A Woman of No Importance
Virginia Hall was a seemingly ordinary Boston socialite. She was also one of most wanted and effective Allied spies during World War II. As a member of Winston Churchill’s Special Operations Executive (also known as the “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare”), she became the first Allied woman deployed behind enemy lines and altered the course of WWII.
Finding My Voice
Valerie Jarrett had her first brush with the Obamas when she interviewed a talented young lawyer named Michelle Robinson in 1991. Michelle Robinson would eventually become Michelle Obama. Jarrett would find herself as one of the Obamas most trusted advisors and a key advisor and confidante to the first family during the White House years. This is her fascinating and incredible story.
The Moth Presents Occasional Magic
Catherine Burns, ed.
Selected from the storytelling phenomenon The Moth, this carefully curated collection brings the power of Moth storytelling—performed live and without notes—to the page. Occasional Magic presents a number of life-affirming and inspiring stories ranging from fifteen-year-old saving a life in Chicago to a ninety-year-old man recalling a tense standoff with the KGB.
Madame Fourcade's Secret War
During the Nazi occupation of France, a French spy network known as the Alliance proved crucial to both the resistance and the Allied war effort. It survived longer than any other French spy network despite the Gestapo’s constant threat. It was run by a young mother of two named Marie-Madeleine Fourcade who she become the bane of the Nazi regime.
Anne Lister is one of the 19th century’s most fascinating figures. She was a feminist in a society that had no concept of the term, an industrialist and landowner in a deeply patriarchal system, and an openly homosexual woman in a world that refused to acknowledge her existence as such. Culled from Lister’s recently decrypted and never-before-published diaries, Gentleman Jack is a truly page-turning read.
Set against a world of decadence, wealth, and gilded glamor, The Beneficiary offers a penetrating look into the weight of legacy, inheritance, and self-destruction. Journalist Janny Scott mines her own family history and the life and secrets of her enigmatic father and his family fortune. Reading like Fitzgerald for the twenty-first century, The Beneficiary makes for an extraordinary, larger-than-life tale.
In the 1970s, Reverend Willie Maxwell was accused of murdering five of his family members. He was eventually aquitted only to be murdered by another relative. Harper Lee was sitting in the vigilante’s trial with an eye toward writing her own In Cold Blood but she never finished the book. The Furious Hours chronicles Lee’s obsessive work on a book she never completed.
Call Me American
Abdi Nor Iftin
Growing up in Mogadishu, Somalia Abdi Nor Iftin was fascinated by American and its culture. He learned English watching American films, listened to American music, and wore American clothes. When an Islamist group rose to power, Abdi used his English skills to release secret dispatches. He was eventually forced to flee and, in a stroke of pure luck, won entrance to the U.S. This is his astonishing story.
Long fascinated by the rich cultural history of Egypt, Peter Hessler moved his family to Cairo in 2011. Unfortunately, he arrived in the midst of the Egyptian Arab Spring. The Buried is a chronicle of the this tumultuous period told through the stories of the everyday Egyptians Hessler encountered.
No Walls and the Recurring Dream
Ani DiFranco has carved a place for herself as a Grammy-winning singer/songwriter, a social activist, and a feminist icon. Here, she recounts her early life as well as her drive to wring something more from her life. It is a frank, passionate, witty account of her journey from sleeping in a bus station to creating a successful record label.
The Truths We Hold
Just in time for her bid for Democratic nomination, The Truths We Hold is the inspiring story of Kamala Harris’s life. Chronicling her days as the daughter of an immigrant family, a prosecutor, Attorney General of California, and a member of the U.S. Senate, it is an inspiring and fascinating view into one of America’s most promising political voices.
The Reality Bubble
The Reality Bubble is a deeply fascinating look at the myriad blind spots and biases that shape our lives—some we’re born with, others we develop over time. Regardless of where they come from, our perceptions and understanding of the world around us are profoundly shaped by those things we choose not to see. In an age where we have the ability to tailor the way we receive information to an unprecedented level, The Reality Bubble is a vitally important read.
The Castle on Sunset
For nearly 100 years, the Chateau Marmont has stood as not only a classic Hollywood monument, but also a magnet for the biggest stars of the day. The Castle on Sunset is the definitive history of this apartment house turned hotel and the gossip, scandals, and legends that have long defined it.
The Truffle Underground
Perfect for fans of The Orchard Thief, The Truffle Underground is a deep, thrilling, and bizarre dive into the surprising rough-and-tumble world of truffle hunters. It’s a world where truffle farmers patrol their crops with rifles, hunters poison one another’s truffle sniffing dogs, and an underground black market thrives. It’s an incredibly entertaining, gender-busting romp.
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of book clubs and the community and camaraderie they promote (we have one after all). They’re a vital and delightful part of literary culture. More often than not, book clubs tend to skew toward fiction in their selections, but there is a rich and incredibly entertaining world lingering on those nonfiction shelves too. The real world is populated with a bevy of bizarre and entertaining characters, larger-than-life scenarios, and stories that are just too strange for fiction. Here are a few of our recent favorite nonfiction books for book clubs.