Hampton Sides' true-life Arctic thriller, In the Kingdom of Ice is our August Top Pick in nonfiction.
Sides, best-selling author of Blood and Thunder and Ghost Soldiers, displays his knack for narrative history yet again as he chronicles the journey of American officer George Washington De Long and his crew of 33 aboard the USS Jeannette. The crew set out from San Francisco in 1879, hoping to prove the popular theory that the polar sea was free of ice past the Bering Strait, but those hopes are soon dashed when the Jeannette becomes trapped in ice—where it stayed for the next 21 months.
Drawing on newly available letters, diaries, journals and other archives as well as his own first-hand experience in the Arctic terrain, Sides delivers an utterly spellbinding tale that's sure to keep you reading into the wee hours.
Watch the trailer from Doubleday below:
What do you think, readers? Are you interested in this heroic and harrowing tale?
As summer begins winding down, it's about time to kick off the new school year.
When Kim Bearden began her teaching career, she never expected so many of her school day's teaching moments to come from her own students.
Bearden delves into her 27 years of experience in the education field and tells the story of her founding of the Ron Clark Academy (an innovative middle school in Atlanta with a world-renowned reputation) in her uplifting new memoir, Crash Course: The Life Lessons My Students Taught Me.
Crash Course is filled with anecdotes about the importance of bringing creativity into the classroom, advice for tackling problems from a place of honesty and embracing and celebrating her students' cultural differences—all relayed in Bearden's down-to-earth voice.
While aimed at fellow teachers, Bearden's memoir is a beautiful read with insights for anyone working with youth or the public at large.
See Bearden and some of her real students discuss Crash Course in the trailer below:
What do you think, readers? Any teachers out there looking for a back to school read?
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?