Recently I attended a fantastic presentation for librarians hosted by the Association of American Publishers covering forthcoming independent books. The event highlighted titles by over 20 smaller, independent publishers (i.e. not the "Big Six": HarperCollins, Macmillan, Hachette, Penguin, Random House, and Simon & Schuster) and was particularly useful because we librarians might miss some of these less-publicized yet truly worthwhile books.
Here is my idiosyncratic list of a few nonfiction titles that caught my eye, and might catch yours.
"Darth Vader and Son" by Jeffrey Brown (Chronicle Books)
This charming little book of cartoons asks the question: What if Darth took an active role in raising his son? It is a sweet and funny presentation on the joys and trials of parenting…with the added complication of dad being the Dark Lord of the Sith.
"101 Classic Cookbooks: 501 Classic Recipes" compiled by The Fales Library (Rizzoli)
The Fales Library at New York University holds the largest cookbook collection in the United States. This massive greatest-hits collection is a food lover's dream and a fascinating tour of culinary history.
"Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America" by Thomas J. Craughwell (Quirk Books)
Continuing the food and history theme, this book tells the story of Jefferson's deal with one of his slaves, 19-year-old James Hemings. The Founding Father was traveling to Paris to serve as ambassador to France. Jefferson wanted to bring James along to master the art of French cooking. If James was willing to go along with the plan, Jefferson would grant his freedom. This is an adventurous story of a "Founding Foodie" who transformed American agriculture and the chef who transformed our dinner tables.
"America, But Better: The Canada Party Manifesto" by Chris Cannon and Brian Calvert (D&M Books)
Just in time for the presidential election, the perfect candidate: Canada! Following their viral YouTube campaign (warning: some strong language) the leaders of the Canada Party here unveil their platform for the U.S. presidency. Their promises: Oil pipelines will carry maple syrup, corners will be installed in the Oval Office, and timeouts given to Congressmen who can't play nice. Covering everything from economic policy to gay rights to waterboarding, this manifesto offers a helping hand that will soon have America chanting 'Yes We Canada'.
"I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats" by Francesco Marciuliano (Chronicle Books)
In this hilarious book of poetry, the author helps cats unlock their creative potential and explain their odd behavior to ignorant humans. With titles like "Who Is That on Your Lap?," "This Is My Chair," "Kneel Before Me," and "Some of My Best Friends Are Dogs," the poems perfectly capture the inner workings of the cat psyche. This volume reveals cats at their most exasperating, wackiest, and (sometimes) loveable.