Sports, bios, history and more: 27 nonfiction books to check out this summer


Get real with books on dreadlocks and Beat poets, surfing and rock 'n' roll, spaceflight and evolution.

Get real with books on dreadlocks and Beat poets, surfing and rock 'n' roll, spaceflight and evolution.







Skip to: Memoir/Bio | Sports/Arts | History/Current events | Science/Nature


The Rose Hotel

A Memoir of Secrets, Loss, and Love from Iran to America

Rahimeh Andalibian

National Geographic, $26

An Iranian-born psychologist tells the story of her family, forced to leave their home country for England, then America, after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. (Out now)


My Dreadlock Chronicles

Bert Ashe

Bolden/Agate, $15 paper

Part memoir of a professor's decision to grow dreadlocks, part meditation on the significance of African American hair in art and society. (June)

The Great Detective

The Amazing Rise and Immortal Life of Sherlock Holmes

Zach Dundas

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26

This biography of the world's most famous fictional detective investigates how Arthur Conan Doyle's character has managed to stay relevant all these years. (June)

I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career

The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955-1997

Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, edited by Bill Morgan

City Lights, $26.95

A collection of the letters, spanning over four decades, between "Howl" poet Ginsberg and City Lights co-founder Ferlinghetti, both Beat Generation legends. (June)

Barbarian Days

A Surfing Life

William Finnegan

The Penguin Press, $27.95

The New Yorker staff writer reflects on his life as a surfing fanatic, from his youth in Hawaii to later stints riding the waves in Thailand, Indonesia and more. (July)

Street Poison

The Biography of Iceberg Slim

Justin Gifford

Doubleday, $26.95

A look at the life, literature and politics of Robert Beck, the infamous pimp and bestselling author better known as Iceberg Slim. (August)

Under the Same Sky

From Starvation in North Korea to Salvation in America

Joseph Kim with Stephan Talty

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28

The story of a young North Korean man who escaped the poverty-wracked country for China and then the U.S., where he became a college student. (June)

The Pawnbroker's Daughter

Maxine Kumin

W.W. Norton, $25.95

A posthumous memoir from the former U.S. Poet Laureate, who grew up during the Depression, attended Radcliffe and went on to write of feminism and life in rural New England. (July)


A Dominican Boy's Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League

Dan-el Padilla Peralta

The Penguin Press, $27.95

An undocumented immigrant tells his story of growing up homeless in New York and earning a Ph.D. in classics from Stanford University. (July)


Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget

Sarah Hepola

Grand Central, $26

After too many mornings waking up with no memory of the night before, a young journalist makes the difficult decision to give up drinking for good. (June)

Bobby Wonderful

An Imperfect Son Buries His Parents

Bob Morris

Twelve, $25

The NPR commentator looks back on the deaths of his elderly parents and his sometimes contentious relationship with his older brother. (June)

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The Domino Diaries

My Decade Boxing with Olympic Champions and Chasing Hemingway's Ghost in the Last Days of Castro's Cuba

Brin-Jonathan Butler

Picador, $26

Amateur boxer and gonzo journalist Butler writes about the pugilists of Havana and the beauty and contradictions of life in Cuba. (June)

Allen Klein

The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll

Fred Goodman

Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27

A biography of one of the most controversial businessmen in rock 'n' roll history — the canny, temperamental manager of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. (June)


The Story of the Father Who Raised an Unlikely Baseball Dynasty

Bengie Molina and Joan Ryan

Simon & Schuster, $25

Three sons, six World Series rings. The former Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim catcher writes about the man who raised him and his two brothers, also star baseball players. (Out now)

Year of the Dunk

A Modest Defiance of Gravity

Asher Price

Crown, $26

In this memoir a reporter and cancer survivor in his 30s, who's not exactly in the best shape of his life, resolves to dunk a basketball in one year. (Out now)

Dreams to Remember

Otis Redding, Stax Records, and the Transformation of Southern Soul

Mark Ribowsky

Liveright, $27.95

The soul musician who died at 26 is the subject of this appreciation, which considers the singer's career in the contexts of popular music and civil rights. (June)


The Greatest Films — and Personal Favorites — of a Moviegoing Lifetime

Richard Schickel

Alfred A. Knopf, $26.95

The longtime film critic, who has seen more than 20,000 movies in his 50-year career, reflects on the films he loves the most. (June)

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History/Current events


A History of the Written Word

Matthew Battles

W.W. Norton, $26.95

From the author of "Library: An Unquiet History," this chronicle of the art of writing spans millennia, from ancient Mesopotamia to our computer-obsessed modern age. (July)

Give Us the Ballot

The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America

Ari Berman

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27

The Voting Rights Act was signed into law 50 years ago, but according to journalist Berman, the fight for equality in voting is still taking place. (August)

Midnight's Furies

The Deadly Legacy of India's Partition

Nisid Hajari

Houghton Mifflin Harcou

This vivid history of the 1947 partition of India looks at the terrible violence that accompanied this division of the subcontinent and independence from the U.K. (June)


Russia and Its Future with the West

Walter Laqueur

Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's, $27.99

The historian argues that Vladimir Putin's controversial style of governance won't be going away anytime soon, no matter who succeeds him as Russian president. (June)

Project Fatherhood

A Story of Courage and Healing in One of America's Toughest Communities

Jorja Leap

Beacon, $24.95

The trials and successes of an anti-gang group are at the center of this book by a UCLA anthropologist about the South L.A. community group she co-founded with local activist Big Mike Cummings. (June)

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Life's Greatest Secret

The Race to Crack the Genetic Code

Matthew Cobb

Basic, $29.99

A history of the scientists who discovered DNA and the genetic code, forever changing the face of science as we know it. (July)

Leaving Orbit

Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight

Margaret Lazarus Dean

Graywolf, $16 paper

The writer offers a history of American exploration in space and considers what it means for the country that the space shuttle program has ended. (Out now)

Big Science

Ernest Lawrence and the Invention That Launched the Military-Industrial Complex

Michael Hiltzik

Simon & Schuster, $30

Times columnist Hiltzik chronicles the life and career of the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who invented the cyclotron, which changed the face of modern warfare. (July)

The Weather Experiment

The Pioneers Who Sought to See the Future

Peter Moore

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30

A history of the 19th-century scientists who realized that weather didn't have to be a mystery and pioneered the study of meteorology. (June)

The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack

And Other Cautionary Tales from Human Evolution

Ian Tattersall

Palgrave MacMillan, $27

One of the world's leading paleoanthropologists looks at how the discipline has evolved over the years and the missteps scientists have made along the way. (June)

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