Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Best Nonfiction of 2010 - part two

Based on the opinions of, The Globe and Mail, Quill and Quire and The Reader, these are amongst the best nonfiction books published in 2010. The first half of this list was posted yesterday.

Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot tells the story of Henrietta Lacks who would never know the impact her life was to have on the world. Without her or her families consent, her cancer cells were taken and used to further research into vaccines, cancer and cloning. Many have profited from her, until now unacknowledged contribution, both medically and financially.

The Book of Awesome: snow days, bakery air, finding money in your pocket, and other simple, brilliant things by Neil Pasricha is a lovely book about appreciation that doesn't come across as preachy or sugary. You will recognize the small things that maybe you believed only you noticed before like that last crumbly corner of potato chips at the end of the bag, when cashiers open a checkout lane and you are next in line, and watching The Price is Right when you're home sick (go Plinko!).

Annie Leonard, an environmental activist, is the director of the The Story of Stuff project. This online movie has caused many to change their relationship with consumer goods. The companion book The Story of Stuff: how our obsession with stuff is trashing the planet, our communities, and our health - and a vision for change challenges us to think about the products we buy, the waste we create, planned obsolescence and how the a minority of the planet are consuming the majority of the goods at the expense of the rest.

Custer's last stand has become almost mythological. The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Big Horn by Nathaniel Philbrick is more than an accounting of the battle, it is an in depth look at Custer and Sitting Bull. Rather than treated as caricatures, they are made human and relatable.

And finally, Packing for Mars: the curious science of life in the void by Mary Roach explores how space travel makes us anticipate and face how to exist in an environment that has none of the things necessary for human life (air, water, gravity). No gross human details are omitted in this funny, witty account of the lengths NASA researchers will go in order to improve the physical and psychological experiences of astronauts.

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