Nonfiction: January 2012, Pt. 1, from Volkswagens to Making Music

Bertsche, Rachel. MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend. Ballantine. Jan. 2012. 464p. ISBN 9780345524942. pap. $15; eISBN 9780345524959. SOC SCI
Journalist and web producer Bertsche moved to Chicago for love but realized that she had left behind all her best female friends. So she went on a campaign, going on 52 girl-dates over the course of a year to find a new best friend. In our media-linked but sometimes touch-hungry world, this should hit a nerve. Just as long as she doesn’t dump too much on the 51 who didn’t win the prize.

Hasselbeck, Elisabeth. Deliciously G-Free: Gluten-Free, Flavor-Packed Cooking for Everyone. Ballantine. Jan. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780345529381. $30; eISBN 9780345529404. COOKING
Since Hasselbeck’s The G-Free Diet was a big best seller (it spent nine weeks on the New York Times best sellers list), lots of folks out there will want this successor. A decidedly hot topic in the food realm.

Hiott, Andrea. Thinking Small: The Long, Strange Trip of the Volkswagen Beetle. Ballantine. 480p. ISBN 9780345521422. $26; eISBN 9780345521446. BUSINESS/HISTORY
Here’s the story of the little car that could, told by an America author who went to Berlin after graduating from college and ended up cofounding a cultural journal called Pulse, of which she is now editor in chief. The Beetle dates back to 1923, when Ferdinand Porsche envisioned a car for the masses, and got its final push postwar from German businessman Heinrich Nordhoff and the Mad Men spreading stardust across the Atlantic. Coinciding with the release of the redesigned Beetle in December 2011; a big push to car buffs and history buffs, LibraryThing and Goodreads users alike. Pretty cool.

Marcus, Gary. Guitar Zero: On Becoming Musical. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Jan. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9781594203176. $25.95. PSYCHOLOGY/MUSIC
NYU psychology professor Marcus usually writes about the origins and development of the mind and brain, but here he looks at the issue of making music. Starting at zero (in terms of ability), he launched a study of how we become musical by learning to play guitar. Along the way he asks crucial questions, e.g., what’s the best way to practice and how much is owed to talent vs. plain hard work. Fascinating reading for the smart set.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @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.