Wordplay TBR Pile: Nonfiction

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As we wait for Wordplay tickets to go on sale (psst, March 18th!), it’s time to share some of our most anticipated authors and books for you to add to your Wordplay TBR list. Specifically, we want to focus on nonfiction titles that will be included in the Wordplay lineup. Love documentaries? Interested in journalism? Need a good memoir recommendation? Check out Wordplay’s wide selection of nonfiction offerings.

Personal Memoir

Perfect if you: Have ever wonder what it takes to be the CEO of the Girl Scouts of America or to compete in the Olympics. Are searching for personal reflections on race, gender, and family.



My Path to the Stars by Sylvia Acevedo (September 4, 2018)
From Booklist, via HMH: "This appealing page-turner helps fill the void of biographies on Latina women. Girls, boys, scouts, non- scouts—all will be inspired by Acevedo’s story."



A Better Man (A Mostly Serious) Letter to My Son by Michael Ian Black (May 5, 2020)
From Alyssa Milano, via Workman: “I couldn’t put this down. An important book for anybody with a son. Michael Ian Black tackles the tough subject of masculinity in unexpected, tender, and sometimes funny ways.”



Stray by Stephanie Danler (May 5, 2020)
From Penguin Random House: “From the bestselling author of Sweetbitter, a memoir of growing up in a family shattered by lies and addiction, and of one woman’s attempts to find a life beyond the limits of her past. Stray is a moving, sometimes devastating, brilliantly written and ultimately inspiring exploration of the landscapes of damage and survival.”



Brave Enough by Jessie Diggins (March 10, 2020)
From Ann Bancroft, via JesseDiggins.com: “Already an inspiration to us all, Jessie once again shows her courage to leave it all on the track by sharing her deeply personal story. Readers will be encouraged by how one woman created a path forward for herself—and helped and uplifted so many in the process.”



A Year Without a Name by Cyrus Grace Dunham (October 15, 2019)
From Mary Karr, via Little, Brown, and Company: "Cyrus Grace Dunham has written a classic memoir-passionate and clear eyed and unputdownable. I've never seen a gender journey rendered in more tender, riveting detail. Bravo to this extraordinary new voice."



Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America by Laila Lalami (April 28, 2020)
From Viet Thanh Nyugen, via Penguin Random House: “This is an urgent, compelling, and persuasive book, written by one of our most important critics of the American character. Laila Lalami has given us a clear-eyed, even-handed assessment of this country’s potential—and its limits—through her insightful notion of conditional citizenship. Her book is a gift to all Americans—if they are willing to receive it.”


Perfect if you: Have ever wanted to know more about astrology can teach us to discover meaning in our lives and better understand our own identities. 



Madame Clairvoyant’s Guide to the Stars: Astrology, Our Icons, and Ourselves by Claire Comstock-Gay (April 21, 2020)
From HarperCollins: “A soulful exploration of the twelve astrological signs embodied by our living “stars”—from divas to philosophers, poets to punks—and the ways they can help us better understand ourselves and each other, from the wildly popular astrology columnist for New York magazine’s The Cut.”

True Crime

Perfect if you: Love True Crime podcasts. Wish you could hear from investigative journalists about their process. Adore learning little-known cold case facts. 



The Lost Brothers: A Family’s Decades-Long Search by Jack El-Hai (October 22, 2019)
From University of Minnesota Press: “An intimate portrait of a parent’s worst nightmare and its terrible toll on a family, the book is also a genuine mystery, spinning out suspense at every missed turn or potential lead, along with its hope for resolution.” 



The Man Who Played With Fire: Steig Larsson’s Lost Files and the Hunt for an Assassin by Jan Stocklassa (October 1, 2019)
From Wall Street Journal, via Barnes and Noble: “A fascinating ‘creative nonfiction’ account of the greatest unsolved mystery in Swedish history.” 


Memoirs, Biographies, and Reflections on Politics

Perfect if you: Need some fresh perspectives on current or past political climates. Are interested in a biography of individuals wrapped up in political races, ambition, and scandal.



The Firsts: Inside the Women Reshaping Congress by Jennifer Steinhauer (March 10, 2020)
From Algonquin Books: “Vivid and smart, The Firsts delivers fresh details, inside access, historical perspective, and expert analysis as these women—inspiring, controversial, talented, and rebellious—do something truly surprising: make Congress essential again.”



Dictionary of the Undoing by John Freeman (November 12, 2019)
From Walter Mosley, via Macmillan: "Poet and editor, John Freeman, has created a work of both artistry and activism in Dictionary of the Undoing, a lexicon of what should matter from A to Z—a complex and nuanced rebirthing of words that have been worn away by the strife and noise of this era."



The Scientist and the Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI, and Industrial Espionage by Mara Hvistendahl (February 4, 2020)
From Library Journal, via Penguin Random House: “[A] compelling tale of industrial espionage. . . This engaging book has something for everyone; it can be read as a spy thriller, an examination of U.S.-China relations, or a case study of agricultural espionage.” 



Imperfect Union: How Jessie and John Frémont Mapped the West, Invented Celebrity, and Helped Cause the Civil War by Steve Inskeep (January 14, 2020)
From John Meacham, via Penguin Random House: “Surprising and illuminating, Steve Inskeep’s Imperfect Union does what great history should do: it tells a story of consequence with verve and with an appreciation of the role of human agency in the broad affairs of a people. The story of the Frèmonts has helped shape our own story. Read this terrific book to find out how.” 



Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America by Karine Jean-Pierre (November 5, 2019)
From Harlequin Trade Publishing: “An inspiring political memoir from Karine Jean-Pierre, Chief Public Affairs Officer for MoveOn, chronicling her path from New York’s Haitian community to working in the Obama White House, and offering a blueprint for anyone who wants to change the face of politics.”



You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington by Alexis Coe (February 4, 2020)
From Irin Carmon, via Penguin Random House: “Alexis Coe energetically dusts off an old-boys genre to present a life in full, without sentiment or whitewashing. It’s a public service, and it’s also a lot of fun.”

Memoirs and Reflections on Addiction

Perfect if you: Are curious about the way our minds pay attention to tasks. Are searching for moving stories of those who overcame or are working to change the reality of addiction in America. Are craving some raw honesty. 



Strung Out: One Last Hit and Other Lies That Nearly Killed Me by Erin Khar (February 25, 2020)
From Harlequin Trade Publishing: “This vital memoir will change how we look at the opioid crisis and how the media talks about it. A deeply moving and emotional read,Strung Out challenges our preconceived ideas of what addiction looks like.”



Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (January 14, 2020)
From Penguin Random House: “The Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of the acclaimed, best-selling Half the Sky now issue a plea–deeply personal and told through the lives of real Americans–to address the crisis in working-class America, while focusing on solutions to mend a half century of governmental failure.”



Attention, a Love Story by Casey Schwartz (April 7, 2020)
From Penguin Random House: “Blending memoir, biography, and original reporting, Schwarz examines her attempts to preserve her authentic life and decide what is most important in it. Attention: A Love Story will resonate with readers who want to determine their own minds, away from the siren call of their screens.”



Stay: Threads, Conversations, Collaborations by Nick Flynn (March 17, 2020)
From ZE Books: “With Stay, acclaimed poet, artist, and bestselling memoirist Nick Flynn presents a self-portrait via a constellation of topics that have circled his work. Ranging from the impact of suicide and homelessness to addiction, political engagement, and the vital power of artistic friendships, Stay is a mixed-media retrospective that shows nothing is created in isolation.”

Essays, Collectives, and Perspectives

Perfect if you: Don’t have time to finish a book in one sitting. Love the variety of essay collections. Are looking for diverse perspectives on a particular topic or theme. 



Mothers Before: Stories of Our Mothers as We Never Saw Them by Edan Lepucki (April 7, 2020)
From Abrams Books: “In this remarkable collection, New York Times bestselling novelist Edan Lepucki gathers more than sixty original essays and favorite photographs to explore this question. The daughters in Mothers Before are writers and poets, artists and teachers, and the images and stories they share reveal the lives of women in ways that are vulnerable and true, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and always moving.”



Truth Worth Telling: A Reporter’s Search for Meaning in the Stories of Our Times by Scott Pelley (May 21, 2019)
From Harlequin Trade Publishing: “A 60 Minutes correspondent and former anchor of the CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley writes as a witness to events that changed our world. In moving, detailed prose, he stands with firefighters at the collapsing World Trade Center on 9/11, advances with American troops in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, and reveals private moments with presidents (and would-be presidents) he’s known for decades. Pelley also offers a resounding defense of free speech and a free press as the rights that guarantee all others.”



Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby (March 31, 2020)
From Penguin Random House: “A new rip-roaring essay collection from the smart, edgy, hilarious, unabashedly raunchy, and bestselling Samantha Irby. The essays in this collection draw on the raw, hilarious particulars of Irby's new life. Wow, No Thank You is Irby at her most unflinching, riotous, and relatable.”



Somewhere in the Unknown World: A Collective Refugee Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang (August 11, 2020)
From Macmillan: “Somewhere in the Unknown World is a themed collection of stories of refugees from around the world who have converged on Minneapolis, collected and told by the award-winning author of The Latehomecomer and The Song Poet. In Yang's exquisite, poetic, and necessary telling, the voices of refugees from all over the world restore humanity to America's strangers and redeem its long history of welcome.”