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.

21 thoughts on “Nonfiction November – Week One”

  1. I read The Power of Habit a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Along a similar vein: Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink (some of the experiments in this one were hilarious) and The Honest Truth About Dishonesty by Ariel Levy. On books about books, one I read long ago and remember absolutely loving was Dubravka Ugresic’s Thank You for Not Reading. Also, a more recent read, The Traveler, The Tower, and the Worm: The Reader as Metaphor by Alberto Manguel.

    1. Ok, I have now looked up each title you recommend here at they are all fantastic! Thank you. I will have to check them out. So spot on. I’ve never heard of Levy’s book and I think that’s where I’ll start.

  2. The Glass Cage does sound fascinating. I think about what has happened to our attention spans all the time :/ It makes me nervous. So, I’ll be putting that book on my wishlist 😀

    I hope you have a great month!

    1. I often find myself self nervous for all the same reasons. No one wants to take the time to be intentional about anything anymore. We want our entire lives one click away. Books & reading are a great way to combat this trend though!

  3. I thought The Power of Habit was great. In some ways, it reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell’s books. I also love books about books. The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee has been around for a while and is excellent.

    1. I can see how Gladwell comparisons would be a natural one to make. Buzzbee’s book has been on Mount TBR for a while. I’ll have to bump it closer to the top. Everyone really seems to like that book. It must be good.

  4. The Glass Cage sounds great, it’s not out till January 15th in the UK though so I’ll have to wait a bit for it! I’ve also put The Everything Store on my wishlist, thanks for the recommendations!

    1. You’re quite welcome and thank you for commenting. I’ll have to look up the UK edition of the book. I do not why, but 9 times out of 10 I find UK edition covers much more compelling and closer to the book than what we have here in the states. It’s fun to compare.

  5. Adding The Everything Store to my reading list. I love a good business book. This one sounds perfect for me.

    1. It was really really well done. Lots of insight into the driving ideas behind the company. It clearly shows how Amazon has only been able to become the force they have become because publishers dropped the ball a while back.

  6. I really want to read The Glass Cage. I read The Shallows earlier this year and loved it. (I love freaking myself out with insidious technology info. lol)

    And I’ve been eyeing The Everything Store since it first came out! I seriously need to just get it and read it already.

    1. I know what you mean – it takes me about ten pages in any of these society/tech books before I’m thinking of the Borg or Terminator movies. I really enjoyed The Shallows too!

  7. I’m glad you reminded me of The Glass Cage — I picked it up at BEA but haven’t gotten to read it yet. Clearly I should! Thanks for joining us for Nonfiction November!

  8. The Glass Cage sounds absolutely fascinating. It’s totally going to be on my “books I must buy after Nonfiction November is over” list. I’ll have to restock my nonfiction pile once I read through a good chunk this month! Hopefully!! Thanks for joining us for Nonfiction November!

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