Monday, December 12, 2011

Top 5 most requested nonfiction reads

List by Tosca

"What is reading but silent conversation?
- Walter Savage Landor

Something I find endlessly fascinating about people and how they connect with books, is that we all approach the act of reading in different ways. When some of us read fiction we're usually doing so for reasons of fun and leisure and relaxation. The fact that we might learn something along the way is an added bonus. When others of us read nonfiction we're primarily doing so with an expectation of learning/re-learning (about places, people, times...). If we get some enjoyment out of it that, too, is the cherry on top. I also find it interesting that we take something different away from each book and use what we've learned in some literary version of paying it forward. I had a quick look around online and found a post by Michael Hyatt who, after a discussion with friends, listed ten practices he observes when reading nonfiction:

How to read a non-fiction book by Michael Hyatt
  • Don't feel that you need to finish
  • Start with the author bio
  • Read the table of contents
  • Quickly scan the whole book
  • Highlight important messages
  • Take notes in the front or the margins
  • Use a set of note-taking symbols
  • Dog-ear pages you want to re-visit
  • Review the book and transfer actions to your to-do list
  • Share the book's message

  • While I might not use every single one of these, I might do some. I also think that it isn't something that I'd restrict just to nonfiction. I'd be equally as likely to use some of Hyatt's list for fiction, too. How about you?

    Our Top 5 list today is a very simple one: Top 5 most requested nonfiction reads and, maybe while you're reading the books below *hint hint* you can figure out how *you* read nonfiction. See? Method to madness. Today, anyway :)

    Honourable mention:
    Breaking silence: The Kahui case by Ian Wishart

    P.S. Today I'm starting a series of posts that I'm calling 'The 12 posts of Christmas,' which was something that I started last year, and thought might be interesting to carry on with. A new tradition of sorts. And so, from today until Christmas Eve, I'll be posting all kinds of goodness aimed at getting you through the break - ideas for recipes, presents, entertainment, things to do with kids/families. You name it and, hopefully, I'll cover it. Enjoy!

    Steve Jobs / Walter Isaacson
    Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years, as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues, the author has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing. At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering. Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted. Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple's hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.

    Reviewer comments:
  • "Verdict: Isaacson has produced a full, detailed account of an influential man's life, but the style never rises above that of a well-graded research paper. As for Jobs, readers will newly admire their iPhones but not the near-sadistic management style that produced them" (Library Journal)
  • "The result is a wonderfully robust biography that not only tracks Jobs' life but also serves as a history of digital technology. What makes the book come alive, though, is Isaacson's ability to shape the story as a kind of archetypal fantasy: the flawed hero, the noble quest, the holy grail, the death of the king" (Booklist)

  • Daughters of Erebus / Paul Holmes
    The crash of a giant DC-10 airliner on the lower slopes of Antarctica's Mount Erebus in broad daylight in late November 1979 remains one of New Zealand's greatest disasters. Everyone on board - 257 people - was killed instantly and the aircraft disintegrated to nothing but a black smear on the snow. This is the story of Captain Jim Collins's family - his wife Maria and his four daughters - who endured not only the death of a beloved husband and father, but the injustice of his being wrongly blamed for the disaster. Daughters of Erebus movingly tells their story of survival."

    That woman : the life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor / Anne Sebba
    Born in 1895 [or 1896] in Baltimore, Bessiewallis Warfield endured an impoverished and comparatively obscure childhood which inflamed a burning desire to rise above her circumstances. Neither beautiful nor brilliant, she nevertheless became one of the most talked about women of her generation, and inspired such deep love and adoration in Edward VIII that even giving up a throne and an empire for her was not enough to prove his total devotion. Wallis lived by her wit and her wits, while both her apparent and alleged moral transgressions added to her aura and dazzle. Accused of Fascist sympathies, having Nazi lovers and learning bizarre sexual techniques in China, she remains the subject of gossip and fascination. In death, the Duchess became a symbol of empowerment and a style icon, a woman whose unequivocal aim was to win in the game of life.

    Free range in the city / Annabel Langbein
    If you loved Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook, you'll adore this new collection of her 220 delicious recipes. Annabel invites you into her city home and shows how her free range cooking style can help you create a sustainable lifestyle in the city. With menus for every occasion, living well in today's busy world.

    What was I thinking : a memoir / Paul Henry with Paul Little
    Biography. From the man whose outrageous comments on TV divided the country, and almost caused an international incident, comes this very funny memoir. Packed with stories from his eventful childhood and his long and adventurous career in journalism, this is a gripping, often hilarious and always entertaining read. It gives a fascinating insight into the complex character of Paul Henry. - He's surprising - he doesn't subscribe to any expected set of beliefs, he's an individual with contradictory opinions. - He's bold - he set himself up as an international news correspondent working out of his Masterton lounge, watching CNN and jetting off to the latest hotspot. He's talked himself into getting interviews with people as diverse as Peter Ustinov and the Prime Minister of Malaysia; he was there for the funerals of Diana and Mother Theresa; he's been thrown into jail in Iraq. - He's versatile -starting with drama school, then broadcasting at the BBC, head of Radio NZ, standing for parliament against Georgina Beyer, international correspondent - as well as protesting at Mururoa and running an antique shop and his own radio station. - He's entertaining - a natural-born story teller who spins a great yarn, and who says, 'I'll apologise for hurting people's feelings but I'll never apologise for being outrageous.'


    Claire at Latitude said...

    > we all approach the act of reading in different ways.

    Yes! And we sometimes have very different values. My partner complained today that what one newspaper termed "great reads" really weren't. What's a great read? I asked. It's a page-turner, apparently - but one person's page-turner is another's "throw it across the room".

    catatonia said...

    Yes! I know exactly what you mean. A 'trash and treasure' kind of thing. I often catch myself recommending 'great reads' and then, afterward, think, 'A great whose standards?'

    Something that I considered a life-changing read, I know one of my siblings would more than likely turn their nose up at.

    Madhamster said...

    I'm currently reading a non-fiction book that I'm finding fascinating, but... challenging and wondering why I'm reading it! Bad ideas by Robert Winston. It's making me feel guilty about eating.

    catatonia said...

    Oh no :( Was it a recommendation? A random grab?

    catatonia said...

    Oh no :( Was it a recommendation? A random grab?

    Madhamster said...

    Oh, it was one of those 'stumbled' across things... saw it reviewed/mentioned somewhere (maybe?)...

    Anonymous said...

    Can I add to Micheal's list that dog-earring, writing in the margins and highlighting text is cool for books you own but library books not so much.

    tosca said...

    Thanks for stopping by the blog :) And yes, absolutely, you can add to Michael's list! Do you see a lot of returned library books with highlighted passages? I sometimes come across ones where people have crossed out typos and written the correction above :/