New Nonfiction Books – Great Stories for Lifelong Learners

Greetings, book lovers! I review books for NetGalley, and I’m delighted to get advance copies of soon-to-be-published books to read and review for participating publishers.

Do you have a book club looking for a great read to spark lively discussion? Love to sink your teeth into interesting non-fiction that expands your mind and helps you look at others’ lives in new ways?  Several recently published books tell great, true stories for those of us who are lifelong learners – vicariously visit the South Pacific or Paris, climb the Himalayas, or dig into the Tennessee roots of The Secret Garden.  

Here are my picks for best new nonfiction books:

The Tin Can Crucible by Christopher Davenport 

A fascinating, thoughtful book written by a Peace Corps volunteer who lived with an indigenous family in Papua New Guinea. He becomes part of a family and attends weddings, story-telling sessions, and de-briefing/training sessions with other Peace Corps volunteers living in the area. The perspectives of people who still believe in witchcraft and act on these beliefs are mind-bending. How do you deal with such a culture with respect and dignity? The author struggles with this question and takes most of his challenges in stride. 

The Ride of Her Life by Elizabeth Letts

This is an adventure story like no other I've read. A 63 year-old woman faced with no future - except for the county charity home - decides to ride a horse from Maine to California. She takes her dog and sparse belongings and has virtually no plan. Along the way, she meets strangers who show her kindness and hospitality, encouraging her to go forward. In Shelbyville, Tennessee, she is even given a new horse. The heroine of this tale, Annie, is utterly charming in her practical, down-to-earth manner and in her willingness to take the dare and start an impossible journey. This book also gives the reader a picture of life in America in the mid-fifties, just as cars began to dominate American culture and as travel on horseback became a thing of the past. 

My Place at the Table by Alexander Lobrano

A delightful book! This memoir by food writer Alexander Lobrano chronicles his time in Paris, eating, learning about food, and working his way up the career ladder of gastronomic journalism. The author is a fine storyteller, and the book is an easy, interesting, and charming read. 

The Next Everest by Jim Davidson

Those who have read Into Thin Air will want to read this book. After the disastrous season that book describes, several changes were made to the procedures on Mount Everest to help avoid further catastrophes.  But the climb to the top of Everest can still be deadly.  Jim Davidson respectfully describes deaths on the mountain with respect for the victims, while also deftly capturing the challenges of not one, but two attempts to climb the highest mountain in the world.

The Hunt for Mount Everest by Craig Storti

This well-researched and comprehensive book tells the stories of how Mount Everest was discovered and first explored. Even after reading several books on attempts to summit Mount Everest, I learned a lot about the mountain that surprised me. Mount Everest had not even been seen by Westerners until well into the twentieth century. The author chronicles early mountaineering in the Alps and the Himalayas – places once avoided at all costs throughout human culture. For those of us who live in the mountains and can’t imagine life without them, this is a shocking history that makes you appreciate the current popularity of mountain tourism and recreational hiking and climbing. 

Beyond the Secret Garden: The Life of Frances Hodgson Burnett by Ann Thwaite

This thoroughly researched biography of Frances Hodgson Burnett will be much appreciated by fans of The Secret Garden and The Little Princess. The sections of this biography that tell of Frances' time in Knoxville were particularly good. The author did a splendid job of accurately describing the people of East Tennessee and the conflicts and fallout from the Civil War. 

Maiden Voyages by Sian Evans

This book chronicles the lives of women who worked on British cruise ships in the early days of this industry. If you like social history, this is a highly readable piece of academic research. Several individual women are highlighted, including "stewardesses" who survived the sinking of the Titanic and other famous disasters. 
Happy Reading! Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of Considering Birds & Lilies: Finding Peace & Harmony with the Everyday World Around Us, available in paperback and on Kindle, included in Kindle Unlimited. 

Legal Disclosures: I generally receive free digital copies of books I review from the publishers. If I read them and like them, I say so. Otherwise, I don’t. I provide links to these products, and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases (which means I may get a very small fee if you click through the link and buy something). Honestly, I write this blog for fun and to promote my own books. I pay for expenses out of my own pocket.

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