Best Nonfiction Of 2017

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Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

"A linguistically dexterous, eloquently satisfying narrative debut.” A noted young poet unexpectedly boomerangs back into her parents' home and transforms the return into a richly textured story of an unconventional family and life. Read full book review.

I Hear She’s A Real Bitch by Jen Agg

"An inspiring, graphic, and funny memoir from an entrepreneur unafraid to tell it like it is." One of Canada's most famous and successful restaurateurs chronicles the ups and downs of being a successful woman in a famously sexist industry. Read full book review.

Monograph by Chris Ware

"This collection has a last-word feel to it, offering a delightful summation of a fruitful and very busy last few decades. Fans, of course, will want much more, but this makes a great start." The noted artist, collector, and visionary offers a personal anthology/memoir, complete with junior high photos and memories of the cul-de-sacs of Omaha. Read full book review.

Admissions: Life As A Brain Surgeon by Henry Marsh

"Another thoughtful, painful, utterly fascinating mixture of nut-and-bolts brain surgery with a compassionate, workaholic surgeon's view of medicine around the world and his own limitations. Readers will hope that a third volume is in the works." A retired British neurosurgeon delivers the follow-up to his well-received debut memoir, Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery (2015). Read full book review.

Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies: A Memoir Of Love, Loss, And Other Four Letter Words by Michael Ausiello

"A heartbreaking memoir infused with dark humor and composed with true love." A veteran entertainment journalist shares the bittersweet story of his relationship with his husband and his tragic death from cancer. Read full book review.

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History In The Old South by Michael W. Twitty

"An exemplary, inviting exploration and an inspiration for cooks and genealogists alike." Food historian Twitty, creator of the Afroculinaria blog, serves up a splendid hearth-based history, at once personal and universal, of the African-American experience. Read full book review.

An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, And An Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn

"A well-told story that underscores the power of storytelling." An account of the lessons learned by a son and his father as they study the Greek epic together. Read full book review.

Gorilla And The Bird by Zack McDermott

"If the Joads were tanked up on Bud Light and Haldol and Steinbeck were under Hunter S. Thompson's influence, this might be the result—rueful, funny, and utterly authentic." "I am a bipolar gorilla": a tale of madness, self-destruction, and the stalwart presence of a family that, while not exactly the Waltons, is always there. Read full book review.

Hunger: A Memoir Of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

"An intense, unsparingly honest portrait of childhood crisis and its enduring aftermath." A heart-rending debut memoir from the outspoken feminist and essayist. Read full book review.

Life In Code: A Personal History Of Technology by Ellen Ullman

"What Anthony Bourdain did for chefs, Ullman does for computer geeks. A fine rejoinder and update to Doug Coupland's Microserfs and of great interest to any computer user." A sharply written, politically charged memoir of life in the data trenches by computer pioneer Ullman (By Blood, 2012, etc.). Read full book review.

You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie

"Despite some repetition, this is a powerful, brutally honest memoir about a mother and the son who loved her." The story of the popular Native American author's difficult upbringing. Read full book review.

Lights On, Rats Out by Cree LeFavour

"A searingly eloquent and intelligent memoir." A noted cookbook writer tells the story of her young-adulthood battles with mental illness and self-harming behaviors. Read full book review.

Love And Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning by Claire Dederer

"Insightful, provocative, and fearlessly frank, Dederer seduces readers with her warmth, wit, and wisdom." A fierce new memoir from the essayist and longtime New York Times contributor. Read full book review.

This Long Pursuit: Reflections Of A Romantic Biographer by Richard Holmes

"Unparalleled research, transparent prose, and wide eyes can serve as a model for other biographers—indeed, for all other writers." The third in the author's series of riveting titles about the histories, activities, duties, and effects of biographers. Read full book review.

The Inheritance: A Family On The Front Lines Of The Battle Against Alzheimer’s Disease by Niki Kapsambelis

"An educational and emotional chronicle that should resonate with a wide variety of readers." In her debut, journalist Kapsambelis builds a compelling narrative about Alzheimer's disease around one North Dakota extended family. Read full book review.

Dying by Cory Taylor

"There is an ever expanding body of literature on coming to terms with mortality, and this entry ranks with the best." An eloquent plea for a more humane approach to death and a moving meditation on the life that leads to that end. Read full book review.

Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro

"A sharply observed and frequently moving memoir of a marriage." The noted novelist and memoirist reflects on her marriage and the elusive nature of time. Read full book review.

No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos And Heartbreak Of Mental Health In America by Ron Powers

"This hybrid narrative, enhanced by the author's considerable skills as a literary stylist, succeeds on every level." Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Powers (Mark Twain: A Life, 2005, etc.) presents two searing sagas: an indictment of mental health care in the United States and the story of his two schizophrenic sons.Read full book review.

Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke

"Powerfully illustrated and incisively written—a subtle dazzler of a debut." Insights and images combine in a meditation on loss, grief, and the illusions of permanence. Read full book review.

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