What is Your Favorite Non-Fiction Book?

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Sure, we all love our fiction. At any given time, my ‘to-read’ queue at Goodreads (or in my head) is about 2/3 fiction. But we also read non-fiction for enjoyment, for educational purposes, for work, and for other reasons.

We buy it, we check it out at the library, we read it on our e-books, we pass it around, and in the end, we refer to much of our non-fiction again and again in our lives, as reference.

Some of the non-fiction books I’ve read lately and enjoyed included:
Elizabeth, the Queen, by Sally Bedell Smith, which is a sympathetic and fascinating portrait of Queen Elizabeth II from childhood until 2011.
The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews, which not only has a lot of ‘must try’ recipes, but also has a great deal of Irish culture detailed in its pages.
Mindfulness for Two by Kelly G Wilson PhD and Troy DuFrene, which is a book for mental health clinicians that invites us to ‘get off our high horses’ and participate in therapy mindfully.
Knitting Scarves from Around the World by Kari Cornell, Sue Flanders, and Janine Kosel, which has lots of great scarf ideas from simple to complicated
23 Things They Don’t Teach You About Capitalism by Ha-Joong Chang, which really outlines the concepts of macro and micro economics in a way that makes clear that economies are for people and not the other way around.
The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan which outlines our food chain dilemma in an interesting way through telling the story of four ways of eating and how they affect and are affected by the food chain.

As you can see, it’s a varied list. On my to read list I have another few gems:
Free Market Fairness by John Tomasi: I will be reviewing this when I’m done with it, and I have a rather special interest in this book, which I will detail in the review.
The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change by Al Gore: Gore is a thoughtful writer and has been working on this subject ever since he left the vice presidency. It’s something I’m very interested in as well.
Essentially Feminine Knits by Lene Samsoe because, well, in the end I knit for myself.
Making Artisan Pasta by Aliza Green, Steve Legato, and Cesare Casella, because guess what Husband got for his birthday?
Crazy: A Father’s Search through America’s Mental Health Madness because the system always needs improvement and input from those affected by it.
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn because it’s a seminal work and I’ve never gotten around to reading it.

This is no time to judge. I read pretty much anything that will hold still long enough, unless it’s truly awful (I recently picked up Fake It: More than 100 Shortcuts Every Woman Needs to Know by Jennifer Byrne, and its tone was so unbelievably condescending and cutesy I only got a few pages in before I gave up. I guess I’m not the target audience). You read what you read for your reasons, I read what I read for mine. In that vein, today’s dance explores what we read and why we read it. Book recommendations are, of course, welcome.

  • What is the last non-fiction book you read (more or less) cover to cover? What’s next on your to-read list?
  • What non-fiction genre do you read for pleasure? For business? To learn something just for you? To solve a problem?
  • What book did you really look forward to reading, only to be disappointed?
  • What non-fiction book was an unexpected delight?
  • If you were to have a reference library of only five non-fiction books, what would they be? Why?
  • Slightly different: If you were to have a reference library of only five non-fiction books in one subject you read frequently, what would they be?
  • What book do you return to over and over again? Is that purely for reference reasons, or for enjoyment as well?
  • Do you read deeply (several books on one topic at a time), broadly (a variety of books on a variety of topics) or both? Why?
  • When someone criticizes a book you loved, do you take it personally? Why or why not?
  • What author moves you or impresses you so much that you will read every book they wrote? What author will you never (or never again) read? Why?

As always, please comment and pass this post around to spread around the discussion. Keep an eye out this weekend. If I get brave enough, I’ll be posting my very first videocast. See you later!

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