Karl Marx

1. Politics

Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life, by Jonathan Sperber

Jonathan Sperber’s book about Karl Marx landed the Mizzou history professor on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. He charmed host Jon Stewart, and the two Jo(h)ns dished about Marx’s sex scandals and procrastination habits. “It’s fascinating,” Stewart concluded. “It’s a tremendous book.”

Noble Savages

2. Anthropology

Noble Savages: My Life Among Two Dangerous Tribes — the Yąnomamö and the Anthropologists, by Napoleon Chagnon

World-famous anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon joined the Mizzou faculty last year. Then he published this account of his controversial research of the isolated Yąnomamö tribe of the Amazon basin and the ensuing backlash from the scientific community. Reviewers call it “a beautifully written adventure story” (New York Times) and “one of the most interesting anthropology books I have ever read” (Wall Street Journal).

Biting Through the Skin

3. Food

Biting Through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America’s Heartland, by Nina Mukerjee Furstenau

Nina Furstenau, who teaches food and wine writing at Mizzou, is a J-School graduate (BJ ’84) and a Kansan of Bengali heritage. Her food memoir, which was featured in The New York Times Review of Books, captures cultural duality through colorful childhood stories and mouthwatering family recipes.

Kitchen Divided

4. More food

Kitchen Divided: Vegan Dishes for Semi-Vegan Households, by Ellen Jaffe Jones

Fitness trainer, health journalist and cookbook author Ellen Jaffe Jones, BJ ’76, also tackles kitchen dichotomy. Her new book offers advice and recipes that enable vegans and carnivores to harmoniously share a dinner table.

Trouble Behind Glass Doors

5. Poetry

Trouble Behind Glass Doors, by Walter Bargen

Walter Bargen, Missouri’s first poet laureate (2008–10), is a Mizzou alumnus (BA ’70, MEd ’90) and staff member known for penning imagery that captures the state’s natural beauty. About his 16th book of poetry, the prolific Bargen explains, “The title says it all — the ways that we fail ourselves, each other, sustaining ourselves on the earth, are there for all of us to see/read, if we will just open our eyes and minds.”

Yell Hound Blues

6. More poetry

Yell Hound Blues, by Anne Barngrover

Anne Barngrover is a doctoral student in Mizzou’s Creative Writing Program. Professor Aliki Barnstone calls Barngrover’s new book of poetry “bluesy, sexy, smart, funny, spiritual, musical, charming, and visually striking.” Sounds good to us!

Is That You, John Wayne?

7. Fiction

Is That You, John Wayne? by Scott Garson

If brevity really is the soul of wit, Scott Garson totally nailed wit this year. The Mizzou assistant teaching professor of creative writing edits Wigleaf, a journal of microfiction, and his own collection of verbosity-shunning super-short stories is concise, smart and funny.

Scribblin' for a Livin'

8. Mark Twain

Scribblin’ for a Livin’: Mark Twain’s Pivotal Period in Buffalo, by Thomas J. Reigstad

Inhabitants of the Show-Me State rightly think of Mark Twain (aka Samuel Clemens) as a Missourian. But in his mid-30s the writer spent a busy 18 months in Buffalo, NY, where he served as editor of the Buffalo Morning Express newspaper, got married and fathered a son. Thomas Reigstad, MA ’71, recounts — and dispels long-held beliefs — about that period in Twain history.

Teardown

9. Journalism

Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City, by Gordon Young

As a journalist living and working in San Francisco, Gordon Young, MA ’90, considered a return to his hometown, the rapidly withering Flint, Mich. The resulting book explores deindustrialization, race and class issues, and the stories of people fighting to save their city.

Joplin

10. More journalism

Joplin: Our Words, Our Stories, Their Hope, by Jim Riek and Michelle Bogowith

Over the course of a year, broadcast journalists Jim Riek and Michelle Bogowith of KOMU-TV made a combined 39 trips to Joplin, Mo., to document the aftermath of the May 22, 2011, tornado that killed 161 of the city’s inhabitants. They share their experiences in this book. Proceeds benefit Joplin tornado relief.

Hooked Rugs of the Midwest

11. Crafts

Hooked Rugs of the Midwest: A Handcrafted History, by Mary Collins Barile

In her day job, Mary Barile is a Mizzou grant writer. After hours, Barile, a history buff who holds a doctorate in theater from Mizzou, has penned an award-winning play and multiple collections of Missouri legends and hauntings. Her new book combines history with her other hobby: rug hooking.

Around the World with Nephrology

12. Medicine

Around the World with Nephrology, by Zbylut Twardowski

Before he was a Mizzou professor of medicine specializing in diseases of the kidney, Zbylut Twardowski was a child in war-torn Poland who witnessed his father’s deportation to concentration camps during World War II. In this autobiography, Twardowski recounts his early life in the Eastern Bloc, his research breakthroughs and inventions, and the inspiring stories of patients he served.

Hook, Line & Sinker

13. Fishing

Hook, Line & Sinker, edited by Mark Morgan

MU’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism dabbled in storytelling this year. The 15 students enrolled in associate professor Mark Morgan’s writing-intensive Social Aspects of Fishing course collected 50 fish tales told by Missouri anglers and compiled a book, printed by Mizzou Publishing on Espresso Book Machine.