Recommend great non-fiction!

My birthday’s coming up at the end of the week. I have $45 in Amazon gift certificates from doing a few online surveys. Well written non-fiction is my favorite genre and I would like to treat myself with the moolah.

So what would you do with the dough? :cool:

Allow me to spew a few authors in your direction, these people have written some entertaining books although I don’t have time to link for you right now…there’s a good chance you’ll already know them anyway:

Mary Roach

Stefan Gates

Steven Levitt

Bill Bryson

If you’re interested in natural history, check out David Quammen.

I don’t read much non-fiction, but I recently enjoyed The Great Mortality by John Kelly. It’s about the Black Death. Witty, informative, and entertaining.

I’ll second the recommendations for Mary Roach and David Quammen, and add Stephen Jay Gould, in particular The Flamingo’s Smile: Reflections on Natural History.

Lucky you!

Dan Savage

William Poundstone

Malcolm Gladwell

Mark Salzman

Robert Sapolsky

I’ll second the recommendations for Bill Bryson and Malcolm Gladwell.

Bryson’s A Walk In The Woods is one of my favorite books. The Lost Continent is also very good.
Gladwell’s The Tipping Point is fascinating.

Henry Petroski
Eviatar Zerubavel
Richard Selzer

“The Informant” by Kurt Eichenwald.

“The Devil and the White City”.

I’ve read nearly everything Bill Bryson wrote. My absolute favorite is his book about Australia.

I’ll have to check out the other suggestions. :slight_smile:

Check out either or both of these Pulitzer prize winners (non-fiction):

A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan - the biography of American military advisor John Paul Vann is part of a textual counterpoint against the rhythm of the Vietnam War. Outstanding book.

Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb - this one’s for you if like history, biography, science, and politics all rolled into one. One of the best books I’ve ever read!

For history, I thoroughly enjoy David McCullough.

His biographies are great, but I prefer his other stories (1776, The Great Bridge, and The Path Between The Seas in particular).

I thought it was okay, not great. The author was seriously hobbled by the lack of any real info on “the devil,” though the stuff on “the white city” was fascinating.

A second voter for Robert Sapolsky, and I also recommend Diane Ackerman.

Anything by Richard Feynman. His more technical writings are great, too, if you’re inclined towards physics, but even if you’re not, his memoirs are a great read. The only title I can remember is Surely you’re joking, Mr. Feynman, but there are a few others as well.

Here are some of my favorites:

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing

Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West, by Stephen Ambrose

I also really enjoyed The Devil in the White City, and didn’t feel it was hampered by the need for speculation about the “devil.” Well-paced, fascinating and detailed.

Woops, thought of a couple more. These are both in the vein of Women Going On Adventures, which I really love. Both are autobiographical:

The Curve of Time: The Classic Memoir of a Woman and Her Children Who Explored the Coastal Waters of the Pacific Northwest, by M. Wylie Blanchet

Two in the Far North, by Margaret “Mardie” Murie.

Look, “nonfiction” covers more than half the library/bookstore. Could you be more specific?

That’s a wide-open field. It depend upon what you like. Here are some of the interesting reads I’ve had in the recent past:

**The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary **

Simon Winchester qwrote a sequel that I haven’t read yet:

**The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary **
**The Great Arc : The Dramatic Tale of How India Was Mapped and Everest Was Named ** by John Keay

Not to mention David McCulloch’s books on the Brooklyn Bridge, The Pana Canal, the Johnstown Flood, and his bios od Teddy Roosevely, Harry Truman, John Adams, and the first year of the Revolution.

Or just about anything by Stephen Jay Gould. Or the hard-to-find-but-worth-it books by L. Sprague de Camp

I’ve heard good things about Eve Golden, Stephen R. Wilk, and Cecil Adams. :wink:

Okay. I like well written non-fiction that has a good narrative quality. For example Bill Bryson’s books are just delicious. Allison’s Weir’s British histories are great stuff. A Civil Action was wonderful.

I like books that make you think about a subject in a different way. Little Girls in Pretty Boxes by Joan Ryan made me swear to never watch women’s gymnastics ever again. Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol changed my perception of public school funding. The Bitch in the House edited by Cathi Hanauer has great essays on what it means to be a modern women.

I like books that offer insights into other cultures or a new way of looking at my own. There are lots of great suggestions on this thread.