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Topic: I don't read enough non-fiction

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Subject: I don't read enough non-fiction
Date Posted: 8/30/2008 10:12 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
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I am a glutton for mysteries and thrillers and I spend most of my time reading them. I have read non-fiction in the past and the titles that I've read, I've really enjoyed. Books that I remember include "Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil", "Three Cups of Tea", "Under the Banner of Heaven". I just received "Catfish and Mandala" in the mail today and I look forward to reading that. Can anyone make some recommendations? What is your favorite non-fiction (NOT self-help!) book and why?
Sharon C. (Mamu) - ,
Date Posted: 8/30/2008 10:23 PM ET
Member Since: 3/12/2007
Posts: 1,154
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I haven't actually read these myself, but my partner loves non-fiction and here's the most recent she's loved.

Team of Rivals (about Lincoln's cabinet.)   She said it read like a novel

The Worst Hard Time (story of the time of the dust bowl)  She said it was horrifying to read what those people went through.


Date Posted: 8/30/2008 10:33 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
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Thanks, Sharon! They both look fascinating and they are both on my WL. I actually recognize the author (Doris Somebody Kearns) of the Lincoln book because of her book a few years ago on baseball. (**ahem** if your partner wants to get rid of her copies...**ahem) :)
Date Posted: 8/30/2008 11:26 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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My favorite book of all time is "Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson.  Other good ones are "in Cold Blood" by Truman Capote, "Stiff" by Mary Roach, "The American Plague" by Molly Caldwell Crosby, "the Monster of Florence" by Douglas Preston and I definitely second "Team of Rivals".

Last Edited on: 8/30/08 11:26 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/31/2008 12:30 AM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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I adore non-fiction, esp. historical non-fiction. Some good ones I've read in the past year or so:

The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden by William Alexander (if you like to garden, this is a very entertaining read)

Travels with My Donkey: One Man and His Ass on a Pilgrimage to Santiago by Tim Moore (fun travel book, steeped in history)

Picasso's War: The Destruction of Guernica and the Masterpiece That Changed the World by Russell Martin

Blue Latitudes : Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before by Tony Horwitz

Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz (the Civil War and it's impact on modern-day America--fascinating)

One For the Road by Tony Horwitz (hitchhiking through Australian outback)

Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone (funny story of how a couple fell into rare book collecting)

The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin (story of a killer Midwest blizzard in 1888)

The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn (author tracks down fate of Jewish family members who were left behind in Europe during the war)

Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt by David McCullough

We Band of Angels : The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese by Elizabeth M. Norman

The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the Century by Robert Lacey

Pagan Holiday : On the Trail of Ancient Roman Tourists by Tony Perrottet

Through the Narrow Gate by Karen Armstrong (author joined a convent as a teen in the early 1960s and ultimately suffered a nervous breakdown and had to leave after seven years)

102 Minutes : The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn

Lincoln's Melancholy : How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness by Joshua Wolf Shenk

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson (funny memoir of growing up in 1950s Iowa)

***actually, anything by Bill Bryson is worth finding. He's written mostly travel books and a few others--all extremely intelligent and quite funny.***

Outwitting History : The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books by Aaron Lansky



L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 8/31/2008 1:46 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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Check out the recent "Thoughts on Memoirs.." thread.  Also, there's a list of good reads at the bottom of my profile. (Both fict. and non-fict.)

Date Posted: 8/31/2008 6:09 AM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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gosh I seldom read non-fiction :-( hadn't really thought about it but it's true...

I remember reading a book titled 'Among Schoolchildren' a long time ago by Tracy Kidder that I enjoyed..told by a teacher

biography about this girl who rode diving horses(can't rmember the title but Ir ead itLONG before the movie came out and loved it)

biography about Johnny Cash that I found interesting.

I guess biographies are among my favorite non-fiction other than quilt books of course!

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 8/31/2008 6:35 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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I love Tracy Kidder.  Old Friends will make you cry....

Date Posted: 8/31/2008 8:18 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2008
Posts: 9,807
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I am attempting to expand my non-fiction horizon as well. An easy (and short) read is TUESDAYS WITH MAURY. I seen the play and read the book. Both were excellent !!  1776 is on my TBR for Fall. Currently reading:  JAPANLAND: A YEAR IN SEARCH OF WA.  Will decide whether to keep it or not after my trip (in 2 weeks) to Japan.

I was going to read RUNNING WITH SCISSORS but decided to post it instead. Too many people had negative things to say about it. I'll include it as a freebie with anything you might want on my bookshelf.

Sharon C. (Mamu) - ,
Date Posted: 8/31/2008 2:20 PM ET
Member Since: 3/12/2007
Posts: 1,154
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Lee Ann, LOL!  IF I can get her to part with them, you'll be the first.  She never re-reads books, but hangs on to non-fiction "in case."  After a while, I usually just make them disappear and she never knows.  hee hee.

Janelle, what a magnificent list!!  I'm going to put some of those on my WL or order them.  Thanks a bunch for the ideas. 

Clara, I listened to Running with Scissors and I don't know when I've disliked a book more.  I have very eclectic tastes but yuck.  Part of it may have been that the author read it, which is always a death knell, IMO.  I forgot about Tuesdays with Maury.  I like that a lot.


Date Posted: 8/31/2008 7:24 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
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Ooh, great suggestions! I've actually read a few that have been listed (Tuesdays with Maury, In Cold Blood) and now I have more for my list. I find that I'm more into historical non-fiction than memoir but...I'm a book whore so I'll read anything! ***THANKS, SHARON! If you sneak them away, I'll never tell!! :) )
Date Posted: 8/31/2008 7:27 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
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BTW, Sharon, I LOVE your "My Family Values" thingy in your signature! I'm sure that's available as a bumper sticker, right? I NEED one! I also need the one that I've seen around here (Colorado) that reads "Focus on your own damn family!" as a response to Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs. :)
Date Posted: 9/1/2008 2:41 PM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2005
Posts: 7,522
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I loved Confederates in the Attic, 1776, Team of Rivals, The Worst Hard Time and  We Band of Angels!  Some of my favorite nf books recently have been:

They Poured Fire on us From the Sky, Benson Deng, Alphonsion Deng, Benjamin Ajak

Prisoners in Paradise, Theresa kaminski

Sarajevo Daily: A City and its Newspaper Under Seige, Tom Gjelten

The Powder Puff Derby of 1929, Gene Nora Jensen

Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin, Marion Meade

Nathaniel's Nutmeg, Giles Milton

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, Jack Weatherford

A Wasp Among Eagles, Ann Carl

Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen, Bob Greene


Last Edited on: 9/1/08 2:44 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 9/1/2008 5:59 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,579
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If you enjoy travel, you might like Bill Bryson's books.  He writes wonderfully funny books about his travels in the UK, Australia, the US, etc and he published his autobiography last year.  Delightful reads, all, and even more fun on audio book if you can find the versions he reads.  He's been one of my favorite traveling companions for many years. 

Helene Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street are also wonderful reads.

Date Posted: 9/1/2008 8:18 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2008
Posts: 1,109
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I love non fiction.  Some recent favorites are: 1) "Shadowdivers:The True Adventure of two Americans who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of WWII" by Robert Kurson.  My town did a "Community Read" on this book last winter and it was one of the most popular in years. 2) "Isaacs Storm: A Man, A Time and the Deadliest Hurricane in History" by Erik Larson, IMO much better than "the Devil in the White City"; 3)"The Professor and The Mad Man:A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary" by Simon Winchester. 

I agree with previous posts about Bill Bryson.  My favorite is "A Walk in the Woods" about his attempt to hike the Appalachain Trail.  Also, love Tracy Kidder's work, especially "Mountains beyond Mountains" about Dr. Paul Farmer and his work in Haiti. 

Happy reading.  Debbie

Date Posted: 9/1/2008 9:48 PM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2007
Posts: 5,637
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The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll by Jean Nathan is my favorite non-fiction book, and one of my favorite books ever. It's about the life (and death) of Dare Wright, a children's book author / photographer. It's fascinating and heartbreaking.

Date Posted: 9/1/2008 10:07 PM ET
Member Since: 7/24/2005
Posts: 147
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If you liked Under the Banner of Heaven, check out this same author's other books like "Into the Wild"   "Into Thin Air etc.

One of my keeper books is "In the Heart of the Sea," the real story that inspired "Moby Dick" - it's 4.5 star rating on Amazon is well deserved.


I didn't like Moby Dick, but I did love this fictional book, that is based on the point of view of Captain Ahab's wife:  "Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer".  I read it right after the above book...



Date Posted: 9/1/2008 10:16 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,579
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If you can put your hands on anything by Agnes Newton Keith, you'll be in for a real treat.  She wrote several books about her life in Borneo, Land Below the Wind, Three Came Home (my all-time favorite book), and White Man Returns.  These were books my grandmother had in her library that I discovered back in the early 70s. I fell in love with them then and 30+years later, they remain my most treasured of possessions.  None are posted in the system, but maybe your library would have copies.

Here's the Wikipedia page about her  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnes_Newton_Keith

Last Edited on: 9/1/08 10:16 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/2/2008 3:25 PM ET
Member Since: 5/5/2006
Posts: 4,325
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If you likedThree Cups of Tea, you might enjoy Into Thin Air,

 The Zookeeper's Wife and Your Inner Fish come to mind as good reads

Last Edited on: 9/2/08 3:27 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/6/2008 8:48 AM ET
Member Since: 8/7/2008
Posts: 71
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I recommend going to dearreader.com.  You can get a portion of a book mailed to you each day for a week.  By the end of the week you have a chapter or two, plus a good feeling if you would enjoy the book.  I have found several great titles this way.

Their non-fiction list has been great!  They also have fiction, mystery, audio and a few more. If you don't enjoy the book, just delete and wait til next week.


Date Posted: 9/7/2008 1:04 PM ET
Member Since: 7/28/2007
Posts: 43
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Oooh, excellent suggestion, Monstermashed!  "The Secret Life of The Lonely Doll" by Jean Nathan is fascinating.  The mother/daughter relationship was bizarre to say the least.  The book's photos, many of which are self-portraits taken by the book's subject, add so much insight into Dare Wright's psychological struggles.  When I finished the book, I immediately turned to the first page to re-read it.


Date Posted: 9/7/2008 1:54 PM ET
Member Since: 1/18/2007
Posts: 530
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I must admit that I have read very little non fiction. This thread has given me some wonderful suggestions.

I do like the books that Michael Palin has written to accompany his TV travel shows. Around The World In 80 Days, Pole To Pole, Full Circle and so on.

I've added myself to the wishlist of Team Of Rivals as it sounds interesting.

Subject: Favorite Non- Fiction
Date Posted: 9/7/2008 10:58 PM ET
Member Since: 9/26/2007
Posts: 46
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Same Kind of Different As Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together


This is truly a gem!!