LJ Best Books 2016

A jury of our peers discussed, debated, disagreed, and finally declared LJ’s annual Top Ten Best Books of the year, selected by our editors, as well as Top Five lists for genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, and SELF-e titles. VISIT THE WEBSITE

Science, Sports, & Politics | Nonfiction Previews, Jun. 2017, Pt. 3

Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem & David Fisher. Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Court. Grand Central. Jun. 2017. 288p. ISBN 9781455542277. $29; ebk. ISBN 9781455542253. lib. ebk. ISBN 9781538727270. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. SPORTSabdul
Sports great, New York Times best-selling author, and U.S. Cultural Ambassador Abdul-Jabbar goes back to 1965, when as 18-year-old Lew Alcindor he first played basketball for Coach John Wooden at UCLA. Then, in an account that is part memoir and part inspiration, he gets us where it counts by recalling their half-century friendship. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Akana, Anna. So Much I Want To Tell You: Letters to My Little Sister. Ballantine. Jun. 2017. 176p. ISBN 9780399594939. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780399594922. Downloadable: Random Audio. MEMOIR/HUMOR
Akana coped with her sister’s suicide in 2007 by expressing herself through comedy, making videos like “Why Guys Like Asian Girls.” Now her YouTube channel claims over 1.6 million subscribers. Talking to young women as she wishes she could to her sister, Akana offers advice on subjects from love and sex to career choices and staying safe on the Internet.

Alda, Alan. If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? Relating to and Communicating with Others. Random. Jun. 2017. 224p. ISBN 9780812989144. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780812989168. lrg. prnt. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. PSYCHOLOGY
Who better to help you connect with others than an actor, especially one as genial as Alda? He’s also founder of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, and he spent many years interviewing scientists on Scientific American Frontiers, so the improv games, storytelling techniques, and more he offers here aren’t lightweight stuff.

al-Sharif, Manal. Daring To Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening. S. & S. Jun. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9781476793023. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781476793047. MEMOIR/SOCIAL ACTIVISM
Celebrated worldwide as a women’s rights activist in Saudi Arabia, al-Sharif was imprisoned there in alsharif2011 for driving a car. This eye-opening memoir recounts her journey from religious radicalism in her youth (she melted her brother’s cassettes in the oven because the music was forbidden) to her job as a computer security engineer, making sure her voice gets heard.

Baron, David. American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race To Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World. Liveright: Norton. Jun. 2017. 384p. ISBN 9781631490163. $27.95. SCIENCE
Just in time for this summer’s eclipse, former NPR science journalist Baron writes about a Gilded Age solar eclipse and its consequences for American science. Three scientists—one eager to discover a new planet, one to establish his credentials, and one to prove that women can do science—went West to watch the sun vanish. With author events in Washington, DC, Boston, Portland, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver, Boulder, Nashville, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Jackson, WY.

Catron, Mandy Len. How To Fall in Love with Anyone: Essays. S. & S. Jun. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9781501137440. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501137464. RELATIONSHIP
The author of the popular New York Times essay “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This,” one of the newspaper’s five most popular stories in 2015, was prompted by her parents’ divorce and the end of her own long relationship to consider what love means and how to make it last.

Dawkins, Richard. Science in the Soul: Selected Shorter Writings. Random. Jun. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9780399592249. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780399592256. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. SCIENCE
Nearly half of the 42 pieces here have never been published in North America, and the rest are not well known, so this collection will be a treat for Dawkins fans and science readers generally. Not surprisingly, the pieces celebrate rational, scientific thinking and ask us to reconsider our most gellmancherished (possibly knee-jerk) beliefs.

Gellman, Barton. Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State. Penguin Pr. Jun. 2017. 400p. ISBN 9781594206016. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780698153394. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. POLITICAL SCIENCE
When Edward Snowden aimed to reveal the extent of U.S. government surveillance of its own citizens, he reached out to Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, filmmaker Laura Poitras, and Gellman, who had already helped the Washington Post win two Pulitzer Prizes; he would help clinch a third in 2014 (shared with the Guardian) for the Snowden-inspired coverage of the U.S. National Security Agency. Gellman here offers a big-picture look at today’s surveillance state; originally scheduled for July 2016.

Magnum Photos. Magnum Manifesto. Thames & Hudson. Jun. 2017. 400p. ISBN 9780500544556. $65. PHOTOG
Published to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Magnum Photos, the premier photo agency, this book also accompanies an exhibition that will be traveling worldwide. The over 400 illustrations, with 120 in color, are divided into three parts: “Human Rights and Wrongs (1947–1968),” “An Inventory of Differences (1969–1989),” and “Stories About Endings (1990–Present Day).”

Murphy, Finn. The Long Haul: A Trucker’s Tales of Life on the Road. Norton. Jun. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9780393608717. $26.95. TRUCKS
Over three decades ago, Murphy dropped out of college to become a trucker, and he’s got the murphybloodlines to suggest that he can write well about the joys of the open road. His brother Cullen is a longtime editor at the Atlantic, while sister Cait is a former bigtime editor at Fortune. With a five-city tour (by truck?) to New York, Boston, Denver, Seattle, and San Francisco.

Pfordresher, John. The Secret History of Jane Eyre: How Charlotte Brontë Wrote Her Masterpiece. Norton. Jun. 2017. 288p. ISBN 9780393248876. $26.95. LITERATURE
For all those Jane Eyre–ites out there, Georgetown English professor Pfordresher aims to provide the definitive tome: a study of how and why Charlotte Brontë created her masterpiece, paralleling characters and events with her own life.

Tyson, Mike. Iron Ambition: My Life with Cus D’Amato. Blue Rider. Jun. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9780399177033. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780698413092. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. SPORTS
With his new book, the former heavyweight champion and New York Times best-selling memoirist offers something personal: a look at boxing trainer Cus D’Amato and everything Tyson learned from him about the one-two punches delivered by sports and life.

 

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Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.

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