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Great Nonfiction

squeefishsqueefish Registered User regular
edited November 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
I've been on a nonfiction kick lately and I'm looking for some new reading material. Here are some books/authors I've enjoyed:

Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking
Linda Grant's The Thoughtful Dresser
Margaret Visser's The Rituals of Dinner
Bill Bryson's The Mother Tongue (and Bryson in general)

Any suggestions? I just bought a used copy of The Geese of Beaver Bog by Berndt Heinrich, but I haven't started it yet. Wouldn't mind some more nature-related stuff. I'm also extremely interested in anything linguistics-related.

squeefish on

Posts

  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Well, The Language Instinct if you haven't already read it. Any of the Damasio books you'd probably like. I am very found of Rorabaugh's The Alchoholic Republic. On a food kick, Sidney Mintz's Sweetness and Power can be a little dense but has a low page count and is a great social history of sugar.

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  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    http://www.amazon.com/Short-History-Nearly-Everything/dp/0767908171/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1290107878&sr=8-2

    This book is an excellent primer on all the stuff we know about science and, more interestingly, how we know it. It is an exceptional read.

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  • VishNubVishNub Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Kurlansky everything.

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  • FirstComradeStalinFirstComradeStalin Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman
    Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

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  • spacerobotspacerobot Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I'm not a huge nonfiction fan, but I really enjoyed "The New Kings of Non-fiction". It's edited by Ira Glass, from PRI's This American Life, so you know there are some great stories in it. It's a compilation of several nonfiction stories. I loved it.
    http://www.amazon.com/New-Kings-Nonfiction-Ira-Glass/dp/1594482675/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1290125129&sr=8-1

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  • KabitzyKabitzy find me in Monsbaiya Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    If you enjoy memoirs: Frank McCourt: Angela's Ashes, 'Tis and Teacher Man are all excellent books, especially Angela's Ashes.

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  • Bryse EayoBryse Eayo Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential.

    And it may not be for everyone, but if you like reading about basically one of the last true unexplored places in our world that isn't the ocean, The Heart of the World by Ian Baker is fantastic.

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  • ChopperDaveChopperDave Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism is a short, well-written, and very interesting read about the relationship between "national fictions" and the media. At my college it's pretty much a must-read for anyone remotely interested in politics, literature, or anthropology.

    Jonathan Kozol's The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America is a great, accessible read if you want to get your anger on about the absolutely abysmal state of education in America.

    Kathryn Edin's and Maria Kefalas' Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage is a really compelling look into how the role of motherhood varies wildly for women of different socioeconomic class, and why.

    Steve Coll's Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 should be mandatory reading for any American who wants to understand the absolute clusterfuck we've entered into with the war in Afghanistan.

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  • ChopperDaveChopperDave Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Also, if you're interested in Linguistics there's no better place to start than Noam Chomsky's Syntactic Structures.

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  • RyadicRyadic Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I'm not really a big non-fiction buff myself, but serial killers and such has always been a very big interest for me.

    Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders is one of the most interesting books I ever read.

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  • zilozilo Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

    Yup! Also, Collapse by the same author.

    zilo on
  • The_Glad_HatterThe_Glad_Hatter One Sly Fox Underneath a Groovy HatRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    i found the classic The Man who mistook his wife for a hat to be a fascinating read.

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  • SaarutoSaaruto Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I'm always a sucker for David Simon's books. The Corner and Homicide are pretty damn good. Simon is the mastermind behind The Wire, Generation Kill, and most recently Treme, so that's the kind of material you'll be working with. Also, Anthony Bourdain is seconded over here.

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  • Limp mooseLimp moose Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Some good non fiction I have read this year.

    For all the tea in china A great book about tea and industrial espionage back in the days of sail. It has asian pirates, The east india tea company and other neat stuff.

    The omnivores Dilemma A great book about food and how and where it comes from. I never thought I would enjoy reading about corn as much as I did.

    The lost city of Z Real world indiana jones goes missing. The amazon is a scary place. Much better in book form than not.

    The invention of air One of my favorite books. Absolutely fascinating.

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  • Mike DangerMike Danger "Diane..." a place both wonderful and strangeRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Although it kind of straddles the line, I enjoyed the hell out of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

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  • Alfred J. KwakAlfred J. Kwak is it because you were insulted when I insulted your hair?Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Limp moose wrote: »
    The lost city of Z Real world indiana jones goes missing. The amazon is a scary place. Much better in book form than not.

    This one has me interested. Are any other books that are about lost exploration parties in general?

    Alfred J. Kwak on
  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    King Leopold's Ghost

    This was a fantastic book on what European colonization was really like. It also gives a really detailed history of the Congo and exactly why that country is so unbelievably fucked up now.

    Sentry on
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    wrote:
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
  • L|amaL|ama Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    If you do read Guns Germs and Steel, please don't take everything it says at face value and look at some criticisms of it and/or talk to anyone you know who's studied sociology about it.

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  • Captain MarcusCaptain Marcus now arrives the hour of actionRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    "Rubicon" by Tom Holland is pretty good if you're into Rome.

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  • Page-Page- Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    i found the classic The Man who mistook his wife for a hat to be a fascinating read.

    Oliver Sacks is the man, and a very personable and empathetic writer. His subjects are always fascinating.

    My favourite of his is Musicophilia, which is about the importance and power of music.

    On the same note are This is Your Brain on Music, which deals with the same themes, but in a more technical way. It really tries to get to the heart of what makes music, and why it's so unique and special. He did a followup titled The World in Six Songs, but I haven't read that yet.

    Lastly, Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste is a book that tries to explore why people like the things they do and why other people hate those things, what it means to have good or bad taste, and why Celine Dion is so loved even though she's so terrible.

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  • CorvusCorvus . VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Shake Hands with the Devil, by General Romeo Daillaire An eyewitness view of a genocide, that the rest of the world could have stopped, if they'd only bothered to try.

    Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan, a history of the versailles peace conference set up to settle WW1.

    The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs is worth reading if you're interested in the urban form of cities.

    Journey into the Whirlwind by Eugenia Ginzburg is a history of 18 years in the USSR Gulag.

    Homage to Catalonia In addition to writing 1984 and Animal Farm, George Orwell also fought in the Spanish Civil War.

    Corvus on
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  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    The Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan
    River out of Eden by Richard Dawkins
    The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan

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  • Donovan PuppyfuckerDonovan Puppyfucker A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Anything by this guy.

    Also this guy.

    This dude's pretty great too.

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  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    You got my answer - Bill Bryson. A Short History... was really fantastic.

    Why We Buy by Paco Underhill is pretty interesting.

    MichaelLC on
  • CorvusCorvus . VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Almost forgot, Paddle to the Amazon. Are you a bad enough dude to Paddle a canoe from Winnipeg to the Amazon? Don and Dana Starkell were.

    Corvus on
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  • pots+panspots+pans Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I highly recommend either of the David Foster Wallace essay collections. Two of the best books I've ever read.

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  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Heart of Darkness story of the whale ship essex which was attacked and sunk by a whale in a flair of karma

    River of doubt - story of Teddy Roosevelt's expedition to to map some uncharted amazon tributary

    both excellent reads

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  • Bigtoy_JBigtoy_J Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I really liked "Truman" by David McCullough. It is a great presidential biography.

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  • Adeptus CustodeAdeptus Custode Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Cosmos by Carl Sagan is probably my favorite book of all time.
    Also this covers a ridiculous variety of topics that I found pretty engaging. It's definitely more quantity then quality, though.

    Adeptus Custode on
  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Bigtoy_J wrote: »
    I really liked "Truman" by David McCullough. It is a great presidential biography.

    I preferred the film adaption.

    MichaelLC on
  • SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited November 2010
    Kerouac's On the Road
    Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia
    Havana Nights
    Bill Buford's Heat
    Marco Pierre White's White Heat/White Slave/Devil in the Kitchen (depending on where you live)
    Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations


    Havana Nights is pretty cool cause I'm watching Boardwalk Empire right now and since it's somewhat true to life you get to see more about Luciano and Rothstein's life.

    Best thing about On the Road is if you really like it there are about a dozen other books from that same group that pretty much complete a good couple of decades of adventuring.

    Cooking memoirs are always great.

    Sheep on
  • SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited November 2010
    Oh yeah, and Hunter Thompson's Fear and Loathing series and especially Hell's Angels.

    Sheep on
  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I'm just starting Erik Larson's Devil In the White City about America's first serial killer H.H. Holmes and the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. So far it's a pretty good read.

    Sentry on
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    wrote:
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
  • HedgethornHedgethorn Associate Professor of Historical Hobby Horses In the Lions' DenRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Some nice books on the Middle Ages:

    Christopher Tyreman, God's War: A New History of the Crusades
    Barbara Tuchman, A Distant Mirror (about the Black Death and the 14th century in general)
    Stephen Harris & Bryon Grigsby (eds.), Misconceptions about the Middle Ages
    James Hannam, God's Philosphers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science

    Hedgethorn on
  • AresProphetAresProphet Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Jon Krakauer is one of my favorite non-fiction authors. Under the Banner of Heaven is pretty rad.

    Some people take issue with him though.

    AresProphet on
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  • AmphetamineAmphetamine Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    In Cold Blood by Capote

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