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Books & Authors

Quirky Nonfiction

These weird-but-true nonfiction titles will pique your interest in a variety of topics. 

 

Butts: A Backstory by Heather Radke

Whether we love them or hate them, think they're sexy, think they're strange, consider them too big, too small, or anywhere in between, humans have a complicated relationship with butts. It is a body part unique to humans, critical to our evolution and survival, and yet it has come to signify so much more: sex, desire, comedy, shame. A woman's butt, in particular, is forever being assessed, criticized, and objectified, from anxious self-examinations trying on jeans in department store dressing rooms to enduring crass remarks while walking down a street or high school hallways. But why? In Butts: A Backstory, reporter, essayist, and RadioLab contributing editor Heather Radke is determined to find out.

 

Raw Dog by Jamie Loftus

Part travelogue, part culinary history, all capitalist critique-comedian Jamie Loftus's debut, Raw Dog, will take you on a cross-country road trip in the summer of 2021, and reveal what the creation, culture, and class influence of hot dogs says about America now. Hot dogs. Poor people created them. Rich people found a way to charge fifteen dollars for them. They're high culture, they're low culture, they're sports food, they're kids' food, they're hangover food, and they're deeply American, despite having no basis whatsoever in America's Indigenous traditions. You can love them, you can hate them, but you can't avoid the great American hot dog

 

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals by Caitlin Doughty

Every day, funeral director Caitlin Doughty receives dozens of questions about death. What would happen to an astronaut's body if it were pushed out of a space shuttle? Do people poop when they die? Can Grandma have a Viking funeral? In the tradition of Randall Munroe's What If?, Doughty's new book, Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?, blends her scientific understanding of the body and the intriguing history behind common misconceptions about corpses to offer factual, hilarious, and candid answers to thirty-five urgent questions posed by her youngest fans. Readers will learn what happens if you die on an airplane, the best soil for mummifying your dog, and whether or not you can preserve your friend's skull as a keepsake.

 

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach

The author of Stiff and Bonk explores the irresistibly strange universe of space travel and life without gravity. Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can't walk for a year? have sex? smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations. As the author discovers, it's possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth.

 

Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation Into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin

In Dark Archives, Megan Rosenbloom seeks out the historic and scientific truths behind anthropodermic bibliopegy?the practice of binding books in this most intimate covering. Dozens of such books live on in the world’s most famous libraries and museums. Dark Archives exhumes their origins and brings to life the doctors, murderers, and indigents whose lives are sewn together in this disquieting collection. Along the way, Rosenbloom tells the story of how her team of scientists, curators, and librarians test rumored anthropodermic books, untangling the myths around their creation and reckoning with the ethics of their custodianship.

 

Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving by Mo Rocca

Mo Rocca has always loved obituaries -- reading about the remarkable lives of world leaders, captains of industry, innovators and artists. But not every notable life has gotten the send-off it deserves. With Mobituaries -- the book companion to the CBS podcast of the same name -- the journalist, humorist, and history buff is righting that wrong, profiling the people who have long fascinated him -- from the 20th century's greatest entertainer... to sitcom characters gone all too soon... to a shamefully forgotten Founding Father. Even if you know the names, you've never understood why they matter... until now. In these pages, Rocca chronicles the stories of the people who made a difference, but whose lives -- for some reason or another -- were never truly examined.

 

Enslaved by Ducks by Bob Tarte

When Bob Tarte bought a house in rural Michigan, he was counting on a tranquil haven. Then Bob married Linda. She wanted a rabbit, which seemed innocuous enough until the bunny chewed through their electrical wiring. And that was just the beginning. Before long, Bob found himself constructing cages, buying feed, clearing duck waste, and spoon-feeding a menagerie of furry and feathery residents. His life of quiet serenity vanished, and he unwittingly became a servant to a relentlessly demanding family. They dumbfounded him, controlled and teased him, took their share of his flesh, and stole his heart.

 

Mothman: The Facts Behind the Legend by Donnie Sergent, Jr. and Jeff Wamsley

On the night of November 15, 1996, two adventurous youngcouples drove into the TNT area north of Point Pleasant, WV. What they saw in the countryside that night has evolved into one of the great mysteries ofall time: just who--or what--was the Mothman? This book will answer many questions regarding just what those couples saw outside the abandoned North Power Plant that night. Culled from a variety of sources, the materials presented inside are not conjecture--the authors are careful not to cross the line between fact and fiction--leaving any decisions regarding the truth behind the Mothman legend solely up to the reader.

 

Bitch: On the Female of the Species by Lucy Cooke

Humans are locked in a battle over sex and gender: one side argues that evolutionary biology dictates how we should be, and the other that it's a patriarchal tool that shouldn't matter at all. Rewriting the science of evolution and sex, she shows how feminist biologists have uncovered nature's dizzying diversity of bodies, brains and behavior that evolution has created. With a new perspective on the female animal of a variety of species, Cooke reveals a new understanding of what being female can mean, and how evolution itself can work.

 

 

Butter: A Rich History by Elaine Khosrova

Award-winning food writer and chef Elaine Khosrova serves up a story as rich, textured, and culturally relevant as butter itself. From the ancient butter bogs of Ireland to the sacred butter sculptures of Tibet, Butter is about so much more than food. Khosrova details its surprisingly vital role in history, politics, economics, nutrition, even spirituality and art.

 

 

 

 

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