Biographies & Memoirs
An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic
Daniel Mendelsohn. Knopf.
Homeric heroes have resonant psychological parallels to a modern family in this beguiling memoir. Mendelsohn (The Lost: A Search for Six of the Six Million) recounts a freshman class on the Odyssey that he taught at Bard College with his father, Jay, an 81-year-old computer scientist, sitting in; the two followed up with an Odyssey-themed Mediterranean cruise.
Chasing Space: An Astronaut’s Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances
Leland Melvin. Amistad.
Melvin, a retired astronaut, football player, engineer, and educator, shares anecdotes of the many challenges he has faced as well as his multitude of accomplishments and the role models who inspired him.
The Comfort Food Diaries: My Quest for the Perfect Dish to Mend a Broken Heart
Emily Nunn. Atria.
In this simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking memoir, Nunn, a former New Yorker arts editor, demonstrates for readers how closely food can be intertwined with healing.
Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste
Bianca Bosker. Penguin.
In this fascinating, page-turning memoir, Bosker, former executive tech editor of the Huffington Post, includes a mix of science and food writing.
Gold Dust Woman: A Biography of Stevie Nicks
Stephen Davis. St. Martin’s.
Davis offers a captivating portrait of Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks in a candid, energetic book about the life of one of rock’s greatest singer-songwriters.
Gorbachev: His Life and Times
William Taubman. Norton.
Taubman (Khrushchev), emeritus professor of political science at Amherst College, retraces Mikhail Gorbachev’s strenuous climb up the Communist Party ladder to focus on his turmoil-ridden years as the last general secretary from 1985 to 1991.
My Soul Looks Back: A Memoir
Jessica B. Harris. Scribner.
Harris begins her lively and informative memoir with her young adult life in New York City during the early 1970s and recalls the remarkable individuals who surrounded her, including notable black writers James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, and Toni Morrison.
Poetry Will Save Your Life: A Memoir
Jill Bialosky. Atria.
Bialosky (History of a Suicide) weaves together 51 poems by several writers into her latest memoir, which beautifully conveys the “mystery and wonder” of poetry.
Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life
Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush. Grand Central.
The two former first daughters take readers on a personal, heartfelt tour of their lives, from the Texas countryside to the White House and beyond.
Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir
Amy Tan. Ecco.
In this wise and profound memoir, acclaimed novelist Tan looks back on her life, illuminating the path that led her to writing. The memoir reveals that, for her, the past serves as a wellspring of emotion and writing inspiration.
Business & Personal Finance
21 Secrets of Million-Dollar Sellers: America’s Top Earners Reveal the Keys to Sales Success
Stephen J. Harvill. Touchstone.
Consultant Harvill details 21 sales strategies, based on his observation that top performers don’t fall into a single personality mold but do share certain behaviors.
The End of Advertising: Why It Had to Die, and the Creative Resurrection to Come
Andrew Essex. Random/Spiegel & Grau.
Advertising veteran Essex surveys the current state of his industry, including threats like ad-free TV and internet ad blockers, and praises recent campaigns for brands such as American Girl and Lego.
Faster, Higher, Farther: The Volkswagen Scandal
Jack Ewing. Norton.
New York Times reporter Ewing has written a fascinating account of Volkswagen’s emissions fraud. By now, this 2015 scandal may have somewhat faded from Americans’ minds, but Ewing’s riveting narrative reveals it to be a still-relevant cautionary tale.
A First-Class Catastrophe
Diana B. Henriques. Holt.
The author behind the Bernie Madoff account The Wizard of Lies turns the clock back to Oct. 19, 1987, a date better known as Black Monday, when the Dow plummeted 508 points.
The Golden Passport: Harvard Business School, the Limits of Capitalism, and the Moral Failure of the MBA Elite
Duff McDonald. Harper Business.
Exploring how Harvard Business School became a ticket to the highest echelons of money, power, and influence, McDonald chronicles the school’s history in an irreverent and frequently amusing exposé.
Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing and the Making of a Hollywood Groundbreaker
Galloway, the Hollywood Reporter’s executive features editor, provides a fascinating look at Sherry Lansing, who broke—or at least cracked—Hollywood’s glass ceiling as the first female president of a major movie studio.
Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters
Louis Uchitelle. New Press.
Manufacturing in the United States “is not dying,” Uchitelle states in this informative paean to American industry in an era of globalization.
The Schmuck in My Office: How to Deal Effectively with Difficult People at Work
Jody J. Foster and Michele Joy. St. Martin’s.
Psychiatrists Foster and Joy explore a topic to which just about everyone in the workplace can relate.
The Wisdom of Finance: Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return
Mihir A. Desai. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Pulling in references to Jane Austen, Dashiell Hammett, and John Milton, among others, law and finance professor Desai finds the humanity lying at the center of finance.
You Don’t Own Me: How Mattel v. MGA Entertainment Exposed Barbie’s Dark Side
Orly Lobel. Norton.
Turning the fine points of patent, property, and copyright law into the stuff of a courtroom thriller, Lobel chronicles the 10-year legal battle between two doll-manufacturing giants.
101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die
Jet Tila. Page Street.
Chef and media personality Tila presents an inspiring collection of classic Asian dishes and novel riffs on them. Readers of all skill levels and heat tolerances will appreciate Tila’s instructions, which emphasize flavor without hours of prep or multiple trips to specialty stores.
America: The Cookbook
Gabrielle Langholtz. Phaidon.
After years of publishing massive tomes devoted to the home cuisine of such countries as Italy, France, and Spain, Phaidon sets its sights on America, sending author Gabrielle Langholtz (The New Greenmarket Cookbook) on a quest to document all the nooks and crannies of American cuisine. Here she has collected 800 recipes, along with essays and menus from 100 food notables.
Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook
Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu. Clarkson Potter.
Diamond and Wu, cofounders of Cherry Bombe, the slick biannual indie magazine about women and food, have crafted a book for the intersection of the pussyhat brigade and the foodie crowd: a beautifully photographed compendium of modern recipes from women in the food world.
Dinner: Changing the Game
Melissa Clark, photos by Eric Wolfinger. Clarkson Potter.
In this excellent volume, New York Times food writer and columnist Clark presents sharp, easy-to-follow instructions and helpful spreads on subjects such as cooking grains and using canned and dried beans.
The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School: Recipes and Inspiration to Build a Lifetime of Confidence in the Kitchen
Alison Cayne. Artisan.
Cayne, the founder of the Haven’s Kitchen cooking school in New York City, speaks to beginners in this useful cookbook. Simple, clear graphic design as well as Cayne’s straightforward, friendly directions will give home cooks confidence.
Kachka: A Return to Russian Cooking
Bonnie Frumkin Morales. Flatiron.
This fantastic cookbook from the chef at Kachka in Portland, Ore., is by turns funny, moving, informative, and appetite-whetting, and the Soviet-inspired book design is clever and eye-catching.
King Solomon’s Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World
Joan Nathan. Knopf.
Nathan, a James Beard Award–winning author and authority on Jewish food, explores the origins and evolution of Jewish cuisine around the world. She begins this comprehensive yet condensed history with King Solomon, who ruled a kingdom rich with diverse foods and cultures.
Meehan’s Bartender Manual
Jim Meehan. Ten Speed.
In 2007, Meehan opened one of Manhattan’s least-secret speakeasies, the acclaimed PDT, and here he divulges the recipes for 100 classic and fanciful cocktails and offers advice for bartender hopefuls.
Modernist Bread: The Art and Science
Nathan Myhrvold and Francisco Migoya. The Cooking Lab.
Four years in the making, this five-volume set breaks down the concepts and science of bread making and offers 1,500 stunningly photographed recipes.
Osteria: 1,000 Generous and Simple Recipes from Italy’s Best Local Restaurants
Slow Food. Rizzoli.
The folks of the international organization Slow Food have traveled the Italian countryside to collect 1,000 recipes from chefs who share stories, customs, and hints about finding local ingredients.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking
Samin Nosrat, illus. by Wendy MacNaughton. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4767-5383-6
In this exceptional debut cookbook, Nosrat, who learned to cook at Chez Panisse, leads readers through the cooking process and is sure to inspire confidence in home cooks.
Crafts & Hobbies
Crafting for Cat Ladies: 35 Purrfect Feline Projects
Kat Roberts. Lark.
Craft enthusiast Roberts disrupts the notion of a “cat lady” here with a variety of quirky handmade projects for cat lovers (not cats!) to wear, use, or admire.
Grow Your Own: Understanding, Cultivating, and Enjoying Cannabis
Nichole Graf, Micah Sherman, David Stein, and Liz Crain. Tin House.
Fun, informative, and stylishly designed, this guidebook positions marijuana cultivation as a legitimate, high (no pun intended) end, enjoyable hobby in the style of brewing beer or growing orchids.
Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible: 260 Exquisite Designs
Hitomi Shida, trans. from the Japanese by Gayle Roehm. Tuttle.
Aimed at veteran knitters, this much anticipated book introduces readers to Japanese knitting, known for its elegant, lacy textures and intricate stitches. The book includes patterns for fingerless mittens, socks, scarves, hats, and more.
The Little Book of Cacti and Other Succulents
Emma Sibley, photos by Adam Laycock. Quadrille.
This guide to low-maintenance houseplants offers helpful tips for pruning, watering, propagating, and potting a variety of these popular plants. The minimalist layout features photos of the plants against simple, brightly colored backdrops that accentuate the unique characteristics of each type of plant.
Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century
Riane Menardi, Alissa Haight Carlton, and Heather Grant. Stash.
This gorgeous coffee table book illustrates the ways quilters today are breaking traditions through color photographs of more than 230 quilts designed by members of the Modern Quilt Guild, and provides a brief history of the modern quilting movement.
Mittens from Around Norway: Over 40 Traditional Knitting Patterns Inspired by Folk-Art Collections
Nina Granlund Sæther. Trafalgar Square.
For the expert knitter on your gift list, this book includes 40 designs inspired by Norway’s traditional knitwear alongside colorful photographs and tales of prized mittens held in cultural institutions such as Norway’s Røros Museum.
Really Cross Stitch: For When You Just Want to Stab Something a Lot
Rayna Fahey. Herbert.
Fahey, a self-described radical crafter, picks up where the pink knit “pussyhat” trend left off with 40-plus cross stitch designs inspired by signs from the Women’s March. Patterns include sayings such as “Grab ‘em by the patriarchy” and “Girls just wanna have FUNdamental rights.”
The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes That Inspired the
Little House Books
Marta McDowell. Timber.
For gardeners, botanists, and fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder, this book looks at the beloved Little House on the Prairie author’s relationship with nature and includes instructions for growing a Little House–inspired garden.
The Best Land Under Heaven: The Donner Party in the Age of Manifest Destiny
Michael Wallis. Liveright.
The Donner Party’s legendary failure has long haunted America’s popular imagination, but few people know the full story. Wallis delivers the fascinating details and situates the family’s travails in the wider context of expanding white settlement.
Darwin’s First Theory: Exploring Darwin’s Quest for a Theory of Earth
Rob Wesson. Pegasus.
Charles Darwin is largely remembered for developing a theory of evolution by natural selection, but Wesson points out that Darwin initially worked as a geologist. Anyone interested in Darwin’s life, his work, and the earth sciences generally will want to pick this one up.
The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia
Masha Gessen. Riverhead.
Gessen is one of the best writers covering Russia today, and she knows the country inside and out. Here she profiles four individuals in order to illuminate the collapse of Russian society in the post-Soviet period and the oligarchy-fueled lurch toward revanchism.
The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea
Jack E. Davis. Liveright.
America’s third coast rarely receives the attention it deserves until disaster strikes, but Davis underscores the Gulf region’s role as a crucial cultural, ecological, and economic nexus. He also argues that good stewardship and far-sighted planning will be necessary in our era of climate change.
The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution
Yuri Slezkine. Princeton Univ.
If you’re looking for a thorough account of life in the early years of the Bolshevik revolution, you’ll be hard-pressed to do better than this. Slezkine peers into the activities and attitudes of the “Old Bolshevik” generation that sparked the revolution but couldn’t quite keep it going.
Huˆe´ 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam
Mark Bowden. Atlantic Monthly.
The Tet Offensive was a turning point in the Vietnam War, and Bowen chronicles the turmoil from the perspectives of participants on all sides. It’s a grim and disturbing tale of decimation that accurately portrays the realities of conflict.
The Oxford Illustrated History of Science
Edited by Iwan Rhys Morus. Oxford Univ.
Morus and company comprehensively demonstrate how deeply science is enmeshed in culture and society. The book’s essays first cover science history globally and then thematically address specific issues and debates in scientific practice.
Shortfall: Family Secrets, Financial Collapse, and a Hidden History of American Banking
Alice Echols. New Press.
Wall Street may a synecdoche for greed and corruption, but small towns are home to their share of skullduggery. Echols digs into her family history to detail a Depression-era building-and-loan scandal and expose the seedy side of Main Street.
The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II
Svetlana Alexievich, trans. from the
Russian by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. Random House.
Nobel-laureate Alexievich records the stories of the Red Army’s women soldiers and the inhumane conditions they faced. This is the volume that kick-started the career of one of the world’s foremost oral historians, and it reveals a different side of war.
The Vietnam War: An Intimate History
Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns. Knopf.
Ward and Burns return with a broad, comprehensive, illustrated overview of the French and American wars in Vietnam from 1945 to 1975. This volume features a historical narrative mixed with personal stories, and complements the 18-hour, 10-part PBS documentary.
The Canadaland Guide to Canada
Jesse Brown, Vicky Mochama, and Nick Zarzycki. Touchstone.
From the creators of the popular Canadaland podcast, this satirical guidebook schools readers on the dark side of Canadian history, politics, and culture with illustrations, diagrams, maps, quizzes, and timelines.
I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons
Kevin Hart, with Neil Strauss. 37 Ink.
Filled with honesty and his signature self-deprecating brand of humor, comedian Hart’s memoir brings readers into his hilarious universe of stories and philosophy. He recounts his life growing up in North Philadelphia through to his job as a sneaker salesman, where he first learned of his gift for making people laugh.
One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter
Scaachi Koul. Picador.
Simultaneously uproarious and affecting, the personal essays in Buzzfeed contributor Koul’s debut explore the nuances of life as a first-generation Canadian with Indian parents, from phobias, guilt trips, and grudges to the drama of interracial dating.
Patricia Lockwood. Riverhead.
Poet Lockwood ventures into nonfiction with this wickedly funny memoir about moving back in with her larger-than-life parents, particularly her gun-toting father, who is also a practicing Catholic priest.
Theft by Finding: Diaries, 1977–2002
David Sedaris. Little, Brown.
Humorist Sedaris displays the raw material for his celebrated essays with these scintillating excerpts from his personal journals. Here as elsewhere, Sedaris is a latter-day Charlie Chaplin: droll, put-upon but not innocent, and besieged by all sorts of menacing folks.
Ali: A Life
Jonathan Eig. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
In this exhaustive biography of boxer Muhammad Ali, Eig explores the Clay family heritage, the eventful career, and the long physical decline that silenced the Louisville Lip even as he became a much-loved international figure.
All Our Waves Are Water: Stumbling Toward Enlightenment and the Perfect
Jaimal Yogis. Harper Wave.
Yogis, a surfer, journalist, and spiritual seeker, captivates the reader in this account of searching for surf and enlightenment.
Arnie: The Life of Arnold Palmer
Tom Callahan. Harper.
Sportswriter Callahan breezily floats from story to story across the life of legendary golfer Arnold Palmer, describing Palmer’s enduring appeal from the moment he burst onto the television screens of the 1950s.
Casey Stengel: Baseball’s Greatest Character
Marty Appel. Doubleday.
Appel draws on access to the unpublished memoir of Casey Stengel’s widow, Edna, as well as new digitized versions of vintage small-town newspaper reports and old letters sent by the Baseball Hall of Famer to family members, to write a contemporary biography that reveals a more personal side of Stengel.
Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship on and off the Court
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Grand Central.
Abdul-Jabbar led coach John Wooden’s basketball teams at UCLA to three NCAA titles in the late 1960s, and here he discusses his own intellectual and spiritual growth, interweaving the lessons Wooden conveyed to him over the years.
Electric October: Seven World Series Games, Six Lives, Five Minutes of Fame That Lasted Forever
Kevin Cook. Holt.
The 1947 World Series between the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers was notable even if everyone involved was not, writes Cook, who profiles six people in this entertaining, well-researched history.
My Cubs: A Love Story
Scott Simon. Blue Rider.
NPR Weekend Edition host Simon delivers a short and heartfelt memoir about his lifelong love for the Chicago Cubs and his godfather Jack Brockhouse, a legendary Cubs broadcaster.
Return to Glory: The Story of Ford’s Revival and Victory in the Toughest Race in the World
Matthew DeBord. Atlantic.
DeBord, a senior correspondent for Business Insider, takes readers inside Ford before, during, and after the 2016 Le Mans race and emerges with an upbeat, feel-good business story.
Unstoppable: My Life So Far
Maria Sharapova. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
In this insightful memoir, 30-year-old tennis star Sharapova details her life from her earliest memories to the present day. It’s a rare glimpse into the disorienting push and pull of a famous athlete’s life.
Note: This list has been updated since it was originally published.