Narrative Non-fiction

ON LIGHTHOUSES

ON LIGHTHOUSES

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"This book is a light at the end of the tunnel." --The Paris Review

Far from home, in the confines of a dim New York apartment where the oppressive skyscrapers further isolate her, Jazmina Barrera offers a tour of her lighthouses--those structures whose message is "first and foremost, that human beings are here."

Starting with Robert Louis Stevenson's grandfather, an engineer charged with illuminating the Scottish coastline, On Lighthouses artfully examines lighthouses from the Spanish to the Oregon coasts and those in the works of Virginia Woolf, Edgar Allan Poe, Ingmar Bergman, and many others.

In trying to "collect" lighthouses by obsessively describing them, Barrera begins to question the nature of writing, collecting, and how, by staring so intently at one thing we are only trying to avoid others. Equal parts personal memoir and literary history, On Lighthouses takes the reader on a desperate flight from raging sea to cold stone--from a hopeless isolation to a meaningful one--concluding at last in a place of peace: the home of a selfless, guiding light.

On My Way Out vol. IV

On My Way Out vol. IV

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Orchid Thief (USED)

Orchid Thief (USED)

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

A modern classic of personal journalism, The Orchid Thief is Susan Orlean's wickedly funny, elegant, and captivating tale of an amazing obsession. Determined to clone an endangered flower--the rare ghost orchid Polyrrhiza lindenii--a deeply eccentric and oddly attractive man named John Laroche leads Orlean on an unforgettable tour of America's strange flower-selling subculture, through Florida's swamps and beyond, along with the Seminoles who help him and the forces of justice who fight him. In the end, Orlean--and the reader--will have more respect for underdog determination and a powerful new definition of passion.

In this new edition, coming fifteen years after its initial publication and twenty years after she first met the "orchid thief," Orlean revisits this unforgettable world, and the route by which it was brought to the screen in the film Adaptation, in a new retrospective essay.

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader's Circle for author chats and more.

Praise for The Orchid Thief

"Stylishly written, whimsical yet sophisticated, quirkily detailed and full of empathy . . . The Orchid Thief shows [Orlean's] gifts in full bloom."--The New York Times Book Review

"Fascinating . . . an engrossing journey [full] of theft, hatred, greed, jealousy, madness, and backstabbing."--Los Angeles Times

"Orlean's snapshot-vivid, pitch-perfect prose . . . is fast becoming one of our national treasures."--The Washington Post Book World

"Orlean's gifts [are] her ear for the self-skewing dialogue, her eye for the incongruous, convincing detail, and her Didion-like deftness in description."--Boston Sunday Globe

"A swashbuckling piece of reporting that celebrates some virtues that made America great."--The Wall Street Journal

Our House Is on Fire

Our House Is on Fire

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"A must-read ecological message of hope . . . Everyone with an interest in the future of this planet should read this book." --David Mitchell, The Guardian

When climate activist Greta Thunberg was eleven, her parents Malena and Svante, and her little sister Beata, were facing a crisis in their own home. Greta had stopped eating and speaking, and her mother and father had reconfigured their lives to care for her. Desperate and searching for answers, her parents discovered what was at the heart of Greta's distress: her imperiled future on a rapidly heating planet.

Steered by Greta's determination to understand the truth and generate change, they began to see the deep connections between their own suffering and the planet's. Written by a remarkable family and told through the voice of an iconoclastic mother, Our House Is on Fire is the story of how they fought their problems at home by taking global action. And it is the story of how Greta decided to go on strike from school, igniting a worldwide rebellion.

Professor and the Madman : A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

Professor and the Madman : A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

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The compilation of the OxfordEnglish Dictionary was one of the most ambitious and challenging language projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the vast over-seeing committee, led by professor James Murray, discovered that more than 10,000 definitions had been submitted by one man, Dr. W. C. Minor. When the committee insisited on honoring him, the incredible truth came to light: Dr. Minor was really a brilliant but severly ill inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane. This is the fascinating, unforgettable true story of a man who became the most prolific contributor of the English language and to history itself.

Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London

Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London

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The first behind-the-scenes account of life with the legendary ravens at the world's eeriest monument

The ravens at the Tower of London are of mighty importance: rumor has it that if a raven from the Tower should ever leave, the city will fall.

The title of Ravenmaster, therefore, is a serious title indeed, and after decades of serving the Queen, Yeoman Warder Christopher Skaife took on the added responsibility of caring for the infamous ravens. In The Ravenmaster, he lets us in on his life as he feeds his birds raw meat and biscuits soaked in blood, buys their food at Smithfield Market, and ensures that these unusual, misunderstood, and utterly brilliant corvids are healthy, happy, and ready to captivate the four million tourists who flock to the Tower every year.

A rewarding, intimate, and inspiring partnership has developed between the ravens and their charismatic and charming human, the Ravenmaster, who shares the folklore, history, and superstitions surrounding the ravens and the Tower. Shining a light on the behavior of the birds, their pecking order and social structure, and the tricks they play on us, Skaife shows who the Tower's true guardians really are--and the result is a compelling and irreverent narrative that will surprise and enchant.

Refuge : An Unnatural History of Family and Place

Refuge : An Unnatural History of Family and Place

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In the spring of 1983 Terry Tempest Williams learned that her mother was dying of cancer. That same season, The Great Salt Lake began to rise to record heights, threatening the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and the herons, owls, and snowy egrets that Williams, a poet and naturalist, had come to gauge her life by. One event was nature at its most random, the other a by-product of rogue technology: Terry's mother, and Terry herself, had been exposed to the fallout of atomic bomb tests in the 1950s. As it interweaves these narratives of dying and accommodation, Refuge transforms tragedy into a document of renewal and spiritual grace, resulting in a work that has become a classic.
Ripe: Essays

Ripe: Essays

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"A deeply intimate meditation on millennial Black womanhood and a righteous indictment of how this country treats Black girls and women." --Kirkus (starred review)
A LitHub Most Anticipated Book of 2022

"Emotional range without consequence," Negesti Kaudo writes in her debut collection, Ripe, is a privilege of whiteness. In these essays, she fights back, exhorting readers to follow her through fury, grief, love, and hope as she confronts what it means to own her Blackness and her body in contemporary America. A scathing and nuanced cultural critic, she disentangles intersections of race, class, pop culture, size, sexuality, and more in spaces where she always seems to be either too Black or not Black enough. From attending private school as a poor Black student to the evolution of her hair routine to being fat and sexual when society says she should be neither, Kaudo overlooks nothing as she names the ways that white America simultaneously denigrates and steals Black culture. Most of all, she writes against the idea that a Black woman's anger makes her an "angry Black woman," claiming full emotional range as her birthright and as a tool against injustice on her quest to find herself no matter how uncomfortable the journey.

SAND COUNTY ALMANAC

SAND COUNTY ALMANAC

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Few books have had a greater impact than A Sand County Almanac, which many credit with launching a revolution in land management. Written as a series of sketches based principally upon the flora and fauna in a rural part of Wisconsin, the book, originally published by Oxford in 1949, gathers informal pieces written by Leopold over a forty-year period as he traveled through the woodlands of Wisconsin, Iowa, Arizona, Sonora, Oregon, Manitoba, and elsewhere; a final section addresses the philosophical issues involved in wildlife conservation. Beloved for its description and evocation of the natural world, Leopold's book, which has sold well over 2 million copies, remains a foundational text in environmental science and a national treasure.
Short History of Nearly Everything

Short History of Nearly Everything

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One of the world's most beloved writers and New York Times bestselling author of A Walk in the Woods and The Body takes his ultimate journey--into the most intriguing and intractable questions that science seeks to answer.

In A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson trekked the Appalachian Trail--well, most of it. In A Sunburned Country, he confronted some of the most lethal wildlife Australia has to offer. Now, in his biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand--and, if possible, answer--the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world's most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds. A Short History of Nearly Everything is the record of this quest, and it is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining.