Sponsored by Oxford University Press.
In November 1519, Hernando Cortés walked into the capital of the Aztec kingdom and came face to face with Moctezuma. That story–and what happened afterwards–has been told many times, but always from the perspective of the Spaniards. Unbeknownst to the newcomers, the Native Americans were intrigued by the Roman alphabet and used it to write detailed histories in their own language of Nahuatl. These sources have remained obscure, and only partially translated… until now. In Fifth Sun, the history of the Aztecs is offered in all its complexity based on the texts written by the indigenous people themselves.
Hello, friends, and welcome to another new week of great nonfiction books! It seems as though the entire state of Minnesota has just skipped over fall and landed in winter… there’s snow on the ground, and record cold temperatures in the air. Let’s just all stay inside with books, shall we?
This week’s featured new releases are about immigrants in the city, the multibillion-dollar industry around getting rid of the stuff we all KonMari-ed, and a dual literary biography that seems perfect to just cuddle in with. Let’s go!
Barrio America: How Latino Immigrants Saved the American City by A. K. Sandoval-Strausz – In this book, historian A. K. Sandoval-Strausz looks at how Latino families helped revitalize urban neighborhoods across the country. He focuses on two barrios – Chicago’s Little Village and Dallas’s Oak Cliff – to show how immigrants from Latin America started to turn around those areas beginning in the 1970s to create the stable, dynamic, and safe places the white “creative class” would move to in the 1990s and 2000s.
Further Reading: The Washington Post published an excerpt from the book about how “The revitalizing influence of Latinos and other immigrants now extends far beyond cities.”
Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale by Adam Minter – With all the talk about decluttering going on, it’s worth thinking about what happens to all of that stuff. In this book, journalist Adam Minter looks at what happens to all of the stuff we take to donation centers, and the multibillion-dollar industry of reuse and recycling. He also profiles the people who move and profit from our stuff and what we need to do to “build a sustainable future free of excess stuff.”
Further Watching: In 2015, Minter gave a talk at TEDxBeijing about why China “is one of the most innovative countries by exploring the trash industry and its often unrecognized potential.”
Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me by Deirdre Bair – The end of the year seems like a great time for a literary biography. In this book, an award-winning biography explores the 15 years she spent in Paris with Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir, first writing a biography of Beckett and then another of Simone de Beauvoir. The book gives a behind-the-scenes peek at library Paris in the 1970s, the art of biography, and the human side of legendary writers.
Further Reading: I liked this profile of Bair that came out when her previous book, a biography of Al Capone, came out.
And finally, a few other books that caught my eye this week:
- Essays One by Lydia Davis
- Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference, and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls by Jessica McDiarmid
- White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue … and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation by Lauren Michele Jackson
- No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference by Greta Thunberg
- Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge by Sheila Weller
- Busted in New York and Other Essays by Darryl Pinckney
- Camgirl by Isa Mazzei
- What It Is: Race, Family, and One Thinking Black Man’s Blues by Clifford Thompson
And that’s everything on my radar for this week. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @kimthedork and co-hosting the For Real podcast here at Book Riot. This week, Alice and I took a deep dive into early November new releases. Happy reading! – Kim