Featured New Nonfiction for December
Anything that moves : renegade chefs, fearless eaters, and the making of a new American food culture / Dana Goodyear (394.12 G) -- New Yorker writer Dana Goodyear combines the style of Mary Roach with the on-the-ground food savvy of Anthony Bourdain in a rollicking narrative look at the shocking extremes of the contemporary American food world. A new American cuisine is forming. Animals never before considered or long since forgotten are emerging as delicacies. Parts that used to be for scrap are centerpieces. Ash and hay are fashionable ingredients, and you pay handsomely to breathe flavored air. Going out to a nice dinner now often precipitates a confrontation with a fundamental question: Is that food? Dana Goodyear's anticipated debut, Anything That Moves, is simultaneously a humorous adventure, a behind-the-scenes look at, and an attempt to understand the implications of the way we eat. This is a universe populated by insect-eaters and blood drinkers, avant-garde chefs who make food out of roadside leaves and wood, and others who serve endangered species and Schedule I drugs--a cast of characters, in other words, who flirt with danger, taboo, and disgust in pursuit of the sublime. Behind them is an intricate network of scavengers, dealers, and pitchmen responsible for introducing the rare and exotic into the marketplace. This is the fringe of the modern American meal, but to judge from history, it will not be long before it reaches the family table. Anything That Moves is a highly entertaining, revelatory look into the raucous, strange, fascinatingly complex world of contemporary American food culture, and the places where the extreme is bleeding into the mainstream.
A history of ancient Egypt : from the first farmers to the Great Pyramid / John Romer (932 R) -- The ancient world comes to life in the first volume in a two book series on the history of Egypt, spanning the first farmers to the construction of the pyramids. Famed archaeologist John Romer draws on a lifetime of research to tell one history's greatest stories; how, over more than a thousand years, a society of farmers created a rich, vivid world where one of the most astounding of all human-made landmarks, the Great Pyramid, was built. Immersing the reader in the Egypt of the past, Romer examines and challenges the long-held theories about what archaeological finds mean and what stories they tell about how the Egyptians lived. More than just an account of one of the most fascinating periods of history, this engrossing book asks readers to take a step back and question what they've learned about Egypt in the past. Fans of Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra and history buffs will be captivated by this re-telling of Egyptian history, written by one of the top Egyptologists in the world.
Tudor : passion, manipulation, murder : the story of England's most notorious royal family / Leanda De Lisle (941.05 D) -- The Tudor canon typically starts with the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, before speeding on to Henry VIII and the Reformation. But this leaves out the family’s obscure Welsh origins, the ordinary man known as Owen Tudor who would fall (literally) into a Queen’s lap—and later her bed. It passes by the courage of Margaret Beaufort, the pregnant thirteen-year-old girl who would help found the Tudor dynasty, and the childhood and painful exile of her son, the future Henry VII. It ignores the fact that the Tudors were shaped by their past—those parts they wished to remember and those they wished to forget. By creating a full family portrait set against the background of this past, de Lisle enables us to see the Tudor dynasty in its own terms, and presents new perspectives and revelations on key figures and events. De Lisle discovers a family dominated by remarkable women doing everything possible to secure its future; shows why the princes in the Tower had to vanish; and reexamines the bloodiness of Mary’s reign, Elizabeth’s fraught relationships with her cousins, and the true significance of previously overlooked figures. Throughout the Tudor story, Leanda de Lisle emphasizes the supreme importance of achieving peace and stability in a violent and uncertain world, and of protecting and securing the bloodline.
The graphic canon. Volume 1 : from the epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous liaisons / edited by Russ Kick (7415. G) -- A gorgeous, one-of-a-kind trilogy that brings classic literatures of the world together with legendary graphic artists and illustrators. There are more than 130 illustrators represented and 190 literary works over three volumes—many newly commissioned, some hard to find—reinterpreted here for readers and collectors of all ages. Volume 1 takes us on a visual tour from the earliest literature through the end of the 1700s. The Graphic Canon is an extraordinary collection that will continue with Volume 2: "Kubla Khan" to the Bronte Sisters to The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Volume 3: From Heart of Darkness to Hemingway to Infinite Jest.
Mastering the art of Soviet cooking : a memoir of love and longing / Anya von Bremzen (B VON BREMZEN) -- With startling beauty and sardonic wit, Anya von Bremzen tells an intimate yet epic story of life in that vanished empire known as the USSR—a place where every edible morsel was packed with emotional and political meaning. Born in 1963, in an era of bread shortages, Anya grew up in a communal Moscow apartment where eighteen families shared one kitchen. She sang odes to Lenin, black-marketeered Juicy Fruit gum at school, watched her father brew moonshine, and, like most Soviet citizens, longed for a taste of the mythical West. It was a life by turns absurd, drab, naively joyous, melancholy—and ultimately intolerable to her anti-Soviet mother, Larisa. When Anya was ten, she and Larisa fled the political repression of Brezhnev-era Russia, arriving in Philadelphia with no winter coats and no right of return. Now Anya occupies two parallel food universes: one where she writes about four-star restaurants, the other where a taste of humble kolbasa transports her back to her scarlet-blazed socialist past. To bring that past to life, in its full flavor, both bitter and sweet, Anya and Larisa, embark on a journey unlike any other: they decide to eat and cook their way through every decade of the Soviet experience—turning Larisa’s kitchen into a "time machine and an incubator of memories.” Together, mother and daughter re-create meals both modest and sumptuous, featuring a decadent fish pie from the pages of Chekhov, chanakhi (Stalin’s favorite Georgian stew), blini, and more. Through these meals, Anya tells the gripping story of three Soviet generations—masterfully capturing the strange mix of idealism, cynicism, longing, and terror that defined Soviet life.
Knitting yarns : writers on knitting / edited with an introduction by Ann Hood (746.432 K) -- Why does knitting occupy a place in the hearts of so many writers? What’s so magical and transformative about yarn and needles? How does knitting help us get through life-changing events and inspire joy? In Knitting Yarns, twenty-seven writers tell stories about how knitting healed, challenged, or helped them to grow. Barbara Kingsolver describes sheering a sheep for yarn. Elizabeth Berg writes about her frustration at failing to knit. Ann Patchett traces her life through her knitting, writing about the scarf that knits together the women she’s loved and lost. Knitting a Christmas gift for his blind aunt helped Andre Dubus III knit an understanding with his girlfriend. Kaylie Jones finds the woman who used knitting to help raise her in France and heals old wounds. Sue Grafton writes about her passion for knitting. Also included are five original knitting patterns created by Helen Bingham. Poignant, funny, and moving, Knitting Yarns is sure to delight knitting enthusiasts and lovers of literature alike.
Five billion years of solitude : the search for life among the stars / Lee Billings (576.839 B) -- For 4.6 billion years our living planet has been alone in a vast and silent universe. But soon, Earth’s isolation could come to an end. Over the past two decades, astronomers have discovered thousands of planets orbiting other stars. Some of these exoplanets may be mirror images of our own world. And more are being found all the time. Yet as the pace of discovery quickens, an answer to the universe’s greatest riddle still remains just out of reach: Is the great silence and emptiness of the cosmos a sign that we and our world are somehow singular, special, and profoundly alone, or does it just mean that we’re looking for life in all the wrong places? As star-gazing scientists come closer to learning the truth, their insights are proving ever more crucial to understanding life’s intricate mysteries and possibilities right here on Earth. Science journalist Lee Billings explores the past and future of the “exoplanet boom” through in-depth reporting and interviews with the astronomers and planetary scientists at its forefront. He recounts the stories behind their world-changing discoveries and captures the pivotal moments that drove them forward in their historic search for the first habitable planets beyond our solar system.
Writing on the wall : social media, the first two thousand years / Tom Standage (302.23 S) -- A fresh, provocative exploration of social media over two millennia, Writing on the Wall reminds us how modern behavior echoes that of prior centuries—the Catholic Church, for example, faced similar dilemmas in deciding whether or how to respond to Martin Luther’s attacks in the early sixteenth century to those that large institutions confront today in responding to public criticism on the Internet. Invoking the likes of Thomas Paine and Vinton Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet, Standage explores themes that have long been debated: the tension between freedom of expression and censorship; whether social media trivializes, coarsens or enhances public discourse; and its role in spurring innovation, enabling self-promotion, and fomenting revolution. As engaging as it is visionary, Writing on the Wall draws on history to cast new light on today’s social media and encourages debate and discussion about how we’ll communicate in the future.
The psychopath inside : a neuroscientist's personal journey into the dark side of the brain / James Fallon (616.8582 F) -- For the first fifty-eight years of his life James Fallon was by all appearances a normal guy. A successful neuroscientist and medical school professor, he’d been raised in a loving, supportive family, married his high school sweetheart, and had three kids and lots of friends. Then he learned a shocking truth that would not only disrupt his personal and professional life, but would lead him to question the very nature of his own identity. The Psychopath Inside tells the fascinating story of Fallon’s reaction to the discovery that he has the brain of a psychopath. While researching serial murderers, he uncovered a distinct neurological pattern in their brain scans that helped explain their cold and violent behavior. A few months later he learned that he was descended from a family with a long line of murderers which confirmed that Fallon’s own brain pattern wasn’t a fluke. As a scientist convinced that humans are shaped by their genetics, Fallon set out to reconcile the truth about his brain with everything he knew about the mind, behavior, and the influence of nature vs. nurture on our personalities. Combining his personal experience with scientific analysis, Fallon shares his journey and the discoveries that ultimately led him to understand that, despite everything science can teach us, humans are even more complex than we can imagine.
Making Masterpiece : 25 years behind the scenes at Masterpiece and Mystery! on PBS / Rebecca Eaton with Patricia Mulcahy (791.45 E) -- For more than twenty-five years and counting, Rebecca Eaton has presided over PBS's Masterpiece Theatre, the longest running weekly prime time drama series in American history. From the runaway hits Upstairs, Downstairs and The Buccaneers, to the hugely popular Inspector Morse, Prime Suspect, and Poirot, Masterpiece Theatre and its sibling series Mystery! have been required viewing for fans of quality drama. Eaton interviews many of the writers, directors, producers, and other contributors and shares personal anecdotes--including photos taken with her own camera--about her decades-spanning career. She reveals what went on behind the scenes during such triumphs as Cranford and the multiple, highly-rated programs made from Jane Austen's novels, as well as her aggressive campaign to attract younger viewers via social media and online streaming. Along the way she shares stories about actors and other luminaries such as Alistair Cooke, Maggie Smith, Diana Rigg, Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Radcliffe, whose first TV role was as the title character in David Copperfield
A history of the world in twelve maps / Jerry Brotton (911 B) -- A fascinating look at twelve maps-from Ancient Greece to Google Earth-and how they changed our world In this masterful study, historian and cartography expert Jerry Brotton explores a dozen of history's most influential maps, from stone tablet to vibrant computer screen. Starting with Ptolemy, "father of modern geography," and ending with satellite cartography, A History of the World in 12 Maps brings maps from classical Greece, Renaissance Europe, and the Islamic and Buddhist worlds to life and reveals their influence on how we-literally-look at our present world. As Brotton shows, the long road to our present geographical reality was rife with controversy, manipulation, and special interests trumping science. Through the centuries maps have been wielded to promote any number of imperial, religious, and economic agendas, and have represented the idiosyncratic and uneasy fusion of science and subjectivity. Brotton also conjures the worlds that produced these notable works of cartography and tells the stories of those who created, used, and misused them for their own ends.