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Some Favorite Non-Fiction Books

When I was a child, I did not love to read.  Pretty much hated it, in fact. I remember when my parents wanted me to start reading thicker chapter books and I brought home a Little House on the Prairie book from the school library. I loved the TV show, so figured I'd love the book.  I think I made it through 2 pages and quit.  Though I made good grades in English throughout high school, I still never enjoyed reading. It wasn't until I went off to college that I discovered how much fun reading could be.

It was one of those 250+-student English lit classes at Texas Tech. We had a very dynamic professor who even brought his guitar and sang poetry to us one day. And in that class, when we read Kate Chopin's The Awakening, I finally figured out what I had been missing.  My love for reading started then and I haven't ever stopped loving to read.  My nighttime ritual always involves reading before I go to sleep.  So even if I don't have any time to read during the day, I always have that special time right before I fall asleep.

I read lots of stuff, from current fiction to classics to non-fiction. My one rule is this: NO FLUFF. If it's fiction, it needs to be well-written and if it's non-fiction it needs to be well-written and thought-provoking.

I am a big fan of Fresh Air on KERA radio because Terry Gross is a fabulous and interesting interviewer.  And I'm also a big fan of Think on KERA with Krys Boyd, which is a local Dallas program. Krys Boyd tends to have more authors on her show and I catch it whenever I'm in the car around lunchtime. When I've heard an author being interviewed on one of these radio programs and then bought the book, I've been pretty thrilled with 95% of the books I've read.  (There was this one time where the book sounded promising, but the book was so INCREDIBLY DULL, even though it was about a topic I loved.  But no bad-mouthing anything or anyone here. Not going to tell you what the name of the book was. :) )

Since 2006, I've been keeping a book journal, where I write the title, author, and a few general impressions about each book. If you don't do this, I recommend it!  It's really fun to go back and remember what you've read or to re-read and see if you gained additional insights.  From that journal, I am comprising this list of some of my favorite non-fiction books (in no particular order). Warning: some of them appeal to my math nerdiness, so forgive me for that:

1) Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell  Really, I love every book I've read by Malcolm Gladwell, but you can't go wrong with this one.

2) The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson, PhD

3) The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

4) The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow

5) Into the Wild by John Krakauer  - John Krakauer is my favorite non-fiction writer so I recommend all of his books.  He writes non-fiction in a way that reads like fiction.

6) Life on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas I don't know much about being a chef, so maybe that's one of the things that fascinated me about this book. It was a great story. I enjoyed reading about his food creations and hope to go to his Chicago restaurant someday.

7) Just My Type by Simon Garfield - OK, I know this is a book about fonts but I really dig fonts so I found this book wonderful.

8) Imagine by John Lehrer - Very interesting book about creativity. Looked so good that, in fact, it is sitting on my kitchen island at this moment, waiting to be read.  I picked it up from the library last week and, just now realized that I've already read it and loved it, so I guess I'll be taking it back to the library this week.

9) Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mlodonow

10) Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Just Can't Quit Talking by Susan Cain - If you are an introvert, like me, I encourage you to read this book. It helped me understand my need for peace and quiet.

Do you have any favorite non-fiction books to add to the list? Have you read any of these books? Please add your comments in the Facebook comments below!

If you want to have this introverted, nerdy girl photograph your high school senior, give me a call at 214.783.9691 or visit my website to see some of my work: