History and Current Events
The Fighters by C.J. ChiversWhat it is: a collection of portraits detailing the experiences of six U.S. military servicemen serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, chronicled over 12 years of on-the-ground reportage.
Why you might like it: Searing and empathetic, this enlightening glimpse at combat will appeal to readers "no matter their feelings about the wars" (Booklist).
About the author: C.J. Chivers is a Gulf War veteran and New York Times senior editor who won a Pulitzer Prize for the story on which The Fighters is based.
The Poisoned City: Flint's Water and the American Urban Tragedy by Anna ClarkWhat it's about: the ongoing man-made water crisis that has afflicted residents of Flint, Michigan since April 2014 and to date has resulted in 12 deaths.
Why it's significant: Detroit-based journalist Anna Clark pulls no punches in this compelling call to arms, utilizing extensive research to show how racial inequality, housing segregation, and government underfunding led to this "decades-old, slow-burn emergency."
Blood & Ivy: The 1849 Murder That Scandalized Harvard by Paul CollinsWhat it's about: On November 23, 1849, Boston physician George Parkman disappeared after making his rounds at Harvard Medical College. His dismembered body was later discovered in the lab of chemist John White Webster, spawning an infamous murder trial that produced legal and forensic precedents.
Don't miss: this evocative and atmospheric true-crime account includes appearances from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Herman Melville, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America by Beth MacyWhat it is: a gut-wrenching history of America's rising opioid epidemic that puts a human face on the disheartening statistics.
Why it matters: Journalist Beth Macy began her research in her own community of Roanoke, Virginia, highlighting the day-to-day struggles of those from all walks of life struggling with addiction.
Further reading: American Fix: Inside the Opioid Addiction Crisis -- and How to End It by Ryan Hampton.
Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History by Keith O'BrienWhat it is: an intriguing, richly detailed history of five women (including Amelia Earhart) who competed in the national air races of the 1920s and 1930s -- and changed aviation forever.
For fans of: Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures and its film adaptation.
Reviewers say: "A vivid, suspenseful story of women determined to defy gravity -- and men -- to fulfill their lofty dreams" (Kirkus Reviews).
The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South by John T. EdgeWhat it is: an engaging history of Southern cuisine and its relationship to sociopolitical history and gentrification.
Don't miss: stories of African American cooks feeding marchers during the Montgomery bus boycotts.
Is it for you? Whether you're a foodie or someone who appreciates social and regional histories, there's something for everyone to savor in this sweeping ode to Southern foodways.
Ten Restaurants That Changed America by Paul FreedmanWhat it is: an approachable and entertaining history profiling ten restaurants located throughout the United States, highlighting their impact on American culture in the 19th and 20th centuries.
What's inside: photographs, paintings, menus, and recipes.
Did you know? Delmonico's, pictured on the cover, was America's first à la carte restaurant, opening in New York City in 1827.
Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine by Sarah LohmanFeaturing: black pepper, vanilla, chili powder, curry powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and sriracha.
Read it for: food blogger Sarah Lohman's infectious curiosity and her well-researched, insightful trivia about "the most complex and diverse cuisine on the planet."
Try this next: The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites, by Libby Haight O'Connell.
Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America by Michael RuhlmanWhat it's about: In this lively survey, cookbook author and food writer Michael Ruhlman offers an absorbing look at the history of grocery stores and how they embody shifting mores about consumption and sustainability.
Want a taste? "Because they are a reflection, even symbol, of our culture, and thus a gauge of who we are, supermarkets illuminate what we care about, what we fear, what we desire."
A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression by Jane Ziegelman & Andrew CoeWhat it is: a thought-provoking exploration of how the Great Depression transformed American cuisine, supplemented with primary documents including recipes and menus.
Book buzz: A Square Meal won the James Beard Foundation Book Award in 2017.
Reviewers say: "Even if the period cuisine doesn't make the reader's mouth water, the vivid recreation of American eating at a historical crossroads is engrossing" (Publishers Weekly).