Memoirs of Family, Harassment, & Black Lives Matter | January Nonfiction on Audio

Baatz, Simon. The Girl on the Velvet Swing: Sex, Murder, and Madness at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century. Blackstone. ISBN 9781549140211. Reader TBA.
In 1901, Evelyn Nesbit, the pin-up girl and penniless young actress, dined with Stanford White, the legendary architect, at his 24th St. apartment. Evelyn drank champagne, and lost consciousness. She woke, nearly naked, in bed next to White. White was 47 years old. Evelyn Nesbit was just sixteen. Four years later, Evelyn would marry Harry Thaw, a playboy millionaire rumored to be mentally unstable, and in whom she confided the story of her encounter with Stanford White. One night in 1906, a vengeful Thaw shot and killed White before hundreds of theater-goers during a performance at Madison Square Garden. The city—and the nation that looked to it—erupted with news of the murder and ensuing trial, then the most sensational scandal in history.

Crump, Benjamin. Open Season: The Systemic Legalization of Discrimination. HarperAudio. ISBN 9781538480137. Reader TBA.
Chronicling some of his most memorable legal battles, Crump makes clear how our system is devised for certain people to lose and others to win, and, using evidence and facts, exposes how it is legal to harm—with the intent to destroy—people of color. Crump offers a cogent analysis of legal tenets, including the Thirteenth Amendment, the 1951 Genocide Petition to the United Nations, and controversial Stand Your Ground laws. He compares how race detrimentally influences sentencing, and reveals how police unions protect officers who shoot unarmed civilians. He also makes clear how budget cuts for education, the proliferation of guns, and high unemployment rates all directly contribute to higher crime rates.

Eighmey, Rae Katherine. Stirring the Pot with Benjamin Franklin: A Founding Father’s Culinary Adventures. Blackstone. ISBN 9781538488256. Read by Pam Ward.
Eighmey presents Benjamin Franklin’s experimentation with food throughout his life. At age 16, he began dabbling in vegetarianism. In his early twenties, citing the health benefits of water over alcohol, he convinced his printing press colleagues to abandon their traditional breakfast of beer and bread for “water gruel,” a kind of porridge he enjoyed. Franklin’s curiosity and logical mind extended to the kitchen: he even conducted an electrical experiment to try to cook a turkey. He saw food as key to the developing culture of the United States, penning two essays presenting maize as the defining grain of America. Eighmey revives and re-creates recipes from each chapter in his life.

Fadiman, Anne. The Wine Lover’s Daughter. Recorded Books. ISBN 9781501966873. Reader TBA.
An appreciation of wine—along with a plummy upper-crust accent, expensive suits, and an encyclopedic knowledge of Western literature—was an essential element of Clifton Fadiman’s escape from lower-middle-class Brooklyn to swanky Manhattan. But wine was not just a class-vaulting accessory; it was an object of ardent desire. This memoir traces the arc of a man’s infatuation from the glass of cheap Graves he drank in Paris in 1927; through the Château Lafite-Rothschild 1904 he drank to celebrate his eightieth birthday, when he and the bottle were exactly the same age; to the wines that sustained him in his last years, when he was blind but still buoyed, as always, by hedonism.

Haden, Jeff. The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up To Win. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780525499428. Read by Ray Porter.
Motivation isn’t the special sauce that we require at the beginning of any major change. In fact, motivation is a result of process, not a cause. Understanding this will change the way you approach any obstacle or big goal. Haden shows listeners how to reframe our thinking about the relationship of motivation to success at the beginning of any big goal we have for our lives, offering practical advice that anyone can use to stop stalling and start working on those dreams.

Hulbert, Ann. Off the Charts: The Hidden Lives and Lessons of American Child Prodigies. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780525500407. Read by Kirsten Potter.
Hulbert examines the lives of children whose rare accomplishments have raised hopes about untapped human potential and questions about how best to nurture it. She probes the changing role of parents and teachers, as well as of psychologists and a curious press. Above all, she delves into the feelings of the prodigies themselves. Among the children are the math genius Norbert Wiener, founder of cybernetics, a Harvard graduate student at age fifteen; two girls, a poet and a novelist, whose published work stirred debate in the 1920s; the movie superstar Shirley Temple and the African American pianist and composer Philippa Schuyler; the chess champion Bobby Fischer; computer pioneers and autistic “prodigious savants”; and musical prodigies, present and past.

Jerkins, Morgan. This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America. HarperAudio. ISBN 9781538480465. Reader TBA.
Jerkins here addresses the question: What does it mean to “be”—to live as, to exist as—a black woman today? Doubly disenfranchised by race and gender, often deprived of a place within the mostly white mainstream feminist movement, black women are objectified, silenced, and marginalized with devastating consequences, in ways both obvious and subtle, that are rarely acknowledged in our country’s larger discussion about inequality. Jerkins’s varied topics include Sailor Moon, Rachel Dolezal, the stigma of therapy, her complex relationship with her own physical body, the pain of dating when men say they don’t “see color,” being a black visitor in Russia, the specter of “the fast-tailed girl” and the paradox of black female sexuality,  and disabled black women in the context of the Black Girl Magic movement.

Kauffman, Jonathan. Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat. HarperAudio. ISBN 9781538456217. Reader TBA.
Kauffman chronicles how the longhairs, revolutionaries, and back-to-the-landers rejected the square establishment of Nixon’s America and turned to a more idealistic and wholesome communal way of life and food. From the mystical rock and roll cult known as the Source Family and its legendary vegetarian restaurant in Hollywood to the Diggers’ brown bread in the Summer of Love to the rise of the co-op and the origins of the organic food craze, Kauffman reveals how today’s quotidian whole-foods staples—including sprouts, tofu, yogurt, brown rice, and whole-grain bread—were introduced and eventually became part of our diets.

Khan-Cullors, Patrisse & Asha Bandele. When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir. Macmillan Audio. ISBN 9781427294722. Reader TBA.
Cofounders of the Black Lives Matter movement Khan-Cullors asks listeners to remember that protest in the interest of the most vulnerable comes from love. Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement have been called terrorists, a threat to America. But in truth, they are loving women whose life experiences have led them to seek justice for those victimized by the powerful.

Krakauer, Jon. A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780525595953. Reader TBA.
Krakauer delves into the life and work of Christopher Alexander, who sharply criticizes the Modern school of architecture and advocates for an approach in which people reclaim control over their built environment, drawing listeners into a singular vision of human-centered design. Alexander’s work has exerted profound influence in fields from design and planning to sociology and software, and Krakauer’s profile is a personal, organic view of the man behind the work.

McGowan, Rose. Brave. HarperAudio. ISBN 9781538480373. Reader TBA.
Born and raised in the Italian chapter of the Children of God, which was led by her father, McGowan escaped through a cornfield at night, moved to the states, ran away at 13, and landed in Portland, OR, where she lived on and off the streets. At fifteen she became emancipated from her parents and moved to Los Angeles where she was “discovered” on the street and became one of Hollywood’s most desired actresses overnight. Then McGowan was sexually assaulted by a renowned Hollywood producer and threatened with professional ruin if she uttered a word. She was expected to be silent and cooperative. Instead, she was courageous. And angry, smart, fierce, unapologetic, and controversial.

Mitchell, Alanna. The Spinning Magnet: The Force That Created the Modern World—and Could Destroy It. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780525527725. Read by P.J. Ochlan.
The history of one of the four fundamental physical forces in the universe: electro-magnetism. From investigations into magnetism in 13th-century feudal France and the realization six hundred years later in the Victorian era that electricity and magnetism were essentially the same, to the discovery that the earth was itself a magnet, spinning in space with two poles and that those poles aperiodically reverse, this is a utterly engrossing narrative history of ideas and science.

Noesner, Gary. Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780525634423. Reader TBA.
The FBI’s chief hostage negotiator takes readers on a harrowing tour through many of the most famous hostage crises in the history of the modern FBI, including the siege at Waco, the Montana Freemen standoff, and the DC sniper attacks. Having helped develop the FBI’s nonviolent communication techniques for achieving peaceful outcomes in tense situations, Noesner offers a candid look back at his years as an innovator in the ranks of the Bureau and a pioneer on the front lines.

Oluo, Ijeoma. So You Want To Talk About Race. Blackstone. ISBN 9781538475270. Read by Bahni Turpin.
A current, constructive, and actionable exploration of today’s racial landscape, offering straightforward clarity that readers of all races need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide. Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the “N” word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don’t dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans.

Person, Cea Sunrise. North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family, and How I Survived Both. Blackstone. ISBN 9781538499900. Reader TBA.
In the late 1960s, Cea’s family left a comfortable existence in California to live off the land in the Canadian wilderness. Led by Cea’s grandfather Dick, they lived a pot-smoking, free-loving, clothing-optional life without running water, electricity, or heat for the bitter winters. Living out her grandparents’ dream with her teenage mother Michelle, young Cea knew little of the world beyond her forest. Despite fierce storms, food shortages, and the occasional drug-and-sex-infused party for visitors, it seemed to be a mostly happy existence. For Michelle, however, now long separated from Cea’s father, there was one crucial element missing: a man. When Cea was five, Michelle took her on the road with a new boyfriend. As the trio set upon a series of ill-fated adventures, Cea began to question both her highly unusual world and the hedonistic woman at the centre of it—questions that eventually evolved into an all-consuming search for a more normal life. Finally, in her early teens, Cea realized she would have to make a choice as drastic as the one her grandparents once had in order to save herself.

Siegel, Daniel J. & Tina Payne Bryson. The Yes Brain: How To Cultivate Courage, Curiosity, and Resilience in Your Child. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780525494935. Read by the authors.
Kids can be taught to approach life with openness and curiosity. Parents can foster their children’s ability to say yes to the world and welcome all that life has to offer, even during difficult times. This is what it means to cultivate a Yes Brain. When kids work from a Yes Brain, they’re more willing to take chances and explore. They’re more curious and imaginative, less worried about making mistakes. They’re better at relationships and more flexible and resilient when it comes to handling adversity and big feelings. They work from a clear internal compass that directs their decisions, as well as the way they treat others. Guided by their Yes Brain, they become more open, creative, and resilient. Here, the authors give parents skills, scripts, ideas, and activities to bring kids of all ages into the overwhelmingly beneficial “yes” state.

Soffer, Rebecca & Gabrielle Birkner. Modern Loss: Candid Conversation About Grief—Beginners Welcome. Blackstone. ISBN 9781538480281. Reader TBA.
Let’s face it: most of us have always had a difficult time talking about death and sharing our grief. We’re awkward and uncertain; we avoid, ignore, or even deny feelings of sadness; we offer platitudes; we send sympathy bouquets whittled out of fruit. Soffer and Birkner can help us do better. Each having lost parents as young adults, they co-founded Modern Loss, responding to a need to change the dialogue around the messy experience of grief. Now they offer the insights of the Modern Loss community to help us cry, laugh, grieve, identify, and—above all—empathize.

Stern, Robin. The Gaslight Effect: How To Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use To Control Your Life. Books on Tape. ISBN 9780525633365. Read by Nan Mcnamara.
Gaslighting is an insidious form of emotional abuse and manipulation that is difficult to recognize and even harder to break free from. That’s because it plays into one of our worst fears—of being abandoned—and many of our deepest needs: to be understood, appreciated, and loved. Stern shows how the Gaslight Effect works and tells you how to: know when a relationship is headed for trouble, determine whether you are enabling a gaslighter, recognize gaslighting, refuse to be gaslighted, and develop your own “Gaslight Barometer” so you can decide which relationships can be saved—and which you have to walk away from.

Stephanie Klose About Stephanie Klose

Stephanie Klose (, @sklose on Twitter) is Media Editor, Library Journal.

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