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Today’s holiday gift guide features non-fiction and biographies for adult. Our librarians have pulled together hidden gems that span a wide spectrum of interests. 

You can find these books at local bookstores (we recommend Book Beat in Oak Park or Books-A-Million in Beverly Hills) or you can place the books on hold using the links below. Don’t forget to inscribe the book with a special message to the recipient!


Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
History and a road trip with a hilarious companion.

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
An inspiring memoir about running and the great distance runners of the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico.

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Vaillant
Man vs. nature in the taiga of far eastern Russia.

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan
History of the ecology of the Great Lakes watershed – a NYT and Michigan Notable Book in 2018.

Sweet Potato Soul by J
Vegan sweet potato soul food? Yes, please!

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
A therapist and her therapist – with humor and wisdom.

Prêt-à-Party: great ideas for good times and creative entertaining by Lola Rose
A fashion designer’s ideas for whimsical parties and events.

The Quilts of Gee’s Bend by John Beardsley, William Arnett, Paul Arnett, Jane Livingston
Stories and images from the master quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama.


Year of Yes by Shonda Rimes
The creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal tells how saying “yes” for one year changed her life.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson
Laugh-out-loud memoir about some really difficult things–like anxiety, infertility, and taxidermy!

M Train by Patti Smith
Essays by legendary artist Patti Smith.

The White Darkness by David Grann
A slim but powerful tribute to Henry Worsley, an adventurer who set off to cross Antarctica on foot.

Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty by Diane Keaton
Reflections on what it means to be beautiful, by acclaimed actress Diane Keaton.

In Full Flight by John Heminway
A biography about whether or not redemption is possible for a person who has committed terrible atrocities.

Mary Queen of Scots by John Guy
Definitive biography of one of history’s most famous women.

The World According to Fannie Davis by Bridgett M. David
A daughter’s moving homage to an extraordinary parent, this stirring memoir set in Detroit in the 60s and 70s is a fascinating read.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
A master of American history tackles Wilbur and Orville Wright.

Interested in other book selections? View our full guides:

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