The best nonfiction of January

Chris Schluep on January 15, 2020
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The best nonfiction of January

Here are four nonfiction books from our list of the Best Nonfiction of January. Two of the books actually made it into our top 10 Best Books of January. You can see the top 10 list here.

And be sure to check out the full list of our Best Nonfiction of January here.


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Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity by Peggy Orenstein

In her 2016 book, Girls & Sex, Peggy Orenstein spoke with hundreds of high school and college-aged girls about their thoughts on hookups, love, body shaming, virginity, abstinence, and much, much more. Now Orenstein talks with boys from the same age group, revealing that their path through the modern sexual landscape is just as twisty and thorny, if not more so, as girls’. Consent, pornography, hookup culture, gender identity, sexual preference, and a constantly changing definition of masculinity are among the issues boys struggle with and talk with her about. Orenstein’s straight-ahead questions paired with the boys’ vulnerable answers make Boys & Sex a captivating, eye-opening read. A must for anyone who has a boy or young man whom they love in their life. —Adrian Liang


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Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by BJ Fogg

Given the surge in popularity in books on making and breaking habits, it’s a wonder there’s room for another one. But make space for BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits, a practical guide to introducing intentionally small changes into your routine that can lead to big results. The director of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford, Fogg has spent years trying to figure out what makes habits stick. After much trial and error, he’s focused upon a potent trinity of motivation, ability, and consistent prompts. More important, he shows the reader how to hone in on what small actions are more likely to be accomplished and therefore can snowball into something bigger, whether that action is flossing teeth or eventually running a marathon. I admit I found the book design off-putting at first, but the content is so good I quickly forgot my aesthetic quibbles. An excellent, lively resource for those seeking life changes. —Adrian Liang


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The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia by Emma Copley Eisenberg

Emma Copley Eisenberg investigates a murder that occurred in 1980 Appalachia and its aftermath. In the early evening of June 25, 1980 in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, two middle-class outsiders named Vicki Durian, 26, and Nancy Santomero, 19, were murdered in an isolated clearing. They were hitchhiking to a festival known as the Rainbow Gathering but never arrived. Thirteen years passed before a local farmer was arrested and convicted. But the confession of a serial killer overturned that conviction. Einsenberg follows the threads of this crime through the complex history of Appalachia, forming a searing and wide-ranging portrait of America—its divisions of gender and class, and of its violence.


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Why We Can't Sleep: Women's New Midlife Crisis by Ada Calhoun

When Ada Calhoun found herself in the throes of a midlife crisis, she thought that she had no right to complain. She was married with children and a good career. So why did she feel miserable? And why did it seem that other Generation X women were miserable, too? Calhoun decided to find some answers. She looked into housing costs, HR trends, credit card debt averages, and divorce data. At every turn, she saw a pattern: sandwiched between the Boomers and the Millennials, Gen X women were facing new problems as they entered middle age, problems that were being largely overlooked. In this book, Calhoun aims for understanding, and ultimately relief.


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