Nonfiction November – Week One

This month I am participating in a blog-centric Nonfiction November stream. It’s fun and I have already stumbled upon some new-to-me bloggers that I plan on keeping up with. Anyway… Week One was laid out by Kim over on her blog. So here it goes:

I have read ten non-fiction books so far in 2014, though I have another two in process. I really do enjoy nonfiction books. Get a good one and you’re hooked. It’s like deep diving into a super-compelling NPR story. The trouble is – it’s not always easy to find compelling nonfiction. The author and the book’s editor have to work really hard to take a book beyond simply offering a simple “hmpf, that’s kind of interesting” and “here is one factoid from history you didn’t know” prospect.

I have three favorite nonfiction reads so far this year:

nonficnov_glasscageThe book I’ve recommended most to folks is Nicholas Carr’s The Glass Cage. It was fascinating. My guess is if you are reading this post then you need to read The Glass Cage. It’s not too long and not hard to understand. But you will look at your computer, phone, car, TV and airplanes in a whole new light after reading this book. So much of our lives and work is automated these days. This shift happened so fast. What are the implications? Does anyone know? Just think about this – the same impulse/feeling you get when you misspell a word, because you know auto-correct will get it, is due to the same mental lull that has been attributed to airline crashes. You need to read this book.

nonficnov_everythingstoreAnother good read is Brad Stone’s The Everything Store. This is about the rise of both Jeff Bezos and Amazon. No matter what your opinion of Amazon, they are impacting the world around you in a major way. There is no better book on the Amazon industry than this one. Stone does a good job of balancing fear-mongering, the company’s relentless innovation and Bezo’s own story.  A very interesting read, even for folks not inclined to pick up a business book.

nonficnov_whatItalkaboutThe only other non-fiction book I gave five stars to this year was Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. What a great book. There’s nothing super-sexy about this book, but it’s so thoughtful and real. Parts of it read as if you are just plodding along, one foot in front of the other, having one of life’s best experiences. I’ve never read Murakami as I don’t think “magical realism” is my thing. But I know I am going to pick up one of his fiction books as this one was just so well written.

Kim also posed the question “What one topic have you not read enough of?” Two ways to read this question – what topic are you lacking in and which topic can you not get enough of. I want to learn more in the vein of Brooks’ The Social Animal and Duhigg’s The Power of Habit. I’m not sure what this top is called social science? social psychology? people as guinea pigs? Basically any book that discusses why we do what we do as a people is interesting. But the one thing I can’t get enough of is books – book culture, books as objects, publishing, history of books, writings, authors, books about books – that pretty much sums it up.

Nonfiction November is off to a great start and I am hoping to stumble on some new books to read in areas I haven’t considered before. I’m also logging new bloggers to follow, which is great. So that’s two wins right there. But, man, I underestimated the participation level of these folks! So much to keep up with this month.

Please do let me know, in the comments, if there is a nonfiction book you’ve read that left an impact. I might want to check it out myself.