Best Non-fiction 2016

These biographies and true-life stories are among the favorites of reviewers and readers in 2016. Included on many “best books” lists, they are available to borrow from the Lititz Public Library.

Weapons of Math Destruction : How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens DemocracyWeapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O’Neil
Increasingly, the decisions that affect our life, from where we go to school to how much we pay for health care, are being made not by humans but by mathematical models.

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
The author addresses the challenge of improving the world by choosing to champion novel ideas and values that go against the grain and battle outdated traditions.

Grace without God: The Search for Meaning, Purpose and Belonging in a Secular Age by Katherine Ozment
Although most Americans are raised in a religious tradition, in recent decades many have begun to leave religion and with it their sense of belonging.

Forty Autumns: A Family’s Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall by Nina Willner
A former military intelligence officer tells the true story of her family, five women separated by the Iron Curtain for more than forty years.

Hidden Figures : The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space RaceHidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
For nearly three decades, four African American women participated in some of NASAs greatest successes while facing challenges, forging alliances and using their intellect to change their own lives.

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong
Microbes are an invaluable part of our lives that sculpt organs, defend us from disease, break down our food, educate our immune system, guide our behavior and grant us incredible abilities.

Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness and Family Secrets by Luke Dittrich
In 1953, a renowned neurosurgeon drilled two holes in an epileptic research patient’s brain to extract tissue, an operation that helped to control the man’s seizures but left him with short-term memory of just thirty seconds.

A Square Meal : A Culinary History of the Great DepressionA Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression by Jane Ziegelman
Shifts in the country’s political and social landscape during the Great Depression led to sweeping recommendations for dietary recommendations and a movement toward a homogenized cuisine based on speed and convenience.

Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping and a Mother’s Quest by Beth Macy
Kidnapped in 1899, two African-American brothers were kidnapped from from Truevine, Virginia and were displayed as circus freaks for twenty-eight years.

A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS by Robert F. Worth
Five years after the 2011 wave of protests to end tyranny, corruption and economic decay in the Middle East, terrorists and dictators have risen to the top as old divides reemerge and deepen.

Rogue Heroes : The History of the SAS, Britain's Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of WarRogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain’s Secret Special Forces Unit that Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of the War by Ben Macintyre
A gadabout aristocrat and a disciplined autocrat assembled a revolutionary fighting force that would upend the balance of WWII.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing training as a neurosurgeon, the author faced his own mortality when he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer

The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship by Patricia Bell-Scott
Eleanor Roosevelt joined the granddaughter of a mixed-race slave who became a lawyer and civil rights pioneer and together they took a stand for justice and freedom.

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
An account of the singer’s relentless drive to become a musician presents his youth in New Jersey, his early days as a bar band in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band.

January 27, 2017