Mathematics Without Apologies: Portrait of a Problematic Vocation (Princeton University Press) by Michael Harris shows how his profession solves, and creates, problems.
Michael Rosen's Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story (Counterpoint) is a special book for learning the alphabet you think you already know.
Cunegonde's Kidnapping: A Story of Religious Conflict in the Age of Enlightenment (Yale University Press) by Benjamin J. Kaplan tells of a little failure before the Enlightenment took full hold.
The Nuns of Sant'Ambrogio: The True Story of a Convent Scandal (Knopf) by Hubert Wolf tells of turmoil in a convent in Rome.
Nathan Sawaya's The Art of the Brick: A Life in LEGO (No Starch Press) tells how and why he sculpts with a kid's toy.
Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found (Liveright) by Frances Larson tells the history of decapitation.
Sea of Storms: A History of Hurricanes in the Greater Caribbean from Columbus to Katrina (Princeton University Press) by Stuart B. Schwartz shows it's more than meteorology.
In Plucked: A History of Hair Removal (New York University Press), Rebecca M. Herzig covers a topic no one else will.
Patton Oswalt's Silver Screen Fiend: Learning about Life from an Addiction to Film (Scribner) tells a comic story from a real addict.
In Planet of the Bugs: Evolution and the Rise of Insects (University of Chicago Press), entomologist Scott Richard Shaw shows we undervalue insects.