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Summer Reading 2021 Nonfiction Recommendations

See the full list of great reading recommendations for Summer 2021 here.

The Lost Family: How DNA Testing Is Upending Who We Are by Libby Copeland

What happens when you spit into a tube and discover that you were adopted? How can “discovering” our genetic ancestry affect, sometimes radically, our identities and self-understanding? If we know that race is socially constructed, why do so many people still think, incorrectly, that it is biologically determined? And since our genes are shared with our biological relatives, how do we conceive of and regulate genetic privacy? As biotechnology improves, these questions are increasingly relevant. Weaving biology with personal stories, Copeland explores the draws and dangers of at-home DNA testing, showing that despite the scientific potential, direct-to-consumer DNA testing currently remains a predominantly commercial enterprise. — Kalina

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The Lost Family: How DNA Testing Is Upending Who We Are Cover Image
ISBN: 9781419747939
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Abrams Press - June 1st, 2021

The Hard Crowd: Essays 2000–2020 by Rachel Kushner

Whether she is riding her motorcycle at 130 miles an hour down Highway 1 in Baja, Mexico, name-dropping her favorite authors, or writing with joy about her hometown, San Francisco, Rachel Kushner is irresistibly cool. You don’t need to get all the references she makes (I certainly don’t) in order to enjoy her effusive and daring criticisms. By the end she will feel like a bosom buddy, one whose opinion you definitely want on whatever has captured the collective imagination this week. — Celeste

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The Hard Crowd: Essays 2000-2020 Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982157692
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - April 6th, 2021

A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performers by Hanif Abdurraqib

Funny, informative, thought-provoking, empathetic—and in addition to all of that, beautiful. Hanif Abdurraqib is a reporter, memoirist, and poet, eliding moment to meaning, emotion to word, shared experience to understanding. In A Little Devil in America, Abdurraqib educates on and analyzes moments and figures of Black performance, but to read this book is to relive and revitalize the feeling of their art. You will start this book surprised and entertained, finish moved and changed. Worth every page. — Jocelyn


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A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984801197
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - March 30th, 2021

The Compton Cowboys by Walter Thompson-Hernández

While reading The Compton Cowboys, what struck me most—and most often—were the relentless challenges, hurdles, roadblocks, and grief that the riders, the students, and the founder of the Compton Jr. Posse, Mayisha Akbar, had to overcome every day to keep on going. Olympic-caliber high jumpers, women rodeo champions, recovering gang members, and kids dodging trouble after school, The Compton Cowboys are part of a centuries-old tradition of Black riders in America. — Dave

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The Compton Cowboys: The New Generation of Cowboys in America's Urban Heartland Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062910615
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - April 20th, 2021

Dedicated by Pete Davis

If you are a reader, I’d like to think that you are exactly the type of person that Pete Davis describes in Dedicated: The Case for Commitment in an Age of Infinite Browsing. Davis argues that we need more people who are stewards, builders, companions, and artisans, to bring depth and dedication to our communities and our lives. For what is our world if people choose open options over strong commitments? One where change, many times fought for over a significant amount of time, will not come or will not sustain. Maybe reading a book cover to cover is only the first step of a more dedicated life? If so, reading this book would be a great first step. — Casey

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Dedicated: The Case for Commitment in an Age of Infinite Browsing Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982140908
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster - May 4th, 2021

The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green

The Anthropocene Reviewed, both in podcast and expanded essay form, is equal parts quirky factoids on quirky topics and elegant memoir in short form, and it is 100% John Green–level honesty and levity, and eye-opening, heart- warming introspection on how we affect each other and the natural world. Rating very human things from Diet Dr. Pepper to the Internet on a scale of one to five stars, this book is for fans of John (and Hank!), for Nerdfighters young and old(er), and for anyone who feels enlivened by seeing the world with both wonder and dismay. — Melinda

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The Anthropocene Reviewed (Signed Edition): Essays on a Human-Centered Planet Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525555216
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dutton - May 18th, 2021

Horizontal Vertigo: A City Called Mexico by Juan Villoro

A native chilango (denizen of Mexico City), novelist Juan Villoro uses meaty prose (translated by Alfred MacAdam) and a global pantheon of literary references for a stream-of- consciousness tour of his home municipality. On any page, one might find street vendors, anecdotes cultural or historic, autobiography, nihilistic bureaucracy, or eerily familiar traumas of epidemic and earthquake. I don’t know that I now know Mexico City, but I certainly know Villoro’s relationship and love for it. — Jocelyn

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Horizontal Vertigo: A City Called Mexico Cover Image
By Juan Villoro, Alfred MacAdam (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781524748883
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon - March 23rd, 2021

The Bookseller of Florence by Ross King

Bestselling author King returns with the story of Vespasiano da Bisticci (b. 1422), Europe’s premier bookmaker and bookseller, whose client list included kings, popes, and wealthy aristocrats. In addition to helping disseminate the works of Plato, Aristotle, and other Ancient Greek writers and philosophers, he wrote books that were illustrated by some of the finest miniaturists of the day. Though Vespasiano thrived during an era of political turmoil and fervent intellectual debate, he was eventually felled by a brilliant new invention: the printing press. The Bookseller of Florence is both a page- turning look at one of the most inspiring eras of the Italian Renaissance and a fascinating and informative history of bookmaking. — Rico

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The Bookseller of Florence: The Story of the Manuscripts That Illuminated the Renaissance Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802158529
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atlantic Monthly Press - April 13th, 2021

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