Below I will be sharing some of the new nonfiction titles that will be released in October. All the titles are available to put on hold from our catalog and will also be made available on the library’s Overdrive account on the day of publication. For a more extensive list of new nonfiction books coming out this month check our online catalog.
“Golem Girl: A Memoir” by Riva Lehrer (Oct 6)
What do we sacrifice in the pursuit of normalcy? And what becomes possible when we embrace monstrosity? Can we envision a world that sees impossible creatures? In 1958, amongst the children born with spina bifida is Riva Lehrer. At the time, most such children are not expected to survive. Her parents and doctors are determined to “fix” her, sending the message over and over again that she is broken. That she will never have a job, a romantic relationship, or an independent life. Enduring countless medical interventions, Riva tries her best to be a good girl and a good patient in the quest to be cured. Everything changes when, as an adult, Riva is invited to join a group of artists, writers, and performers who are building Disability Culture. Their work is daring, edgy, funny, and dark — it rejects tropes that define disabled people as pathetic, frightening, or worthless. They insist that disability is an opportunity for creativity and resistance. Emboldened, Riva asks if she can paint their portraits — inventing an intimate and collaborative process that will transform the way she sees herself, others, and the world. Each portrait story begins to transform the myths she’s been told her whole life about her body, her sexuality, and other measures of normal. Written with the vivid, cinematic prose of a visual artist, and the love and playfulness that defines all of Riva’s work, “Golem Girl” is an extraordinary story of tenacity and creativity. With the author’s magnificent portraits featured throughout, this memoir invites us to stretch ourselves toward a world where bodies flow between all possible forms of what it is to be human.
“She Come by It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs” by Sarah Smarsh (Oct 13)
Growing up amid Kansas wheat fields and airplane factories, Sarah Smarsh witnessed firsthand the particular vulnerabilities — and strengths — of women in working poverty. Meanwhile, country songs by female artists played in the background, telling powerful stories about life, men, hard times, and surviving. In her family, she writes, “country music was foremost a language among women. It’s how we talked to each other in a place where feelings aren’t discussed.” And no one provided that language better than Dolly Parton. Smarsh challenged a typically male vision of the rural working class with her first book, “Heartland,” starring the bold, hard-luck women who raised her. Now, in “She Come By It Natural,” originally published in a four-part series for “The Journal of Roots Music, No Depression,” Smarsh explores the overlooked contributions to social progress by such women — including those averse to the term “feminism” — as exemplified by Dolly Parton’s life and art. Far beyond the recently resurrected “Jolene” or quintessential “9 to 5,” Parton’s songs for decades have validated women who go unheard: the poor woman, the pregnant teenager, the struggling mother disparaged as “trailer trash.” Parton’s broader career — from singing on the front porch of her family’s cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains to achieving stardom in Nashville and Hollywood, from “girl singer” managed by powerful men to leader of a self-made business and philanthropy empire — offers a springboard to examining the intersections of gender, class, and culture.
“Dark Archives: A Librarian’s Investigation Into the Science and History of Books Bound In Human Skin” by Megan Rosenbloom (Oct 20)
On bookshelves around the world, surrounded by ordinary books bound in paper and leather, rest other volumes of a distinctly strange and grisly sort: those bound in human skin. Would you know one if you held it in your hand? In “Dark Archives”, Megan Rosenbloom seeks out the historic and scientific truths behind anthropodermic bibliopegy — the practice of binding books in this most intimate covering. Dozens of such books live on in the world’s most famous libraries and museums. “Dark Archives” exhumes their origins and brings to life the doctors, murderers, innocents, and indigents whose lives are sewn together in this disquieting collection. Along the way, Rosenbloom tells the story of how her team of scientists, curators, and librarians test rumored anthropodermic books, untangling the myths around their creation and reckoning with the ethics of their custodianship. A librarian and journalist, Rosenbloom is a member of The Order of the Good Death and a co-founder of their Death Salon, a community that encourages conversations, scholarship, and art about mortality and mourning. In “Dark Archives” — captivating and macabre in all the right ways — she has crafted a narrative that is equal parts detective work, academic intrigue, history, and medical curiosity: a book as rare and thrilling as its subject.