I’m highlighting some nonfiction books coming out in December. All of the mentioned titles are available to put on hold in our catalog and will also be made available via the library’s Overdrive website on the day of publication in eBook and downloadable audiobook format (as available). For a more extensive list of new nonfiction books coming out this month, check our online catalog.
“The Churchill Sisters: The Extraordinary Lives of Winston and Clementine’s Daughters” by Rachel Trethewey (Dec 7)
Bright, attractive and well-connected, in any other family the Churchill girls — Diana, Sarah, Marigold and Mary — would have shone. But they were not in another family, they were Churchills, and neither they nor anyone else could ever forget it. From their father — “the greatest Englishman” — to their brother, golden boy Randolph, to their eccentric and exciting cousins, the Mitford Girls, they were surrounded by a clan of larger-than-life characters which often saw them overlooked. While Marigold died too young to achieve her potential, the other daughters lived lives full of passion, drama and tragedy. Diana, intense and diffident; Sarah, glamorous and stubborn; Mary, dependable yet determined — each so different but each imbued with a sense of responsibility toward each other and their country. Far from being cosseted debutantes, these women were eyewitnesses at some of the most important events in world history, at Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam. Yet this is not a story set on the battlefields or in Parliament; it is an intimate saga that sheds light on the complex dynamics of family set against the backdrop of a tumultuous century. Drawing on previously unpublished family letters from the Churchill archives, “The Churchill Sisters” brings Winston’s daughters out of the shadows and tells their remarkable stories for the first time.
“Agent Sniper: The Cold War Superagent and the Ruthless Head of the CIA” by Tim Tate (Dec 14)
Michal Goleniewski, cover name Sniper, was one of the most important spies of the early Cold War. For almost three years, as a Lieutenant Colonel at the top of Poland’s espionage service, he smuggled thousands of top-secret Soviet bloc intelligence and military documents, as well as 160 rolls of microfilm, from behind the Iron Curtain. Then, in January 1961, he abandoned his wife and children to make a dramatic defection across divided Berlin with his East German mistress to the safety of American territory. There, he exposed more than 1,600 Soviet bloc agents operating undercover in the West — more than any single spy in history. The CIA called Goleniewski “one of the West’s most valuable counterintelligence sources,” but in late 1963, he was abandoned by the US government because of a split inside the agency, and over questions about his mental stability and his trustworthiness. Goleniewski bears some of the blame for his troubled legacy: He made baseless assertions about his record, notably that he was the first to expose Kim Philby. He also bizarrely claimed to be Tsarevich Aleksei Romanoff, heir to the Russian Throne who had miraculously survived the 1918 massacre of his family. For more than 50 years, American and British intelligence services have sought to erase Goleniewski from the history of Cold War espionage. The vast bulk of his once-substantial CIA and MI5 files remain closed. Only fragments of his material crop up in the de-classified dossiers on the KGB spies he exposed or the memoirs of CIA officers who dealt with him, but his newly-released Polish intelligence file reveals the remarkable extent of his espionage on behalf of the West.
“The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again” by Catherine Price (Dec 21)
Journalist and screen/life balance expert Catherine Price argues persuasively that our always-on, tech-addicted lifestyles have led us to obsess over intangible concepts such as happiness while obscuring the fact that real happiness lies in the everyday experience of fun. We often think of fun as indulgent, even immature and selfish. We claim to not have time for it, even as we find hours a day for what Price calls Fake Fun — bingeing on television, doomscrolling the news, or posting photos to social media, all in hopes of filling some of the emptiness we feel inside. In this follow-up to her hit book, “How to Break Up with Your Phone,” Price makes the case that True Fun — which she defines as the magical confluence of playfulness, connection, and flow — will give us the fulfillment we so desperately seek. If you use True Fun as your compass, you will be happier and healthier. You will be more productive, less resentful, and less stressed. You will have more energy. You will find community and a sense of purpose. You will stop languishing and start flourishing. And best of all? You’ll enjoy the process. Weaving together scientific research with personal experience, Price reveals the surprising mental, physical, and cognitive benefits of fun, and offers a practical, personalized plan for how we can achieve better screen/life balance and attract more True Fun into our daily lives — without feeling overwhelmed.
More Notable Releases for December
“Call Us What We Carry: Poems” by Amanda Gorman (Dec 7)
“Profit and Punishment: How America Criminalizes the Poor in the Name of Justice” by Tony Messenger (Dec 7)
“The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe” by Matthew Gabriele (Dec 7)