This book will be making my best of 2020 list for sure. If you read the novel American Dirt and enjoyed it, then I dare you to pick this up. This explores the real lives of undocumented Americans and what they have contributed to this country. You may find yourself surprised to find what they have done for all of us.
One of the greatest legacies in American architecture, the Case Study House Program was a series of thirty-six prototype homes designed to marry modern design and affordability. Illustrated heavily with Julius Shulman's iconic photos of these innovative structures, Taschen's insanely affordable edition of Case Study Houses is an indispensable resource.
With suggestive humor and a bit of orneriness, Cooke clears up crazy misconceptions about some of the world’s more mysterious and underappreciated species. Throughout, she dissects these past theories for signs of human superiority, a binary physical understanding, and a little too much of the woodsy musk from a beaver's “gonads.” What’s left: Hyenas are avid feminists, Eels keep their coitus quiet, and Sloths are pretty much the ultimate survivalists. You can devour this all at once or savor each chapter as an individual essay, but you will be amazed by the truth (and bestiary sketches) either way.
A compelling, unflinching portrait of Spain in the early 20th century, this autobiographical trilogy is at once a charming coming-of-age saga and a chilling study of the rise of a fascist state. Not convinced? Admittedly, it's long...but this prose is as rich and as satisfying as an Andalusian feast.
Want to convince your relatives that universal healthcare, free high quality education, and a robust social safety net are a good thing without them thinking you're a pinko commie? Hand them this.
New York Times illustrator Nora Krug uses comics, collage, narrative and found documents to explore her ambivalent feelings of nostalgia and guilt for her German family's wartime past. A fascinating historical detective story!
I am a horror reader with a wary interest in true crime. Hauntings and hellspawn are my bread and butter, but real life atrocities keep me up at night. This is a tactful victim-focused true crime book that doesn't linger on the lascivious details. Weinman's thesis is that the 1948 kidnapping case of 11-year-old Sally Horner serves as direct inspiration for Vladimir Nabokov's 1955 novel 'Lolita', a notion that Nabokov himself protested. For this reader, Weinman builds a strong case and exposes the dirty bones of what some consider Nabokov's masterpiece.
This is a book that stays with you long after the enormous length of time time that you’ll spend reading it. Not content to merely rival the classics of Russian literature with an epic account of the idealism and ultimate tragedy of the Bolshevik Revolution, Slezkine bores deeply into the Bolsheviks' attempts to create a new socialist society by attacking bourgeois art, fashion, and fitted kitchens.
One of the best non-fiction books of the year. In alternating chapters that focus on past and present, Bauer elegantly lays out the brutal history of for-profit prisons in America, and writes about his experience both as a former prisoner and working as a guard in the private prison industry. This is an essential read for anyone interested in criminal justice or law enforcement.
I waited to read S.P.Q.R. because I did not want to read yet another history of Rome. Not for the first time, I find myself in error. Mary Beard interrogates our marbled vision of Rome, re-examines the historical record, and writes with wit that warms my Classicist heart.