The Night of the Gun makes plain how hard, and how necessary, it is to face the past with diligence and humility. My lab is a place where it’s just as well that I can’t sleep, because there are so many things to do in the world besides that.” As inspiring as it is to read someone writing so well about a line of work whose pleasures often go unsung, the greatest treat in Lab Girl is Jahren’s account of her friendship with Bill, her scientific partner of more than 20 years. The product of more than three years of in-depth reporting in a slum near Mumbai airport called Annawadi, Katherine Boo’s masterpiece is a Kafka story for our times, the tale of determined strivers so hemmed in by circumstance, official disregard, and rampant corruption that even those who succeed are punished for their accomplishments. American Ground is an inspiring portrait of American ingenuity when faced with an impossible task and a gripping exploration of the American psyche in the aftermath of a great shift in the world order. Dreamy, meandering, and ravishing, Rhodes-Pitts’ ode to Harlem summons up the ghosts of the “Mecca of Black America.” As a Texas-born pilgrim to this vexed promised land, she found herself drawn not to the obvious inspirational sites, such as Langston Hughes’ house, but to the remnants of Harlemites past who have been overlooked or half-forgotten: a literary scrapbooker named Alexander Gumby, a photographer specializing in portraits of the dead, the operator of a wax museum. Eggers himself was inspired by David Foster Wallace, but unlike Wallace, Eggers was able to hack his way out of the thickets of self-consciousness, or maybe it was even further into them, and arrive at a rock, a kernel of reality, which was his love for, and commitment to, his brother Toph. Those are your general practitioner mosquitoes, or GPs. Which history books did we miss? This book might just be the perfect exposé: a consummate journalist writing about an outrageously malfeasant subject and raising urgent themes. Add to Bag. The result is an extraordinary work of reportage, a revelation, not just of the shootings themselves but of the myriad misbegotten attempts to find meaning in them. Or, if you were painfully aware that so much of what fronts as sincere is in fact ungenuine or calculating sentimentality and otherwise bogus, you could come up with a new style. This plan went unhampered by international intervention, even after Western leaders became aware of the atrocities being perpetrated. A deep and entirely platonic bond between the kind of people who celebrate receiving their advanced degrees by blowing glass tubes full of carbon dioxide into the wee hours is really not the sort of thing you often get to read about. As a result, The Unwinding is almost disorienting, like coming inside after a day spent walking into a stiff wind. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou's Autobiography, #1), Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, Maus: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History (Maus, #1), Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1), Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West, And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany, What Color Is Your Parachute? He did get some things wrong—social media was a fledgling force at the time, and Google then seemed an admirably open gateway to content compared with Apple—but the stories of those other industries remain a potent warning about the fate of any crucial communications medium in a society that fails to protect itself. Packer strives to transmit each subject’s narrative without editorializing or moralizing, an approach that feels radical a mere six years after the book’s publication, since today the imperative to opine never seems to let up. The result is a chilling, fascinating history of mass extinction, those once-every-hundred-million-years-or-so events in which the Earth’s population of species crashes. entirely made up. As the collator of all this material, Solomon makes his own emotional and intellectual growth one of the book’s themes, as he describes how his subjects helped him shed the blinders he once wore. Far from being “just another institution infected with racial bias,” she argues, the criminal justice system, and particularly its drug laws, has replicated the effect of Jim Crow laws, reinforcing a racial caste system in which large numbers of poor black men have been barred from anything better than the most menial employment and from equal participation in civic life. One place is too hot to get anything done; another is too beautiful. It’s 2018, and we’ve all heard the phrase "New Year, New You"…but here’s the thing: being you is actually the best, because you’re the only you there could ever be! Slate is published by The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company. All contents © 2021 The Slate Group LLC. “Among the ruins now, an unscripted experiment in American life had gotten underway.” Langewiesche had nine months of unfettered access to every meeting, decision, and subterranean hellhole at ground zero, which resulted in this astonishingly detailed and deeply emotional look at the labor of thousands of city employees, engineers, and construction workers as they cleaned up the burning, toxic, dangerous wreckage of Lower Manhattan. Find our notable fiction books here and their complete list here. Whose arm is that, flailing from the sea behind J.M.W. In this list I narrowed down the topic a bit by focusing on books within the last 100 years or so, including some very contemporary ones, and I kept just a few genres: biography, memoir, history, social sciences, culture, science, and nature. It is an account of grief that refuses to turn away from ugliness or wallow in sentiment, and yet it is acutely beautiful because of Deraniyagala’s devotion to the truth. It is the kind of devastation that might seem beyond words, and yet Deraniyagala finds them; she is, it turns out, a very gifted writer. The three giants of historical fiction are of course Tolstoy, Graves, and Vidal. Z finally cost Fawcett his life, along with that of his son, when they both disappeared on a 1925 search. The Top 50 greatest nonfiction books of all time determined by 129 lists and articles from various critics, authors and experts. Add to Bag. From powerful memoirs to historical biographies to eclectic essay collections, these are the nonfiction books we're excited to read in 2020. Young Alison and her dandyish father were inversions of each other: “While I was trying to compensate for something unmanly in him,” she writes, “he was attempting to express something feminine through me.” This understated yet beautiful book, an attempt to puzzle out his life and death, thrillingly animates and embodies their relationship. Born just after the end of World War II to a Chicago pediatrician and his “socialite” wife, Margo Jefferson grew up in “Negroland,” the name she gives to the black American elite—a class defined by profession, affluence, pedigree, and to her dismay, skin color and comportment. Skloot’s impeccably reported book tells a remarkable story of scientific development but also makes an impassioned argument about the way medicine has always used black and poor bodies. Beautifully written and nearly deranged in its comprehensiveness, Home Comforts holds what seems an entire culture’s collected wisdom on fabric selection, lighting design, clothes folding, waste disposal, dishwashing, food storage, table setting, closet organization, and piano tuning. or extremely offensive content But We Wish to Inform You is more than a masterpiece of war reportage. This vividly sensuous account of several walking tours, plus a respectable bout of sailing, describes his experiences with ancient routes, most created by peoples whose names have been lost to time, but whose imprint on Earth lives on thanks to the countless feet that have followed them. “A word for runaway slave posters and civil rights proclamations.” Jefferson’s social class fostered her exquisite sense of taste (she became a Pulitzer Prize–winning critic for the New York Times), but its members, as she would grow to understand during the upheaval of the 1960s, also “settled for a desiccated white facsimile, and abandoned a vital black culture.” Jefferson’s memoir of growing up in this milieu, with its strenuous gentility and complex relationship to the American racial caste system, is both loving and darkly ironic, as rich and seasoned as the life it recounts. He left a pretty good path behind him, too. But Fox clearly has no interest in crafting a tale of woe. The results, included in this collection of essays, were hilarious and revelatory; who knew it was even possible to write that way, to acknowledge how difficult it is for a certain kind of media-soaked mind to stop making associations and references, to forget itself? Talk about low concept: Stuff Matters is about, among other things, concrete, glass, porcelain, paper, graphite, stainless steel, and plastic. Most of Wave describes the aftermath of the tragedy. If you're looking for the best history books published this past year, the annual Wolfson History Prize is a great place to start. Blood, it turns out, is not always enough, but neither are many other commonalities in identity. No book has made the reality of how humans are endangering the future not only of their planet but of their species more clear to readers than this beautifully written, perfectly reported, passionately argued model of explanatory science journalism. 2010-2019: The Decade’s 25 Best Nonfiction Books On the eve of a new decade, we take a fond look back over some of the best nonfiction from the 2010s. This friendship, as fiercely committed and abiding as any blood tie, is built on junk food, scavenged equipment, wisecracks, and a shared hunger for both knowledge and the task of getting it. Everyone mourns in her own way, and for Macdonald, after her beloved father’s death, that way was by taming a goshawk, a process described in this scratched, muddy, glorious memoir. But the reader gradually realizes that Mabel, with all her difficulty and alien, nonmammalian ways, is exactly what Macdonald needs. Only flag lists that clearly need our attention. Whether he’s recounting Percy Shelley’s rebelliousness, Samuel Coleridge’s descent into opium addiction (Holmes specializes in the Romantic poets), or his own penchant for walking along the paths and roads his subjects once tread, everything he writes is a positive delight to read—charming, unostentatiously erudite, moving. The 1999 slaying of 13 people at Columbine High School in Colorado was, as Cullen notes in this definitive account of the tragedy, “the first major hostage standoff of the cellphone age.” As Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, heavily armed, still roamed the hallways of the building, the media, desperate for any information, began to spin a tale of the Trenchcoat Mafia and disaffected goths lashing out at the jocks who’d bullied them. One of her generation’s greatest memoirists (Fierce Attachments) and essayists, Gornick devotes this book to puzzling out how she became an “odd woman,” a single and childless urbanite, intoxicated by the street life of Manhattan. 10. In this book, he follows the histories of telephony, radio, movies, and television, observing that early periods of innovation and access for small, nimble players (such as local telephone companies) always yielded to centralized control. Join Slate Plus to continue reading, and you’ll get unlimited access to all our work—and support Slate’s independent journalism. The Best Nonfiction Books of 2020 Sex, Facebook, and an empty planet: 29 reads we're diving into this year. Quinones’ depiction of the contrast between the strangely healthy and robust communities in Nayarit and the economically and socially disintegrating American towns where the dealers preferred to operate (avoiding clashes with the established drug dealers in metropolitan centers) is both surprising and enlightening. One is too cacophonous; another is too tranquil. The Best Books: Top 100 Nonfiction list is a concise selection of books that provides the reader with an understanding of the social and natural world. Human beings are some of the universe’s most energetic signal transmitters, and when Gleick isn’t explaining information’s relevance to Brownian motion and Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, he’s deep in the more engaging stories of African talking drums, Ada Lovelace’s nascent computer programs, and how the telegram changed the world. It is a paean to the irreducible reality of stone and leaf and wave. The appeal of her memoir lies in Jefferson’s beautifully articulated ambivalence about most everything—including memoir itself, a form that, she observes, offers the perpetual temptation to “bask in your own innocence” and “revere your grief.” Jefferson refuses to do either, or to discard the problematic word in her title. France tells their stories with clear-eyed compassion, leaning not only on his dogged research skills but also on his history as both activist and reporter for the New York Native. And while most academic conferences are pretty dull, she attends one in which an old lady turned to another guest and demanded, “I would like to know if it is TRUE THAT YOU DESPISE ME.” When it comes to eccentricity, Batuman holds up her end—her Ph.D. dissertation compared novels to double-entry bookkeeping, and she talked her way into a Tolstoy conference by proposing a paper arguing that the novelist was murdered. Cullen, who was on the scene himself within 15 hours of the crime, spent 10 years teasing out the legends from the truth. In the process of reporting the book, Skloot befriended Lacks’ descendants. Small Business Strategy. But this isn’t just a handbook; above all, Home Comforts is animated by Mendelson’s respect and affection for the duties and pleasures of housekeeping. He comically works on a novel to avoid his Lawrence book when he’s not working on the Lawrence book to avoid his novel. You’ve run out of free articles. At the heart of this extraordinary project is the mystery of what makes a group of people a family. A practiced falconer, Macdonald understands how ill-advised her project is; the species is famously hard to train, stubborn in its wildness. If you value our work, please disable your ad blocker. Stuff Matters describes how our stuff (bricks, coffee mugs) gets made and what it may someday be able to do for us (invisibility cloaks, bionic human limbs, exploding billiard balls, an elevator to outer space, concrete that can be rolled up like fabric or purify air). Riveting to read, The New Jim Crow became a surprise bestseller, and it transformed forever the way thinkers and activists view the phenomenon of mass incarceration. A sweeping cultural history of the dominant American art form of the past 50 years, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop traces hip-hop back to its birth in the South Bronx and then back even further, to the Jamaican toasters whose style inspired New York’s first rappers. Mendelson’s irreplaceable guide to stain removal spans four pages, from adhesive tape to crayon to mustard all the way to urine. Slate has relationships with various online retailers. According to Gleick, we are all “creatures of the information,” from the words that make up most of our interactions with one another to the code embedded in our DNA. or for being critical of a book. Essays by Montaigne – The original polemicist and essayist. They light the way, even while enabling temporary escape from life’s worries, which is why here, we wanted to share 20 of the best books 2020 had to offer. A propulsive, dramatic, heartbreaking book. Carrying us through it all is Verghese’s voice: empathetic, rueful, honest to a fault, and always kind. Our world history is vast, and these 30 books are only the tip of the iceberg. The killer himself is an impenetrable cipher, but Parry portrays the people whose lives he devastated in all their complexity: heroic, flawed, stricken, and ultimately sympathetic. Erik Larson (Goodreads Author) (shelved 131 times as historical-non-fiction) avg rating 3.99 — 533,658 ratings — published 2003. Surely the funniest book ever written about writer’s block, this “study” of D.H. Lawrence, a favorite author of Dyer’s, is more travelogue and memoir than the “sober, academic” work the author originally set out to pen. Read 16 943 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Percy Fawcett was the last of the great white explorers, a dashing Brit who, in the first decades of the 20th century, became obsessed with a fabled ancient civilization deep within the Amazon jungle. William Herschel, who identified the first new planet in centuries; Humphry Davy, who invented electrochemistry and experimented with nitrous oxide; Mungo Park, who searched for Timbuktu; and others were as much adventurers of the imagination as any artist, Holmes insists. Jan 2020 Survey: 1,172 responded, option to name up to 3 books, 2,726 total responses, average 2.3 titles per respondent. Having interviewed more than 300 people over the course of 10 years, Solomon explores the experience of parenting a child fundamentally different from oneself. In 1951, a 30-year-old black woman was diagnosed with cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. A kind of capstone to a career spent visiting seemingly empty landscapes and finding the warm hearts that beat inside them, Travels in Siberia exhibits all of Ian Frazier’s remarkable travel-writing talents. To say Gleick’s history of information and communication is wide-ranging is a bit of an understatement. If you buy something through our links, In the work of canon-building, nonfiction tends to get short shrift. The result is a pocket history of the past half-century of musical theater, a crash course in the collaborative creative process, and a bottomless craft lecture for anyone who aspires to make something beautiful. The 100 Best Historical Novels of All Time is a book list for those who enjoy a taste of history in their fiction. It’s Fadiman’s commitment to sympathetically depicting both sides without ceding all judgment entirely that makes this case study so impressive. A mythos grew up around the school shooting, the deadliest up to that point, almost entirely fictional, and much of it difficult to dispel. Another is that the authorities did not take their disappearances seriously until four of them were found buried in the same place. Every one of its 884 pages is an absolute joy to read, and no book is more deeply comforting to neat freaks—or inspirational to slobs. “As a writer, I prefer to get bossed around by my notebook and the facts therein,” David Carr wrote in his reported memoir The Night of the Gun, one of Slate’s 50 best nonfiction books of the past 25 years. He approached the story from two widely disparate perspectives: from the small towns and cities where doctors’ belief in Big Pharma’s lies about the nonaddictive properties of new drugs like OxyContin led to overprescription and pill mills, and from the obscure Mexican state of Nayarit, where local clans mounted a fully vertically integrated heroin trade, controlling every aspect from growing the poppies to delivering dope to customers’ doors. Take a quick look back at five centuries of great writing “They may not lead to a perfect, seamless arc, but they lead to a story that coheres in another way, because it is mostly true.”. Here, the best nonfiction books of 2020. With the recent 75th anniversary of D-Day and the fast approaching anniversaries of VE Day and VJ day, now is the perfect time to dive into these best WWII nonfiction books that read like gripping novels. His travels aren’t without human interest, either; they always seem to include meetings with fascinating poets and artists, like a man who plans to suspend a life-size figure made of human bones and calf skin inside a boulder whose location only a handful of people will ever know. While The Possessed is unlikely to enhance readers’ understanding of Dostoevsky, by the end they’ll be having so much fun they won’t care. “Usha Patel was not a native-born American,” Packer writes in a typically astute (if atypically subjective) sentence, “which is to say, she wasn’t alone.”. Her charming, mercurial father drank too much and broke promises, while her mother simply rejected her. The few exceptions practically glow with significance, from the tightknit family of poor Floridians who struggled with one setback after another but always had one another’s backs to the owner of a handful of empty motels, who chose to fight the automated foreclosure system with the help of her community and clan. A Certain Kind of Fire That No Water Could Put Out. Wright fell down this particular rabbit hole after writing for the New Yorker about the Church of Scientology’s wooing of celebrities, and he came in for some tweaking over the extremely measured tone he employs while recounting the shenanigans of the religion’s founder, science-fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, and the even-worse behavior of his successor, David Miscavige. It only becomes more relevant with every year. “What kind of place is this exactly?” Lawrence Weschler asks the proprietor of the oddball Los Angeles storefront museum he stumbles into one day, where the exhibits are surprising, whimsical, and in fact often (but not always!) Harlem Is Nowhere is a work less of history than of mood, a delicate phantasm, evocative of the aspirations and losses of a remarkable place and all the people who have made it their sanctuary and their home. Is it possible to pick 50 of the best nonfiction books ever? And in his propulsive, idiosyncratic style, Chang situates the revolution in the political and social context of 20th-century New York (and America): deeply racist, economically cruel, and ready to explode. But years of hunting surf also create unlikely friendships, from the Hawaiian kids of Finnegan’s Oahu childhood to the “goofyfoot dancer” who helps Finnegan find waves in the cold waters off Long Island, a quick subway ride from the longtime New Yorker journalist’s apartment. Best of all is Fox’s prose style—unostentatiously simple, lucid, distilled down to quintessential detail—as close to perfection as the English language gets. Fortunately, hers is an insightful analysis, identifying the similarities among fundamentalists of all three major monotheistic religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. When we added up all votes for his books, we found that a full 10% of respondents named him in their top three nonfiction favorites. By the end of the day, Deraniyagala had lost her parents, her husband, and their two young sons to the Boxing Day Tsunami. Eventually, the son of a Korean-Japanese businessman was convicted, absurdly, of abducting and dismembering Blackman but not of killing her. Congratulations to all of our nonfiction books that made the 100 Notable Books of 2020 list by the editors of The New York Times Book Review! But Smith, an addict in recovery, falls back into drug use, and the final third of the book is both a suspenseful portrait of a doctor trying to save a life and a moving meditation on the limits of what friends can do when facing the monster of addiction. Each year, the judges pick out outstanding books that are both originally researched and readable. In the leftover resentments fostered by colonialism and a civil war makes connections between and. Along with that of his son, when they both disappeared on a 1925 search that result no! But note that deals can expire and all prices were up to date at the time publication! Z finally cost Fawcett his life, along with that of his son, when they disappeared. 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