Which nonfiction titles should we read for December and January?


We have decided to start choosing nonfiction titles a month and half in advance of the meetup. That means that for this poll, we will be choosing two titles. Therefore, everybody should vote for two titles. The winner will be the selection for December and the runner-up the selection for January. We hope that the longer lead time will give more people a chance to obtain and finish the nonfiction selections.

This poll will close Wednesday November 24, at 11:59 p.m. The winners will be announced on Thanksgiving Day. Please only vote once — but for two!

Mirror to AmericaMirror to America: The Autobiography of John Hope Franklin. By John Hope Franklin. 382 pp + index. A riveting and bitterly candid memoir by a seminal African-American scholar, raised and educated in an era of stifling race prejudice.

John Hope Franklin was “a prolific scholar of African-American history who profoundly influenced thinking about slavery and Reconstruction while helping to further the civil rights struggle.” He died last year at the age of 94. ☞ The New York Times Sunday Book Review by David Oshinsky ☞ Google Books page ☞ Amazon.com page.

A Great Idea at the TimeA Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books. By Alex Beam. 201 pp + appendix. The minds behind a curious project that continues to exert a hold in some quarters.

Alex Beam is a journalist and currently a columnist for The Boston Globe. His book previous to Great Idea, Gracefully Insane: Life and Death Inside America’s Premier Mental Hospital was also a Notable Books selection. ☞ The New York Times Sunday Book Review by James Campbell ☞ Google Books page ☞ Amazon.com page.

The Age of EntanglementThe Age of Entanglement: When Quantum Physics Was Reborn. By Louisa Gilder. 336 pp + glossary, notes, bibliography. The “entanglement” of the title is short-hand for the phenomenon described by quantum mechanics: the counter-intuitive fact that particles that had interacted with each might still act as though dependent on each other even though they were at opposite ends of the solar system. Gilder describes with verve and wit the personalities that struggled with the fact and theory–and each other.

Louisa Gilder worked on this book for eight and a half years, starting as a “lapsed physics major” who encountered entanglement in a philosophy class in her junior year at Dartmouth College. ☞ The New York Times Sunday Book Review by Peter Galison ☞ Google Books page ☞ Amazon.com page.

Waking GiantWaking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson. By David S. Reynolds. 384 pp + notes, bibliography, index. Reynolds excels at depicting the cultural, social and intellectual currents that buffeted the nation.

David S. Reynolds is a professor of English and American Studies at the City College of New York. He has also written several books on Walt Whitman and George Lippard and nineteenth century American literature. ☞ The New York Times Sunday Book Review by Jay Wink ☞ Google Books page ☞ Amazon.com page.

Hip, the HistoryHip, the History. By John Leland. 356 pp + notes, index. A lively study of the well-known but hard to define antiestablishment posture.

John Leland covers American culture and news items at The New York Times He is also the author of Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of On the Road (They’re Not What You Think). ☞ The New York Times Sunday Book Review by David Kamp ☞ Google Books page ☞ Amazon.com page.

Garbage LandGarbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash. By Elizabeth Royte. 296 pp + index. A chronicle of the weird stuff that happens to what we discard.

Elizabeth Royte is a freelance journalist and author. ☞ The New York Times Sunday Book Review by Neil Genzlinger ☞ Google Books page ☞ Amazon.com page.

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