Friday, September 2, 2011

Fast Five Friday: Great Nonfiction

This was a crazy week, so I wasn't able to fit in a midweek post. While I was too busy to get myself in front of the computer long enough to crank out a coherent piece of writing, I did see on Twitter that Time Magazine put out a list of the top 100 nonfiction books. Now that's something I can wrap my head around. I've been thinking about my favorite nonfiction for the past couple of days, and as of right now, here are my top five nonfiction books.

5) Seabiscuit, Laura Hillenbrand: I'm not a huge horse racing fan, but this book isn't just about a horse. Hillenbrand manages to tell the story of the US during the Depression, when an underdog nation cheered for an underdog horse.  

4) We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families, Philip Gourevitch: This is a book about the genocide in Rwanda. I didn't know anything about Rwanda, about Hutus and Tutsis, and I remember feeling shocked and angered as Gourevitch explained how the world essentially turned a blind eye as hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered. This was were I first learned of Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager who risked his life to save hundreds of others, whose story later became the film Hotel Rwanda.

3) Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich: Ehrenrich took a series of low wage jobs to highlight the struggle of working class people in modern America. With the economy in its current state, this book may be even more relevant now than when it was first published ten years ago.

2) A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers: This is a memoir, and while Eggers certainly takes his share of creative liberties to tell his story, the honesty and power of this book floored me.  

1) Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns: This is history that reads like fiction. Kearns details how Abraham Lincoln managed to put political differences aside, inviting three men who ran against him to join his cabinet. Lincoln successfully navigated complicated personal and professional relationships on the path to abolition and victory in the Civil War. A lot of people think Obama took a similar approach with his cabinet.

I'm always on the look-out for a good nonfiction read. What are some of your favorites?


  1. Seabiscuit is the only one on this list that I own and have read. She's got another book out that my dad read and told me I need to read it. So many books out little time.

    I appreciate the post you did on John Stewart and the "Poors". I've shown that post at work a dozen times now to my boss, the secretary, etc. They've all laughed and now understand a little more why I'm a Democrat and hate Fox News.

  2. The only one of those that I read was Nickeled and Dimed. I thought that was a really interesting book. A few years ago I was a district manager for an employment service and I was amazed at what amount a money (or lack thereof) people try to live on and the types of work they are willing or forced to do. Do do an assortment of low paying jobs by choice and write about it....fascinating.

  3. That Doris Kearns book looks great. I love Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm, and Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. So many others... but I guess stormy, perilous stories are on my mind right now!

    Enjoy the long weekend. :)

  4. Thanks for the list Tim... It looks like I have some reading to do.

  5. I loved Seabiscuit (why does that word always look like it's misspelled?)

    One of my favorite nonfiction writers is David McCullough. John Adams and 1776 were both great reads, but I do like history stuff. HIs narrative voice is so interesting because he comes at history as though it's a story to be told instead of a subject to be taught (no offense, teacher :P).

    Have a great holiday weekend.

  6. Michael: I've heard a lot of great things about Hillenbrand's latest. I'll be reading it soon. Glad you enjoyed the Stewart clips-the guy knows how to cut through all the crap.

    Cheryl: NIckel and Dimed is reporting of the highest level.

    Jayne: I love Krakauer. Into the Wild just missed the cut.

    Munk: Never enough time for all the great books is there?

    LG: McCullough is great-loved JA. I agree, the best history books are the ones that read like stories.

  7. I've had the Dave Eggers on my to-read list for years. It's even been given to me as a gift more than once!

    Maybe I really should get around to finally reading it...

  8. I've read 2 of these. Thanks for the other ideas.
    I'd recommend "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls.

  9. I've read three of the five. I'd almost put in Fast Food Nation too though.

  10. 4, 3, and 2 have great book titles. <3 from a new follower

  11. At first I thought you were referring to the movie FAST FIVE... which is definitely fiction

  12. West with the Night
    In the Heart of the Sea
    Two Years before the Mast

  13. I especially like historical non-fiction with two favorites being Son of the Morning Star by Evan S Connell and Five Points by Tyler Anbinder.

    Tossing It Out