general non-fiction

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Eating Aliens: One Man’s Adventures Hunting Invasive Animal Species by Jackson Landers

Faced with an environmental apocalypse created by the introduction of non-native creatures that devour our native flora and fauna Landers grabs his hunting gear, frying pan and a delightful sense of humor and instructs us on how we might all become responsible “invasivores.” Stalking everything from black spiny-tailed iguanas to Chinese Mystery Snails (and let’s not forget the culinary delights of the European Green Crab and Snakehead) we discover that devouring the enemy not only helps the environment. It tastes good, too!

Connectome by Sebastian Seung

There is a forest in our heads – soaring trunks and twining branches composing an entire interconnected system. A spark, a pulse, and the branches lit up as the message speeds past in less than a microsecond. This network of nerves, dendrites, axons, and somas make up our connectome. Similar to the genome, this new concept stems from the research of Dr. Sebastian Seung of MIT’s Brain and Cognitive Science Department. He has started an ambitious project to map all the connections between neurons – the nerve cells that are responsible for our every movement and thought.

Marcella Hazan: That's Italian!

Looking for real Italian dishes that you really can make yourself? Look no further than the classic cookbooks written by Italian-born homemaker and cooking instructor Marcella Hazan, who died recently at the age of 89.

Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero by Larry Tye

Before the summer blockbuster “Man of Steel” hits theaters on June 14th, be sure to pick up Superman: the High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero by Lexington native Larry Tye.

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, And the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Chris McDougall

Have you have been looking for some inspiration to get you back out on the track and running now that all the snow has melted? Then “Born to Run” is for you! Author and marathon runner Chris McDougall sets out to find the reclusive Tarahumara Native American tribe in the Copper Canyons of Mexico. Over the centuries, the Tarahumara have developed an almost super human ability to run ultra long distances without the need to rest and without incurring injuries, and they love every minute of it!

Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms: The Story of the Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind by Richard Fortey

Instead of studying fossils of long dead critters like any respectable paleontologist Fortey focuses on the survivors—“messengers from deep geological time”--that should not have survived at least 5 mass extinctions. There are the titular horseshoe crabs and velvet worms, of course, but also jellyfish, clams, bacteria and “slimy mounds” (stromatolites). And we must not forget the cockroach. Like a wise old grandfather who knows all things old and fascinating (and much more besides) Fortey guides us through 4 billion years of life.

Ah-choo!: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold by Jennifer Ackerman

A delightful, witty investigation into the mysterious world of an ailment that touches every life on the planet on average four times per year. And the multi-billion dollar industry that repeatedly (and wrongly) claims to “cure” it. A gifted science reporter, Ackerman takes us deep into the places where the viruses begin their nefarious onslaught (the nose) and delights in relating the studies that debunk the curative effects of chicken soup, zinc, and various soaps and elixirs. But she also tells us what works. And how to avoid a cold (hint: children are germ factories).

Travels With Epicurus: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life by Daniel M. Klein

With a suitcase full of philosophy books Klein returns to the Greek island of Hydra to discover the secrets of aging graciously and gracefully. While the ancient philosopher Epicurus is Klein’s most important guide, the author seeks wisdom in a variety of texts. Looking back over a life in the fast lane he contemplates the uncommonly content lives of the old men of Hydra. Men with deep roots in the island’s culture and deeper friendships. A lovely, thin volume filled with pithy and gently provocative observations on a topic of interest to us all.

More Baths Less Talking by Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy, Fever Pitch) writes a monthly column for the British magazine Believer where he discusses the books he’s read in the past month. Compiling a group of these columns into a novel seems like a strange idea, but reading this collection is like joining a fun book club with a witty, well-read writer. Over the course of the 14 entries Hornby talks about fiction and nonfiction, but he also digresses often about writing and writers, life as a parent, the pleasures of reading, and the art of only reading short novels.

We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy by Yael Kohen

I expected this to be an oral history of comedians so I was a little surprised at how much space was given over to improv and writing for sitcoms.  Not that it wasn't interesting but I kept wondering when we'd be getting back to the comedians.   A lot of the focus of the book is about women breaking into the largely male arena of stand-up comedy and the perception, by some people, that women aren't funny.  There is some rehashing of well-worn topics like how hard women had it on  Saturday Night Live, and other not so well known, like how supportive Janeane Garofalo was

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