2018 Reviewed: Non-Fiction Novels To Look Forward To

How on earth have four days come and gone in 2018?! While time waits for no man, I best not keep you waiting in regards to which genre we are talking about today. Probably my favourite of the genres, today is the day we talk about non-fiction books being published this year. There were some really good books that didn’t make this list, but don’t worry, I think you’ll like what I’ve found.

Interested to see which non-fiction novels are making me wish time would go faster? Keep on reading for my thoughts and opinions.

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34145295Bringing Columbia Home: The Untold Story of a Lost Shuttle and Her Crew by Michael D. Leinbach, Jonathan H. Ward

Publisher:Skyhorse Publishing (January 2, 2018)

Print Length: 400 pages

Mike Leinbach was the launch director of the space shuttle program when Columbia disintegrated on reentry before a nation’s eyes on February 1, 2003. And it would be Mike Leinbach who would be a key leader in the search and recovery effort as NASA, FEMA, the FBI, the US Forest Service, and dozens more federal, state, and local agencies combed an area of rural east Texas the size of Rhode Island for every piece of the shuttle and her crew they could find. Assisted by hundreds of volunteers, it would become the largest ground search operation in US history. 
For the first time, here is the definitive inside story of the Columbia disaster and recovery and the inspiring message it ultimately holds. In the aftermath of tragedy, people and communities came together to help bring home the remains of the crew and nearly 40 percent of shuttle, an effort that was instrumental in piecing together what happened so the shuttle program could return to flight and complete the International Space Station. Bringing Columbia Home shares the deeply personal stories that emerged as NASA employees looked for lost colleagues and searchers overcame immense physical, logistical, and emotional challenges and worked together to accomplish the impossible. 

Featuring a foreword and epilogue by astronauts Robert Crippen and Eileen Collins, this is an incredible narrative about best of humanity in the darkest of times and about how a failure at the pinnacle of human achievement became a story of cooperation and hope.

The Review

Last year I read Chris Hatfield’s autobiography An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, and in it he mentions the Challenger disaster and its implications on the space program. As it is with most non-fiction books I read I ended up researching and absorbing as much information on the disaster as I could, call me morbid, and when I found out this book was being published it immediately went on my pre-order list.

35068432I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara, Gillian Flynn (Foreward), Patton Oswalt (Afterword)

Publisher: Harper (February 27, 2018)

Print Length: 352 pages

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

At the time of the crimes, the Golden State Killer was between the ages of eighteen and thirty, Caucasian, and athletic—capable of vaulting tall fences. He always wore a mask. After choosing a victim—he favored suburban couples—he often entered their home when no one was there, studying family pictures, mastering the layout. He attacked while they slept, using a flashlight to awaken and blind them. Though they could not recognize him, his victims recalled his voice: a guttural whisper through clenched teeth, abrupt and threatening.

The Review

This book sounds like a mix between Netflix’s Making a Murderer and The Zodiac Killer. I try to stay clear of reading too many true crime novels, I’m prone to nightmares you see, but of all the ones being released this year, McNamara’s obsession has me intrigued enough to embrace the terrors of the world.

35341294Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt by Kenneth McKenzie, Todd Harra

Publisher:Citadel Press (February 27, 2018)

Print Length: 256 pages

From shoot-outs at funerals to dead men screaming and runaway corpses, undertakers have plenty of unusual stories to tell—and a special way of telling them.
 
In this macabre and moving compilation, funeral directors across the country share their most embarrassing, jaw-dropping, irreverent, and deeply poignant stories about life at death’s door. Discover what scares them and what moves them to tears. Learn about rookie mistakes and why death sometimes calls for duct tape.
 
Enjoy tales of the dearly departed spending eternity naked from the waist down and getting bottled and corked—in a wine bottle. And then meet their families—the weepers, the punchers, the stolidly dignified, and the ones who deliver their dead mother in a pickup truck.
 
If there’s one thing undertakers know, it’s that death drives people crazy. These are the best “bodies of work” from America’s darkest profession.

The Review

I absolutely adored Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty when I read and reviewed it back in 2016. While I have yet to pick up her second novel, From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death, I found Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt on a ‘if you like this you’ll love this list’ and its been on my most anticipated book releases ever since. If Kenneth McKenzie and Todd Harra can right with any sort of humour like Doughty does, I will be talking about this book all year.

34964952Renoir’s Dancer: The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon by Catherine Hewitt

Publisher:St. Martin’s Press (February 27, 2018)

Print Length: 480 pages

In the 1880s, Suzanne Valadon was considered the Impressionists’ most beautiful model. But behind her captivating façade lay a closely-guarded secret.

Suzanne was born into poverty in rural France, before her mother fled the provinces, taking her to Montmartre. There, as a teenager Suzanne began posing for—and having affairs with—some of the age’s most renowned painters. Then Renoir caught her indulging in a passion she had been trying to conceal: the model was herself a talented artist.

Some found her vibrant still lifes and frank portraits as shocking as her bohemian lifestyle. At eighteen, she gave birth to an illegitimate child, future painter Maurice Utrillo. But her friends Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas could see her skill. Rebellious and opinionated, she refused to be confined by tradition or gender, and in 1894, her work was accepted to the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, an extraordinary achievement for a working-class woman with no formal art training.

The Review

Mostly this novel has been put on my ‘Non-Fiction Books to Look Forward To’ list because every time I see this painting I think of Gilmore Girls. While this isn’t the worst attitude to have towards Renoir and the painting I would like to have some actual context not thought up by Amy Sherman-Palladino and such my fascination with this novel was born.

41nz1Afj+VL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Unmasked by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Publisher:Harper (March 6, 2018)

Print Length: 512 pages

One of the most successful and distinguished artists of our time, Andrew Lloyd Webber has reigned over the musical theatre world for nearly five decades. The winner of numerous awards, including multiple Tonys and an Oscar, Lloyd Webber has enchanted millions worldwide with his music and numerous hit shows, including Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera—Broadway’s longest running show—and most recently, School of Rock. In Unmasked, written in his own inimitable, quirky voice, the revered, award-winning composer takes stock of his achievements, the twists of fate and circumstance which brought him both success and disappointment, and the passions that inspire and sustain him.

The son of a music professor and a piano teacher, Lloyd Webber reveals his artistic influences, from his idols Rodgers and Hammerstein and the perfection of South Pacific’s “Some Enchanted Evening,” to the pop and rock music of the 1960s and Puccini’s Tosca, to P. G. Wodehouse and T. S. Eliot. Lloyd Webber recalls his bohemian London youth, reminiscing about the happiest place of his childhood, his homemade Harrington Pavilion—a make-believe world of musical theatre in which he created his earliest entertainments.

A record of several exciting and turbulent decades of British and American musical theatre and the transformation of popular music itself, Unmasked is ultimately a chronicle of artistic creation. Lloyd Webber looks back at the development of some of his most famous works and illuminates his collaborations with luminaries such as Tim Rice, Robert Stigwood, Harold Prince, Cameron Mackintosh, and Trevor Nunn. Taking us behind the scenes of his productions, Lloyd Webber reveals fascinating details about each show, including the rich cast of characters involved with making them, and the creative and logistical challenges and artistic political battles that ensued.

Lloyd Webber shares his recollections of the works that have become cultural touchstones for generations of fans: writings songs for a school production that would become his first hit, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; finding the coterie of performers for his classic rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar; developing his first megahit, Evita, which would win seven Tonys Awards, including Best Musical; staking his reputation and fortune on the groundbreaking Cats; and making history with the dazzling The Phantom of the Opera.

The Review

As a theatre kid, wanting to read an autobiography of one of the greatest musical theatre composers of all time should come as a shock to no one. From Phantom to Cats to Evita, Lloyd-Webber has changed my life theatrically, and so it only seems fitting to want to read about his life, his influences, and his works. Can it be March already?

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And those are my picks for five non-fiction books I’m looking forward to being published in 2018. Have a non-fiction release that you’ve been anticipating? Let me know in the comments below!

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4 Comments

  1. Fanna

    Ooh, I liked this post! It’s not usual to come across non-fiction recs especially in advance for the year so this post delighted me, no doubt. The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon looks promising to me, might be adding this to my TBR 🙂

    Like

  2. saralester

    I’m glad you enjoyed! I thought The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon looked interesting because we as consumers tend to forget that there were people who posed for artists. We tend to appreciate the art and not the model. Plus, Valadon was a painter in her own right so I’m with you on adding it to my TBR!

    Like

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