general non-fiction

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Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

If I could, I would make this book required reading for everyone of voting age in this country. In this age of mass-incarceration, with truly horrifying and mind-numbing statistics documenting our floundering with the administration of justice, this book provides powerful hope for how we can move forward. With incredibly engaging stories from the frontline of the struggle, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama recounts his experiences as a lawyer working to assist those desperately in need, reflecting on his pursuit of the ideal of compassion in American justice.

Crafty Bastards: Beer in New England from the Mayflower to Modern Day by Lauren Clark

Local journalist and beer brewer Lauren Clark has delivered a well researched and witty book about the history of beer and the explosive emergence of craft beer brewing in the New England area. Starting with the Pilgrims first landing in Plymouth, Lauren explores the rich history and vital importance that beer had on the first settlers of America. With scarce resources, the early settlers of our nation had to get creative, using corn, spruce tree branches, pumpkins (actual pumpkins, not our modern nutmeg laced “pumpkin” beers), and molasses, as ingredients.

Confessions of the World’s Best Father by Dave Engledow

I chose this because I thought, “Aha, someone’s finally written my story!” Then I discovered it was by and about--horrors-- A Pretender to the Throne! A hilarious pictorial parody of a clueless (but outrageously clever) father and his adorable daughter. I laughed so hard that I, well, a washing machine was involved. Check Our Catalog

Dam Busters by James Holland.

The subtitle of this book (The true story of the inventors and airmen who led the devastating raid to smash the German dams in 1943) only begins to scratch the surface of this thoroughly researched, fast-paced story. It opens with the genesis of an idea and doesn't end until a post-raid analysis of the success and fates of its participants. In a 10-week span, Squadron 617 was created, special low-flying Lancaster aircraft were manufactured, 9,000 pound bouncing cylindrical bombs were designed to skip across reservoirs into hydroelectric dams, and flight crews were trained.

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

“Whatever else it was, it was one hell of summer.” That’s Bryson’s excellent summary of the epochal summer of 1927 with its captivating events (Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic; the invention of TV), outsized characters performing deeds heroic (the Babe's pursuit of home run glory) or dubious (Al Capone’s rule of Chicago), cultural faux pas (the popularity of eugenics and the heydey of the KKK), and just plain weirdness (Alvin Kelly establishes a new record by sitting atop a flagpole for 12 days).

An Economist Gets Lunch by Tyler Cowen

New Rules for Everyday Foodies. Why do restaurants full of happy, attractive people usually serve mediocre food? Why is it difficult for consumers to see the real environmental costs of many of their decisions? Why is it common to find good ethnic restaurants in junky retail outlets? Where’s the best BBQ in the world? Why is airport (but not airplane) food getting better? Since food is a product of supply and demand Cowen helps us figure out where the supplies are fresh, the suppliers are creative, and the demanders are informed. A mouthwatering tour.

Letters to a Young Scientist by E. O. Wilson

Pulitzer Prize-winning (for The Ants and On Human Nature) evolutionary biologist, naturalist and myrmecologist distills sixty years of teaching and research into 21 letters full of autobiographical anecdotes, self-effacing humor and wonder at both the bizarr

Once Upon a Flock by Laura Scheuer

Thinking about getting some chickens for your backyard? Before you build a coop and hatch some eggs, you might want to read this book written by Massachusetts resident and illustrator Laura Scheuer. Filled with fun anecdotes and observations, as well as many adorable photos and illustrations, this book tells the story of Scheuer's experiences as a proud owner of her own flock of chickens.

Last Train to Zona Verde by Paul Theroux

Few can grumble their way on a journey through the dark heart of a continent with such captivating personal  insight and descriptive power as the well-travelled and celebrated Theroux. At 70 this is his “valedictory [African] trip” from Cape Town north through Namibia and Botswana and finally to the “zone of irrationality” that is Luanda, Angola.

Getting Stoned With Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu by J. Maarten Troost

Troost has a good job in Washington D.C. One that might even lead to a career. But he’s bored and feels trapped. So he and his wife pack their bags and return to the South Pacific (he’s chronicled an earlier stay on Kiribati in the equally hilarious Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific).

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© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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