Friday, November 11, 2016

The Best Nonfiction of 2016

Happy Nonfiction November!
To celebrate, I’m sharing the best nonfiction books of the 2016.  It is the middle of November, so there’s still 6 weeks or so for new books to come out.  In January I will be doing a huge wrap up posts for the best books of 2016 with all combined genres, so if I miss any standout nonfiction entries between now and the end of the year, I will include them in there. There are no rules here! This is really just what nonfiction I liked in no particular order.
So let’s get on with it. Vlog version available here:
  1. Narconomics: How to Run A Drug Cartel by Tom Wainwright

    1. Released in February 2016
    2. 4.5 stars on Amazon
    3. Narconomics is a solutions oriented book that covers the topic of the illegal narcotics trade from an economic perspective. NPR did a great interview with the author, and I’ll link it down below if you’re interested in checking it out. The author spent three years in the Andes mountains and Central America and Mexico as a journalist researching and reporting on the production and the brutal supply chain of cocaine. Wainwright describes the book as a how to manual on both running a drug cartel, and stopping a drug cartel.
  2. Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach

    1. Released in June 2016
    2. 4.5 stars on Amazon
    3. I never think about military science as humorous, but this book about military science, is hilarious. Mary Roach already written numerous other books, Gulp, My Planet, Spook, Packing for Mars… And Mary Roach has created quite the reputation for herself as a comedic science writer. This book covers topics that are huge issues for militari to deal with, but that you normally wouldn’t think about.  These include the issue of hearing over military noise, flies on the battlefield, shark repellant, and an entire chapter dedicated to exploring diarrhea as a threat to national security.
  3. The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

    1. Released in May 2016
    2. 5 stars on Amazon
    3. This author won a Pulitzer Prize-winning for writing a book called The Emperor of All Maladie. a magnificent history of the gene and a response to the defining question of the future: What becomes of being human when we learn to “read” and “write” our own genetic information?
    4. The first part of this book is a sweeping history of genetics and the scientists who moved our understanding forward. The second half is a meditation on what studying the gene means for human biology and medicine. The author uses a lot of personal stories, and it’s very informative, but it’s accessible to people who don’t have a strong background in science.
  4. A History of American Sports in 100 Objects

    1. October 2016
    2. By Cait Murphy
    3. The title of the book is pretty self explanatory.  Murphy selected 100 objects she feels best represents the story of American sports.  I really enjoyed this, I thought it was a fun and engaging way to cover a huge breadth of information under the umbrella of American sports.  And with the pictures of each object, the read gets to see the history as well as read about it. The objects are ordered chronologically,
    4. The book starts with a statue of a chunkey player from around the year 1100,  Who knew Native Americans played a game called chunkey that involved rolling a stone disc with sticks? I didn’t know.
    5. The book ends with the CTE-Related Brain Scans and discusses the issue that has evolved around the serious brain damage that can come with with repeated blows to the head from playing football.  If you saw the movie Concussion, that does a great job of telling the story about this issue.

5) Rejected Princesses: Tales of History's Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics

  • Released in October 2016
  • 5 out of 5 on Amazon
  • I love books with pictures! This is a book that features the gritty history of 100 of history’s most compelling women. The book features heroines from all over the world and across millennia. Each heroine has a full page color drawing and 2-3 pages of written context about her story.  Despite the illustrations, this book contains adult content.

6) The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman

  • Released in May 2016
  • 4.5 Stars on Amazon
  • This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read. It’s a collection of nonfiction speeches, front matter, notes, essays, and the occasional tribute to individuals both living and dead. Neil Gaiman is a very diverse writer.  He’s written novels, comic books, and screenplays. And in this book, Neil Gaiman is funny as always, and he has a way of framing ideas that makes them thought-provoking and interesting. This book is full of quotable bits of brain candy. This is the kind of book that you finish and then months, years later you find yourself wanting to go back and reread certain passages from the book.

7) Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

  • 4.5 Stars on Amazon
  • Released in September 2016
  • This is a book about Bruce Springsteen by Bruce Springsteen.  If you love his music or if you enjoy memoirs, you’ve gotta get this. Springsteen talks about his earliest memories, his current inspiration, and everything inbetween.  He delves into his and his family’s struggles with mental health including depression, anxiety and paranoia. He’s honest about his huge ego, and he opens up about his first marriage and conflicts with band members.  It was a very interesting read.

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