Textbooks don't usually top the list of fun reading. Most of us can recall the dry prose and formal style from our high school and/or college textbooks, but few of us recall them fondly. This is a tragedy. The world is an interesting place and a lot of really amazing things have happened (and continue to happen). Fortunately, not all nonfiction writing is textbook-dull. These six exciting titles will entertain as well as smarten you up.
The Disappearing Spoon
by Sam Kean. Welcome to the dynamic world of chemistry! Promiscuous atoms, kids who build nuclear reactors in tool sheds and other misadventures await in this exploration of the periodic table. And yes, there really is a section on disappearing spoons. If high school chemistry was one of your low points, Sam Kean will give you a different perspective.
The Lost City of Z
by David Grann. A really good pick for those who don’t like to read. It’s sort of like Indiana Jones but for real, and without Nazis (it’s been speculated that Percy Fawcett was used as inspiration for the eponymous archeologist). Lots of action, adventure and mystery in the jungles of Brazil, this account of 1920s exploration is light in style but doesn’t skimp on broad context. Don’t think you can get away with watching the recently released movie version instead. The story line is substantially different and many details are misrepresented. The book is great. Read it!
Guns, Germs, and Steel
by Jared Diamond. It’s not simply a good read, it’s an essential one. If you've ever wondered why some cultures developed so much technology, and others developed so little, this book's for you. Written in a "common audience" style, most readers will find it easy enough to comprehend. Having stated that, it's not as exciting as some other science reads, but it certainly isn’t boring either.
Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found
by Francis Larson. That's right: a history of decapitation. Light on details about the biological and medical aspects of cranial removal, the focus is on what motivates people to incorporate decapitation into socio-political constructs. Lots of information on what happens to heads after they’ve been removed.
When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
by Giles Milton. This highly readable volume is divided into separate, unrelated chapters, making it great for those who don’t want to commit to reading an entire book. These well-written snippets from the annals of history may be the perfect read for those who think history is boring.
Your Inner Fish
by Neil Shubin, “Evolution is like taking your car to the cheapest mechanic in town...” This is the theme of paleontologist Neil Shubin’s account of the multi-billion year story of human evolution. It’s one of the best accounts of evolution there is and would be ideal for anyone who struggled through high school biology but wants to have another go at it.
If none of these titles appeal, check out our full selection of science, history and other nonfiction at northshire.com
or stop by our Manchester, VT and Saratoga Springs, NY locations. Our booksellers would be thrilled to help you select a stimulating, edifying read.