Nonfiction Favorites: We’ve talked about how you pick nonfiction books in previous years, but this week I’m excited to talk about what makes a book you’ve read one of your favorites. Is the topic pretty much all that matters? Are there particular ways a story can be told or particular writing styles that you love? Do you look for a light, humorous approach or do you prefer a more serious tone? Let us know what qualities make you add a nonfiction book to your list of favorites.
I generally gravitate towards science-related books, history, and memoirs. I enjoy books that keep me engaged and interested, narrative nonfiction does that pretty well, and a lot of my favorite history books have been written like this.
I love memoirs because they are usually funny, poignant, and short, with a little moral to the story and lessons learned along the way.
While I'm no scientist nor did I excel in science classes in college and high school, I am still drawn to science book, pop science books in particular. They explain fascinating concepts that laypeople like me can attempt to grasp and while filling me with wonder and excitement.
I do have quite a lot of favorites over the years so these are just a few I decided to feature.
Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable was a pleasant surprise. I'd heard great things but decided to give it a try last year and was blown away by the brilliant writing and the complexity of Malcolm X. It gave me an incredible appreciation for him and what he stood for while also bringing into context his many flaws.
Two of my favorite history books are Doubt: A History by Jennifer Michael Hecht and Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage by Stephanie Coontz. Doubt focuses on well, the history of doubt and critical thinking throughout written time. So many great thoughts from amazing people are all brought together in this volume. Marriage focuses on the evolution of modern-day marriage. How it's only been recently that anyone ever married for love. Fascinating and eye-opening, to say the least.
I love Carl Sagan! These are my two favorites. His prose is beautiful and his humility and excitement for his subject is contained on every page. He was a soul lost too soon.
Pop astronomy! Phil Plait is for you! He's funny and explains things so well. These were both surprisingly fun to read.
If someone wants to know more about evolution, this is the book I recommend. It's clear and concise and just fun.