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Looking For Recommendations > Help me broaden my horizons?

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message 1: by Melissa (last edited Feb 23, 2009 02:49PM) (new)

Melissa Tufo (melissamarilyn) Over the years I feel like I've fallen into a rut, of reading all young-adult books, mostly fantasy or "girly" books (i.e. anything by Sarah Dessen) and I'm really looking to read more...intelligent material, I guess. I'm particularly interested in non-fiction material, as I've really never touched it outside of school. If you need more help..I love ancient history. Maybe something on that? (Though don't hold back on other subjects.) Recommend me something! And thank you. :)

Allison (The Allure of Books) (inconceivably) I'm not one for non-fiction either. The only one I can think of on my TBR list is The Devil in the White City...

Oh! And The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher.

message 3: by Becky (new)

Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) Hmm... I'd recommend "The Kite Runner". It's fiction, but it's really, really good! Not girly at all, and definitely not YA.

message 4: by Kandice (new)

Kandice | 3523 comments Well, Historical fiction is definitley educational when thoroughly researched. I can recommend The Masters of Rome series by Colleen McCullough. They are factusl with fictional details. I have been recommending these a lot lately, but they really seem to fit the bill. The first is The First Man in Rome The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough

Allison (The Allure of Books) (inconceivably) Kandice! You inserted a picture!

message 6: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Tufo (melissamarilyn) Thank you so much for the recommendations! I put The Kite Runner on my to-read list. As it's more of an adult book, I'm a bit wary, but that's what this is all about right? :)

Does anyone know of any non-fiction books that aren't...stories, I guess? I'm having a hard time explaining this. Kind of like Silent Spring. I'm not a fan of that book (I never read the whole thing, but we did a project on parts of it in science class last year), but it's the best example I could think of. I don't mean books about the environment..just books like that in general. Am I making any sense?

message 7: by Becky (new)

Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) The Kite Runner definitely has adult themes (sexual abuse, terrorism and war, etc). None of them are very in depth, but even the moderate amount of detail given can be disturbing if you're not used to reading those types of things.

message 8: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Tufo (melissamarilyn) Thanks for the warning. I'm pretty sure I can handle it, though I guess the most "disturbing" books I've read have simply been young-adult books involving rape (Speak, Daughter of the Forest, etc). I'm fairly confident in myself, however. ..I think. :)

message 9: by Kandice (new)

Kandice | 3523 comments Well, I actually just clicked on the tab that said "book cover". I still can't show a picture any other way, but thanks for believing I could;)

message 10: by Paula (new)

Paula (Paula717) | 52 comments I recommend the following which are all excellent:

- In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
- Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick
- Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir

And anything else by Alison Weir on King Heny VIII and his wives & children. They're all great.

message 11: by Jensownzoo (new)

Jensownzoo | 338 comments For societal issues, how about:

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
Nickel and Dimed On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
Ishmael An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn

message 12: by Jamie (new)

Jamie For historical non-fiction, how about The Twelve Caesars or Flags of Our Fathers?

If you're interested in historical fiction, a few I've really enjoyed have been Queen: The Story of an American Family, and Power of One, Ragtime: A Novel. My absolute favorites, though are Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Any of these should help you make the transition to more difficult material.

message 13: by Emily (new)

Emily If you are interested in reading more on the environment, I'm reading Cradle to Cradle Remaking the Way We Make Things right now and I highly recommend it. The book itself is not made out of paper, it's made out of plastic that can be recycled and made into other books of the same quality. It gives really interesting insight into ways that we can change products/buildings, etc. to work with the environment instead of against it. It's also an easy read.

message 14: by Robin (last edited Feb 25, 2009 06:25AM) (new)

Robin (RobinSullivan) | 1002 comments When I started reading your post the first thing that came to mind was Devil in the white City so I'll second that one but also recommend:

Salt A World History by Mark Kurlansky
Salt A World History

JG (The Introverted Reader) Bill Bryson writes non-fiction that makes me laugh out loud, mostly his travel books. A surprisingly interesting science book he wrote is A Short History of Nearly Everything. Not only does he talk about science, but he also gets into how weird some of these famous scientists are.

I also agree with the recommendation of The Devil in the White City.

message 16: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn Hi Melissa,

Well, it's not exactly "ancient history" but you might enjoy The Tale of Genji (Japan--some argue it is the first "novel" ever written) or Dream of the Red Chamber (China) Both are novels, with some romance, but they are very substantial and certainly give you a lot of history, culture and philosophy to consider.

In terms of non-fiction, non-stories, that are also historical:

I thought Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages by Umberto Eco was beautifully written and extremely interesting

I also really appreciated The World's Religions Our Great Wisdom Traditions by Huston Smith--really excellent introduction to the major religions of the world.

I also love Ralph Waldo Emerson. Start with Self-Reliance and Other Essays

If you like books-about-books, consider Ex Libris Confessions of a Common Reader

My husband read and enjoyed The Omnivore's Dilemma which is about food/agriculture/farming and how the food we eat affects not just our bodies but our environment.

I hope this helps! :-)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 1733 comments For ancient history I'd recommend Rubicon The Last Years of the Roman Republic or Persian Fire The First World Empire and the Battle for the West, both by Tom Holland. And I'd second the recommendation for Colleen McCullough's First Man in Rome series.

I enjoyed The Omnivore's Dilemma and most of Alison Weir (Henry VIII and His Court is rather ... dry.).

Would also recommend Barbara Tuchman and Antonia Frasier generally - good history written well for a general audience.

Of the ancient historians, I find Herodotus a damned fine read, and very amusing. But I majored in history!

message 18: by Kathryn (last edited Feb 26, 2009 03:27PM) (new)

Kathryn The Agricola and The Germania was also rather intriguing. (ancient historian, too)

I also have a soft spot for Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

message 19: by Fiona (new)

Fiona (bookcoop) One Day in September The Full Story of the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and the Israeli Revenge Operation "Wrath of God" by Simon Reeve is the last non-fic I read and it was very good.

It's a very sensitive account of the Munich Olympics and the Israeli's retaliation against Palestine.

This is kind of YA and girly, but it is so good. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.

message 20: by April (new)

April (booksandwine) | 954 comments Check out the Aeneid by Virgil, it's ancient, but pretty fun and a great story.

Elinor of Acquitane is one of my favorite historical figures, she's so scandolous, what with the affairs and all. I think I may have to add that book to my to-read list.

Sexuality In Medieval Europe by Ruth Mazzo Karras is a great interesting read that also makes you smarter too!

The Republic by Plato is a real trip, it's philosophy on how to create the perfect state and contains one of the most beautiful metaphors in all of Western philosophy, the allegory of the cave.

message 21: by Maliades (new)

Maliades Hi Melissa,
I read more non-fiction than fiction. So I will try to help! What are your interests? Do you like Art? Cars? Making things? History? Learning about different religions? There are a ton of non-fiction books for every single topic. Just do a search on a topic you are interested in. I find that choosing non-fiction is different from fiction... and I understand you're feeling 'lost' on how to get started!

I've recently checked out from the library books on sponge-painting, Chinese brush painting, remodeling/DIY house projects, organic gardening, road trips in New Mexico, Zen, How to Find Work you Love, just to name a few of my recent reads. Good luck!

message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Evasion by CrimethInc.


I promise you, this book will broaden your horizens.

message 23: by Donna (new)

Donna | 137 comments The Uncommon Reader A Novella , while light and entertaining, it still shows how reading broadens your world view.

message 24: by Brenda (new)

Brenda | 258 comments How about "The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror" by Michael Ignatieff. I haven't read this yet but it's on a list of books I'd like to. I've heard it's a study on terrorism and liberal democracies. He looks at many nations, historically and currently to see how they deal and have dealt with terrorism. I've read that his analysis is very insightful.

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Books mentioned in this topic

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective (other topics)
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America (other topics)
The First Man in Rome (other topics)
The Kite Runner (other topics)
Silent Spring (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Sarah Dessen (other topics)
Bill Bryson (other topics)
Marcus Aurelius (other topics)