Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Thresher Award for Non-Fiction

What makes great non-fiction? It must present interesting information in a captivating way. That is where most non-fiction fails. It is either way to dry where only the most diehard enthusiast can be bothered to make it all the way through (i.e. my Thesis), or the subject matter just doesn't have anything going for it. Now most books I read meet the last qualification because I wouldn’t have picked it up to begin with. This list of five books where very readable and overall I learned quite a few things from them.

In reverse order:
5. Got Fight by Forrest Griffen
Informational AND funny AND insightful about more things than the actual topic.

4. How We Decide by John Lehrer
One of many psychology books I read this year. Good examples are used to illustrate what should be commonsense principles.

3. Columbine by Dave Cullen
One of those pivotal moments in my generations history is laid out in this interesting book. The real power of the book comes in the analysis of the mental state of the young men who committed this terrible slaughter. If you ever wanted to know more about what actually happened (there are a lot of myths out there) than this should be one of your source books.

2. Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters by Alan Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa
I was almost tempted to make this my non-fiction book of the year because it was so much fun and led to a lot of casual discussion and debates. This book is based in evolutionary psychology, the premise that every decision we make is based on us surviving and propagating the species. With that starting point they attempt to explain all number of human behaviors with plenty of examples. If you are looking for a really good time with a psychology book, then this is absolutely the one you should get. According to this theory, Mormons should be one of the top proponents of gay marriage. Read it to see what I mean.

And the Winner is:

1. Hope Endures by Colette Livermore
This book is the memoir of a former nun in Mother Teresa’s Order. It recounts her life as she joined as a teenager and the next twenty years she spent working with the poor before she left to pursue a medical degree. This book made me really ponder what it means to be a Christian and become more aware of Pharisaical behaviors that pervade modern Christianity. This book is interesting but also has the power to change your life.

1 comment:

Lena said...

I remember your review of your winner. Thats cool that it stuck with you. I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but if this was that good, I might give it a try.