Monday, December 29, 2014

Year-End Programming, Part 2

Yesterday I said I wasn't big on non-fiction, but it turns out I've actually read 15 books of non-fiction this year.

Here are the top 5  non-fiction books I read in 2014 in alphabetical order by author.

Hyberbole and a Half by Allie Brosh.  This memoir is highly creative, honest, and self-aware.  After I read it, I wanted to practice more creativity - to learn how to tell stories like Brosh. Luckily for everyone, you can read many of her stories at her website.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  I blurbed this yesterday in the audio books post.

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose.  This is a fascinating historical account of Colvin's involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, specifically the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  Almost a year before Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat, Claudette Colvin did the same at age 15.  The movement's leaders didn't feel Colvin was the right face for the boycott, but her case - later argued in court - was fundamental to the progress of the cause.  I just loved this young adult biography.  Hoose interviewed Colvin extensively, and her own words appear throughout the text.

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison.  Each essay in this collection examines another facet of or opportunity for empathy.  In the beginning, Jamison discusses her job as a medical actor - one of those people who pretend to have certain illnesses so medical students can practice diagnostics.  Later, she describes her brother's fascination with ultra marathons.  The whole thing tunnels toward understanding human motivation for feeling and communicating pain.  I felt smart while I read this book.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.  You might have noticed that this book won the National Book Award.  It's a memoir in verse, and it's just gorgeous.  Each poem furthers Woodson's story of growing up and discovering her own power.  I need to read it again, and I probably will.

Here are my next favorites:
  • March: Book One by John Robert Lewis and Andrew Aydin
  • Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozah Dumas
  • The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer by Gretchen Reynolds
  • Whole Novels for the Whole Class, Grades 5-12: A Student Centered Approach by Ariel Sacks
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed

And here are the others that I liked:
  • Golf is Not a Game of Perfect by Bob Rotella
  • Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky
There were three that I wouldn't really recommend, so I'm just not going to list them here. That seems fair.


mm said...

I loved Brown Girl Dreaming and Wild. Because of you I read The First 20 Minutes and enjoyed it (a lot). As for Unbroken, it's coming out in YA form. I can't wait for your next list.

LH said...

I'm reading Brown Girl Dreaming right now. And I now really like that Hyperbole and a Half book. Great web page. Thanks for another brilliant list.