What’s HOT: Top 10 Nonfiction Books at the Library Right Now!

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They're Playing Our Song by Carole Bayer Sager.jpgThey’re Playing Our Song by Carole Bayer Sager

Grammy and Academy Award–winning songwriter Carole Bayer Sager shares the remarkably frank and darkly funny story of her life in and out of the recording studio, from her fascinating (and sometimes calamitous) relationships to her collaborations with some of the greatest composers and musical artists of our time.

For five decades, Carole Bayer Sager has been among the most admired and successful songwriters at work, responsible for her lyrical contributions to some of the most popular songs in the English language, including “Nobody Does It Better,” “A Groovy Kind of Love,” “Don’t Cry Out Loud,” and the theme from the movie Arthur, “The Best That You Can Do” (about getting lost between the moon and New York City).

She has collaborated with (and written for) a dizzying number of stars, including Peter Allen, Ray Charles, Celine Dion, Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Clint Eastwood, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Carole King, Melissa Manchester, Reba McEntire, Bette Midler, Dolly Parton, Carly Simon, Frank Sinatra, and Barbra Streisand.

Her relationship with composer Marvin Hamlisch was the basis of the long-running hit musical, They’re Playing Our Song, for which she wrote the lyrics. And her work with composer Burt Bacharach, to whom she was also married for ten years, produced pop standards such as “On My Own” and “That’s What Friends Are For” (inspired by her friendship with Elizabeth Taylor), which raised over two million dollars for AIDS research.

But while her professional life was filled with success and fascinating people, her personal life was far more difficult and dramatic. In this memoir, Carole Bayer Sager tells the surprisingly frank and darkly humorous story of a woman whose sometimes crippling fears and devastating relationships inspired many of the songs she would ultimately write.

They’re Playing Our Song will fascinate anyone interested in the craft of songwriting and the joy of collaboration, but Carole Bayer Sager’s memoir is also a deeply personal account of how love and heartbreak made her the woman, and the writer, she is.

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Seven Days of Infamy by Nicholas Best.jpgSeven Days of Infamy by Nicholas Best

December 7, 1941: One of those rare days in world history that people remember exactly where they were, what they were doing, and how they felt when they heard the news.

Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable, and James Cagney were in Hollywood. Kurt Vonnegut was in the bath, and Dwight D. Eisenhower was napping. Kirk Douglas was a waiter in New York, getting nowhere with Lauren Bacall. Ed Murrow was preparing for a round of golf in Washington. In Seven Days of Infamy, historian Nicholas Best uses fascinating individual perspectives to relate the story of Japan’s momentous attack on Pearl Harbor and its global repercussions in tense, dramatic style. But he doesn’t stop there.

Instead, Best takes readers on an unprecedented journey through the days surrounding the attack, providing a snapshot of figures around the world—from Ernest Hemingway on the road in Texas to Jack Kennedy playing touch football in Washington; Mao Tse-tung training his forces in Yun’an and the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe cheering as the United States entered the war.

Offering a human look at an event that would forever alter the global landscape, Seven Days of Infamy chronicles one of the most extraordinary weeks in world history.

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Settle for More by Megyn Kelly.jpgSettle for More by Megyn Kelly

Whether it’s asking tough questions during a presidential debate or pressing for answers to today’s most important issues, Megyn Kelly has demonstrated the intelligence, strength, common sense, and courage that have made her one of today’s best-known journalists, respected by women and men, young and old, Republicans and Democrats.

In Settle for More, the anchor of The Kelly File reflects on the enduring values and experiences that have shaped her—from growing up in a family that rejected the “trophies for everyone” mentality, to her father’s sudden, tragic death while she was in high school. She goes behind-the-scenes of her career, sharing the stories and struggles that landed her in the anchor chair of cable’s #1 news show. Speaking candidly about her decision to “settle for more”—a motto she credits as having dramatically transformed her life at home and at work—Megyn discusses how she abandoned a thriving legal career to follow her journalism dreams.

Admired for her hard work, humor, and authenticity, Megyn sheds light on the news business, her time at Fox News, the challenges of being a professional woman and working mother, and her most talked about television moments. She also speaks openly about Donald Trump’s feud with her, revealing never-before-heard details about the first Republican debate, its difficult aftermath, and how she persevered through it all.

Deeply personal and surprising, Settle for More offers unparalleled insight into this charismatic and intriguing journalist, and inspires us all to embrace the principles—determination, honesty, and fortitude in the face of fear—that have won her fans across the political divide.

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Rasputin by Douglas Smith.jpgRasputin by Douglas Smith

On the centenary of the death of Rasputin comes a definitive biography that will dramatically change our understanding of this fascinating figure

A hundred years after his murder, Rasputin continues to excite the popular imagination as the personification of evil. Numerous biographies, novels, and films recount his mysterious rise to power as Nicholas and Alexandra’s confidant and the guardian of the sickly heir to the Russian throne. His debauchery and sinister political influence are the stuff of legend, and the downfall of the Romanov dynasty was laid at his feet.

But as the prizewinning historian Douglas Smith shows, the true story of Rasputin’s life and death has remained shrouded in myth. A major new work that combines probing scholarship and powerful storytelling, Rasputin separates fact from fiction to reveal the real life of one of history’s most alluring figures. Drawing on a wealth of forgotten documents from archives in seven countries, Smith presents Rasputin in all his complexity–man of God, voice of peace, loyal subject, adulterer, drunkard. Rasputin is not just a definitive biography of an extraordinary and legendary man but a fascinating portrait of the twilight of imperial Russia as it lurched toward catastrophe.

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Thank You for Being Late by Thomas L. Friedman.jpgThank You for Being Late by Thomas L. Friedman

In his most ambitious work to date, Thomas L. Friedman shows that we have entered an age of dizzying acceleration–and explains how to live in it. Due to an exponential increase in computing power, climbers atop Mount Everest enjoy excellent cell-phone service and self-driving cars are taking to the roads. A parallel explosion of economic interdependency has created new riches as well as spiraling debt burdens. Meanwhile, Mother Nature is also seeing dramatic changes as carbon levels rise and species go extinct, with compounding results.

How do these changes interact, and how can we cope with them? To get a better purchase on the present, Friedman returns to his Minnesota childhood and sketches a world where politics worked and joining the middle class was an achievable goal. Today, by contrast, it is easier than ever to be a maker (try 3-D printing) or a breaker (the Islamic State excels at using Twitter), but harder than ever to be a leader or merely “average.” Friedman concludes that nations and individuals must learn to be fast (innovative and quick to adapt), fair (prepared to help the casualties of change), and slow (adept at shutting out the noise and accessing their deepest values). With vision, authority, and wit, Thank You for Being Late establishes a blueprint for how to think about our times.

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Einstein's Greatest Mistake by David Bodanis.jpgEinstein’s Greatest Mistake by David Bodanis


Widely considered the greatest genius of all time, Albert Einstein revolutionized our understanding of the cosmos with his general theory of relativity and helped lead us into the atomic age. Yet in the final decades of his life, he was ignored by most working scientists, and his ideas were opposed by even his closest friends.

How did this happen? Einstein’s imagination and self-confidence served him well when he was young. But when it came to the new field of quantum mechanics, the same traits undermined him. Bestselling biographer David Bodanis traces Einstein from the skeptical, erratic student to the world’s most brilliant physicist—and then to the desolate, fallen-from-grace celebrity.

An intimate biography touching on the romances and rivalries of the celebrated physicist, as much as on his scientific goals, Einstein’s Greatest Mistake reveals what we owe Einstein today—and how much more he might have achieved if not for his all-too-human flaws.

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City of Dreams by Tyler Anbinder.jpgCity of Dreams by Tyler Anbinder

New York has been America’s city of immigrants for nearly four centuries. Growing from Peter Minuit’s tiny settlement of 1626 to one with more than three million immigrants today, the city has always been a magnet for transplants from all over the globe. It is only fitting that the United States, a “nation of immigrants,” is home to the only world city built primarily by immigration. More immigrants have entered the United States through New York than through all other entry points combined, making New York’s immigrant saga a quintessentially American story.

City of Dreams is the long-overdue, inspiring, and defining account of New York’s both famous and forgotten immigrants: the young man from the Caribbean who relocated to New York and became a Founding Father; an Italian immigrant who toiled for years at railroad track maintenance before achieving his dream of becoming a nationally renowned poet; Russian-born Emma Goldman, who condoned the murder of American industrialists as a means of aiding downtrodden workers; Dominican immigrant Oscar de la Renta, who dressed first ladies from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama. Over ten years in the making, Tyler Anbinder’s story is one of innovators and artists, revolutionaries and rioters, staggering deprivation and soaring triumphs. Today’s immigrants are really no different from those who have come to America in centuries past—and their story has never before been told with such breadth of scope, lavish research, and resounding spirit.

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A Matter of Honor by Anthony Summers.jpgA Matter of Honor by Anthony Summers

On the seventy-fifth anniversary, the authors of Pulitzer Prize finalist The Eleventh Day unravel the mysteries of Pearl Harbor to expose the scapegoating of the admiral who was in command the day 2,000 Americans died, report on the continuing struggle to restore his lost honor—and clear President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the charge that he knew the attack was coming.

The Japanese onslaught on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 devastated Americans and precipitated entry into World War II. In the aftermath, Admiral Husband Kimmel, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet, was relieved of command, accused of negligence and dereliction of duty—publicly disgraced.

But the Admiral defended his actions through eight investigations and for the rest of his long life. The evidence against him was less than solid. High military and political officials had failed to provide Kimmel and his Army counterpart with vital intelligence. Later, to hide the biggest U.S. intelligence secret of the day, they covered it up.

Following the Admiral’s death, his sons—both Navy veterans—fought on to clear his name. Now that they in turn are dead, Kimmel’s grandsons continue the struggle. For them, 2016 is a pivotal year.

With unprecedented access to documents, diaries and letters, and the family’s cooperation, Summers’ and Swan’s search for the truth has taken them far beyond the Kimmel story—to explore claims of duplicity and betrayal in high places in Washington.

A Matter of Honor is a provocative story of politics and war, of a man willing to sacrifice himself for his country only to be sacrificed himself. Revelatory and definitive, it is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of this pivotal event.

The book includes forty black-and-white photos throughout the text.

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The Wars of the Roosevelt's by William J. Mann.jpgThe Wars of the Roosevelt’s by William J. Mann

The award-winning author presents a provocative, thoroughly modern revisionist biographical history of one of America’s greatest and most influential families—the Roosevelts—exposing heretofore unknown family secrets and detailing complex family rivalries with his signature cinematic flair

Drawing on previously hidden historical documents and interviews with the long-silent “illegitimate” branch of the family, William J. Mann paints an elegant, meticulously researched and groundbreaking group portrait of this legendary family. Mann argues that the Roosevelts’ rise to power and prestige was actually driven by a series of intense, personal contests that at times devolved to blood sport. His compelling and eye-opening masterwork is the story of a family at war with itself, of social Darwinism at its most ruthless—in which the strong devoured the weak and repudiated the inconvenient.

Mann focuses on Eleanor Roosevelt, who, he argues, experienced this brutality firsthand, witnessing her Uncle Theodore cruelly destroy her father, Elliott—his brother and bitter rival—for political expediency. Mann presents a fascinating alternate picture of Eleanor, contending that this “worshipful niece” in fact bore a grudge against TR for the rest of her life, and dares to tell the truth about her intimate relationships without obfuscations, explanations, or labels.

Mann also brings into focus Eleanor’s cousins, TR’s children, whose stories propelled the family rivalry but have never before been fully chronicled, as well as her illegitimate half-brother, Elliott Roosevelt Mann, who inherited his family’s ambition and skill without their name and privilege. Growing up in poverty just miles from his wealthy relatives, Elliott Mann embodied the American Dream, rising to middle class prosperity and enjoying one of the very few happy, long-term marriages in the Roosevelt saga. For the first time, The Wars of the Roosevelts also includes the stories of Elliott’s daughter and grandchildren and never-before-seen photographs from their archives.

Deeply psychological and finely rendered, illustrated with sixteen pages of black-and-white photographs, The Wars of the Roosevelts illuminates not only the enviable strengths but also the profound shames of this remarkable and influential family.

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Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen.jpgBorn to Run by Bruce Springsteen

In 2009, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl’s halftime show. The experience was so exhilarating that Bruce decided to write about it. That’s how this extraordinary autobiography began.

Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his songs.

He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger, and darkness that fueled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as “The Big Bang”: seeing Elvis Presley’s debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work and shows us why the song “Born to Run” reveals more than we previously realized.

Born to Run will be revelatory for anyone who has ever enjoyed Bruce Springsteen, but this book is much more than a legendary rock star’s memoir. This is a book for workers and dreamers, parents and children, lovers and loners, artists, freaks, or anyone who has ever wanted to be baptized in the holy river of rock and roll.

Rarely has a performer told his own story with such force and sweep. Like many of his songs (“Thunder Road,” “Badlands,” “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” “The River,” “Born in the U.S.A.,” “The Rising,” and “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” to name just a few), Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography is written with the lyricism of a singular songwriter and the wisdom of a man who has thought deeply about his experiences

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About Avalon Free Public Library

Avalon is a bustling little shore town in southern NJ. Our small population of 1800 expands to about 30,000 at the height of summer. We like to think that we serve them all and then some! Our goal is to make our library available to our patrons wherever they may roam.

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