" of her off the grid upbringing in the Canadian wilderness. Until the age of 13, Person lived with her free-spirited mother, grandparents and two aunts in a tipi. That's right: No running water, no plumbing and no electricity. They formed a totally self-sufficient community, foregoing modern amenities and living off the land.
Their tiny hippie utopia—where little clothing is worn, lots of pot is smoked and sex is rarely private—is soon interrupted by Person's mother, whose string of whirlwind relationships threaten any possible stability.
Watch the trailer, narrated by Person herself, below:
What do you think, readers? Will you pick up a copy of North of Normal?
Our June Nonfiction Top Pick is Joanna Rakoff's new memoir, My Salinger Year. In this absorbing account, Rakoff (A Fortunate Age) describes her time as an assistant for one of the most storied literary agencies in New York City—one that represented such literary legends as F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner and Judy Blume, along with the agency's star client, J.D. Salinger.
At just 23, Rakoff found herself thrown into an office perpetually frozen in time where the agents still smoked at their desks, and the typewriter and Dictaphone reigned supreme. Aside from her more predictable administrative tasks, Rakoff learned that one of her duties would be answering fan mail for the reclusive Salinger. She soon found a rebellious courage to ditch the form-letter response, and secretly composed her own thoughtful replies to the passionate letters.
Although Salinger will certainly draw most readers in at first, Rakoff offers "a deeply moving but unsentimental coming-into-your-own story" that resonates long after the final page is turned.
Of course, Rakoff explains it better herself: Watch her video from Knopf below.
What do you think, readers? Interested? My Salinger Year hits shelves today! You can also read our lengthy Q&A with Joanna Rakoff for even more details.
In 1961, Michael Rockefeller, the 23-year-old son of then New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, disappeared along the coast of southwest New Guinea.
The recent Harvard grad was on a trip collecting art from Asmat tribes—mostly elaborate woodcarvings—when his catamaran capsized. After he and a companion waited overnight for rescue, Rockefeller tied two empty gasoline cans around his waist, and headed for shore, never to be seen again.
The official records state that he was drowned at sea, but author Carl Hoffman has been possessed by the mystery for years, and in his new book Savage Harvest, he aims to settle the question of Rockefeller's fate. Through visiting the same village, interviewing Asmat kinsmen, studying the tense political climate of the time and combing through archives of official documents along with Rockefeller's personal correspondence, Hoffman comes to the grim conclusion that he was cannibalized. Whether Hoffman's evidence is substantial enough is for the reader to decide, but it is a tense and riveting read nonetheless.
Watch Hoffman narrate the documentary-style trailer below:
What do you think, readers? Are you interested in new insight into this historical mystery?
Giant anacondas, jaguars, swaths of ancient, imposing trees and wild rivers color the Amazonian landscape that author Paul Rosolie explores in his new book, Mother of God.
Part travelogue, part plea for conservation, Rosolie's story is pulsing with a love of adventure and discovery along with a contagious love of place.
Rosalie continually asserts that the encroachment of civilization and industry into the jungle are regrettable: “What is it about our species," Rosalie wonders, "that allows us to watch sitcoms and argue over sports while cultures and creatures and those things meek and green and good are chopped, shot, and burned from the world for a buck?”
There certainly isn't an easy answer, but Rosolie's book makes a strong case for protecting the wild places we have left.
Watch the trailer below to get a glimpse at the incredible landscape of the western Amazon:
What do you think, readers? Are you interested in reading Mother of God?
Looking to gift a great photography book this holiday season? Lonely Planet's Beautiful World, with over 200 large-format images, captures jaw-dropping sights and destinations from all corners of the globe. Spark your spirit of adventure with photos from the lush prairie of Nebraska to the remote Galápagos; this book will have you planning your next getaway in no time. The Lonely Planet editors are no strangers to the wonders of the world, but as they said, "we don’t see them every day and sometimes we need to be reminded that they are there.” Watch the gorgeous trailer below and prepare to be swept away with wanderlust.
Since his death in 2005, Richard Pryor has been named as the No. 1 comedian of all time by Comedy Central and continues to influence the American comedy scene to this day. In Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him, authors David and Joe Henry draw from a wide range of sources and personal experiences, including conversations with Pryor himself, in their exploration of the man behind the comedy legend.
While the Henry brothers' admiration for Pryor certainly shines through, Furious Cool does not shy away from the darker details of Pryor's rise to fame—his turbulent upbringing, emotional conflicts and drug abuse are all essential details in this story, making this a very honest and engrossing read.
Watch the great documentary-style trailer from Algonquin below:
Are you interested in reading Furious Cool? Any other biographies on your list?
Forty years after the murder of Sharon Tate, it would seem that everything about Charles Manson has already been reported. Jeff Guinn proves this all wrong in his new book, Manson, which uncovers never-before-heard stories and follows Manson's entire life, from childhood to adulthood.
With exclusive interviews and photographs, Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Mason goes beyond previous biographies to provide a well-written and complete study of a man who has perplexed many for decades.
Read our review here and watch the trailer below from Simon & Schuster to learn more about the research and writing of Manson.
What do you think, readers? Will you be reading Manson?
Author Daniel James Brown was lucky enough to meet Joe Rantz before his death for several interviews that led to The Boys in the Boat. This dramatic true story features Joe Rantz, an Olympic Gold Medalist in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and his team of eight additional rowers—nine unlikely boys who find strength and home together.
As our reviewer notes, these nine University of Washington boys were not the usual Olympians from polished families, and their struggles were for more than just gold. Be sure to read the full review for The Boys in the Boat and watch this book trailer complete with footage from the 1936 Berlin games.
Will you read The Boys in the Boat? What was your last nonfiction read?
In 1942, a U.S. cargo plane crashed into a Greenland ice cap. Days later, a rescue plane crashed in the same area as well. All nine men aboard survived. Then another rescue plane sent to find the survivors vanished.
Throughout the book, Zuckoff shines the spotlight on the often overlooked Coast Guard and shows us that some of the most dangerous missions and heroic efforts don't take place on the battlefield.
Read our review here and watch the book trailer containing footage of the recovery mission:
Will you read Frozen in Time? What other nonfiction have you read lately?
From saliva to fecal transplants, Roach approaches her subject matter with the obsession of a scientist and as our reviewer suggests, the fascination of a teenager.
Roach... draws vivid if unorthodox comparisons (she likens a colonoscope to a bartender’s soda gun) and asks all the questions you’re too self-conscious to Google, plus others that have never occurred to you (can farts cure cancer?). Along the way she sneaks in sly critiques of bureaucracy, bigotry, animal cruelty and other less-than-noble human behavior. You may be grossed out, but you’ll also be impressed.
What are you reading today?