Pirates You Don't Know, and Other Adventures in the Examined Life by John Griswold. An insightful, heartbreaking, and hilarious collection of essays about life, death, writing, pirates, teaching, and everything in between.
1) Demon Camp: A Solider’s Exorcism – Jennifer Percy (Scribner) - Stunning story about a solider struggling with PTSD - or demon possession - after losing his best friend in Afghanistan.
2) Thrown – Kerry Howley (Sarabande) - An erudite and incredibly funny exploration of MMA culture, with a semi-fictional narrator.
3) Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer – Matthew Gavin Frank (Liveright) - Wild and wonderful history of the man who photographed the first giant squid. Such a terrific voice.
4) On Immunity – Eula Biss (Graywolf) - From the author of Notes from No Man's Land, a lyrical exploration of the history of immunization.
5) Loitering – Charles D’Ambrosio (Tin House) - D'Ambrosio's first essay collection, Orphans, is the size of an index card. I still re-read them constantly, but I'm so happy to have those pieces reprinted here in a regular-sized book along with some of his newer work. So good.
6) Citizen – Claudia Rankine (Graywolf) - Saving one of the best for last. Haunting poetry that reads like lyrical nonfiction: "This is how you are a citizen. Come on. Let it go. Move on."