Monday, May 16, 2011

Nonfiction I'm Still Talking About

#BookNerdsUnite continues with my favorite general market nonfiction.  I read way more fiction than nonfiction but I am equal opportunity when it comes to books.  I usually have two to three books going at a time.

Lately I've tried to be more intentional about my nonfiction reading habits.  I'm adding more biographies to my To Read list and I'm seeking out topics beyond my latest research obsession.

Here are the Nonfiction Titles that I'm Still Talking About:
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle- Barbara Kingsolver Kingsolver and her family documented a year of deliberately eating food that was produced where they lived. The book is chock full of information on processed food, farmer's markets, and more, as well as delicious recipes. It definitely made me reassess where my food comes from and I've been trying to change my food consumption and purchasing habits ever since.

The Audacity of Hope- Barack Obama I've been an Obama fan from the beginning.  I love his idealism and I loved the way his spirit and dedication showed through here. His presidency may not be perfect but I'm still saying Yes We Can.

Bird by Bird- Anne Lamott I cannot sing Lamott's praises often enough.  If you've ever thought of writing, you simply must read Bird by Bird.

Bringing Home the Birkin- Michael Tonello Enjoyable inside look at one man's quest for fashion's Holy Grail: the Birkin bag.

Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics- Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner Levitt and Dubner manage to make economics not only interesting but relevant. With chapters titled "Why should suicide bombers buy life insurance?", how can you go wrong?

French Women Don't Get Fat- Mireille Guiliano An important reminder to eat foods that are in season, savor smaller portions, and live a balanced life. Her recipe for ratatouille has become one of my summer favorites!

Generation Kill- Evan Wright Rolling Stones journalist Wright chronicled his experience as an embedded reporter with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion‎ of the United States Marine Corps during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It's a revealing behind-the-scenes look at the war while introducing us to the men fighting on our behalf. We are able to see the problems the men face, such as distinguishing civilians from the enemy, but also their strengths and camaraderie. The book has since been turned in to a series for HBO.

I Am America (And So Can You!)- Stephen Colbert If you're not a Colbert fan, you will not appreciate this book.  Colbert's tongue-in-cheek conservative schtick is laugh out loud funny.

The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically- AJ Jacobs- First of all, Jacobs is funny.  Second of all, whether he's reading through the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica or taking a more literal approach to following the Bible, you can't help but learn all manner of things along the way. 

My Jesus Year- Benyamin Cohen The son of a rabbi attends various Christian churches for a year. "Cohen sees the best and the worst of Christianity -- from megachurches to storefront churches; from crass commercialization of religion to the simple, moving faith of the humble believer; from the profound to the profane to the just plain laughable. Throughout, he keeps an open heart and mind, a good sense of humor, and takes what he learns from Christianity to reflect on his own faith and relationship to God." You'll laugh, you'll cringe, you'll ponder.

Now, Discover Your Strengths-  Marcus Buckingham  I first read this over a decade ago when I was working as an assistant manager at The Christian Bookstore.  My top 5 strengths were Ideation, Input, Individualization, Learner, and Achiever.  It pegged me accurately then and I wonder if I'd get the same results now that I'm not working retail anymore.

On Death and Dying- Elizabeth Kubler-Ross I would be a poor excuse for a former hospice social worker if I didn't reference Kubler-Ross's efforts.  Even if end of life issues aren't your expertise, her work is definitely worth reading.  We all face death, loss, and grief at some point.

Savage Inequalities- Jonathan Kozol I read this for a college sociology class and the accounts of economic disparity continue to haunt me.  It is unconscionable that children do not have equal access to public education, even those living in the same city.  And we wonder why impoverished children tend to make poor decisions past high school, if they even graduate in the first place... 

The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry- Kathleen Flinn After learning she's been fired, Flinn decides to move to Paris and pursue her dream of a diploma from Le Cordon Bleu. Funny yet informative, Flinn includes many great recipes along the way.

Three Cups of Tea- Greg Mortenson Yes, there's a controversy about this book's accuracy and how Mortenson accounts for his work.  However, this story is absolutely inspiring.  He believes strongly that literacy and education, especially for girls, in the Middle East is the key to lasting change.

The Year of Magical Thinking- Joan Didion A powerful account of the author's grief after her husband John's sudden death from a heart attack. While this happened, their daughter Quintana was on life support. Didion gives us an unflinching look at grief and the things we tell ourselves during times of loss, the so-called "magical thinking."

Stay tuned for more reasons why Leigh Likes Books:

    Agree? Disagree? What are your favorite nonfiction (general market) books?

    Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon from HopefulLeigh, any purchase you make supports this site.


    1. I love Better Off by MIT graduate Brende ( ). He writes his MIT thesis on how technology can be bad! Ha! But more than that, it's an 18 month experiment by a guy who just wants to figure out the perfect balance between machine and nature. It's a great, short, easy read.

    2. loved BK's animal, veg, miracle, too--and michael pollan's in defense of food.

      david shipler's the working poor is fantastic and even handed. liked nickled and dimed, too (barbara ehrenreich. and kozel is always good.

      if you're counting memoir in with nonfiction, i love me some david sedaris, and a heartbreaking work of staggering genius is one of my all time favorites (dave eggars).

      i like these lists. tucking titles away...

    3. Ugh blogger ate my short Animal, Vegetable, Miracle...loving it!

      Michale Pollan Omnivores dilemma was really good too.

      I'm kind of biased in this area because I read a lot of birthing, midwifery type books, and parenting ect.

      Love memoirs though! Just read Matt Loeglin's two kisses for maddie, really well written on grief.

      My all time fave though is Startling Beauty about a woman who is raped and keep the baby even though she has a family.

    4. @Katie, that sounds interesting! I'll add it to my list.

      @Suzannah, Pollan's books have been on my To Read list for awhile. Must get to that! Memoir totally counts- I would put a few of these titles in that category. Sedaris rocks!

      @Jenn, Blogger has been a big FAIL lately, hasn't it? I just recently heard of Loeglin's book. I will definitely be reading it. I haven't heard of Startling Beauty before- sounds gripping but difficult.


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