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Book Gems: Nonfiction

On September 29, the librarians of CPL presented the hidden 'gems' in the stacks; books you might never have heard of but that you won't want to miss. In the video below, Lisa tells us about several good nonfiction titles:

Did you miss the program the first time around? Did we miss some hidden gems? Tell us if you'd like us to do this program again in the comments. Also, enjoy the full list of nonfiction books below:

Devil in the details: scenes from an obsessive girlhood by Jennifer Traig — As a teenager in California during the eighties, Traig's obsessive compulsive disorder made her disinfect everything around her. She looks back with an unflinching eye — sharing even the most painful details — but she does it with humor and compassion. If you like memoirs/essays of David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs, or Rhoda Janzen’s Mennonite in a little black dress this is for you.


Truck: a love story
by Michael Perry — In this delightful memoir Michael Perry describes a year of his life in rural Wisconsin with the understated writing style typical of a northerner. The truck in the title is a decrepit 1951 L-120 International pickup and its history and repairs are woven in to Perry’s life as he muses on a variety of topics including: growing vegetables, writing, and falling in love. For readers of Garrison Keillor’s books or Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.


The ghost map: the story of London's most terrifying epidemic — and how it changed science, cities, and the modern world
by Steven Johnson — London of 1854 was one of the first modern cities, with a population of more than 2 million people when the cholera epidemic hit. At this time people mostly believed cholera was transmitted through poisoned air. Two very different men, Dr. John Snow and the Reverend Harry Whitehead, strove to prove that the disease was transmitted by contaminated water.


1861: the Civil War awakening
by Adam Goodheart — Goodheart examines the upheaval, division, and bitterly fought wars of words leading up the the U.S. Civil War. The invective he finds in the newspapers of the time rings out harsh and uncompromising — and painful to hear — even after all these years. This fascinating glimpse into a period of history often overlooked as historians leap forward to the Civil War itself. A must for those who enjoy the work of David McCullough or Doris Kearns Goodwin.


Lives like loaded guns: Emily Dickinson and her family's feuds
by Lyndall Gordon — Gordon suggests that Emily kept inside her home because she suffered from epilepsy. But she was not the shy Belle of Amherst. Dickinson was a person to be reckoned with, wielding a sharp tongue and keen brain. The second half of the book takes place after Emily’s death as her sister Lavinia and Mabel Todd, Emily's brother Austin's lover, fight to be the executor and interpreter of Emily’s writing.


Reading the OED: one man, one year, 21,730 pages
by Ammon Shea — The author spends a year reading the 1989 edition of the OED, or Oxford English Dictionary. Shea offers a gently humorous account of the tribulations and triumphs he encounters as he completes the massive endeavor of reading a twenty-volume work weighing 137.72 lbs and defining 231,100 main entry words — along with some of the best words he found as he read.

If you like this you might also like: Simon Winchester’s books The professor and the madman: a tale of murder, insanity, and the making of the Oxford English dictionary and The meaning of everything: the story of the Oxford English dictionary. Or you could try The know-it-all: one man's humble quest to become the smartest person in the world by A.J. Jacobs in which the author reads the entire Encyclopedia Britannica.