The best nonfiction of May

Jon Foro on May 24, 2019

Memorial Day weekend is upon us. For many, it's the unofficial beginning of summer—finally, I can reclaim my white pants from the back of the closet!—but the extra day also grants us more time for reading. And why not try some nonfiction? Amazon's picks for the best reality-based books of the month include: The long and notorious history of a "glamorous" Hollywood hot spot; a how-to guide for aspiring "makers" from MythBuster Adam Savage; and the story of the murder trial that eventually inspired one of our most beloved novels.

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The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood's Chateau Marmont by Shawn Levy

When John Belushi died from a drug overdose at the Chateau Marmont in 1982, both the event and the hotel assumed mythical proportion in the pop culture landscape. As it turns out, the place had played frequent host to bad behavior (and its consequences) going back decades—a sort of Chelsea Hotel West, or maybe an Overlook Hotel for the glitter set. The Castle on Sunset runs down nine decades of its weird history, wild secrets, and notable denizens, including Natalie Wood, Jim Morrison, Lindsay Lohan, and, of course, Belushi.

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Every Tool's a Hammer: Life Is What You Make It by Adam Savage

For 14 seasons on the Discovery Channel, Adam Savage—along with co-conspirator Jaime Hyneman—built things, battled zombies, blew things up, strapped jet engines to cars, debunked urban legends, and (less frequently) validated them for their hit series, MythBusters. That show ended three years ago, but Savage has forged on with new television projects (MythBusters Junior, Being Savage) and a new book: Every Tool’s a Hammer, a combination autobiography, how-to manual, and inspirational guide for anyone who ever wanted to be a maker, but felt lacking in equipment, skill, or time.

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Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep

Assisting with the research for Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood inspired Harper Lee to embark on her own true crime masterpiece. Casey Cep finishes what she started in Furious Hours, which recounts the unusual case that so captivated the author of To Kill a Mockingbird (and it is a doozy, involving a serial-killing preacher and a vigilante who meted out some rough justice—and both were represented by the same attorney!). —Erin Kodicek

More of the best nonfiction of May:

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