Tuesday, August 30, 2011

need non-fiction now

I'm picking the book for our book club next month, and I need suggestions!

When I got home from our meeting tonight and I immediately went to our bookshelves and pulled approximately half the books off as possible selections. Life of Pi by Yann Martel - always a classic book group read. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga - a dark and fictional look into India's economy. Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros - Chicana lit full of beautiful and brutal prose. In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez - inspiring and tragic (need I say also Latina).

Luckily, I decided I'd chose something from the "topical non-fiction" genre. I think I made that term up, and define it as non-fiction that is based around a topic of interest rather than biography or general history (e.g. math, physics, medicine). I don't read as much there, so my choices are more limited. A good thing. I have a few ideas, but would love more suggestions.

The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow. Pros: An accessible book about math, which I find different and interesting. Some of the puzzles he presents would be fun to talk through together. Cons: While the book was fascinating, it was a little slow in parts. The math topic may turn some people off.

Outliers or What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell. Pros: Very engaging writing, easy to get through. May be able to pair "Outliers" with a chapter of "The Drunkard's Walk" for an interesting contrast/comparison for people. Cons: I haven't actually read either of these. But maybe that's a pro because I love to read new things.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Pros: brings up really interesting history of both culture and medicine. Cons: drags a little, not sure how much discussion it will lead to.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. Pros: quick read on a relevant topic for everyone. Cons: a little preachy. Bonus: I could play this awesome clip from NPR's "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me", from 2:45-6:45 in particular. (It's really worth clicking on the link, I promise.)

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. Pros: Really engaging historical fiction. Cons: Not "topical" and not "non-fiction". How did this one get on the list?

What book should we read? And please, suggest more.


Stephanie Curtis said...

Horray for book club. So happy you came. First so excited about the next book whatever it is. I also want to give an opinion on outliers. I didn't love it but really wanted to have people to discuss it with. I don't agree with everything presented in that book but would like to hear others opinions. Good luck choosing.

Janssen said...

I LOVED Outliers and thought it was a fantastic bookclub choice.

My Mom's bookclub did Henrietta Lacks and she said they had a GREAT discussion about it.

I just checked out Complications which is by a doctor about the difficult things in medicine (malpractice, schedules, etc). My brother-in-law read it for an AP class and loved it.

Flags of our Fathers was a great bookclub read too.

Brady said...

What the Dog Saw is a collection of essays. There is a lot of interesting stuff in there, but that might make a difficult discussion. Or it could be fantastic. You never know.

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman was a very interesting book and could make an interesting discussion. The basic premise: What would happen to all of these man-made things if man were suddenly gone.

Paula Poundstone is awesome in this clip!

Elizabeth Downie said...

I can't wait to see what you choose! :)

Brady said...

Just remembered another one: The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto is the story of the Dutch settlement of New York (well, New Amsterdam) and really plays into a lot of the culture that shaped the rest of America.

Sherry said...

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein. It would make such great discussion fodder.

Elizabeth Downie said...

Oooh, I've been wanting to read Cinderella ate my daughter!

Mary said...

Unbreakable! So good - that is what we are reading - It's a true story about a Olympic Runner in WWII

Kristin McElderry said...

I am reading An Eater's Manifesto right now by Michael Pollan, I like it (but yes, preachy). Really want to read The Drunkard's Walk. If you read it let me know :)

Good luck!

Jen said...

The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World's Most Famous Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn


Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brina Wansink are both good topic reads (Mindless Eating would probably make a better discussion book).

Jen said...

I meant to type BRIAN Wansink...