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Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner) (perpetualpageturner) So i have realized that i don't really read alot of non-fiction and I really would like to. So what are some of the best non-fiction books you have read?


Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner) (perpetualpageturner) ooh these look extremely interesting! i'll have to add them to my tbr list! thanks!


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Good/interesting non-fiction for me usually is some back-up reading on a fiction i just finished. Something like biographies of the author or, if it is a classic, some literary analysis.

Non-fiction I enjoy a lot is political analysis. Last year I especially liked Putin's Russia Life in a Failing Democracy and I plan to read Anna Politkowskaya's other books, too.
Pretty good is People's History of the United States 1492 to Present.

The most important rule with non-fiction is read what sounds interesting to you, I guess. Nothing is worse, after all, to read a book on a topic you don't like ; )


Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner) (perpetualpageturner) Marion wrote: "Good/interesting non-fiction for me usually is some back-up reading on a fiction i just finished. Something like biographies of the author or, if it is a classic, some literary analysis.

Non-ficti..."


i definitely agree. I tend to be interested in a lot of different things and am always open to learning new things...but you are right..it is the worst to be reading a book about a subject that bores you.


message 6: by Angie (new)

Angie | 511 comments I am not a big reader of non-fiction, but The Red Leather Diaries is a good and enjoyable read.


Melissa Rochelle (melissarochelle) The Zookeeper's Wife A War Story was really good, but also very sad.

I really like autobiographies too...if you like (or don't like) the Clinton family, both My Life By Bill Clinton and Living History are quite enjoyable. Then again, I'm a Clinton fan, so I might be a little biased.

Another one that I'm hoping to read when I have a chance is Traffic Why We Drive the Way We Do, I'm hoping it'll explain why everyone drives so slow here in Tucson! AND there's a new John Lennon biography out (also looks good).

The main thing with NF is that you have to be interested in the topic. Good luck on your quest!


message 8: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
I actually don't read a lot of non-fiction but I read two good ones last year: Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer. The latter one was especially good -- it sucks you in and gives a lot to think about.


message 9: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 11 comments The Glass Castle A Memoir is a very interesting memoir that almost seemed unreal..one of my favorite books. Other non-fiction that I really enjoy are usually sociological. I love reading/learning about other cultures. I don't get a lot of time to read, but that doesn't stop me from buying books. :) Some books that I own (and are on my to-read list) are Mao's Last Dancer, Suite Française, The Sewing Circles of Herat A Personal Voyage Through Afghanistan, and Persian Mirrors The Elusive Face of Iran. I agree though, it all depends on what topics you find interesting.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

A really good/interesting non-fiction Rory book is Reading Lolita in Tehran A Memoir in Books. A similar topic and also very interesting is Three Cups of Tea One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time.

In general, I can recommend the Lonely Planet books, if you are interested in other countries.


message 12: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (JenMarie1117) | 18 comments I tend to buy a few biographies of people that I find interesting. Right now I have the bios of Paula Deen, Denzel Washington, and some more historical people like Hershey and Carnegie. The one book that I read that I think I would genuinely recommend is Fifth Chinese Daughter. I had to read it for an online English class and although I dropped the course just as we started this book, I couldn't put it down.

I think the secret to nonfiction is finding a subject you like and going from there. What do you like? Travel? Biographies? History? Science? Once you narrow your focus, you can probably come up with a few good ones.


message 13: by Amanda (new)

Amanda | 16 comments The best non-fiction I've read recently is Kitchen Confidential by Anothony Bourdain - it's an inside look into his career and the world of professional chefs as he has experienced it. I'm also currently readin Schulz and Peanuts, a biography of Charles Schulz - it has been redundant at times, but a good insight into the life and background of the man and the comic strip.


message 14: by Kristel (new)

Kristel | 164 comments I like historical biographies such as Antonia Frasier's Marie Antoinette The Journey.

One other non-fiction book I enjoyed much, more science orientated: Bill Bryson: A Short History of Nearly Everything

I guess it depends on what your interested in.


message 15: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments A step away from non-fiction is historical fiction, and there is another thread about those books, if you're interested


message 16: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 361 comments If you're looking for memoirs, and something with a lot of humor (but also good history) then I would suggest

Our Hearts Were Young And Gay An Unforgettable Comic Chronicle of Innocents Abroad in the 1920s (two best friends who tour Europe upon their college graduation--absolutely hilarious!)

Summer at Tiffany 1940s style, again, two friends (girls) who decide to spend the summer in a very cool way--working at Tiffany's in NYC! :->

For book-lovers, I enjoyed the essay collection Ex Libris Confessions of a Common Reader

For lovers of the English language The Mother Tongue was hilarious.

Much of the other non-fiction I've read is spirituality/religion/humanities, so I'll spare you unless you want details. One of my favorite, and most accessible, of these is The World's Religions Our Great Wisdom Traditions and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about religions beyond their own (if they even have one). In today's world, I think it is of vital importance to be more aware of the heart of religions, whether or not one is religious herself--helps us better understand our global neighbors, who are closer to us each day.


message 17: by Rebecca (last edited Jan 21, 2009 10:37AM) (new)

Rebecca | 74 comments Here are a few of my favorites that I've read over the last couple of years. I've recently been trying to read at least one non-fiction book per month. It has been really interesting.
1) Under and Alone The True Story of the Undercover Agent Who Infiltrated America's Most Violent Outlaw Motorcycle Gang, by William Queen
2) The Glass Castle A Memoir, by Jeannette Wells
3) Eat, Pray, Love One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert
4)Hooked Pirates, Poaching, and the Perfect Fish, by Bruce Knecht
5) The Year of Living Biblically One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible As Literally As Possible, by AJ Jacobs
6) A Long Way Gone Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, by Ishmael Beah
7) Gang Leader for a Day, by Sudhir Venkatesh
8) Into Thin Air A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer

Has anyone read these? If so, any suggestions for me on others I'd like?


message 18: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
Rebecca, I haven't read Into Thin Air, but I was blown away by another book by the same author, Into The Wild.


message 19: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 74 comments Dini wrote: "Rebecca, I haven't read Into Thin Air, but I was blown away by another book by the same author, Into The Wild. "

Thanks Dini - I have Under the Banner of Heavan on my to read list, but not Into the Wild - I will add it!


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Sorry that I keep posting new suggestions, but almost every time I read what someone else suggested I come up with new suggestions of my own ; )

This time round I'd like to recommend everything by Bill Bryson. If you don't know him, he did lots of travel accounts like Down Under and also a fairly interesting one I have recently read, I'm a Stranger Here Myself Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away. He wrote that, obviously, after he moved back to the United States after he had lived in Great Britain for 20 years.


message 21: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 11 comments Kathryn, I totally added those first 2 books you mentioned to my to-read list. They look fun and interesting.

And Marion, I didn't know about that one by Bryson. I'm checking that one out too. I'm reading one of his books-it's my first by him, but my hub loves him.

Thank you both! :)


message 22: by whichwaydidshego?, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego? (whichwaydidshego) | 1996 comments Mod
One of the most fascinating, touching books I've ever read is Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed: The Story of the Village of Le Chambon and How Goodness Happened There - that's books not just non-fiction books. The story is truly beautiful and remarkable... and especially interesting because it is a story of faith and what it can do which is written by an atheist.

I also very much related to and enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love.

I read Hiroshima for college - twice and was moved and humbled on both occasions.

I must mention Avoiding Prison and Other Noble Vacation Goals for the title alone! But the story is good, too... doesn't flow like Eat, Pray, Love but still memorable.

Unstrung Heroes was profoundly beautiful in places. The movie is quite lovely, too. "CALL ME FRANZ OR CALL ME NOTHING!" (For those of you that saw it, I hope you got a laugh!)

My fascination point has always been World War II, so I've read loads of fantastic books about real life heroes. Just amazing too me. I've plenty more on the subject I'd like to read, actually. But some I have are Wallenberg: Missing Hero, Evidence Not Seen: A Woman's Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II, Report From #24, Berlin Diaries, 1940-1945, Sisterhood of Spies, and at least one about Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Obviously I particularly am interested in the resistance in Europe, and even more specifically the women involved. So I have several on my shelf which I'm looking forward to reading that cover those story points, such as The Women Who Lived for Danger and Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II, not to mention the one from Rory's list (though not about women heroes, obviously): The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews.

I know this is a long post, but in saying "non-fiction" we are limiting our responses to biographies and histories for the most part... But like I've some great recommendations on sports stories and sports how-to's, as well as on faith. Oh! And BRILLIANT cookbooks. LOL Anyway, if we are opening it up... I'd have to add a few.


message 23: by whichwaydidshego?, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego? (whichwaydidshego) | 1996 comments Mod
P.S. One of my most treasured possessions is the book The Greatest Generation, even though I've not read it (but read it's sequel). You see, when the WW2 memorial opened, I was there and went around meeting all these wonderful veterans of that war. After talking with them, I asked them to sign my copy of the book - however they like. It was so touching when some of them didn't feel worthy because they "didn't do anything..." except their job. Yeah. I was crying most of the day.


message 24: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Marion:
I agree that Bill Bryson is fun!


message 25: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 283 comments whichwaydidshego? wrote: "One of the most fascinating, touching books I've ever read is Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed: The Story of the Village of Le Chambon and How Goodness Happened There by Diane Ackerman. There is also a compelling work of fiction called A Thread of Graceby Mary Doria Russell that is based on true stories of Northern Italians who helped almost 40,000 Jews escape Nazi camps.


message 26: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 11 comments Speaking of World War II. I remembered that I really loved The Nazi Officer's Wife How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust It's an amazing story about a Jewish woman (the author) that made it through the Holocaust mostly because she married a Nazi officer. (they fell in love despite their difference)and was given a fake German idenitity.


message 27: by whichwaydidshego?, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego? (whichwaydidshego) | 1996 comments Mod
Deborah, we've talked about Thread of Grace before!

Meredith, I have The Nazi Officer's Wife on my shelf!

I've always been very proud of my Danish heritage in large part because of their response when the Nazis invaded. With about a day advanced notice of the pending invasion, they smuggled every Jew (7,000 mostly in fishing boats) out of the country. (The only exceptions were those that chose not to go.) As a result, the yellow star edict was never even issued there and all were saved.

Sorry. Serious side-track... and now back to our topic... ;D


message 28: by Katie (new)

Katie Burdett (Burdek) I just finished The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan. I enjoyed it tremendously! It was well written and interesting--a memoir of a woman surviving cancer, while her father was battling cancer at the same time. Witty, irreverent, thought-provoking--focuses on ideas of life, death, survival, parenting, love and family. Great book!


message 29: by Anna (new)

Anna (olive415) Dini already mentioned Eat, Pray, Love, which I'm reading right now. It is really funny.

I really like In Defense of Food. It was a really eye opening read.


message 30: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 10, 2009 08:12AM) (new)

To revive an old topic, today I finished my first assigned reading for college, a common read book we were all sent in our admission package so that we have something to talk about when we meet.
It is: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman who is also going to visit us on campus.
The Spirit Catches you was a really, really amazing book about a Hmong (a Laotian minority) family who had to leave Laos because their minority is prosecuted there after the Communists overtook the country because the Hmong had fought for the USA during their proxy war against the communists in the 70s. The family's youngest daughter, born in the USA, has got epilepsy and the book is about the family's and the doctors' struggle with each other to restore the sick girl's health. This actually turns out to be very difficult and frustrating for both sides because there are huge cultural differences.
The book was very complex, very informative, but at the same time very well and engagingly written and you can see that Anne Fadiman has spent A LOT of time with the family in the Hmong community in Merced, California and finally came to understand both sides, the doctors and the family.

I'd actually recommend it for anyone, but most of all for people who either are doctors or have to deal with refugees, who are interested in anthropology, foreign cultures and customs, or who are interested in Asia and South East Asian-American foreign relations.


message 31: by Anna (new)

Anna (lilfox) | 199 comments Eichmann in Jerusalem A Report on the Banality of Evil

Really great book on Adolf Eichmann and banality of evil. Hannah Arendt analyzed why people like Adolf Eichmann, who wasn't the brightest person (but he wasn't also retarded), made the career in the structures of Nazi era Germany


message 32: by Zala (last edited Aug 05, 2009 04:45AM) (new)

Zala I recently read Before Night Falls which was trully beautiful and also changed my view of Cuba significantly. While before I believed Cuba to be a pretty happy country, freed of capitalism with only a few minor problems, now I strongly feel that it is not so - communism and capitalism are very much alike, says Reinaldo Arenas, only that in capitalism you are allowed to scream if something wrong has been done to you and in communism, you can't even do that.
There are quite a lot of pretty explict sex scenes in it, though, so I wouldn't recommend it for very young teenage readers. I'm 16, though, and I didn't find it particulary disturbing (OK, maybe just a little, but while there's a lot of talk about sex, it's not the main thing in the book).


message 33: by Zala (last edited Aug 05, 2009 05:01AM) (new)

Zala Oh, I forgot, they also made a movie after Before Night Falls (trailer), starring Johnny Depp and Javier Bardem (which are both quite handsome and great actors, I must say :D).

And this is just the funniest picture of Johnny Depp ever. :)





message 34: by Christi (new)

Christi Elizabeth wrote: "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
This book has some great lol moments.

Slave by Mende Nazer and
[book:First They Killed My Father A Daught..."


Jamie wrote: "So i have realized that i don't really read alot of non-fiction and I really would like to. So what are some of the best non-fiction books you have read?"

Oh, "Midnight' is great reads like a novel! Also, "The Glass Castle" is a terrific book. Not an ounce of pity in Jeanette Walls moving story of her childhood. I'm currently reading "Cheap; The High Cost of Discount Culture" and it is really enlightening. It's by Ellen Ruppel Shell and is brand new.


message 35: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
Zala: That picture will probably change the way I look at Johnny Depp forever!


message 36: by whichwaydidshego?, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego? (whichwaydidshego) | 1996 comments Mod
Zala, interesting synopsis of the book. I'm curious now. But the pict - I'm with Dini, changes everything! LOL


message 37: by Meghan (new)

Meghan I love nonfiction but I tend not to favor biographies or personal memoirs (mostly by people who want to tell you how horrible their childhood were).

A few of my favorites:

1. Freakonomics Rev Ed A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt

2. The Know-It-All One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World and The Year of Living Biblically One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible - You learn a little while laughing a lot. I just like Jacobs.

3. Stiff The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers - I think it's a Rory book, but it's fascinating. Although you have a quick gag reflex, proceed with caution. It's not gory, but it does deal with corpses.

4. The Devil in the White City Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America - I found this book fascinating on two levels as there are two stories within one book--the history of the World's Fair in Chicago and the serial killer that took up residence there. I found these little tidbits of trivia interesting too--like Walt Disney's father worked on some part of building the fair, so he got a lot of his ideas while he was there as a kid.

5. The Executioner's Song - It's Norman Mailer. But besides that, it's a fascinating statement on the criminal justice system in the US and what constitutes justice. Sometimes I had to remind myself this was a true story and not a work of fiction.


message 38: by Nicki (new)

Nicki | 8 comments I've never been into nonfiction books very much unless they are about my career. However, I've been trying to read more nonfiction to expand my knowledge. Lately I've been reading books by people I already know so that I can jump into the book a little easier. For example, right now I'm reading Always Looking Up The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist by Michael J. Fox. It's good, but I'm running out of books that I think I'll be interested in.

Does anyone have any ideas of nonfiction books that are engaging and easy to be engulfed in? Thanks!


message 39: by Meghan (new)

Meghan | 76 comments nicki, what kinds of books are you interested in? biographies, history, crime, disasters, stories of personal triumph, quiet memoirs, literary memoirs, faith/spirituality searches, food books?

if you're into books, i cannot recommend 84 charing cross road by helen hanff enough -- it's short and sweet and funny and engaging and absolutely lovely. anne lamott is also a wonderfully interesting writer, and covers topics from spirituality to being a writer (LOVE her book bird by bird) to a hilarious memoir of her son's first year.

a wonderful resource for book lists i use all the time is here:
http://www.webrary.org/rs/FLbklistmen...

there's one specifically for nonfiction that reads like fiction:
http://www.webrary.org/rs/flbklists/n...


message 40: by Mary (new)

Mary | 4 comments Jamie wrote: "So i have realized that i don't really read alot of non-fiction and I really would like to. So what are some of the best non-fiction books you have read?"

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen


message 41: by Barbara (last edited Mar 05, 2010 04:33PM) (new)

Barbara Nicki wrote: "I've never been into nonfiction books very much unless they are about my career. However, I've been trying to read more nonfiction to expand my knowledge. Lately I've been reading books by people..."

Hi Nicki -- I've been poor at reading non-fiction through the years but for me, travel writing was a good way to expand that horizon. I see Bill Bryson's already been mentioned. If you can find her, check out Polly Evans. She's good (books have covered Spain, China, New Zealand, Argentina and Canada) and she tries to challenge herself in each (bicycle, public transport, motorcycle, horses, sled-dogs). Another is Will Randall--his Botswana Time had me in stitches. Frances Mayes' Under the Tuscan Sun kicked off travel writing for me (along with Bella Tuscany).

And I totally double-ditto Meghan's rec. for 84 Charing Cross Road, and add the follow-up, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street (think I got that title right).


message 42: by Dini, the master of meaning (last edited Mar 05, 2010 07:36PM) (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
A great non-fiction I read a while ago was What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. I think he's one of the most (if not the most) widely read and translated contemporary Japanese author right now, and this book is one of his few non-fictions. It's an inspirational story of his love for long distance running. Makes me want to lace up my shoes and get on the road (and I'm the kind of person who always finishes last during runs at school!).


message 43: by Meghan (new)

Meghan A friend of mine just finished up Andre Agassi's book. She said it was really engaging and she read through it fairly quickly. It's probably not the best written book you'll ever read, but the things you learn was enough to keep her interest piqued.

I really enjoyed Mia Farrow's memoir. I have to say before I read it I intensely disliked her and thought she was crazy when she divorced Woody Allen, despite all that he did. My opinion really changed after reading her book. She addressed her behavior and apologized for it while explaining why she did what she did. And I have nothing but respect for the life she's choosing to lead now. I'm not really into biographies or memoirs, but I will always recommend hers.


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