11 Of Summer 2015's Best Nonfiction Books That Will Actually Make You A More Intelligent Person (Probably)

Summer is finally here, which means it’s time to book that vacation, kick back, and revel in the glorious feeling of having nothing whatsoever to do. Reading these summer 2015 nonfiction books should definitely not be on the agenda.

You do know I'm 100 percent kidding, right? We all know that summer is a competition: who can read the most exciting new books to impress their colleagues with by the time September rolls around. There’s plenty of time to get stuck in to some brand new novels, to travel through time with some nostalgic summer reads, or to scare yourself silly with some thrillers — but best of all, there’s time to swot up on the latest brainy reads.

This summer, get ready to dive into some memoirs and biographies so touching, hilarious, and truly inspirational that they will actually make you a better person. And by a better person, I mean a more well-read and intellectual person than everyone else you work with, so you win. These titles are being released throughout the summer, so if you pace yourself right, you’ll be able to keep your nose firmly in a book all the way through the sunny months ahead. 

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'Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir' by Wednesday Martin

Part of Mean Girls’ genius came from comparing high school students to wild animals fighting round the waterhole; it was funny, but it was also really very true. Wednesday Martin pulls off the same trick in Primates of Park Avenue, coping with her new life on the Upper East Side by analyzing her new neighbors as if they are the primates she has spent her life studying. (Simon & Schuster; June 2)

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'Intimacy Idiot' by Isaac Oliver

Isaac Oliver describes himself as an “extremely single gay man,” and is bursting onto the memoir scene with his laugh-out-loud stories of dating in New York. From hooking up with a man dressed as a dolphin, to sleeping with half the people in his neighborhood, Oliver’s confessions in Intimacy Idiot perfectly reflect the messiness of urban romance, and our often-funny-but-often-actually-rather-awkward search for intimacy. (Scribner; June 2)

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'Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham' by Emily Bingham

In Irrepressible, Emily Bingham reveals the secrets her family had buried about her great aunt Henrietta, who rejected the family business to storm through 1920s America in a whirlwind of sex, jazz, and addiction. Her story is at times harrowing, like when a doctor attempts to “cure” her of homosexuality, but Bingham’s defiance of her family’s instinct to hide their troubled outcast brings to dazzling life an essential chapter of American history. (FSG; June 16)

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'Modern Romance' by Aziz Ansari

Aziz Ansari has been ripping into modern romance in his comedy for years, but for this book he put in some serious new groundwork, teaming up with sociologist Eric Klinenberg to delve into the science of dating in the 21st century. The result is a hilarious investigation into the social science behind our current dating dilemmas: Is the pizza emoji sexy? Should I check my girlfriend’s phone? Will I ever find my soulmate? (Penguin Press; June 16)

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'In a French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France' by Susan Hermann Loomis

Susan Hermann Loomis realized long ago that the way to enjoy great food every day was to move to France — and so she did. Luckily for us, in In A French Kitchen she spills the secrets that allow the French to instinctively combine their local produce in simple, uncomplicated recipes, and create the decadent French taste. (Gotham; June 16)

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'Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home' by Jessica Fechtor

When an aneurysm burst in Jessica Fechtor’s brain, she lost her sense of smell and the sight in her left eye. As soon as she was well enough to stand, Fechtor kickstarted her own recovery through the restorative power of cooking. Her story is so inspirational that you’ll soon be running to the kitchen to try out the 27 recipes woven throughout her book. (Avery; June 23)

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'Diane von Furstenberg: A Life Unwrapped' by Giola Diliberto

In Diane Von Furstenberg: A Life Unwrapped, Giola Diliberto celebrates the life of iconic designer Diane von Furstenberg, one of the first feminist fashion designers. Her wrap dress is renowned as a symbol of women’s liberation, independence, and sexual freedom; Furstenberg herself is a self-invented feminist success story. This book is the story of both an influential designer, and a cultural legend. (Dey Street; July 7)

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'You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)' by Felicia Day

You’re Never Weird on the Internet might be the ultimate rags-to-riches, outcast-to-popular-crowd success story. Felicia Day chronicles her life so far: from her hippie homeschooling, through her awkward attempts to break into Hollywood, to her incredible success as an Internet star. Misfits rejoice — Day’s triumph is proof that everyone should dare to be themselves. (Touchstone; Aug 11)

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'The Fish Ladder: A Journey Upstream' by Katharine Norbury

This incredible and life-affirming story follows Katharine Norbury as she sets off with her 9-year-old daughter to follow a river from the sea to its source. The journey begins as a way to cope with their grief after Norbury’s miscarriage, but a chance encounter leads them to the door of Norbury’s biological mother, who abandoned her as a baby. (Bloomsbury; Aug 11)

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'The Last Love Song: A Biography of Joan Didion' by Tracy Daugherty

The Last Love Song is a great example of non-fiction that reads like fiction. Daugherty deliberately respects the privacy of the reclusive journalist Joan Didion, instead journeying back in time to follow Didion’s growth into adult life. Touching interviews provided by those who know Didion well help make this biography into a loving tribute to a great literary figure. (St. Martin’s Press; Aug 25)

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'Rising Strong' by Brené Brown

Just as the summer is drawing to an end, and melancholia is setting in, Rising Strong is being released to inspire us all to make it through another year. Brené Brown’s book teaches us how to embrace our failures, and learn from them how to rise up and succeed. Awesome! (Spiegel & Grau; Aug 25)

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