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True Story

Memory, Marine Biology, Modern Humans and Mathematics

Hello hello, fellow nonfiction lovers! This week, I want to start out with a question: Are you a new release reader? Are you someone who is always on top of the latest books, or someone more comfortable diving into older titles? I’m a little of both, I think. I love finding out what books are coming out soon, but I am rarely a reader that picks up a title right on the publication date because I always have so many backlist books calling my name.

Knowing that, I urge you to take my new release recommendations with a grain of salt. Think of them as books that have piqued my interest and that I think other readers might be curious about too, rather than books I’ve read and can unequivocally recommend. Ok, on with the books!

New Books On My Radar

Tell Me Everything You Don’t Remember by Christine Hyung-Oak Lee (Feb. 14 from Ecco) – When she was just 33 years old, Christine Hyung-Oak Lee suffered a stroke, turning her world upside down. For a period after, Lee collected her memories in a notebook, which she has since used to construct her memoir. This reminds me of another reconstructed medical memoir that I loved, Susannah Cahalan’s Brain on Fire, but with a little more meditation on the way memory and identity work together.

Bonus Read: This memoir is based on a 2014 essay published on BuzzFeed, a good place to start.

Traveling with Ghosts by Shannon Leone Fowler (Feb. 21 from Simon & Schuster) – In 2002, 28-year-old Shannon Leon Fowler, a marine biologist, was on a backpacking trip with her fiancé, Sean, when tragedy struck. During a visit to Thailand, Sean was killed by a boy jellyfish, the most venomous creature in the world. After bringing Sean’s body home, Fowler continued their trek around the world while trying to grapple with the fact that the thing she loved most, the ocean, could also be the cause of her deep pain.

Bonus Read: Fowler wrote an essay for Real Simple about how losing Sean helped her learn how to ask for and accept help.

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari (Feb. 21 from Harper) – Now that humans have, mostly, managed to address some of the species most pressing concerns for survival – famine, plague, and war – what comes next? That’s the big question in Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari’s follow up/companion to his first book, Sapiens. I’ve had this one floating on my radar for quite some time but I’ll admit, I’m a little intimidated! It feels like one of those I aspire to read but may never actually get to because it seems over my head. But boy, does it sound interesting!

Bonus Watch: For a quick take on Harari’s first book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, check out his 2015 TED Talk on the rise of humanity.

Drama High on the Small Screen

NBC has ordered a drama pilot based on Michael Sokolove’s wonderful book Drama High, which I called out in my first newsletter. The show is being developed by Jason Katims (creator of Friday Night Lights and Parenthood) and Jeffrey Seller (producer of Hamilton), which makes me awfully confident it will be great. I am bouncing in my seat thinking about seeing the stoic wisdom of Coach Taylor brought to a story about the arts.

Nonfiction in Your Earbuds

The finalists for the 2017 Audie Awards were released last week. They offer awards in a huge number of categories, which can be fun to peruse. For nonfiction lovers, take a peek at the finalists in Autobiography/Memoir, Business/Personal Development, History/Biography, and Humor. Rioter Rachel Smalter Hall also highlighted some of her favorites in the most recent edition of Audiobooks! More used to podcasts than audiobooks? This list (which features essay collections and humor heavily) is a great resource if you want to try getting into audio.

On My Nightstand

I am finally getting around to one of last year’s big nonfiction reads, Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, the story of how black, female mathematicians made their mark at NASA during the Space Race despite being segregated by Virginia’s pervasive Jim Crow laws.

I went to see the movie – starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae – several weeks ago, and enjoyed it quite a bit, but the book is much richer and more interesting than the pared down version of the story you can see on screen. The book is also reinvigorating my latent passion for space nonfiction – I’ll definitely be checking out these recommendations from Swapna Krishna over at Tor.

And that’s all for this week. As always, suggestions, recommendations, and feedback are welcome. You can reach me at kim@riotnewmedia.com or on Twitter at @kimthedork. Happy reading!

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