Best of 2013: Michael’s Nonfiction Picks

Fear not, nonfiction lovers. We haven’t forgotten you! Michael, our nonfiction selector, has come up with his 2013 nonfiction faves (as well as one fiction pick for good measure). Here they are in no particular order:

ConfessionsConfessions of a Fairy’s Daughter, by Alison Wearing

This memoir relates the author’s childhood experience of retreating into the closet of denial even as her father, a gay man, makes the opposite journey. It’s often forgotten that the family of an out person must themselves also be ‘outed’ as the relations of gay people. This book explores this experience from both sides of the coin. Unputdownable.

WorldsStrongestLibrarianThe World’s Strongest Librarian, by Josh Hanagarne

A Mormon giant (6 foot 7) with Tourette’s becomes a librarian in Salt Lake City. It sounds like the opening line of a joke, but this memoir is terrifically absorbing. And I’m not just saying that because it’s about a librarian…

AutisticBrainThe Autistic Brain, by Temple Grandin

I love books that explore the intersection of personality and pathology. This book looks at advances in autism research and advocates individually focused treatment rather than an umbrella diagnosis. Sounds dry and sciencey? Grandin’s unique voice makes this an accessible and interesting read. It was also the top nonfiction pick for 2013 by Goodreads users.

SaltSugarFatSalt Sugar Fat, by Michael Moss

How did we get to a world where the average American eats 33 pounds of cheese and 70 pounds of sugar every year? This damning exploration of the food industry looks at how science is used to maximize the sugar “bliss point” of popular beverages, and fats are chemically altered to give a satisfying mouth feel. It’s an important eye-opener; after reading this book, you’ll never look at a food label the same way again. Plus, it’s entertaining – so you don’t have to just read this because it will be good for you…

RiddleLabyrinthThe Riddle of the Labyrinth by Margalit Fox

This is the unlikely story of an ancient code called Linear B, unearthed by archeologists in Crete over a century ago – and how it was suddenly cracked by an amateur in 1952. It’s a real life Da Vinci Code, and the author creates a suspenseful atmosphere as the puzzle is solved. Fascinating.

LongbournLonbourn, by Jo Baker

Set in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice world of privilege, but told from the point of view of the servants, author Jo Baker explores things like the presence of the militia in Meryton while slyly raising questions about the human costs of the world Austen (and the Bennetts – and the rest of us) inhabit. This is a smart, absorbing and modern take on Jane’s world. Don’t miss this book. It’s my favourite read of 2013 by a long shot.


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