Best of 2013: Just the Facts (Non-Fiction)

We continue our best of 2013 series of posts today with our favorites in Non-Fiction. Enjoy these books concerning history, science, humor, politics, and much more.

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Eminent Hipsters  |  Donald Fagen
The musician, songwriter, and cofounder of Steely Dan reveals the cultural figures and currents that shaped his artistic sensibility, as well as offering a look at his college days and a hilarious account of life on the road.

Covering everything from Jean Shepherd to jazz concerts to his own tour diary, Fagen writes with a wicked intelligence and wit. – Alan

The Boys in the Boat  |  Daniel James Brown
Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans.

This is a fantastic story of everyday fellows from the pacific northwest who overcame many strikes against them to prevail and win gold at the 1936 Olympics. – Leslie

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal  |  Mary Roach
In her trademark style, Mary Roach investigates the beginning, and end, of our food, addressing such questions as why crunchy food is so appealing, how much we can eat before our stomachs burst, and whether constipation killed Elvis.

This book is not only informative, but also really funny in parts. – Leslie

One Summer:  America, 1927  |  Bill Bryson
Bryson examines closely the events and personalities of the summer of 1927 when America’s story was one of brawling adventure, reckless optimism and delirious energy.

Bryson is always entertaining and informative and this book is up there with his best. – Leslie

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Humans of New York  |  Brandon Stanton
In the summer of 2010, photographer Brandon Stanton set out on an ambitious project: to single-handedly create a photographic census of New York City. Armed with his camera, he began crisscrossing the city, covering thousands of miles on foot, all in his attempt to capture ordinary New Yorkers in the most extraordinary of moments

If you’re a fan of the blog, you will love this collection. – Leslie

I Am Malala  |  Malala Yousafzai
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday October 9, 2012, she almost paid the ultimate price.

This is an inspirational book written by an inspirational young woman. – Leslie

The Faithful Executioner  |   Joel F. Harrington
Based on the journal of Frantz Schmidt, a Nuremburg executioner who died in the early seventeenth century, this endlessly fascinating book explores not just the life of a professional killer but also the times in which he lived.

This was a surprisingly engrossing read that raised many interesting questions about social status, justice, and what it takes to survive in any given society. – Richard

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls  |  David Sedaris
From the perils of French dentistry to the eating habits of the Australian kookaburra, from the squat-style toilets of Beijing to the particular wilderness of a North Carolina Costco, we learn about the absurdity and delight of a curious traveler’s experiences. Sedaris takes us on side-splitting adventures that are not to be forgotten.

Sedaris writes for the New Yorker, but his writing—far from stuffy, is engaging and entertaining, and sometimes puts a spin on a topic when you least expect it. – Joyce

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Dad is Fat  |  Jim Gaffigan
Memoir. A stand-up comedian expresses the joys and horrors of life with his wife and five young children. It has been compared to Bill Cosby’s Fatherhood.

I love Gaffigan’s comedic style, and his routines always hint at the chaos he and his wife face living with 5 young kids in a 2-bedroom NYC apartment. Favorite quote: there is no difference between a 4-year-old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor. – Carol

The Time Between Dreams: How to Navigate Uncertainty in Your Life and Work  |  Carol A. Vecchio
With warmth, humor, and sincerity, Carol Vecchio provides a clear understanding of the natural cycles of change and guides us in defining our distinct needs and wants.

The book you’ll reach for whenever work and life changes have you seeking an inspiring transition plan. – Anita

Life at the Marmont: The Inside Story of Hollywood’s Legendary Hotel of the Stars–Chateau Marmont  |  Raymond Sarlot, Fred E. Basten
From its perch overlooking the Sunset Strip, the glamorous Marmont reigned for decades as the spot for artists, writers, musicians, and actors of every stripe and remains a home-away-from-home for A-listers. Here, Sarlot and Basten share a wealth of scandalous and intriguing tales.

Hollywood history and celebrity gossip collide in this legendary volume back in print after 2 decades. As a book lover, I appreciated the style. As a film lover, I enjoyed a behind the scenes glimpse into the private lives of stars from Grace Kelly to John Belushi. – Alan

I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp |  Richard Hell
Punk pioneer Richard Hell, who coined the phrase “Please Kill Me” provides the details of an intensely interesting life in 1970’s New York City.

As a poet, the man also knows how to write compellingly about a rich subject, being in the nexus of the birth of New York Punk. – Alan

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The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family  |  Josh Hanagarne
An inspiring story of how a Mormon kid with Tourette’s found salvation in books and weight-lifting.

A highly readable memoir; you don’t have to be a librarian to appreciate it. Hanagarne is a great writer as well as an insightful, inspiring person. – Alan

Kittenhood: Life-Size Portraits of Kittens in Their First 12 Weeks  |  Sarah Beth Ernhart
This book is 100% life-size photographs of kittens, including names and ages. Each turn of the page brings you face-to-face with adorable bundles of cuteness.

Because kittens! – Carol

Dessert Designer: Creations You Can Make and Eat!  |  Dana Rau
Step by step instructions teach readers how to create food art with cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and candies.

Update your kitchen to an art space with these beautiful and creative ideas for decorating goodies. My favorite ideas are the Treasure Chest made with Hershey Kit Kat Bars and embellishing a cake with rainbow sour candy strips. – Andrea

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