Holiday lit guide: Non-fiction finds from area booksellers

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"Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country"

by Pam Houston

Houston's writing often explores the themes of relationships, the environment and the outdoors, animals, and childhood trauma. In her latest book, "Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country," she revisits all of these themes, and the overarching message is one of hope. "How do I find hope on a dying planet, and if there is no hope to be found, how do I live in its absence?" Houston asks. By way of answer, she has written a moving memoir that reflects on her 25 years of living on a ranch in Colorado, her connection to the land, and her love for the animals with whom she shares her life.

— Phil Lewis, Bennington Bookshop

"Do You Mind if I Cancel"

by Gary Janetti

Janetti, a writer and producer for some of television's most iconic comedies, is very funny, with a straight forward and self-deprecating style. But his writing is also lean and elegant, and he is not merely showcasing a series of one-off pieces designed to entertain with tales of his salad days before success. He has not created cute little jaunts down memory lane that show the reader he was once a commoner before he claimed the inevitable success he now wields. Instead, Janetti is clear-eyed and unsentimental in examining the loneliness and sense of otherness that dogged him as a young person. And the confusing process of finding the way forward without a clear path. Janetti is an observant writer who knows how to find the honesty of humor in dark places, and he has the bravery to tell about it.

— Ana, Bartleby's Books

"Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger"

by Rebecca Traister

During the recent impeachment hearings. witness Fiona Hill stated, "I hate to say it, but when women show anger, it's not taken seriously or it's pushed off as "emotional issues." Her comment was covered extensively by mainstream media. Rebecca Traister's "Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger" contributed to bringing this topic into the mainstream. Traister's exploration is not simply a rant: it is highly readable and contains surprises. Traister concludes that anger is healthy fuel for change.

— Leslie Sullivan Sachs, Everyone's Books

"Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls"

by T. Kira Madden

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Raised with both privilege and glaring uncertainties born of neglect, Madden traces the course of a tumultuous childhood growing up with her Hawaiin/Chinese mother, and Jewish father (part of the Madden shoe empire) in Florida and New York. What raises her memoir above the standard ranks of another tell-all from the world of monied advantage is Madden's unique use of language, and unflinching willingness to explore difficult personal truths. She has a voice that is worth hearing and being aware of for the future.

— Ana, Bartleby's Books

"Medallion Status: True Stories from Secret Rooms"

by John Hodgman

To say I love Hodgman's writing is an understatement. "Vacationland," winner of the 2018 New England Book Award for nonfiction, was read aloud to anyone who would listen. As a part-time resident of the Berkshires and of Maine, his descriptions of the everyday life of these areas and his realization of ineptitude at rural life are spot-on and laugh-out-loud funny. He captures that again with "Medallion Status," which at first glance, seems incredibly unrelatable. Platinum Status at Beloved Airlines (his pseudonym for his preferred airline), access to secret societies, fancy A-list hotels & parties; see what I mean? But Hodgman, like so many of us, has notions on imposter syndrome, kinship, exclusion, loneliness, and the weirdness of everyday and famous-person life. I thoroughly recommend his books for those looking for some social commentary with a dose of some observational comedy.

— Maria, Bartleby's Books

"Southern Lady Code"

by Helen Ellis

The author of "American Housewife" has returned with a hysterical collection of essays. Ellis, a Southern girl, has been living in New York City for over twenty years. She believes that if you "don't have something nice to say, say something not-so-nice in a nice way." This collection covers everything from marijuana to marriage, fashion to food, always with an eye towards Southern manners. Like your best girlfriend telling you stories, if she were brilliant and hilarious.

— Lisa, Bartleby's Books

"The Body: A Guide For Occupants"

by Bill Bryson

The unique and witty voice of Bill Bryson will educate the reader about every square inch of their body, from head on down. Bryson has done a tremendous amount of research about medical and physiological history, as well as the many ways things can go wrong. His storytelling approach to conveying information makes everything from the pancreas to the gut microbes fascinating.

— Nancy Braus, Everyone's Books


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