What’s HOT: Top Nonfiction Books at the Library – April 2017

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Havana by Mark Kurlansky.jpg10.) Havana by Mark Kurlansky

Award-winning author Mark Kurlansky presents an insider’s view of Havana: the elegant, tattered city he has come to know over more than thirty years. Part cultural history, part travelogue, with recipes, historic engravings, photographs, and Kurlansky’s own pen-and-ink drawings throughout, Havana celebrates the city’s singular music, literature, baseball, and food; its five centuries of outstanding, neglected architecture; and its extraordinary blend of cultures.

Like all great cities, Havana has a rich history that informs the vibrant place it is today–from the native Taino to Columbus’s landing, from Cuba’s status as a U.S. protectorate to Batista’s dictatorship and Castro’s revolution, from Soviet presence to the welcoming of capitalist tourism. Havana is a place of extremes: a beautifully restored colonial city whose cobblestone streets pass through areas that have not been painted or repaired since the revolution.

Kurlansky shows Havana through the eyes of Cuban writers, such as Alejo Carpentier and José Martí, and foreigners, including Graham Greene and Hemingway. He introduces us to Cuban baseball and its highly opinionated fans; the city’s music scene, alive with the rhythm of Son; its culinary legacy. Once the only country Americans couldn’t visit, Cuba is now opening to us, as is Havana, not only by plane or boat but also through Mark Kurlansky’s multilayered and electrifying portrait of the long-elusive city.

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Dawn of Infamy by Stephen Harding.jpg9.) Dawn of Infamy by Stephen Harding

As the Pearl Harbor attack began, a U.S. cargo ship a thousand miles away in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean mysteriously vanished along with her crew. What happened, and why?

On December 7, 1941, even as Japanese carrier-launched aircraft flew toward Pearl Harbor, a small American cargo ship chartered by the Army reported that it was under attack by a submarine halfway between Seattle and Honolulu. After that one cryptic message, the humble lumber carrier Cynthia Olson and her crew vanished without a trace, their disappearance all but forgotten as the mighty warships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet burned.

The story of the Cynthia Olson‘s mid-ocean encounter with the Japanese submarine I-26 is both a classic high-seas drama and one of the most enduring mysteries of World War II. Did I-26‘s commander, Minoru Yokota, sink the freighter before the attack on Pearl Harbor began? Did the cargo ship’s 35-man crew survive in lifeboats that drifted away into the vast Pacific, or were they machine-gunned to death? Was the Cynthia Olson the first American casualty of the Pacific War, and could her SOS have changed the course of history?

Based on years of research, Dawn of Infamy explores both the military and human aspects of the Cynthia Olson story, bringing to life a complex tale of courage, tenacity, hubris, and arrogance in the opening hours of America’s war in the Pacific.

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One Pan and Done by Molly Gilbert.jpg8.) One Pan and Done by Molly Gilbert

The author of the runaway hit Sheet Pan Suppers expands her repertoire with easy and delicious recipes for dutch ovens, skillets, casserole baking dishes, and more.
In One Pan & Done, Molly Gilbert shows you how to use your oven to your advantage, letting it do most of the work to turn out juicy, crispy roasts, succulent vegetables, rich stews, flaky fish, and, of course, sweet treats. Think of it as fast slow-cooking, but with the benefits of baking, roasting, and broiling for concentrated, intense flavor every time. The best part is that with Molly’s simple, hands-off recipes, you’ll have time to savor your meal and enjoy your company. Whether you’re an over-scheduled parent, a busy young professional, or even an accomplished cook, you deserve food that’s big on flavor, but simple on steps. With Molly’s recipes, you get in the kitchen, and you get out. Kick the oven door shut as you walk away–your meal is One Pan & Done.

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Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman.jpg7.) Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Introducing an instant classic—master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths.

Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales. In Norse Mythology, Gaiman fashions primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds; delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants; and culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and the rebirth of a new time and people. Gaiman stays true to the myths while vividly reincarnating Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, the son of giants, a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. From Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerges the gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to dupe others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

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How to Talk So Little Kids will Listen by Joanna Faber.jpg6.) How to Talk So Little Kids will Listen by Joanna Faber

A must-have resource for anyone who lives or works with young kids, with an introduction by Adele Faber, coauthor of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, the international mega-bestseller The Boston Globe dubbed “The Parenting Bible.”

For over thirty-five years, parents have turned to How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk for its respectful and effective solutions to the unending challenges of raising children. Now, in response to growing demand, Adele’s daughter, Joanna Faber, along with Julie King, tailor How to Talk’s powerful communication skills to children ages two to seven.

Faber and King, each a parenting expert in her own right, share their wisdom accumulated over years of conducting How To Talk workshops with parents and a broad variety of professionals. With a lively combination of storytelling, cartoons, and fly-on-the-wall discussions from their workshops, they provide concrete tools and tips that will transform your relationship with the young kids in your life.

What do you do with a little kid who…won’t brush her teeth…screams in his car seat…pinches the baby…refuses to eat vegetables…throws books in the library…runs rampant in the supermarket? Organized according to common challenges and conflicts, this book is an essential emergency first-aid manual of communication strategies, including a chapter that addresses the special needs of children with sensory processing and autism spectrum disorders.

This user-friendly guide will empower parents and caregivers of young children to forge rewarding, joyful relationships with terrible two-year-olds, truculent three-year-olds, ferocious four-year-olds, foolhardy five-year-olds, self-centered six-year-olds, and the occasional semi-civilized seven-year-old. And, it will help little kids grow into self-reliant big kids who are cooperative and connected to their parents, teachers, siblings, and peers.

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Attitude by Jay Wright.jpg5.) Attitude by Jay Wright

In this behind-the-scenes look at the making of a champion, the coach of the Villanova University men’s basketball team shares his competitive and cooperative philosophy, along with lessons from his coaching career and the story of his personal road to success.

When Kris Jenkins sank a three-pointer at the buzzer to win the 2016 NCAA Tournament, it was a victory not just for a team and its coach but for an entire program. In his twentieth season with the Villanova program, including a five-year stint as an assistant to Coach Rollie Massimino, Coach Jay Wright had achieved his lifelong dream—and witnessed the culmination of a decades-long effort to build a culture of winning around a set of core values.

In Attitude, Coach Wright shares some of the leadership secrets that have enabled Villanova, a private university with an undergraduate enrollment of less than 6,500, to thrive in the hypercompetitive world of college athletics. As he recounts the story of the 2015–16 Wildcats, Coach Wright offers anecdotes from his own journey up the ladder of success, with lessons learned on the Little League playing fields of his youth and wisdom passed down from his coaches and mentors.

Each step of Villanova’s journey to a national championship incorporates a signature term torn from Coach Wright’s own motivational playbook. Here are key principles that aspiring leaders can apply, not only on the basketball court but in the boardroom, the classroom, and the living room. From learning to accept your role to remembering to honor those who came before us, Jay Wright’s core values provide a positive blueprint for transformational team building based on the idea that anyone—from the head coach to the last player on the bench—can be a leader when the moment demands it.

The product of a lifetime’s worth of championship-level preparation, Attitude is perfect for anyone looking to build a team, achieve a goal, or nurture their own winning culture.

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High Notes by Gay Talese.jpg4.) High Notes by Gay Talese

When Gay Talese left the New York Times in 1965 to write for Esquire, he brought with him a journalistic style entirely his own, which combined his literary sensibility and craftsmanship with a talent for cultural observation and an interest in American everyday life–in taboo topics and overlooked truths. During a time when the nation seemed hardly to recognize itself, Talese wrote some of the most illuminating and influential magazine articles of all time, canonical works of New Journalism like “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” that elevated the form and brought to it a cachet and creativity formerly reserved for fiction.

Taking its name from Talese’s 2011 New Yorker account of a revealing studio session with avant-pop star Lady Gaga and old-school crooner Tony Bennett, High Notes draws from six decades of Talese’s work, from his long-form pieces for Esquire to his more autobiographical writings of the eighties and nineties to his twenty-first century reflections on New York, New Yorkers, and the institution of which he is the longtime chronicler, the New York Times.

Each one of Talese’s masterful books was an extension of an article collected here. High Notes will appeal to fans of those classics and to students of narrative nonfiction, a genre for which Talese has been so instrumental. The book includes an introduction by Creative Nonfiction founder Lee Gutkind.

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Never Caught by Erica Armstrong Dunbar.jpg3.) Never Caught by Erica Armstrong Dunbar

A startling and eye-opening look into America’s First Family, Never Caught is the powerful narrative of Ona Judge, George and Martha Washington’s runaway slave who risked it all to escape the nation’s capital and reach freedom.

When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital, after a brief stay in New York. In setting up his household he took Tobias Lear, his celebrated secretary, and nine slaves, including Ona Judge, about which little has been written. As he grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn’t get his arms around: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent the slaves back down south just as the clock was about to expire.

Though Ona Judge lived a life of relative comfort, the few pleasantries she was afforded were nothing compared to freedom, a glimpse of which she encountered first-hand in Philadelphia. So, when the opportunity presented itself one clear and pleasant spring day in Philadelphia, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Yet freedom would not come without its costs.

At just twenty-two-years-old, Ona became the subject of an intense manhunt led by George Washington, who used his political and personal contacts to recapture his property.

Impeccably researched, historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar weaves a powerful tale and offers fascinating new scholarship on how one young woman risked it all to gain freedom from the famous founding father.

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Three Days in January by Bret Baier.jpg2.) Three Days in January by Bret Baier

January 1961: President Eisenhower has three days to secure the nation’s future before his young successor, John F. Kennedy, takes power — a final mission by the legendary leader who planned D-Day and guided America through the darkening Cold War

Bret Baier, the Chief Political Anchor for Fox News Channel and the Anchor and Executive Editor of Special Report with Bret Baier, illuminates the extraordinary yet underappreciated presidency of Dwight Eisenhower by taking readers into Ike’s last days in power. Baier masterfully casts the period between Eisenhower’s now-prophetic farewell address on the evening of January 17, 1961, and Kennedy’s inauguration on the afternoon of January 20 as the closing act of one of modern America’s greatest leaders  during which Eisenhower urgently sought to prepare both the country and the next president for the challenges ahead.

Those three days in January 1961, Baier shows, were the culmination of a lifetime of service that took Ike from rural Kansas to West Point, to the battlefields of World War II, and finally to the Oval Office. When he left the White House, Dwight Eisenhower had done more than perhaps any other modern American to set the nation, in his words, “on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.”

On January 17, Eisenhower spoke to the nation in one of the most remarkable farewell speeches in U.S. history. Ike looked to the future, warning Americans against the dangers of elevating partisanship above national interest, excessive government budgets (particularly deficit spending), the expansion of the military-industrial complex, and the creeping political power of special interests. Seeking to ready a new generation for power, Eisenhower intensely advised the forty-three-year-old Kennedy before the inauguration.

Baier also reveals how Eisenhower’s two terms changed America forever for the better — perhaps even saved the world from destruction — and demonstrates how today Ike offers us the model of principled leadership that polls say is so missing in politics. The Supreme Commander of Allied Forces during World War II, Eisenhower only reluctantly stepped into politics. As president, Ike successfully guided the country out of a dangerous war in Korea, peacefully through the apocalyptic threat of nuclear war with the Soviets, and into one of the greatest economic booms in world history.

Five decades later, Baier’s Three Days in January forever makes clear that Eisenhower, an often forgotten giant of U.S. history, still offers vital lessons for our own time and stands as a lasting example of political leadership at its most effective and honorable.

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The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston.jpg1.) The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston

A five-hundred-year-old legend. An ancient curse. A stunning medical mystery. And a pioneering journey into the unknown heart of the world’s densest jungle.

Since the days of conquistador Hernán Cortés, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. Indigenous tribes speak of ancestors who fled there to escape the Spanish invaders, and they warn that anyone who enters this sacred city will fall ill and die. In 1940, swashbuckling journalist Theodore Morde returned from the rainforest with hundreds of artifacts and an electrifying story of having found the Lost City of the Monkey God-but then committed suicide without revealing its location.

Three quarters of a century later, bestselling author Doug Preston joined a team of scientists on a groundbreaking new quest. In 2012 he climbed aboard a rickety, single-engine plane carrying the machine that would change everything: lidar, a highly advanced, classified technology that could map the terrain under the densest rainforest canopy. In an unexplored valley ringed by steep mountains, that flight revealed the unmistakable image of a sprawling metropolis, tantalizing evidence of not just an undiscovered city but an enigmatic, lost civilization.

Venturing into this raw, treacherous, but breathtakingly beautiful wilderness to confirm the discovery, Preston and the team battled torrential rains, quickmud, disease-carrying insects, jaguars, and deadly snakes. But it wasn’t until they returned that tragedy struck: Preston and others found they had contracted in the ruins a horrifying, sometimes lethal-and incurable-disease.

Suspenseful and shocking, filled with colorful history, hair-raising adventure, and dramatic twists of fortune, The Lost City of the Monkey God is the absolutely true, eyewitness account of one of the great discoveries of the twenty-first century.

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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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