Best of 2019: Non-fiction
In no particular order, my favorite non-fiction reads of 2019. These are books read in 2019, not necessarily released in 2019.
I've always loved true crime, and the Lizzie Borden case has had my attention since Elizabeth Montgomery played her in a made-for-TV movie back in the seventies. I'm not sure the book offers a lot of new information but it's well written and contains a lot of details about the investigation and the trial. Spoiler alert: she did it!
As a huge Elton John fan, I was very excited to hear about his autobiography. On the heels of the Rocket Man film, which was wonderful, Me was released. It's a beautiful memoir that not only reveals Elton's private life but also paints a wild picture of rock star life in the 1970s.
While reading Indianapolis in 2018, I was amazed to learn of the Kaiten. It's essentially a manned torpedo the Japanese used to try to sink US battleships during WWII. It's the underwater equivalent of the Kamikaze pilot. Fascinating read.
Another true crime case, this one even more interesting to me because Albert DeSalvo lived in my home town of Malden. Unlike the Lizzie Borden case, this one is not so clearcut. There were several suspects questioned during the murders who could have been The Strangler.
I learned about The Radium Girls while reading Lauren Beukes' The Shining Girls. The Radium Girls were "dial painters" whose job was to paint watch faces with luminesce paint so the numbers would glow in the dark. Little did they know, the radium in the paint was slowly killing them. One of the most grim books I've ever read.
This book tells the story of the death of Jeannette DePalma in 1972. Six weeks after her disappearance, a dog carried her decomposing right forearm and hand to its owner, eventually leading to the discovery of her body. The case was sensationalized due to the "Satanic Panic" based on reports of a satanic cult performing rituals in the woods where the body was found.