Hello again, nonfiction lovers. It’s been an exciting week – the Pulitzers were announced, Margot Lee Shetterly has another book deal, and I’ve been reading about the science of expensive wine. Let’s get down to it!
This week’s newsletter is sponsored by Post Grad By Caroline Kitchener.
What really happens in the first year out of college? When Caroline Kitchener graduated from Princeton, she began shadowing four of her female classmates, interviewing them as they started to navigate the murky waters of post-collegiate life. Weaving together her own experience as a writer with the experiences of these other women—a documentarian, a singer, a programmer, and an aspiring doctor—Kitchener delves deeply into the personal and professional opportunities offered to female college graduates, and how the world perceives them.
New Books on My Radar
April is such an exciting month for new books, I had a hard time narrowing down this week’s new releases down to just three. If you are anxious for more, check out Liberty’s April New Books Megalist from her New Books newsletter.
Sunshine State: Essays by Sarah Gerard (April 11 from Harper Perennial) – I feel like I have been seeing this book everywhere forever, and I’ll admit, all the buzz has made me curious. This collection looks at the state of Florida as a “microcosm of the most pressing economic and environmental perils haunting our society.” With comparisons to The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison and Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, how could you not give it a try?
Bonus Read: Christine Sang interviewed Sarah Gerard for Brooklyn Rail. The interview includes some interesting tidbits on the production and organization of the book.
Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki (April 11 from W.W. Norton) – I am one of those people who read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and immediately tried to Kondo my entire life. I’m also one of those people that has fallen off the wagon and now lives in a perpetual state of clutter… so of course I’m going to keep obsessing over books on minimalism. In Goodbye, Things, average dude Fumio Sasaki shares his personal experience with minimalism and the joy it’s brought him.
Bonus Read: The Guardian writes about Japan’s ‘hardcore’ minimalists, including Fumio Sasaki.
Cake: A Slice of History by Alysa Levene (April 11 from Pegasus Books) – A micro-history of cake, from fruit cake to pound cake to angel food cake and more? I don’t need to hear more, I am in.
Bonus Read: Alysa Levene wrote about “the gender dynamics of pastries – and what it means for feminists in the kitchen” for the New Republic.
The Politics of Science
A recent study conducted by scientists at Yale, Cornell and the University of Chicago found that left-leaning and right-leaning readers are drawn to different topics in scientific literature. According to a summary of the study in the Huffington Post:
Liberals tended to prefer topics within the “life” and physical sciences, such as physics and astronomy. Conservatives, meanwhile, preferred commercial science subjects including medicine, criminology and geophysics. Certain topics like psychology and climate science attracted both liberal and conservative readers.
What’s the moral of the story? I’m not really sure, other than that your book purchasing history is being used in creative ways, and combating political polarization may mean reading outside your comfort zone across a wide range of subjects.
Book Riot Insiders
Looking for even more Book Riot goodness? We’ve got a new subscription program called Insiders, launched just this week. If you sign up (for as little as $3/month) you’ll be able to track new releases, listen to a dedicated Read Harder podcast, get a look behind-the-scenes at Book Riot, and more. Visit the Insiders site for more information and to sign up.
Pulitzer Winners Announced
The 2017 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced this week. Three of the “Letters, Drama and Music” awards are regularly given to nonfiction:
- Biography or Autobiography – The Return by Hisham Matar
- History – Blood in the Water by Heather Ann Thompson
- General Nonfiction – Evicted by Matthew Desmond
If you follow the prize link, you can also check out the other finalists and see winners from the past. I’ve always found the Pulitzer finalists (especially in general nonfiction) to be pretty good reads. And if you’re looking for something shorter, the winners and finalists in journalism are reliably excellent.
Two More Books from Margot Lee Shetterly
If you are among the people who loved Hidden Figures, here’s some good news – author Margot Lee Shetterly will be writing two more books “examining the idea of the American Dream and its legacy.” The first book will tell the stories of two influential African American households in midcentury Baltimore.
On My Nightstand
Spring has sprung, which I hope means more time for reading out on my back deck. This week I’ve got a couple of books in progress. Thanks to my Book of the Month subscription, I have an early copy of One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, a collection of essays by Saachi Koul, which has made me laugh out loud at least once already. I’m also almost finished with Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker, a Mary Roach-esque look at the world of sommeliers, wine snobs, and olfactory scientists. It’s been a delight.