Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week is a Freebie — we each pick our own topic. After much debate and a few false starts, I thought I’d write about my favorite non-fiction books. I really don’t read much non-fiction, but I’ve read enough over the years to be able to choose some real stand-outs.
My top 10 non-fiction favorites are:
1) Ice Bound by Dr. Jerri Nielsen: The late Dr. Nielsen writes about her winter at the South Pole, her personal journey, and her battle with breast cancer with unflinching honesty and remarkable courage.
2) The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum: A fascinating look at the early days of forensics during Probition.
3) Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller: A startling and disturbing memoir of a childhood in Africa.
4) If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name by Heather Lende: I go a bit overboard for anything connected to Alaska, and I really enjoyed this slice-of-life book about a woman raising a family in an Alaskan small town.
5) Life by Keith Richards: KEITH! What is there to say about this book? Amazing. My only complaint was that I’d wished it came with a soundtrack.
6) Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach: If you like your science packed with humor, then you really can’t go wrong with any of Mary Roach’s books. This is the one I’ve read most recently, but I also loved Stiff, which taught me that it’s possible to laugh hysterically while reading about cadavers.
7) Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 by Hunter S. Thompson: Everyone should read Hunter S. Thompson at some point in his/her life, and this is the one I’d choose above all others. It just has to be experienced — no point in further explanation.
8) The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis: This is the book that made me run around my house shouting, “Look, I’m reading a football book!” I am not a sports fan, and have never read another football book in my life… but this one was just so gripping, I couldn’t stop myself.
9) The Devil’s Teeth by Susan Casey: A brilliant account of the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco, the great white sharks that fill the waters there, and the scientists who study them.
10) It’s a toss-up between two very different books by Jon Krakauer: Into Thin Air, his classic tale of a disastrous Everest expedition, or Under the Banner of Heaven, a history of the Mormon church and exposé of Mormon Fundamentalist communities.
As I started working on this list, I kept jotting down more and more non-fiction books that I’ve read and loved. I was reminded that I went through a Vietnam War obsession phase and a weird neurology phase, and then there’s my need to read off-beat personal stories and adventures. In other words, although my reading definitely skews heavily toward all fiction, all the time, I’ve actually read more non-fiction than I’d realized.
Do you have a favorite non-fiction book that you recommend?
I’d love to know what everyone else picked for a top 10 freebie topic! Share your link, and I’ll come check out your list.
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