Twisted: The Tangled History of Black Hair Culture by Emma DabiriWhat it is: an engaging sociopolitical history of Black hairstyles around the globe.
Why it matters: Combining memoir, history, and pop culture analysis, this incisive own voices debut from Irish Nigerian BBC correspondent Emma Dabiri investigates the myriad ways in which Black hairstyles are colonized, fetishized, criminalized, and appropriated.
Reviewers say: "sure to become the definitive book on the politics, culture, and economics of Black hair" (Kirkus Reviews).
The Unidentified: Mythical Monsters, Alien Encounters, and Our Obsession With... by Colin DickeyWhat it's about: the hows and whys of humans' enduring fascination with fringe beliefs and unexplained paranormal phenomena.
Topics include: the lost civilization of Lemuria; the 1876 Kentucky meat shower; Bigfoot; the Jersey Devil; the Loch Ness Monster.
What sets it apart: author Colin Dickey's thought-provoking exploration of how these myths appropriate and erase Native cultures.
To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America Into Iraq by Robert DraperWhat it is: an eye-opening history of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Read it for: a richly detailed and evenhanded account of how hubris, Bush administration infighting, congressional support, and favorable media coverage facilitated this fateful policy decision.
What's inside: interviews with key officials including Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, and Condoleezza Rice.
After the Last Border: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America by Jessica GoudeauWhat it is: an intimate interwoven chronicle of two refugee families' disparate experiences seeking asylum in America.
Starring: Mu Naw, a Christian woman from Myanmar who found success in America as a businesswoman; Hasna, a Syrian Muslim who became separated from her family after the Trump administration's travel ban was implemented in 2017.
About the author: Texas journalist and activist Jessica Goudeau has spent over a decade working with refugee resettlement organizations.
Deep Delta Justice: A Black Teen, His Lawyer, and Their Groundbreaking Battle... by Matthew Van MeterThe background: In 1966 Louisiana, Black teen Gary Duncan attempted to stop a fight and was charged with battery, a decision he appealed after he was denied a trial.
What happened next: The landmark Supreme Court decision Duncan v. Louisiana (1968) established the right to a jury trial and became a key victory for the civil rights movement.
Book buzz: This engaging history has earned comparisons to Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy; a documentary is in development at HBO.
Exploration and Exploitation
Silver, Sword, & Stone: Three Crucibles of the Latin American Story by Marie AranaWhat it is: a concise history that explores how exploitation, violence, and religion have shaped 1,000 years of Latin American history.
Why you might like it: Peruvian American author Marie Arana weaves her compelling narrative between past and present by profiling three contemporary Latin Americans (a Peruvian miner, a Cuban exile, and a Spanish priest in Bolivia) and connecting their stories to the history of the region.
Awards buzz: A Booklist 2019 Top of the List Pick, Silver, Sword, & Stone was also longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal.
Jungle of Stone: The Extraordinary Journey of John L. Stephens and Frederick Catherwood... by William CarlsenWhat it's about: In 1839, American diplomat John Lloyd Stephens and British architect Frederick Catherwood explored the jungles of Yucatán, where they encountered 1,500-year-old Mayan ruins.
Why it matters: Stephens and Catherwood's findings challenged their contemporaries' notions of Indigenous cultural inferiority.
Read it for: a lively and evocative tale of friendship, adventure, and rediscovery.
The Last Wild Men of Borneo: A True Story of Death and Treasure by Carl HoffmanWhat it's about: two enigmatic Westerners -- one a "buccaneer," the other a "do-gooder" -- who called Borneo home in the 1970s and '80s.
Starring: American art dealer Michael Palmieri, who made a fortune acquiring native relics for museums; and Swiss environmentalist Bruno Manser, who lived among the Penan tribe, fought logging efforts in the region, and mysteriously disappeared in 2000.
Awards buzz: This haunting cautionary tale from travel writer Carl Hoffman was a 2019 Edgar Award Nominee for Best Fact Crime and a Banff Mountain Book Awards Finalist.
To the Edges of the Earth: 1909, the Race for the Three Poles, and the Climax of the Age... by Edward J. LarsonWhat it is: a breathless account of a pivotal year for exploration, which saw concurrent expeditions led by Ernest Shackleton, Robert Peary, and Prince Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi.
Where they went: Shackleton headed to Antarctica, where he set a new Farthest South record; Peary embarked on his eighth North Pole expedition; the Duke of the Abruzzi led a summit of K2 in Asia.
Read it for: an evocative narrative that's "so well-related as to make you feel the chill" (Kirkus Reviews).
Endeavour: The Ship That Changed the World by Peter MooreWhat it is: a comprehensive history of the HMS Endeavour, the British ship that circumnavigated the globe from 1768-1771.
Why you might like it: This accessible page-turner details Endeavour's complicated legacy as a symbol of remarkable discovery and destructive imperialism.
Reviewers say: "History at its most exciting and revealing" (Kirkus Reviews); "Maritime history that opens onto much more" (Booklist).
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