I have to say, I hate pulling for returns. We can’t keep every book forever, so we go through the shelves every once in awhile and check to see what just isn’t selling anymore. In the Kids department, we get a little attached and we often end up buying books out of the return pile just to give them a good home. Some almost-returned books become Staff Favorites and go on to live a long, happy, constantly-selling life. The completely charming Emily’s Balloon is one of those.
Some books are more devastating than others to return. Another unremarkable dinosaur book? Goodbye! A young adult novel that has more brand names per page than a glossy magazine? See ya! But it is agony to see a great nonfiction title, about some underrepresented but intriguing topic, just sit there, month after month, years even, quietly waiting to find an owner. Something as simple as pulling for returns in the sports section gets me all worked up when I leave with a pile of biographies of women in sports that have sat untouched for too long. (Just what exactly are you buying your sporty daughters, nieces, and granddaughters these days? Wii Sports? Give these books a try!)
So without further ado, here are a few of my favorite sorta niche-y nonfiction titles that I need to see walking out the door on a regular basis. They’re not in any immediate danger, I just don’t ever want to return any of these guys, okay?
Extraordinary Ordinary People: Five American Masters of Traditional Arts by Alan Govenar
Profiles five creative Americans: a Beijing Opera Performer in New York City, a woman in Oregon who makes paper flowers and coronas for quinceañeras, an Iowan rug weaver, a Mardi Gras Indian, and a boat builder in Maine.
Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX, the Law That Changed the Future of Girls in America by Karen Blumenthal
This is really well-put-together, with lots of photos, interviews, and old cartoons from decades when women playing sports was so ridiculous it was an automatic laugh. Joke’s on you now, dudes. Seriously, though, tons of girls have no idea what Title IX is. Educate ‘em.
Gay America: Struggle for Equality by Linas Alsenas
Aren’t we the 2nd gayest city in the country? This is a great book for political high schoolers (and everyone else, really) that covers parts of the gay rights movement and gay history that, unless you’re a scholar, you probably don’t already know.
Sophisticated Ladies: The Great Women of Jazz by Leslie Gourse, illustrated by Martin French
These ladies are so rad. Just come read about them.
No Choirboy: Murder, Violence and Teenagers on Death Row by Susan Kuklin
This is harrowing and not for the younger set, but a compelling and worthwhile read. A high school library necessity, and great for reluctant readers.