Peter Steinberg's Favorite Non-Fiction

shelved under Personal Favorites

I don't think I'm alone when I say that as I get older, more and more non-fiction has entered my reading. I'm not sure why that is.

Maybe as time distances me from my formal education I seek out knowledge through books?

 

Truman

by David McCullough

Thinking it would be juuuuuust interesting enough to keep me awake during the flight, I brought this biography on a week-long lazy vacation. Oops. Who knew it was a page-turner that would keep me up until 2am every night? I guess that's why it won the Pulitzer Prize. (And for those who've never been, the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri is the best museum I've ever visited.)

 

Summers with Juliet

by Bill Roorbach

I first read this sweet love story in the Summer of 1990 while working in a little bookstore. I had a mad crush on a co-worker and tried to woo her with passages from this book. (It sort of worked... we went on to have an on-and-off-again relationship over the next 12 years.) While she and I are no longer in touch, this memoir — which reads like a novel — remains one of my favorite love stories of all time.

 

102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers

by Kevin Flynn, Jim Dwyer

As someone who's made his home in New York for the last 9 years — and literally watched the first of the Twin Towers fall — reading about 9/11 can be extremely difficult. This title — a literal minute-by-minute account from the moment the first plane struck to the moment the 2nd tower fell — strikes me as the perfect balance of dispassionate, inspiring and honest.

 

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

by Michael Pollan

I very occasionally come across a book I enjoy so much, that I buy copies for friends and more or less force them to read it. This is one of those books. The book is pretty straightforward. Pollan follows 4 kinds of meals from planting (or birth), through harvest (or slaughter), and onto the table. The 4 kinds are: Fast Food (a McDonald's Happy Meal), "Industrial" Organic (the organic food you see at major supermarkets), "Beyond Organic" (the food you see at health food stores and farmer's markets) and "Hunter/Gatherer" (Yep, he gathers mushrooms, picks cherries, and hunts a wild boar). The book's not preachy (he saves that for In Defense of Food), it's not especially gross (that was covered by Schlosser's Fast Food Nation), and it's very, very important. Read it.

 

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

by Jared M. Diamond

This book is about history... biology... the spread of species... geography's role in shaping the rise and fall of civilizations... it's hard to say exactly, so you'll just have to trust me when I say it's one of the best books I've ever read. (And yes, despite being an amazing read, the last chapter could be dropped or edited down dramatically. Feel free to just skim it.)