Reality reading: 12 new nonfiction titles for fall

Last week, we offered a signpost sampling of new fall fiction titles that are getting big buzz in the books industry and among readers. Now let’s turn the page to a sampling of recommended nonfiction titles. They’re arranged alphabetically by author name. Publishing dates are noted for those not on sale now.

“The Tide” by Hugh Aldersey-Williams (Norton, $28, 368 pages): This fascinating study explores humankind’s millennia-old quest to understand the most powerful force on the planet, combining science, literature and history in a search for answers that took the author around the globe. He even addresses the “tidal truths” behind the biblical parting of the Red Sea, and the Allied landing on the beaches of Normandy.

“How Does That Make You Feel?” edited by Sherry Amatenstein (Seal Press, $17, 320 pages): With insight and humor, 34 writers include us in their private sessions with their psychotherapists. Patti Davis, the actress daughter of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, concludes with this: “Just as there are lousy car mechanics, there are lousy therapists.”

“The General vs. the President” by H.W. Brands (Doubleday, $30, 448 pages; on sale Oct. 11): In post-WWII America, President Harry S. Truman had a vision of how to wage the upcoming Cold War and deal with the growing threat of the Soviet Union – that is, cautiously. War hero Gen. Douglas MacArthur, on the other hand, was all in favor of the “smash and grab” school of thought, nuclear threats be damned. The story of two conflicted titans recalls what was one of the most dangerous scenarios in world history. Brands is the author of 26 books of history, biography and politics, and has appeared for the Sacramento Bee Book Club.

“In Such Good Company” by Carol Burnett (Crown, $28, 320 pages): “The Carol Burnett Show” was an Emmy Award-winning laugh riot during its prime-time TV run (1967-1978), a hit mostly because of its beloved host. Here, the comedian takes readers behind the scenes of the variety show for more laughs and some unexpected drama. Such as the time Lucille Ball was …

“A Lowcountry Heart” by Pat Conroy (Nan A. Talese, $25, 320 pages; Oct. 25): Literature lost a legend when Conroy died in March. This “reflections on a writing life” compiles interviews, magazine pieces and letters to reveal a sensitive soul behind the swaggering Southern facade. Two of his six novels – slightly fictionalized memoirs, really – became Oscar-nominated movies: “The Great Santini” and “The Prince of Tides.”

“The Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City” by Margaret Creighton (W.W. Norton, $29, 352 pages; Oct. 18): Millions of people swarmed the 1901 Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., the centerpiece of America’s proud strut into the 20th century. But behind the glamour and technological wonders, a storm of tragedy, crime and weird dysfunction were weaving their own spells.

“The 60s: The Story of a Decade,” edited by Henry Finder (Random House, $35, 720 pages; Oct. 25): The editors of The New Yorker magazine follow their last two “decades books” (“The 40s” and “The 50s”) with this telescope into one of the most tumultuous 10 years of the 20th century. This anthology of stories carry such bylines as Pauline Kael, John Cheever, Rachel Carlson, James Baldwin and Calvin Trillin.

“Good Vibrations” by Mike Love (Blue Rider, $28, 448 pages): The Beach Boys broke out of their garage in 1962 with the first of their “California Sound” albums, “Surfin’ Safari,” and surviving members still perform to this day. The most consistent member has been frontman Love, who takes us on a road trip in his autobiography.

“The Crash Detectives” by Christine Negroni (Penguin, $17, 288 pages): The aviation journalist has her own theories about what really happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which went off course and disappeared in March 2014. Which led her to explore plane crashes and “miraculous saves” that have occurred over the decades, discovering en route startling revelations about “pilot training, airline operations and airplane design.”

“Soul at the White Heat” by Joyce Carol Oates (Ecco, $28, 400 pages): The Princeton University professor is the author of 100 novels and short story collections, meaning she is well-qualified for this scrutiny of why and how she and others write. Along the way, she considers her literary predecessors and peers, and examines her own writing methods and sources of inspiration.

“Don’t Think Twice” by Barbara Schoichet (Putnam, $26, 336 pages): First the author lost her job, then her best friend, then her mother. A clearing-of-the-head was in order, so the 50-year-old bought a Harley Davidson, learned to ride it and took off on a healing journey from New York to L.A. Discovery and adventure awaited.

“The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben (Greystone, $25, 288 pages): The author, who had a 20-year career with the forestry commission in Germany, pushes back the branches to show that trees are more sentient, social and “family-oriented” than previously thought. The study has been called “a paradigm-smashing chronicle of joyous entanglement.”

Allen Pierleoni: 916-321-1128, @apierleonisacbe