"To choose a good book, look in an inquisitor’s prohibited list."
- John Aikin
There are easier ways to choose books, I assure you! You can ask library staff - we don't bite, we're relatively friendly and, even better, we love to talk about books - or you can do what I do: try a variety of reputable websites for 'what to read next' ideas. In this instance, I visited NPR for a list of possible nonfiction reads. These days I'm mostly about fiction (and romance fiction at that) so I apologise to the non-romance readers among us who would prefer something with a little more literary weight. Et voilà! Here are the top 5 hardcover nonfiction bestsellers for March 10 according to NPR.org.
A widow's story : A memoir / Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates shares her struggle to comprehend a life absent of the partnership that had sustained and defined her for nearly half a century.
Battle hymn of the tiger mother / Amy Chua
A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what Chinese parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it's like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I've done it... Amy Chua's daughters, Sophia and Louisa (Lulu) were polite, interesting and helpful, they were two years ahead of their classmates in maths and had exceptional musical abilities. But Sophia and Lulu were never allowed to attend a sleepover, be in a school play, choose their own extracurricular activities, get any grade less than an A, and not be the #1 student in every subject (except gym and drama). And they had to practice their instruments for hours every day, as well as in school breaks and on family holidays. The Chinese-parenting model certainly seemed to produce results. But what happens when you do not tolerate disobedience and are confronted by a screaming child who would sooner freeze outside in the cold than be forced to play the piano? In Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua relates her experiences raising her children the 'Chinese way', and how dutiful, patient Sophia flourished under the regime and how tenacious, hot-tempered Lulu rebelled. It is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs. It's also about Mozart and Mendelssohn, the piano and the violin, and how they made it to Carnegie Hall. It was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones. But instead, it's about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how you can be humbled by a thirteen-year-old. Witty, entertaining and provocative, this is a unique and important book that will transform your perspective of parenting forever.
Blood, bones, & butter : the inadvertent education of a reluctant chef / Gabrielle Hamilton
"Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with an oily wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; the soulless catering factories that helped pay the rent; Hamilton’s own kitchen at Prune, with its many unexpected challenges; and the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton’s idyllic past and her own future family - the result of a difficult and prickly marriage that nonetheless yields rich and lasting dividends."--Publisher's description.
Cleopatra : a life / Stacy Schiff
The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer brings to life the most intriguing woman in the history of the world: Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt. Though her life spanned fewer than 40 years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world.
Unbroken : a World War II story of survival, resilience, and redemption / Laura Hillenbrand
"On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War. The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will. In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit. Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit." -- Publisher's description.