STEELE PICKS: 10 BEST NONFICTION BOOKS of 2014

art of asking

1. The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer [Grand Central Publishing]

–As a feminist and a Boston-based music journalist, I love everything about this memoir. It’s absolutely engrossing. I liked Boston’s The Dresden Dolls and always appreciated Amanda Palmer for her outspoken nature, her feminism and musicianship. Now I truly admire Amanda Palmer and feel we’d be friends if we ever met. I’m wondering if we were ever at a party at the same time at Castle von Buhler—my artist friend Cynthia von Buhler’s former Boston home. The Art of Asking illustrates the importance of making lasting connections through art, love and creativity.

complete review

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2. My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff [Knopf]

–Everything about this memoir appeals to me from the font to the cover to the 90s setting to the tone. It begins in winter with sections by season, then chapters with titles such as “Three Days of Snow,” “The Obscure Bookcase,” “Sentimental Education” and “Three Days of Rain.” Memoir as literary recollections. It’s lovely and immensely engrossing because we’ve all experienced periods of doubt, periods of reflection, periods of development, our twenties or the 90s (for some of us, our twenties and the nineties were all of that).

complete review

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3. Working Stiff by Judy Melinek [Scribner]

–a medical examiner’s residency in New York. detailed, gory and completing engrossing.

Cured

4. Cured by Nathalia Holt [Dutton]

–Berlin patients. painstakingly researched and explained.

interview with Nathalia Holt

unspeakable things

5. Unspeakable Things by Laurie Penny [Bloomsbury USA]

review

alice and freda forever

6. Alice + Freda Forever by Alexis Coe [Pulp]

review

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7. The Fall by Diogo Mainardi [Other Press]

–This is a love story. A moving, clever memoir about a father’s relationship with his son Tito, born with cerebral palsy. It’s clever because Mainardi writes in 424 steps like the steps that his son has progressively taken over the years as he grows stronger and more confident in his movement. A poet and journalist, Mainardi writes lyrically as well as in a scrupulously researched manner. It’s beautiful and fascinating.

review

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8. Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay [Harper]

review

being mortal

9. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande [Metropolitan Books]

–so much respect for Dr. Atul Gawande and his ability delve into particular medical issues, like aging and death, that prove difficult to discuss. thoughtful text and interesting case studies.

roz chast

10. Can We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast [Bloomsbury USA]

–amusing and sad: appropriate in describing the aging process.

“I wish that, at the end of life, when things were truly “done,” there was something to look forward to. Something more pleasure-oriented. Perhaps opium or heroin. So you became addicted. So what? All-you-can-eat ice cream parlors for the extremely aged. Big art picture books and music. Extreme palliative care, for when you’ve had it with everything else: the x-rays, the MRIs, the boring food and the pills that don’t do anything at all. Would that be so bad?”

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