True Story

Love, Math, Football, and CIA Secrets

Hello and welcome to another week of amazing nonfiction reads! I spent the weekend at a book festival — more on that later this week — so feel like I’m a bit behind in even trying to figure out what’s coming out this week. But, I’ve still got three great books to highlight and several more to mention. Let’s dive in!

Sponsored by The Blink of an Eye: A Memoir of Dying—and Learning How to Live Again by Rikke Schmidt Kjærgaard

It was New Year’s Day. Rikke Schmidt Kjærgaard, a young mother and scientist, was celebrating when she was struck down with a sudden fever. Within hours, she’d suffered organ failure and was clinically dead.

Brought back to the edge of life—trapped in a near-death coma—she was given a 5% chance of survival. She awoke to find herself completely paralyzed, with blinking as her sole means of communicating. The Blink of an Eye is Rikke’s gripping account of being locked inside her body, and what it took to relearn every basic life skill, to truly live again.

Once More We Saw Stars by Jayson Greene – In this memoir, Jayson Greene reflects on the tragic and accidental death of his two-year-old daughter, the hope and healing he finds after, and the importance of love and partnership.

Further Reading: In Oprah Magazine, Greene shared 10 songs of significance for their family.

Mind and Matter by John Urschel and Louisa Thomas – By the time he was 13, John Urschel was taking college-level calculus. In high school. He found a love of football, ultimately finding a way to follow both his loves to a position on the Baltimore Ravens and the pursuit of a PhD at MIT.

Further Reading: Urschel wrote a piece for the New York Times about how math teachers should be more like football coaches, demanding commitment and accountability from students.

Surprise, Kill, Vanish by Annie Jacobsen – Investigative journalist Annie Jacobsen shares the story of the CIA’s Special Activities Division, “a highly-classified branch of the CIA and the most effective, black operations force in the world.”

Further Reading: Jacobsen was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in history for her book The Pentagon’s Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America’s Top Secret Military Research Agency.

And finally, a few more books coming out this week that might be of interest:

And that’s all for this week! You can find me on Twitter @kimthedork, on email at, and co-hosting the For Real podcast here at Book Riot. Happy reading! – Kim