4 Nonfiction Books to Read in July (and Grumpy Cat)

Looking for some new nonfiction? Here are a few July releases you may want to make note of.

I Wear the Black Hat (M) by Chuck Klosterman (July 9)

Every one’s favourite curmudgeonly pop culture writer (Ok, maybe he’s just my favourite curmudgeonly pop culture writer) returns with a new book that celebrates and questions villainy.

This should make good reading for those of us that want to feel like we’re answering some of life’s questions with our reading, but also know that it is July and we just want to sit in the sun with a good book.

“Chuck Klosterman has walked into the darkness. As a boy, he related to the cultural figures who represented goodness—but as an adult, he found himself unconsciously aligning with their enemies. This was not because he necessarily liked what they were doing; it was because they were doing it on purpose (and they were doing it better). They wanted to be evil. And what, exactly, was that supposed to mean? When we classify someone as a bad person, what are we really saying (and why are we so obsessed with saying it)? How does the culture of deliberate malevolence operate? In I Wear the Black Hat, Klosterman questions the modern understanding of villainy. What was so Machiavellian about Machiavelli? Why don’t we see Bernhard Goetz the same way we see Batman? Who is more worthy of our vitriol—Bill Clinton or Don Henley? What was O. J. Simpson’s second-worst decision? And why is Klosterman still haunted by some kid he knew for one week in 1985? Masterfully blending cultural analysis with self-interrogation and imaginative hypotheticals, I Wear the Black Hat delivers perceptive observations on the complexity of the antihero (seemingly the only kind of hero America still creates). I Wear the Black Hat is a rare example of serious criticism that’s instantly accessible and really, really funny. Klosterman continues to be the only writer doing whatever it is he’s doing.”

Fantasy Life: the outrageous, uplifting, and heartbreaking world of fantasy sports from the guy who’s lived it (M) by Matthew Berry (July 16)

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t know some one who is in a fantasy sports league (if they are not in one themselves)? Here’s a book that seems like it will work for fantasy league fans, as well as folks like me that just don’t seem to get what it is all about.

“Fantasy football, fantasy baseball, fantasy basketball, even fantasy sumo wrestling: the world of fantasy sports is huge, and still growing. Today, more than 35 million people in the United States and Canada spend hours upon hours each week on their fantasy sports teams. And as the Senior Fantasy Sports Analyst for ESPN, Matthew Berry is on the front lines of what has grown from a niche subculture into a national pastime.In Fantasy Life, Berry celebrates every aspect of the fantasy sports world. Brilliant trash talk. Unbelievable trophies. Insane draft day locations. Shake-your-head-in-disbelief punishments. Ingenious attempts at cheating. And surprisingly uplifting stories that remind us why we play these games in the first place. Written with the same award-winning style that has made Berry one of the most popular columnists on ESPN.com, Fantasy Life is a book for both hard-core fantasy players and people who have never played before. Between tales of love and hate, birth and death, tattoos and furry animal costumes, the White House Situation Room and a 126-pound golden pelican, Matthew chronicles his journey from a fourteen-year-old fantasy player to the face of fantasy sports for the largest sports media company in the world.” Also, is Senior Fantasy Sports Analyst a real job? That itself seems like a fantasy!

Shirley Jones: a memoir (M) by Shirley Jones (July 23)

This book was originally billed under the title Come On Get Happy, a reference Jones’ role as Shirley Partridge on the popular 1970s sitcom The Partridge Family for which Jones remains well known. The new title is perhaps less catchy, but probably more reflective of the book as a whole, which Jones herself has said will show readers the “real flesh-and-blood Shirley Jones, not just the movie star or Mrs. Partridge.

“Memoirs make great summer reading and this one seems like no exception. “She sang her way into America’s heart in classic films like Oklahoma!, Carousel, and The Music Man. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in Elmer Gantry. And she played one of television’s most beloved moms in the iconic 1970s sitcom, The Partridge Family. From golden-voiced ingénue to bus-driving mother of a pop band, Shirley Jones has always seemed as pure and wholesome as her squeaky-clean image. But now she’s ready to set the record straight—in a memoir as shockingly candid, deliciously juicy, and delightfully frank as the star herself. This is the real Shirley Jones: a small-town girl from Pennsylvania with a rebellious nature, radiant smile, and rare talent that grabbed the attention of Broadway legends Rodgers and Hammerstein—on her very first audition. Shirley’s meteoric rise put her in the company of major movie stars like Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, and Burt Lancaster. But it was the dashing, charismatic, and deeply troubled actor Jack Cassidy who stole Shirley’s heart—and unlocked her highly charged sexuality. For the first time, she reveals the stunning details of their rocky marriage and adventurous life: the infidelities, the costar crushes, the sexual experimentation. She talks openly about her relationship with stepson David Cassidy, her cult status with The Partridge Family, and her second marriage to wacky TV comedian and producer Marty Ingels. Most of all, she reveals a side of Shirley Jones we’ve never seen before. . . .”

The Telling Room: a tale of love, betrayal, revenge, and the world’s greatest piece of cheese (M) by Michael Paterniti (July 30)

It’s a book about cheese: really good cheese… and revenge. I feel like I don’t even really need to say much more. But in case you’re curious:

“In the picturesque village of Guzmán, Spain, in a cave dug into a hillside on the edge of town, an ancient door leads to a cramped limestone chamber known as “the telling room.” Containing nothing but a wooden table and two benches, this is where villagers have gathered for centuries to share their stories and secrets—usually accompanied by copious amounts of wine. It was here, in the summer of 2000, that Michael Paterniti found himself listening to a larger-than-life Spanish cheesemaker named Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras as he spun an odd and compelling tale about a piece of cheese. An unusual piece of cheese. Made from an old family recipe, Ambrosio’s cheese was reputed to be among the finest in the world, and was said to hold mystical qualities. Eating it, some claimed, conjured long-lost memories. But then, Ambrosio said, things had gone horribly wrong…”

And finally, if you’ve been waiting for it, then your wait is almost over. Grumpy Cat (M) –who won BuzzFeed’s “Meme of the Year Award” in 2013 and was apparently also named 2012’s most influential cat by MSNBC—has a book. You’ll probably want to read it. Personal note: goal of including fun summer reading in July nonfiction post achieved.

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