Staff Recommended Non-Fiction

By Boulder Book Store

By Boulder Book Store

An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System: A Tale in Four Lives

Matt Richtel

$18.99 $17.47

"I won't kid you, sometimes it's difficult to plow through humanity’s hardships. But odds are I wound never have understood our immune system if wasn't for Matt Richtel explaining it in language that a 10 year old ("the geniuses of the universe") could understand. Now I know how it works and I can make better choices, which is not a small thing. I feel enriched having read it, in ways I never guessed I would." -Reviewed by Helena

Labyrinth of Ice: The Triumphant and Tragic Greely Polar Expedition

Buddy Levy

$29.99 $26.99

"This is the rare book that is both a solid piece of history and compulsively readable. I couldn’t put it down! It follows the Greely expedition’s exploration of the Arctic and their attempts to survive when relief ships failed to reach them. Perfect both for lovers of history and for those who normally find it too dry." -Reviewed by Hannah

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know

Malcolm Gladwell

$30.00 $27.00

"Are you a good judge of character? Probably not, according to Malcolm Gladwell. He takes us on a deep dive into the problems with communication, detailing the ways in which we misjudge the intentions of strangers, or misinterpret their actions. Gladwell highlights an important modern issue to show that the forces underlying our interactions are never as simple as they seem." -Reviewed by Trevor

Machiavelli: The Art of Teaching People What to Fear

Patrick Boucheron

$14.99 $13.79

"This is a beautifully written/translated exploration of Machiavelli within his own time and his relevance today. While the sections on Machiavelli’s life and his views are useful for understanding who he was outside of his reputation, Boucheron really shines in his discussion of the times when people read Machiavelli, arguing that specific political environments, like the one we live in now, make his ideas particularly relevant." -Reviewed by Hannah

Educated: A Memoir

Tara Westover

$28.00 $25.20

"Educated is the incredible and inspirational true story of Tara Westover, who survived her Mormon survivalist family and earned a PhD from Cambridge. Growing up in a family with parents who don’t believe in school, birth certificates, seatbelts, or Western medicine, Westover learned to fight for herself from an early age. Her courage, determination, and self-reliance are nothing short of astonishing." -Reviewed by Olivia

Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country

Pam Houston

$15.95 $14.67

"Pam Houston’s writing is both brutally honesty and beautifully lyrical in this memoir of life on her ranch in the Colorado high country. Lucky to escape her violent childhood home with her life, Houston found a place where she can sit still with herself and her animals. However, that quiet has led to the realization that there is no haven from the dangers of climate change." -Reviewed by Arsen

The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays

Esme Weijun Wang

$16.00 $14.72

"This series of essays is a true gift. Esmé Weijun Wang chronicles her own diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder and in so doing gives us a generous look at a very misunderstood condition. This is a moving look at mental illness from the viewpoint of the diagnosed rather than the one doing the diagnosing, with important lessons for all of us on how to treat others dealing with diagnoses laden with stigma." -Reviewed by Julia

Cannabinoids and the Brain

Linda A Parker


"This book is much needed in a market filled with amateurish, poorly researched speculative nonsense by happy-go-lucky stoners. If you like cited studies, objective descriptions of genetic processes and their interactions with the chemicals involved in marijuana, and the cool eye of a neuroscientist who does not appear to be a hippie lobbyist, this book is for you. The best resource available for real facts on the subject." -Reviewed by Nick

Wicked River: The Mississippi When It Last Ran Wild

Lee Sandlin

$16.95 $15.59

"Hold on to ya britches! This book is a wild ride down the choppy waters of the grand ole Mississippi river! Twisty tales include a steamboat fire more catastrophic than the Titanic, shanty towns made of boat parts and wild outlaws ready to rumble. If you're looking for a summer read full of history and hi-jinks this is a Twaintastic tale of the rowdiest river of them all." -Reviewed by Katie

Conversations with Trees: An Intimate Ecology

Stephanie Kaza

$19.95 $18.35

"This is the perfect companion to renew or strengthen your connection to the natural world. Each short chapter consists of personal musings, observations, and information on a different tree or grove of trees. Rooted in ecology and heavily influenced by Kaza's Buddhist education, this poetic little book will come with me on hikes and keep me company when I can't get outside. The illustrations are beautiful, too." -Reviewed by Julia

You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How Artificial Intelligence Works and Why It's Making the World a Weirder Place

Janelle Shane

$28.00 $25.20

"I can't pretend I know anything about AI, but this book, with its often adorable illustrations, helped me realize a calming truth: at no point in the near future will we be in danger of a robot takeover. AI can be brilliant, and it is everywhere, but without constant, exact guidance, it can also be absurdly stupid. Janelle Shane (woman in STEM *cough*) makes it clear that without humans, AI's are full of mistakes." -Reviewed by Lara

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

Erik Larson

$32.00 $28.80

"Only Erik Larson could encapsulate Churchill’s first year as Prime Minister. This detailed, well-written tome provides incredible context for Churchill’s defiance, his loyalty, and his love of England. There are new details and stories here for both casual and regular readers of WWII fiction and nonfiction. This is a story of not just Churchill, but of England coming together and standing strong against unspeakable evil." -Reviewed by Olivia

Sissy: A Coming-Of-Gender Story

Jacob Tobia

$17.00 $15.64

"Gender queerness is explored beautifully in this gripping yet light-hearted tale of growing up socialized within the ever suffocating binary. Sissy is a powerful reclamation of the fluidity that gender inhabits and encapsulates. It is a brave, expressive memoir. Tobia's story will resound strongly with generations for decades to come." -Reviewed by Lindsey

Wild Words: Rituals, Routines, and Rhythms for Braving the Writer's Path

Nicole Gulotta

$17.95 $16.51

"Wild Words is about the seasons in a writer’s life, through ups and downs, and is so accurate and heartfelt that at one point I sat up and said, “That’s me! She’s describing me!” This book is about acknowledging and honoring each season in the writing life, and looking at how to move forward. Full of personal stories, kind advice, and excellent exercises, this book is perfect for fans of Writing Down the Bones." -Reviewed by Breanna

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth

Sarah Smarsh

$17.00 $15.64

"Writing in with a clear, often tender tone, Sarah Smarsh takes us through five generations of her family's impoverished middle American existence. She explicates the endless issues her family faced, like unsafe work conditions and lack of insurance, or the impossibility of achieving the American dream. This book challenges the myths about people who earn less, but should not be thought of as lesser." -Reviewed by Lara

Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language

Amanda Montell

$26.99 $24.29

"Fun, shameless, and loaded with facts, Wordslut covers hundreds of years of linguistic history and today's cutting-edge research. It's all told through a feminist lens, with an eye to intersectional feminism and hope for the future. If you love words, feminism, or sociology, Wordslut is a must-read!" -Reviewed by Genevieve

Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style

Benjamin Dreyer

$25.00 $22.50

"Want advice on your manuscript from the copy chief of Random House? You’re in luck. Benjamin Dreyer \provides insight into the many careless and rookie mistakes we make that drive our editors up the wall. In the process he lays to rest several writing shibboleths we’ve been slaving under for decades. A reference book with a light touch that should become a go-to source for writers everywhere." -Reviewed by Harry

Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo

Zora Neale Hurston

$16.99 $15.63

"When Hurston found Cudjo Lewis and asked for his story, he was thrilled that someone would finally tell his story. Hurston provides her own impassioned commentary alongside a vivid portrait she paints of a man devastated, but no longer enslaved. She writes in Cudjo’s own words, immortalizing his dialect, and develops a kinship with him that results in a rare instance where trauma is handled with care and empathy." -Reviewed by Lara

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love

Dani Shapiro

$16.95 $15.59

"When a 'just for fun' DNA test reveals her father isn't her biological father, author Dani Shapiro's world is turned upside down. Her memories, history, and identity are thrown into question as she reconsiders who she was and who she is. Shapiro's incredible true story and writing are wonderful and moving. I felt like I was right there alongside her as she searches for answers to her past, present, and future." -Reviewed by Olivia

On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey

Paul Theroux

$30.00 $27.00

"At 76 years old, Theroux drives to the border with Mexico and after crisscrossing along the entire length heads deep into the interior. In his classic fashion, he meets locals, gathers stories, dines with other writers, and meets a revolutionary hero. My favorite travel writer once again makes me want to go out on the open road." -Reviewed by Brad

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places

Colin Dickey

$18.00 $16.56

"This was completely different than I expected, in a good way. Not a glorified account of hauntings, Ghostland is a rather scholarly look into why we consider a place haunted, how ghost stories affect us psychologically and culturally, and how to understand negative elements of our history through haunted places. Clarke doesn’t confirm or deny his belief in ghosts, but does offer alternative reasons for that 'haunted' feeling." -Reviewed by Julia

The Collected Letters of Alan Watts

Alan Watts

$26.95 $24.26

"Even if you skip the parts where he's talking to his family about their garden (I did), this remains a valuable treasure trove. For anyone who has enjoyed Watts’s lectures or books, there's a lot of stuff here tying those philosophies in with his personal journey—for example, his studying for the priesthood under the pretense of reinvigorating Christianity with Buddhist principles. Much more readable than most letter collections." -Reviewed by Nick

The Lost Art of Reading Nature's Signs: Use Outdoor Clues to Find Your Way, Predict the Weather, Locate Water, Track Animals--And Other Forgotten Skills

Tristan Gooley

$16.95 $15.59

"This book squeezes in every tidbit of useful information it can. Written plainly and clearly, with illustrations to help you along the way, it sparked a new eagerness for exploration in me. Though I love hiking, I never realized just how much of the land's story I was missing until I read this book. Dog-ear it, mark it up, throw it in your backpack, and haul it along on every adventure you undertake henceforth." -Reviewed by Lara

How to: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems

Randall Munroe

$28.00 $25.20

"We all know someone who this book is for. The person who wants to know how they can take a selfie with a telescope. Or if they can cross the Arkansas River by turning it into water vapor using electric kettles. This book is delightful fun for any fans of the webcomic XKCD, but really for anyone who wants their ridiculous questions answered, semi-seriously, and with legitimate science." -Reviewed by Julia

Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World

Anthony Doerr

$16.00 $14.72

"In one day, Anthony Doerr's twin boys were born, and he learned he'd be spending a year in Rome on a writing fellowship. This enchanting and well-written memoir highlights the realities and wonder of the historic city and chronicles both the mundane child-raising and miraculous traditions witnessed in one year. All the while, Doerr is struggling to write a little novel about WWII in France..." -Reviewed by Olivia

All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir

Nicole Chung

$16.95 $15.59

"Whether you're an adoptee, the parent, family member, or friend of an adoptee, or have ever wondered what it feels like to grow up as a transracial adoptee, this is a great place to start. Many of the worries, fears, and the positive thoughts Nicole writes about are echoes of conversations I have had with other adoptees, and I enjoyed her openness in regards to what is often such an emotionally charged and personal topic." -Reviewed by Katie

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told: An Oral History

Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman

$17.00 $15.64

" I don't care about celebrity gossip, except when it comes to these two. By the end of the prologue I was almost in hysterical tears. It's an oral history, and you can hear their voices as you move through the pages. I read this in a single day, and read passages out loud to anyone in the room so they could enjoy the hilarity as well." -Reviewed by Brad

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

John Carreyrou

$16.95 $15.59

"Bad Blood is a compelling read for any true crime fan. The Theranos scam is now well-known, but when John Carreyrou broke the story in 2015, its revelations shocked everyone. This book is a fascinating deep dive into the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes with meticulous investigating. The level of deception that Carreyou depicts is truly startling and will have you captivated until the last page." -Reviewed by Catrin

A Secret Vice

J. R. R. Tolkien

$26.99 $24.29

"We all know that Tolkien is a master world-builder, but it was truly his love of language and linguistics that allowed him to develop Middle Earth. This deep dive into his theories of language creation is like getting some Longbottom Leaf after the sacking of Isengard. With critical texts and extensive notes, this book explains how his creation of languages held together the logic of his world." -Reviewed by Lara

Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia

Peter Pomerantsev

$16.99 $15.63

"This book's so wild that I've been having dreams of talking to Vladimir Putin. Pomerantsev shows us a nation attempting to keep a smile on despite conflicted feelings under a new kind of dictatorship after a period of mafia rule and old dictatorships. Gangsters con their way into influential PR jobs. "Gold digging" becomes so accepted that manuals on how to do it are bestsellers. Viva la difference." -Reviewed by Nick