15 promising nonfiction books for spring 2013

April showers bring May flowers. Here's some fresh non-fiction to check out this spring while you enjoy the new greenery.

1."Daily Rituals: How Artists Work," by Mason Currey

From Sylvia Plath to Marcel Proust, Mason Currey studies the creative routines of 161 artists. (April) 

"Here Is Where: Discovering America’s Great Forgotten History," by Andrew Carroll

In an account that both entertains and intrigues, skilled editor Andrew Carroll (“War Letters”) visits some of America’s least-known historical sites. (May) 

"Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42," by William Dalrymple

To better understand Afghanistan today, acclaimed historian William Dalrymple harks back to the great disaster of the first Anglo-Afghan war. (April) 

"The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America," by George Packer

Award-winning New Yorker writer George Packer (“The Assassins’ Gate”) examines what he considers to be the unraveling of America from the late 1970s to today. (May) 

"The Cooked Seed," by Anchee Min

Bestselling memorist Anchee Min (“Red Azalea”) tells the rags-to-riches story of her journey from Shanghai to Chicago. (May) 

"Down the Up Escalator: How the 99% Live in the Great Recession," by Barbara Garson

Journalist Barbara Garson examines the lives of Americans struggling in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. (April) 

"A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Childhood," by Qais Akbar Omar

Afghan carpet designer and businessman Qais Akbar Omar recalls his glorious childhood in 1960s Kabul – and the decades of war and strife that followed. (April) 

"Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods," by Christine Byl

Former “traildog” Christine Byl turns her years spent doing heavy labor in US national parks into a moving memoir. (April) 

"Paris Reborn: Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the Quest to Build a Modern City," by Stephane Kirkland

How did the teeming Paris of “Les Misérables” become the elegant metropolis that we know today? Architect Stephane Kirkland examines the mid-1800s rebirth of the City of Light. (April)

"Simpler: The Future of Government," by Cass R. Sunstein

Harvard Law professor and former Obama “regulatory czar” Cass Sunstein offers his vision of government by “fewer rules and more common sense.” (April) 

"Country Girl: A Memoir," by Edna O’Brien

Celebrated Irish writer Edna O’Brien tells how she left her strict Irish upbringing behind with a scandalous literary debut and a star-studded 1960s lifestyle. (April)

"The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia," by Andrei Lankov

This book by a onetime Soviet foreign exchange student to North Korea offers both insight and anecdote on the world’s strangest police state. (May) 

"Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution," by Nathaniel Philbrick

Popular historian Nathaniel Philbrick (“Mayflower”) examines a turning point in the US Revolutionary War: the American victory at Bunker Hill in 1775. (April) 

"End of the Good Life: How the Financial Crisis Threatens a Lost Generation – and What We Can Do About It," by Riva Froymovich

Wall Street Journal reporter Riva Froymovich considers the possibility that Generation Y – the best-educated Americans yet – may not be able to find meaningful work. (April) 

"The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945," by Rick Atkinson

Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson concludes his “Liberation Trilogy” (“An Army at Dawn” and “The Day of Battle”) with this outstanding survey of the final phase on the Western front of World War II. (May)