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Outstanding Non-Fiction Books for Young Adults


Every year, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) selects the best non-fiction for young adults.  The following titles were winners in 2016 and 2017 and are available through the library.

Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series
by Eliot Asinof
Recounts the fixing of the 1919 World Series, covering events from the first meetings between White Sox players and gamblers to the 1921 trial and its aftermath – (Baker & Taylor)
T. Rex and the Crater of Doom
by Walter Alvarez
Geologist Alvarez presents the development of the impact theory of dinosaur extinction as the adventure/mystery it was.
Art Attack: A Short Cultural History of the Avant-Garde
by Marc Aronson
Discover everything you ever wanted to know about bohemians, hipsters, and the development of the world's most radical art.
The Joy of Music
by Leonard Bernstein
Bernstein describes all aspects of classical music.
In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle
by Madeleine Blais
Learn about the year of heart, sweat, and muscle that transformed the Amherst Lady Hurricanes basketball team into state champions.
The Secret Family: Twenty-four Hours Inside the Mysterious World of Our Minds and Bodies
by David Bodanis
The unseen world around us and within our bodies is shown in vivid detail as we follow a typical family through their day.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West
by Dee Brown
There's another side of America's western expansion: the one seen through Native American eyes.
The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls
by Kenneth Brumberg
The historical evolution of body perception has turned the value system of American girls inside out.
Civilisation: A Personal View
by Kenneth Clark
Clark explores history through the works, impulses, and beliefs of the great creative individuals of Western civilization.
What to Listen For in Music
by Aaron Copland
The composer provides a basic introduction to the mysteries of musical composition and music appreciation.
The Search for King Arthur
by David Day
Discover through magnificent illustrations and romantic retellings what is fact and what is legend about this fifth-century hero.
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
by Jared Diamond
Diamond contends that these three factors determined the course of world power throughout history.
The Broken Cord
by Michael Dorris
The persistent physical and emotional problems of his adopted son baffled the author until he learned the condition had a name: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
The Measure of Our success: A Letter to My Children and Yours
by Marion Wright Edelman
A child advocate shares her thoughts on values, raising families, and the future of our country.
The Art of Living: The Classic Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness
by Epictetus
 A modern interpretation of the Stoic philosopher answers the timeless questions of how to be a good person and live a good life
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women
by Susan Faludi
This unflinching analysis examines the current status of American women.
How to Look at Sculpture: Text and Photographs
by David Finn
To understand sculpture, you have to know what to look for.
The Voices of AIDS: Twelve Unforgettable People Talk About How AIDS Has Changed Their Lives
by Michael Thomas Ford
Individuals whose AIDS experiences have been catalysts for making a difference share their poignant and personal stories.
Next of Kin: What Chimpanzees Have Taught Me About Who We Are
by Roger Fouts
Describing his career of communicating with chimpanzees, Fouts explains evolutionary, genetic, and emotional bonds with our next of kin.
Father Greg & the Homeboys: The Extraordinary Journey of Father Greg Boyle and His Work With the Latino Gangs of East L.A.
by Celeste Fremon
Conscience, parent, motivator, drill sergeant: Father Greg was all this and more to the gangbangers who called his barrio parish community home.
On Wings of Joy: The Story of Ballet from the 16th Century to Today
by Trudy Garfunkel
Fascinating history, dancers, choreographers, and stories: here is everything that has helped create this wonderful art form.
The Mismeasure of Man
by Stephen Jay Gould
Gould's history of the attempt to quantify intelligence could be called the “misuse of science.”
The Story of Art
by E. H. Gombrich
Everything from cave paintings to the experimental art of today is covered, in words and pictures, in this sixteenth edition of one of the most famous and popular art books ever published.
Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet
by Katie Hafner
The origins of the world's first computer network are explained, with tales of the motivations, breakthroughs, and personalities that created it.
by Edith Hamilton
Gods and heroes, their clashes and adventures, come alive in this splendid retelling of the Greek, Roman, and Norse myths.
Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes
by Stephen Hawking
Cosmology becomes understandable as the author discusses the origin, evolution, and fate of our universe.
A Tribe Apart: A Journey into the Heart of American Adolescences
by Patricia Hersch
An intimate three-year journey through contemporary adolescence with eight “typical” teens reveals a separate culture spawned not from personal choice, but rather from adult alienation and abandonment.
by John Hersey
Six Hiroshima survivors reflect on the aftermath of the first atomic bomb.
No Matter How Loud I Shout: A Year in the Life of Juvenile Court
by Edward Humes
Humes paints a tragic and heartbreaking portrait of the chaos characterizing America's juvenile justice system where, as one inmate writes, “my screams have no voice, no matter how loud I shout.”
A Country Year: Living the Questions
by Sue Hubbell
A former wife and librarian observes her natural surroundings during a year spent as a beekeeper on a beautiful Ozark farm.
Say It Loud! The Story of Rap Music
by K. Maurice Jones
From a village in West Africa to a street in Brooklyn, to MTV, rappers make the Scene.
The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea
by Sebastian Junger
Haunting premonitions didn't save seven fisherman from the ferocious and deadly power of the sea.
Where She Danced
by Elizabeth Kendall
The contributions of major innovators and the conditions of their times are the basis for this history of modern American dance.
The Other Side of the River: A Story of Two Towns, a Death, and America's Dilemma
by Alex Kotlowitz
Geographically, only a river separates two closely neighboring towns, but the murder mystery surrounding the death of a young black man exposes a deeply rooted racial divide.
Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools
by Jonathan Kozol
Kozol's stinging indictment of America's public school system advocates an equal distribution of per pupil funding to right the gross inequities in our current system.
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster
by John Krakauer
His dream expedition to Everest became a nightmare when human error and a sudden storm combined to claim the lives of some of the world's best mountain climbers.
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
by Scott McCloud
A comic book asks and answers the question of whether or not comics are a literary form.
In Suspect Terrain
by John McPhee
Traveling along I-80 with geologist Anita Harris, McPhee describes the geologic features that reveal the history of the Appalachians.
Stomping the Blues
by Albert Murray
An aficionado gives the lowdown on what it is and its origins.
The Joy of Sects: A Spirited Guide to the World's Religious Traditions
by Peter Occhiogrosso
This lively, easy to understand guidebook is for everyone from the faithful believer to the curious doubter.
ABC of Architecture
by James F. O'Gorman
Function, structure, and beauty are the interdependent basics — the ABC — of architecture.
Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences
by John Allen Paulos
Paulos illustrates the importance of understanding and the consequences of misunderstanding mathematical concepts in everyday life.
The Telling of the World: Native American Stories and Art
by W. S. Penn, editor
Traditional and contemporary legends, stories, and art from many tribes explain our world and its lifeforms.
Invention by Design: How Engineers Get From Thought to Thing
by Henry Petroski
Using examples from paper clips to monumental bridges, Petroski shows how engineers work.
Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls
by Mary Pipher
Pipher looks at societal “girl poisoning” and the emotional and psychological havoc it wreaks on the lives of young women.
The Most Beautiful House in the World
by Witold Rybczynski
The author's dream of building a boat evolves into the building of a home, a process he uses to explain complex architectural ideas.
A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam
by Neil Sheehan
A soldier exposes the corruption undermining the American war effort in Vietnam.
The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood
by Simon, David and Edward Burns
Crack owns this corner and infects the lives of all those within reach.
Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time
by Dava Sobel
A self-taught eighteenth-century English clockmaker succeeded where the scientific community failed.
The Annotated Mona Lisa: A Crash Course in Art History From Prehistoric to Post-Modern
by Carol Strickland and John Boswell
From cave paintings to conceptual art, art history is demystified.
African Exodus: The Origins of Modern Humanity
by Christopher Stringer and Robin McKie
The authors support the theory of a single origin of modern humanity with paleoanthropological, archaeological, and DNA evidence.
The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
by Lewis Thomas
These essays offer an optimistic scientist's view of a wide variety of subjects.
Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965
by Juan Williams
From Brown v. the Board of Education to the Voting Rights Act, Williams outlines the social and political gains of African Americans.
Favorite Folktales from Around the World
by Jane Yolen, editor
This collection of international folktales provides an understanding of the roots of diverse cultures.