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The New Kings of Nonfiction

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  4,565 Ratings  ·  557 Reviews
The New Kings of Nonfiction by Glass,Ira. [2007] Paperback
Paperback, 464 pages
Published October 2nd 2007 by Riverhead Trade
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Oct 10, 2007 Ellen added it
Shelves: want-to-read
I once followed Ira Glass into a Starbucks and let me tell you, he talks like his radio voice all the time. Swoon.
Feb 03, 2008 Alicia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A collection of essays hand selected by Ira Glass. Anyone who knows me wishes I would just shut up about Ira Glass already.


Not surprisingly, this collection of non-fiction essays is amazing. In the introduction, Ira Glass explains his selection process in putting the collection together. It's basically all about journalists who don't shy away from putting themselves in the story. Ira says "I don't see anything wrong with a piece of reporting turning into a fable. In fact, when I'm researchin
It's deja lu all over again.

This is not the superb collection I would expect from Ira Glass. In fact, it's an odd collection all round - the puzzling question is why it exists at all.

Don't get me wrong. The quality of most of the contributions to this anthology is very high. But most of the pieces are not new. Glass describes his selection criterion: "most of the stories in this book come from a stack of favorite writing that I've kept behind my desk for years". What does this yield?

Michael Le
Nov 28, 2007 neeraja rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Starts off with wonderful pieces, then trails off to the end. While all of the pieces were insightful in their own ways (though I still think the one about poker was a boring waste of space), my favorites were:

- Host, David Foster Wallace's fantastic, hilarious look at conservative talk radio

- Among the Thugs, Bill Buford's disturbing, drunken, participatory account of British soccor hooligans

- Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg, Malcolm Gladwell's take on how we know the people that we know and why i
Joshua Weichhand
Jul 29, 2008 Joshua Weichhand rated it it was amazing
I suppose its fair to say that Ira Glass is kind of my hero. Not necessarily because he's brought down empires with pacifism or because he lobbied auto manufacturers for seat belts, but because he really inspires me to read and write. This entire collection is something he had sitting in a pile on his desk, saved for an appropriate time as he considered them to be great works of nonfiction. I want to be like that, finding something brilliant and xeroxing it and stapling it together with other ar ...more
Jennifer Gresham
Jun 17, 2014 Jennifer Gresham rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I'd heard a lot of these names, but other than Gladwell, had never actually read their work. I assumed the "kings of nonfiction" (new or otherwise) wrote more dry, boring stuff--the kind of factual material you had to be an expert or specialist to appreciate.

Boy was I wrong.

Not only did I learn a lot about good nonfiction writing, I found myself engrossed reading topics that I never thought could hold my interest: English football fan's naughty behavior, the impact of WWII, the thoughts of 10 y
May 03, 2013 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
For fans of Ira Glass, This American Life, nonfiction, journalism, etc. Published in 2007, with articles and essays ranging from 1985-2005, nothing is new however this book may introduce you to a new writer, or shed light on a subject. Two pieces really stood out to me, and inspired me to do more research on the subjects. The others were just merely interesting to downright dreadful. My rating wavers between 2 and 3 stars for the collection as a whole.

Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg - Malc
Jan 04, 2013 Molly rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
This collection was pretty good, but I had a few big problems with it, starting with the title. Why make it something that deliberately excludes one gender? Oh, probably because the collection inside does, too. Out of 14 pieces, there were two by women. Those two pieces turned out to be among my favorites, so while I'm not one for including women in an anthology simply to "be fair," I'm also sure there were plenty of others who were worthy of inclusion in this book.

My other issue was that the s
May 13, 2008 Isaac rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: folks interested in the world around them

The worst thing that can be said about this collection is that a few of the pieces in it are merely good. Some of the articles - even those written years or decades ago - are downright revelatory. I guarantee that at least one of these stories will alter your ideas about the way the world is organized; for me, it was Malcolm Gladwell's and Lawrence Weschler's pieces about how the social universe is really put together, and Lee Sandlin's absolutely essential piece about the true character and pr
Jul 02, 2009 Shelah rated it liked it
I have a crush on Ira Glass. For years, it was small crush, a radio crush. I just really liked listening to the This American Life podcasts each week and decided Ira was cool. Then Eddie bought me both the This American Life DVDs and New Kings of Nonfiction (which I'd tried unsuccessfully to reserve at the library in Texas) for Mother's Day (because there's nothing better than a husband who appreciates and even encourages his wife's harmless crushes). I watched the DVDs first and they are AMAZIN ...more
Nov 29, 2008 Melody rated it really liked it
To all of my friends who, in the course of busy, business-y lives, have forgotten how to read novels: If you want to remember the joy of story, start here. Go get this book and read it. NOW.

I widely broadcast my love of Ira Glass and go so far as to assign TAL in class; I love it that much. I always enjoy Ira's creative editorial prowess, and this collection does not disappoint. Every story has its narrative joy: gorgeous, poetic writing; clever character development; suspense; comedy. But becau
Jul 07, 2008 Andrea rated it really liked it
I would actually like to give it a 3.5 but rounded up for Ira Glass.

Most of the stories are great, uncovering inconsistent laws related to day trading by a high schooler, an ordinary socialite in extraordinary circles, and a great artist who fell through the large cracks of the establishment of art appreciators. I loved reading about how Monica Lewinsky had to be ushered out of a trendy bar when Chelsea Clinton showed up with her boyfriend, and how Dan Savage fairly successfully infiltrated his
Aug 11, 2015 Jacob rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
While this collection is flawed, I enjoyed it immensely. (Obviously enough to give it a five star rating, even though more accurately it would be a 4.8 or so.) Ira Glass' superb introduction is an apt treatise on the nature of nonfiction writing. The stories themselves, however, are naturally what makes the book.

Since every story (with a few exceptions) in this collection is outstanding, I'll just gloss over the few issues I had with this New Kings. One: Coco Hensen Scales' story has no business
Jan 28, 2008 JJ rated it it was amazing
first of all, ira glass picked these all out so i am inclined to decide to like them whether i actually do or not. but the fact is that these are awesome nonfiction writers. so far they have delivered what mr. glass promises: journalism with a personality. these are highly skilled writers stating facts while managing to entertain wildly. my favorite so far is an extensive analysis of saddam hussein, based on impressions by his (previously) close advisors, friends, victims, and everyone in betwee ...more
Jul 14, 2014 Ynna rated it it was amazing
If "This American Life" had a greatest hits collection, it would be this book. Appropriately named, this anthology truly features the greatest nonfiction writers of our time. I loved the variety of topics ranging from the American cattle industry, Saddam Hussein, hostessing at a nightclub and talk radio. My favorite pieces were Lee Sandlin's account of World War II veterans the effects of the war in the United States, Malcolm Gladwell's piece on the concept of "six degrees of separation" and Mar ...more
May 04, 2011 Marybeth rated it really liked it
What a great book! I wanted to give it five stars - but I did find a couple of the stories a tad bit boring. The rest of them were five star worthy! My favorite was My Republican Journey by Dan Savage. My favorite tidbit:
"When I was beginning to drift away from the Catholic Church, out of disgust with our holy mother's hypocrisy, sexism and homophobia, my biological mother implored me to keep the faith. "If everyone who isn't an asshole leaves the church," my momma told me, "the church will be
Dec 03, 2016 Alexandra rated it really liked it
I'm reading this book these days, and then stories are spectacular, just as you would expect them, being selected by ira glass. The discounted star is for one simple reason: the stories are not dated. Sure, I can Google them by title, to find out more about when they were published, but without extra research, lacking the dates cuts away some of the broader context in which the journalistic work was carried and published. Reading the book almost 10 years after the publishing, I tend to treat it ...more
Jul 17, 2015 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
It took me WEEKS to get through this -- not because it's dull, but because this is a collection of dense, in-depth, thought-provoking journalism that demands your patience and attention. I highly recommend reading the introduction, in which Ira Glass reveals that he regularly hands these essays out to aspiring journalists as examples of truly fine writing. And he's right; even when you don't think you're interested in a particular subject, the writing is so good that you get sucked in anyway. I ...more
Peter Knox
Feb 24, 2015 Peter Knox rated it really liked it
Like Ira Glass hand picked his favorite non-fiction participatory first person journalism (my favorite genre to read) and put it all together in one handy book that you'll tear through and want to share. And the man clearly has good taste because This American Life is amazing. This is a wide ranging collection full of my favorite writers and essays I perhaps hadn't read before now (although some I had - again, great minds and all). Do it.
Jun 26, 2008 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Megan
While there are shorts in this book that don't grab my interest the majority of them do. After reading through some other reviews of this book it seems that everyone likes different stories and in creating a compilation that has something for everyone Ira Glass has done well. You can't make all of the people happy all of the time. But Mr. Glass makes most of the people happy most of the time.
Nov 28, 2013 Liana rated it it was ok
Unlike any nonfiction work I've ever read. Every single.. work, shall I say, is written in a conversational tone. The best thing is the author seems to understand that nonfiction can be a boring pain in the ass..
Aug 25, 2008 Corinne rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
I've been flipping around this book for a bit now. It's a great collection. My favorite article is the Dan Savage bit on becoming a delegate for the local Republican party, but there are several really great essays in this book.
Oct 20, 2008 Jessie rated it really liked it
Ira did good. It's an excellent collection of thought provoking and well written pieces of non-fiction. The one about the cattle industry made me wish I could become a double vegetarian.
Aug 26, 2014 Megan rated it really liked it
I want to read more nonfiction, but I have a hard time picking what to read. So this was a great sampling of some good writers - took note of some to look more into.
May 09, 2015 Eleanor rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio-memoir-essay
Incredibly good reporting and interesting stories about mostly people/things I knew nothing about (but probably should have). So worth reading every one of them.
Dec 24, 2014 Kate rated it it was amazing
These are fascinating,real-life stories told by fearless, meticulous journalists. Makes me ponder how many more of these stories are being played out right at this moment. . .
Aug 30, 2010 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, non-fiction
In my review of Sloane Crosley's latest book, How Did You Get This Number, I confessed my love for essays, particularly personal essays with a humorous bent. But I like harder hitting essays too, and this collection of non-fiction writing chosen and introduced by This American Life's Ira Glass was a real treat for an essay fan like myself. In my mind, it is also a good introduction to non-fiction writing—a genre that so many readers shy away from (for reasons that elude me).

What makes this book
Jan 07, 2017 Maron rated it liked it
I had such high hopes for this collection, especially since I really enjoy short stories, respect Ira Glass, and was familiar with many of the featured authors. In the end, I did like the book, but found the stories to be so 'hit-or-miss.' Some funny and entertaining, but many were mildly interesting and way too long/drawn out or lacking in direction.

My Ratings
1. Jonathan Lebed's extracurricular activities / Michael Lewis - 4 star
2. Toxic dreams: a California town finds meaning in an acid pit /
Jan 04, 2017 (a)lyss(a) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"By acidifying a cow's gut with corn, we have broken down one of our food chain's barriers to infection."

I was impressed with the collection in this book.

Yes, there's some stories I found more interesting than others, but overall there's a lot of interesting information and the stories cover topics I hadn't previously thought of. This book also shows off different kinds of nonfiction writing and authors who immerse themselves in their stories.

In my mind a few of these fell flat, but I learned a
Heidi Weaver
Jan 01, 2017 Heidi Weaver rated it did not like it
I thought it sucked and didn't waste my time finishing it. Not something i usually do.
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Ira Glass is an American public radio personality, and host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life.
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“...these stories are a kind of beacon. By making stories full of empathy and amusement and the sheer pleasure of discovering the world, these writers reassert the fact that we live in a world where joy and empathy and pleasure are all around us, there for the noticing.” 25 likes
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