This week, I’m going to feature non-fiction titles debuting Tuesday, May 30. Non-fiction gets a bad rap, sometimes—it’s boring, it’s for old white dudes, it’s dry. Not so! There is, quite literally, something for everyone. Non-fiction encompasses a huge variety of genres and experiences.
Like many of our customers at Curious Iguana, I’ve been participating in Read Broader and exploring an ever-widening range of titles, authors, and subjects. I’ve read many excellent books since January 1, but none compare to Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation. Co-edited by literary power couple Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, Kingdom of Olives & Ash is an essay collection about Israel and Palestine. Contributors include some of the finest writers alive today: Colum McCann, Jacqueline Woodson, Geraldine Brooks, Hari Kunzru, Mario Vargas Llosa, and many more. In order to give these authors firsthand experience abroad in this contested part of the world, Chabon and Ayelet teamed up with the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence, which is comprised of former Israeli soldiers intent on sharing the injustices they witnessed and perpetuated. As I read, I had to own up to my ignorance, and I realized all I know of these regions comes from sensationalist headlines. I’m grateful to the interview subjects, tour guides, taxi drivers, and students from Gaza City, Tel Aviv, the West Bank, and beyond for providing harrowing insight into their daily lives. You can read an excerpt, “The Tallest Man in Ramallah.” All royalties from the sales of the book will be divided between Breaking the Silence and Youth Against Settlements.
A yowling kitten graces the bright yellow cover of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby. That kitten is emblematic of the content of the furiously funny Irby’s new book. Her essays are hilarious (why is that kitten so cute, yet so angry?) and terrifying (no-holds-barred, occasionally defensive, always true). Irby gained a cult following with her blog, bitches gotta eat, which includes wrenching gems like “i’m taking my dead dad on vacation” and “do black girls even get to be depressed?” Bowel movements, body image, falling in love, adopting an antagonistic pet, and dealing with trauma all have their place in WANMIRL; Roxane Gay said it’s “as close to perfect as an essay collection can get.” You’ll cry, and you’ll laugh until you cry. Either way, you’ll need a tissue for your tears or your spit-takes.
“You’re in the Wrong Bathroom!”: And 20 Other Myths and Misconceptions about Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming People is a slim but powerful book dedicated to debunking harmful stereotypes, like “you’ve never met a transgender person,” “trans people are ‘trapped in the wrong body,’” “trans people are a danger to others,” and many more. The authors are legit: Laura Erickson-Schroth is a psychiatrist whose practice focuses on the needs of LGBTQ people, and she is the editor of the seminal work Trans Bodies, Trans Selves. Laura A. Jacobs is a trans and genderqueer psychotherapist and activist. Their humor and scholarship make for a critical and refreshing reading experience. June is LGBT Pride Month, so take the time to educate yourself.
British journalist Tristan Donovan has written about feral animals, soda pop and video games. Now, he takes on that time-honored pastime, the board game, in It’s All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan. Booklist declared, “This history of games is perfect for the budding social scientist, the casual reader, or someone looking to impress party guests with trivia knowledge.” Which wildly popular games were created by a paranoiac? Which ones inspired criminal activity and espionage? You’ll have to move from start to finish to discover the answers. For now, read “The Original Monopoly Was Deeply Anti-Landlord” at Vice or discover what board games reveal about our ancestors.
Other new releases:
- Extraordinary Adventures by David Wallace (fiction, humor)
- White Fur by Jardine Libaire (fiction)
- Touch by Courtney Maum (fiction)
- The Sense of Wonder: A Celebration of Nature for Parents and Children by Rachel Carson (nature, activities)
- The Reminders by Val Emmich (fiction)