Each year we look forward to sharing with patrons what we’ve been reading, and in 2019 we enjoyed learning about new, intriguing subjects in nonfiction. From history to biography to self-help, we’ve enjoyed learning and reflecting with some great books – and audiobooks too!

Trevor Noah’s wonderful biography of his youth in South Africa, Born a Crime, continues to be a popular read and listen. The audiobook, read by the author, is a touching and humorous treasure. We’ve also enjoyed Michelle Obama’s biography, Becoming. Tracing her career from her Chicago childhood to the White House, it’s an intriguing look into the private life of a very public family. Becoming is also available in audiobook, read by the author.

Grumpy grammarian Benjamin Dreyer, copy chief at Random House, published a wry and funny take on all the rules of language worth saving – and which ones to break. Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style will make you smile while you ponder some of the old rules you thought you knew.

One of our staff noted that every recipe they’ve tried in Mostly Plants:  101 Delicious Flexitarian Recipes from the Pollan Family has been delicious. Taking its name from renowned cookbook author Michael Pollan’s adage that you should “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants,” this new book by Michael, his sisters and his mother, Corky, focuses on family friendly meals that don’t swear off meat but keep the focus on wholesome, veggie-heavy nutrition.

Iowa author Lori Erickson took on a somber subject with a sunny humor in Near the Exit: Travels with the Not-So-Grim Reaper. Recounting her globe-trotting adventures from Egypt’s Valley of the Kings and Mayan temples, to a Colorado cremation pyre and Day of the Dead celebrations, Erickson explores different cultures’ attitudes towards the final exit.

We enjoyed delving into modern history as well. Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham was deserving of its many accolades as a powerful investigation of not only the world’s greatest nuclear disaster but also the secrecy surrounding its mythic status.

Laurie Halse Anderson, who visited West Des Moines this year, released a potent poetic memoir, Shout. Author of the best-selling young adult novel Speak, Halse reflects in free verse on her writing career and her refusal to be silenced.

In children’s nonfiction, we are excited about Juila Finley Mosca’s Amazing Scientist series. Each book features a groundbreaking woman’s journey to scientific excellence. In The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin, readers follow Dr. Grandin’s journey from a socially isolated childhood to her success as an animal scientist and world-famous autism advocate.

Our eBook and eAudiobook collection has a huge selection of nonfiction titles to discover. Get hooked on a compelling narrative with Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe, the story of the abduction of Jean Keefe during the IRA “Troubles” in 1972. Access Bridges to explore the wealth of nonfiction available with your library card!

Kate – Adult Services Assistant