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2018 Staff Picks: Nonfiction

By Skokie Staff Bibliocommons Adult Services

Our expert staff take a look back at the year and share their favorite titles.

  • Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America

    2018 by Macy, Beth

    Macy's nonfiction traces the history of deeply questionable business practices on the part of Purdue Pharma, the company that flooded the prescription medicine market with Oxycontin, a painkiller that led to today's ghastly opioid epidemic. She also follows families that have lost loved ones, individuals who have struggled with opioid and heroin addiction for years, lays out the failure of government to regulate pharmaceutical corruption, and she does it all with a novelist's touch—full of empathy, heart, and a justified sense of outrage. Recommended by Jarrett.

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  • Can American Capitalism Survive?: Why Greed Is Not Good, Opportunity Is Not Equal, and Fairness Won't Make Us Poor

    2018 by Pearlstein, Steven

    A smart, insightful book on the flaws of capitalism and the disparity it has bred in the past decades. Pearlstein argues that capitalism, if tinkered with, can still unite Americans, rich and poor, and strengthen our democracy. Step one: a constitutional amendment removing money from the political process. Recommended by Mike.

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  • Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food

    2018 by Sharma, Nik

    This debut cookbook by food writer Nik Sharma is a treat to lay eyes on, with food photography that takes its cues from dark, moody tones rather than the bright white typically used in the genre. I am a longtime follower of Sharma's Instagram account and his blog, A Brown Kitchen, and seeing his recipes on the page makes them feel much more accessible. Stay for Sharma's backstory, too, which is equally inspiring. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia

    2018 by Catte, Elizabeth

    I wanted an antidote to J.D. Vance and his dominant narrative about the white working class voters of Appalachia, and luckily, historian Elizabeth Catte wrote a slim volume that counters it powerfully. I learned about contemporary writing on Appalachia, and was treated to an unpacking of stereotypes that helped me understand both our collective popular fascination with the region, and what its future may hold. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger

    2018 by Traister, Rebecca

    This book made me angry, but powerfully so—mad at the ways that women, especially women of color, have been disenfranchised politically, personally, and professionally and not allowed to be angry about it. This is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand or deeply feel the rage behind the #MeToo movement of 2018, and how the anger of women has propelled American social movements since the country's founding. Recommended by Lindsay.

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  • My Own Devices: True Stories From the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love

    2018 by Dessa

    One of my favorite songwriters and performers, Dessa writes reflective, heartfelt, and punchy essays about life as a female in the indie hip-hop world, life on tour, the effects of searing heartbreak, and even adventures in neuroscience. I loved it. Recommended by Jarrett.

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  • White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

    2018 by DiAngelo, Robin J.

    A must-read book for every white person in this country. It's especially recommended for some of us who think we are too progressive to be racist. Filled with simple analyses, clear examples, and an instructive language to understand our racist system and racial biases. Recommended by Megan.

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  • The Library Book

    2018 by Orlean, Susan

    Library stories never fail to grab me. This history of the Los Angeles Central library and the massive 1986 fire that almost destroyed it includes a whodunit mystery. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the staff and their daily activities. Recommended by Terry.

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  • The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales From the Wild Side of Wildlife

    2018 by Cooke, Lucy

    It’s hard to decide whether this book is more informative or amusing as Cooke hilariously explodes the myths people have about animals, from pandas to penguins. It doesn’t really matter. Just enjoy this book and learn a lot along the way. Recommended by Steven.

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  • Ninety-nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret

    2018 by Brown, Craig

    Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret is as much fun to read about as she would be unpleasant to actually meet. This is anything but a conventional biography as Craig Brown uses his considerable creativity and writing skills to give depth to a fundamentally shallow person who never missed an opportunity to be disagreeable. Recommended by Steven.

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  • I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

    2018 by McNamara, Michelle

    The chronicle of McNamara's obsession with the Golden State Killer makes for intensely compelling and terrifying reading. Her impressive gift for language and storytelling paints a picture of, not just a killer, but of the towns and lives, including hers, that were irrevocably altered by the horror he inflicted. Recommended by Kathy.

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  • The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row

    2018 by Hinton, Anthony Ray

    Anthony Ray Hinton is my newest hero. This man was wrongly imprisoned for 30 years on death row and was able to find not only a way to live but a way that was filled with hope and humanity. Absolutely heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. This is also an excellent companion book to Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, who helped get Hinton acquitted. Recommended by Kathy.

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  • Like A Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy

    2018 by Garbes, Angela

    Part science writing and part memoir, this fascinating and honest book is everything the title says it is. There are so many dated myths and advice that pregnant women are coerced into following. This book uses science and a feminist lens to examine the prescriptions ascribed to pregnant women. Empowering and informative, it's the only pregnancy book I read from cover to cover. Recommended by Allyson.

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  • Heavy: An American Memoir

    2018 by Laymon, Kiese

    Laymon's honest exploration of race, poverty, addiction, and sexual abuse within his own life and within the world is powerful, moving and beautifully written. I want everyone to read this book. Recommended by Kathy.

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  • Educated: A Memoir

    2018 by Westover, Tara

    It is amazing that Westover survived her brutal childhood to become a best-selling author. Her parents were mostly loving, but extreme in their avoidance of schooling and modern medical care. She barely survived and her escape was anything but assured. An astounding story of resilience and perseverance, told with love. Recommended by Terry.

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