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Topic: Good nonfiction - biography, history - what do you like?

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Subject: Good nonfiction - biography, history - what do you like?
Date Posted: 12/21/2007 1:15 PM ET
Member Since: 6/28/2007
Posts: 230
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I keep going back to my nonfiction shelf and never get tired of it, so I think it's time to expand.  Some favorites so far are The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir, Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, A Year in Provence and its follow-ups by Peter Mayle, The Hungry Ocean by Linda Greenlaw.   I realize that covers a lot of territory. 

What nonfictions are keepers on your shelf?

Date Posted: 12/21/2007 3:58 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,452
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Here are some of my non-fiction keepers:

Having Our Say by the Delaney sisters

Footprints in the Soil by Rosemary Emery

Pau Hana by Ronald Takaki

The Power of Myth by Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell

Poemcrazy by Woolridge

The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoffs

An Autobiography by Gandi

It's Easier than you think by Sylvia Boorstein

Celebrate Life by Lewis

Good Dogs, Great Owners by Brian Kilcommons

Writer's Guide to Everyday Life (I have a few of this series)

Love Medicine and Miracles by Bernie Siegel

Date Posted: 12/21/2007 5:44 PM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2007
Posts: 10,165
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For History I like anything by Howard Zinn.

Date Posted: 12/22/2007 7:05 PM ET
Member Since: 5/22/2007
Posts: 9,682
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I'm hooked on non-fiction and I'm going through a true crime phase right now. I'm also a history lover. Anything by either Dave Pelzer or Torey Hayden are fantastic.  Some of my recent favorites are:

Unnatural Death by Michael Baden

You'll Never Nanny in this Town Again by Suzanna Hansen

Coroners Journal by Louise Cataldi

90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper

Dead Reckoning by Michael Baden

Girl Interupted by Susanna Kaysen

 

 

Date Posted: 12/23/2007 8:23 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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These were my favorite nonfiction books in 2007:

Guns, Germs & Steel by Jared Diamond

Thunderstruck by Erik Larsen

The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman

The Best of James Herriot

Life on the Great Lakes, A Wheelsman's Story by Fred Dutton

The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan

Population: 485 by Michael Perry

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

 

Date Posted: 12/24/2007 10:38 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2006
Posts: 4,972
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Anything by Torey Hayden

I love Torey Hayden's books! I have read them all and they are all keepers for me.

Date Posted: 12/24/2007 3:09 PM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
Posts: 2,243
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If you liked The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir, you might try the Tudor biographies by Carolly Erickson. She has a very easy-to-read writing style. I especially liked her biography of Mary Tudor, titled Bloody Mary.

Date Posted: 12/25/2007 11:04 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2007
Posts: 1,051
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I am totally enjoying The Professor and The Madman. It's the story of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Date Posted: 12/25/2007 7:36 PM ET
Member Since: 6/28/2007
Posts: 230
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I read the Professor and the Madman, I really liked it!  Another nonfiction I forgot to mention was A World History of Salt, which discusses trade, economics, migration, etc. in the context of the production and availability of salt.  It sounds so dry but ended up being really well written.

Cloi, does Carolly Erikson write nonfiction?  I read a novel of hers about Catherine Parr and found it kind of bland...

Date Posted: 12/26/2007 8:54 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2006
Posts: 4,972
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The Professor and The Madman. It's the story of the Oxford English Dictionary.

 

I loved this book! It is also a keeper for me.

Date Posted: 1/4/2008 11:01 PM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2007
Posts: 159
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I would also recommend books by Carolly Erickson if you like history. The books that I have read are fiction, but they are based on facts. Her books tell the life stories of royalty, like Queen Elizabeth,  Marie Antoinette, Queen Victoria, etc. I have read several and enjoyed most of them.

Date Posted: 1/6/2008 3:58 AM ET
Member Since: 12/7/2007
Posts: 3,398
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I haven't read it yet, but a friend of mine recommended Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer.

Date Posted: 1/6/2008 12:30 PM ET
Member Since: 6/28/2007
Posts: 230
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I read Under the Banner of Heaven by Krakauer...it was really good.  I also liked Into Thin Air, more than Into the Wild.

Date Posted: 1/6/2008 6:45 PM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
Posts: 2,243
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Jen-

Carrolly Erickson started off writing biographies / history and has recently moved into the historical fiction genres. I personally prefer her non-fiction.

Date Posted: 1/7/2008 8:49 AM ET
Member Since: 11/8/2006
Posts: 871
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Jen Y,

A agree about SALT:  A WORLD HISTORY.  Mark Kurlansky has many good books.  Might also try his COD.

Henry Petroski takes the same sweeping approach for THE PENCIL.

Charles Seife does a great history of ZERO.

Date Posted: 1/7/2008 5:45 PM ET
Member Since: 5/26/2007
Posts: 5,522
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I just read Hetty: The Genius and Madness of America's First Female Tycoon, by Charles Slack, and really liked it.  This was a book club book that I didn't think I would like, but I was surprised that I did.  Hetty Green was a strange woman who took a modest fortune and grew it into a huge fortune, on a par with Carnegie, Astor, the DuPonts, etc.  The book is very accessible for the average reader - the financial discussions aren't too technical.

I also really liked The Great Influenza, by John Barry, about the flu pandemic of 1918.  This is a more scholarly work than Hetty with a lot of science in it, but really interesting.  One of my obsessions is plagues and deadly diseases, so this was right up my alley.

Date Posted: 1/10/2008 1:37 PM ET
Member Since: 6/28/2007
Posts: 230
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Now I have a whole bunch of books recommended on this thread on my wishlist...that's the only problem with nonfiction, it turns over a lot more slowly on PBS than fiction.  Thanks for the feedback, I'll let you know how it goes!