Best Books: 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010     Summer: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012

Butch Cassidy: The True Story of an American Outlaw

Charles Leerhsen (Simon & Schuster)

Leerhsen, who previously rehabilitated the reputation of notorious baseball curmudgeon Ty Cobb, recasts Butch Cassidy as the Robin Hood of the Wild West in a richly detailed biography that combines outlaw exploits with the economic and social history of 19th-century America. This vibrant account makes a perfect companion to a rewatch of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

LIST

Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking

Bill Buford (Knopf)

Buford, bestselling author of Heat, delivers a hilarious account of the triumphs and tribulations he and his family experienced in the five years they lived in France as he immersed himself in the art of French cooking.

LIST

Drink What You Want: The Subjective Guide to Making Objectively Delicious Cocktails

John deBary (Clarkson Potter)

Former New York City bartender deBary enthusiastically shares cocktail recipes, both classic and cutting-edge and geared toward budding mixologists, that are perfect for entertaining, even if via a remote chat.

LIST

In the Land of Good Living: A Journey to the Heart of Florida

Kent Russell (Knopf)

In a clever memoir that has hints of A Confederacy of Dunces, Russell and two friends explore his native Florida on foot—pushing an antique baby stroller full of backpacks and camera equipment—in a narrative that is at once insightful and entertaining, and filled with observations that reinforce Florida’s mystique.

LIST

The King of Confidence: A Tale of Utopian Dreamers, Frontier Schemers, True Believers, False Prophets, and the Murder of an American Monarch

Miles Harvey (Little, Brown)

From King Kong to the Tiger King, American history is rife with would-be monarchs who aimed high and fell far. This riveting, expertly researched account restores one such throne seeker to his rightful place in the annals of audacity: James Jesse Strang, the 19th-century Mormon sect leader who declared himself ruler of an island in Lake Michigan. Packed with jaw-dropping twists and turns—plus counterfeiting, con artistry, piracy, and polygamy—Harvey’s vibrant chronicle is a certified page-turner.

LIST

The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy’s Vanishing Explorers

Emily Levesque (Sourcebooks)

Levesque recounts her life in astronomy and leads readers on a pilgrimage to observatories throughout the world. Adding a lively Indiana Jones vibe, she recalls how, for her and others, this career has led to close calls with lightning strikes, volcanic eruptions, tarantulas, and scorpions.

LIST

Looking for Miss America: A Pageant’s 100-Year Quest to Define Womanhood

Margot Mifflin (Counterpoint)

Mifflin portrays the Miss America pageant as “an inadvertent index of feminist progress” in this witty and surprising history packed with highs (audience members cheering 1945 winner Bess Myerson—still the only Jewish woman to hold the crown—weeks after the end of WWII) and lows (Miss Montana Kathy Huppe resigning her title in 1970 after being told to muzzle her antiwar views). Readers will never view this “rhinestone relic” the same way again.

LIST

Love in the Blitz: The Long-Lost Letters of a Brilliant Young Woman to Her Beloved on the Front

Edited by David McGowan and David Crane (Harper)

History and romance fans will relish this collection of WWII-era letters from a young British civil servant to her RAF pilot fiancé, which show how the couple overcame the Blitz, the privations of daily wartime life, and parental opposition to arrive at their happy ending.

LIST

The Museum of Whales You Will Never See: And Other Excursions to Iceland’s Most Unusual Museums

A. Kendra Greene (Penguin)

Taking readers on a one-of-a-kind journey, Greene introduces some of Iceland’s, if not the world’s, most unusual museums. Sites visited during her thoughtful and amusing travelogue include the Icelandic Sea Monster Museum, the Icelandic Phallological Museum, and the tiny town of Skógar, home to only 21 people and the country’s second-largest museum.

LIST

Ripped from the Headlines! The Shocking True Stories Behind the Movies’ Most Memorable Crimes

Harold Schechter (Little A)

In 40 incisive essays, Schechter details the real-life inspirations for such classic crime films as Arsenic and Old Lace, Dirty Harry, The Fugitive, Murder on the Orient Express, and Psycho. This is a must-have for true crime and movie trivia fans.

LIST

© PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

X
X

Loading...