Non-Fiction Book Kits

Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle.
Follows the 1925 murder trial of African-American doctor Ossian Sweet, who was accused of murdering a white person during a mob attack on his home, and includes a history of the Sweet family and a portrait of his attorney, Clarence Darrow.

Battle For God by Karen Armstrong.
Reveals how the fundamentalist movements in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam were born out of a dread of modernity.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell.
How do we think without thinking, seem to make choices in an instant--in the blink of an eye--that actually aren't as simple as they seem? Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology, the author reveals that great decision makers aren't those who process the most information or spend the most time deliberating, but those who have perfected the art of filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables.

Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War by Barbara Ehrenreich.
Traces the evolution of war from ancient symbolic sacrifices to contemporary total war.

A Clearing in the Distance: Frederick Law Olmstead and America in the Nineteenth Century by Witold Rybczynski.
Chronicles the life and career of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, and the effect his ideas had on American culture.

Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson.
An account of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 relates the stories of two men who shaped the history of the event--architect Daniel H. Burnham, who coordinated its construction, and serial killer Herman Mudgett.

Finding My Voice by Diane Rehm.
The memoir by the NPR radio host details her upbringing in an Arab-American household, her determination to achieve success in broadcasting, and her struggle with the medical condition spasmodic dysphonia, a rare neurological disorder that nearly destroyed her career.

Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls.
The child of an alcoholic father and an eccentric artist mother discusses her family's nomadic upbringing, during which she and her siblings fended for themselves while their parents outmaneuvered bill collectors and the authorities.

Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom by Catherine Clinton.
A biography of the fugitive slave turned "conductor" on the Underground Railroad describes Tubman's youth in the South, her escape to Philadelphia, her efforts to liberate slaves, and her work for the Union Army.

Lost in America: A Journey With My Father by Sherwin Nuland.
The author offers an account of his father's life, from the turn-of-the-century arrival of a young immigrant from Russia to his struggle against poverty, tragedy, and illness, and explores how his father's life influenced his own.

Manhattan Memoir by Mary Cantwell.
A memoir of Cantwell’s journey from a small New England town to her days in Manhattan in the 1950s trying to break into the magazine business, complete with tales of her family life, her divorce and struggles to find happiness.

The Mapmaker’s Wife: A True Tale of Love, Murder, and Survival in the Amazon by Robert Whitaker.
When a tangled web of international politics in the eighteenth century leaves Isabel Grameson and her husband Jean Godin stranded at opposite ends of the Amazon River, Isabel makes a treacherous solo journey to reunite with her husband after twenty years of separation.

Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik.
Revisiting a recurring American obsession with the French capital, the author takes a look at Paris and what it means to Americans as he describes his own relationship with the city.

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi.
The author describes growing up in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the group of young women who came together at her home in secret every Thursday to read and discuss great books of Western literature.

River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze by Peter Hessler.
Records the author's experiences as a Peace Corps English teacher in the small Chinese city of Fuling, during which time he witnessed such events as the death of Deng Xiaoping, the return of Hong Kong to the mainland, and the construction of the Three Gorges Dam.

Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand.
The author retraces the journey of Seabiscuit, a horse with crooked legs and a pathetic tail that made racing history in 1938, thanks to the efforts of a trainer, owner, and jockey who transformed a bottom-level racehorse into a legend.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.
Discusses the reckless annihilation of fish and birds by the use of pesticides and warns of the possible genetic effects on humans.

The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell.
A portrait of the Mitford sisters follows Jessica, a communist; Debo, the Duchess of Devonshire; Nancy, a best-selling novelist; Diana, who was the most hated woman in England; and Unity, who was obsessed with Adolf Hitler.

Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Tale of Survival by Dean King.
Chronicles the hardships encountered by twelve American sailors who, in 1815, were shipwrecked on the coast of North Africa, captured, sold into slavery, and sent on a difficult odyssey through the perilous heart of the Sahara.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman.
Addresses the story of a sick child of Laotian immigrants whose beliefs conflict with Western medicine.

The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman.
Documents the true story of Warsaw Zoo keepers and resistance activists Jan and Antonina Zabinski, who in the aftermath of Germany's invasion of Poland saved the lives of hundreds of Jewish citizens by smuggling them into empty cages and their home villa.

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations – One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson.
One man's campaign to build schools in the most dangerous, remote, and anti-American reaches of Asia.

When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa by Peter Godwin.
In this memoir, Godwin reveals not only his family’s story and its long ties to Zimbabwe, but the repressive regime of President Robert Mugabe. Family secrets are revealed against a backdrop of a nation embroiled in political and social turmoil.