True Story

Socialite Spies, Murderous Milkshakes, and More New Nonfiction

Hello hello, fellow nonfiction lovers. At the time I’m writing this newsletter, it’s sunny and in the 50s outside (joy!), but Minnesota (and a chunk of the Upper Midwest) is expected to get another dump of snow at midweek… so I’m feeling a little bit salty about that. If it were the weekend I’d just snuggle up at home with a book, but I’ll probably have to trek to work in a blizzard. In April. This is my face.

Anyway! Since April is still full of many new books, I’m taking the same approach as last week – I’ve picked five titles to highlight in a little more depth, then listed a few more to get on your radar at the end. Let’s dive in!

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A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell – I am 100 percent in for all of the books about the untold contributions of women to major historical events. This book is about Virginia Hall, a socialite from Baltimore who became the first woman deployed behind enemy lines for the Allies, contributing to the French Resistance. She also had a fake leg, which doesn’t really matter but is an interesting detail and maybe would be good for spying? She sounds awesome.

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell – In addition to minimalism, I am very into books about doing fewer things because doing too much can be bad for us. In this, artist and critic Jenny Odell argues attention is our most important (and stretched) resource, taking away our chance to think big thoughts and make big changes. The book is also “an action plan for thinking outside of capitalist narratives of efficiency and techo-determinism,” which sounds pretty interesting.

Notes from a Young Black Chef: A Memoir by Kwame Onwuachi – Top Chef contestant Kwame Onwuachi grew up in the Bronx, but spent much of his childhood in Nigeria (where he was sent to “learn respect”). When he returned, he got his start in food, starting as a chef on board a Deepwater Horizon cleanup ship. His coming-of-age memoir tell those stories, and also looks at “the intersections of race, fame, and food.” I’m in the middle of this one right now and it is great!

Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game by Abby Wambach – Based on a 2018 commencement address at Barnard College, this book by World Cup-winning soccer star Abby Wambach is about how women need to let go of old rules of leadership and work together “to change the landscape of their lives and world.” I’m inspired already.

Murder by Milkshake: An Astonishing True Story of Adultery, Arsenic, and a Charismatic Killer by Eve Lazarus – I’ll be honest, the reason this book initially got on my list is because of the tile. How great is that? But it also looks good. This book is the story of a 40-year-old woman murdered by her husband, a radio personality, via arsenic-laced milkshakes in the 1960s. Creepy!

And finally, five more books that should be on your radar:

And there we go. I am 100 percent certain I missed a few books from the week, but I hope there’s something on the list to topple your TBR just a bit. You can find me on Twitter @kimthedork, on email at, and co-hosting the For Real podcast here at Book Riot. Happy reading! – Kim