Wednesday, August 16, 2017

My Favorite Non-Fiction Books

I think I've been a list maker as long as I've known how to write. (Or longer as the case may be since I do remember writing in a language known only to me there for a while.) I do have proof of one of my first lists in case you're interested.

Some of my friends on Facebook have taken art and book breaks from the political miasma that is determined to conquer us, and that made me think of my own favorites. I started making lists while sitting in the pool, and I thought I might share some of them with you, starting with my favorite non-fiction books. 

There are ten books on this list, and some of them have been on it for decades. They are listed in no particular order (other than the order in which they popped into my mind), and if you click on the caption beneath the cover, you'll be taken to information about that book on Amazon. Here we go!

History of the Dust Bowl

Filling in the blanks on U.S. naval history.

I now admire Bligh, but I still don't like him.

Now I know why TR is on Mt. Rushmore.

This book still makes me angry.

This is about so much more than horse racing.

A land of horrors...and of unmatched beauty.

The nurses of World War I by the master chronicler.

Fascinating & often hilarious history of Seattle.

True crime that made my blood run cold.

What do you think of my list? Were you tempted to add any of them to your own lists? Which ones? More importantly... if you also read non-fiction, what are some of your favorite books? Please share-- you know I'm always on the lookout for new reading material!



  1. I really like the variety in your list, Cathy. And I like the reminder of how much great non-fiction there is out there. It's sometimes easy to stay in a particular fictional 'comfort zone.'

    1. Yes, it is very easy to stay in our comfort zones, but it's certainly nice to explore once in a while!

  2. I'm not one for non-fiction reading much because I read so much news all day-long.
    But what I have read in the last year are Gloria Steinem's memoir, part of journalist Martha Gellhorn's book, "The Face of War," and a few assorted memoirs.

    My favorite book this year -- although I've read a lot of good crime fiction -- is Trevor Noah's memoir, "Born a Crime." It is just excellent, a bit of history about apartheid and then his childhood story and his accolades to my very smart, resourceful mother. A terrific book.

    1. I'll look all these titles up. Thanks, Kathy!

  3. I do love a list so thanks for these recs, Cathy. I've read Roses of No Man's Land but none of the others. Sea of Glory appeals and The River of Doubt. I'll look into the others too.

    A few of my own favs:

    The Magic Apple Tree - Susan Hill
    The Chain of Curiosity - Sandi Toksvig
    Wait for Me! - Deborah Mitford
    Myself When Young - Daphne Du Maurier
    Down Under - Bill Bryson
    On Hitler's Mountain - Irmgard Hunt
    Gardens of Stone - Stephen Grady
    Kick: The True Story of JFK's Sister - Paula Byrne
    The Olive Route - Carol Drinkwater
    Agatha Christie: An Autobiography
    Mountains of the Mind - Robert McFarlane

    I think there must be loads more but these are the ones that spring immediately to mind.

    1. Yes, I always go for the ones that come to mind almost without thinking, and that's what happened to the ten books on this list. I'm sitting here trying to choose which list to share next week.

      Some of the titles on your list sound familiar, but most don't-- which is exciting. I'll certainly be looking these up. Thanks so much, Cath!

  4. A great list, Cathy. I want to read SEA OF GLORY, RIVER OF DOUBT,THE BOUNTY and KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON for sure. My only problem is that it takes me much longer to finish reading non-fiction. I read much more fiction, so the problem is finding a chunk of time.

    My own list on ten favorite non-fiction books - at least, today:

    IS PARIS BURNING? by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre.
    THE MONUMENTS MEN by Robert M. Edsel
    THE LOST CITY OF Z by David Grann
    UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN by Frances Meyes
    GLORIANA The Years of Elizabeth the First, by Mary M. Luke
    CATHERINE THE GREAT by Robert K. Massie

    1. I've read five of these and will look up the others. Thanks so much, Yvette! I've also heard that a book titled The Rape of Europa is even better than The Monuments Men. One of these days I'm going to read it.

  5. Well, I've read Seabiscuit from that list.

    I tend to enjoy reading history, though usually it's the history of a place where I'm thinking about setting a story.

    1. It's usually a place that will get me interested in reading a non-fiction book, Pepper.

  6. I find it much harder to read non-fiction than fiction as I read books at the end of the day after reading and seeing news for hours. So books are my escape.

    I meant to say that Trevor Noah's book is an ode to his very smart and resourcesful mother, not mine, although mine was smart and resourcesful, too. But she didn't raise Black children under apartheid.

    1. I tend to prefer non-fiction that reads like fiction, so when I am reading one, I still feel as though I'm escaping.

  7. River of Doubt was already on my list, and I'll look at the Massie book about Russia. Your list made me wonder whether you've read any of Erik Larson's books, and what you thought if so.

    But the really important comment I have to make is that The Bounty has one of my favorite covers ever. When it first came out, there were fewer blurbs and the blue took up more of the space. It catches my eye every time.

    1. As to The Bounty...yes! I had that copy (before the lendee didn't return it), and I loved the cover. Couldn't find a .jpg of it, though.

      I've read two of Erik Larson's books: The Devil in the White City and Isaac's Storm. I enjoyed them both, especially Isaac's Storm. You have reminded me that I have Thunderstruck waiting on my TBR shelves. What's your opinion of Larson?

  8. Knowing that Laura Hillenbrand wrote "Sea Biscuit," when she was incredibly sick makes the book stand out even more.
    I didn't read it, but I saw the movie which was quite good, and not only about the magnificent horse. But about people and the impact of the Great Depression on them.

    Have read articles about the author's process of writing, made harder because she has struggled with chronic fatigue syndrome for decades.

    1. The movie that was made based on Seabiscuit is one of the few book adaptations that was well done.


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