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Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 6/6/2007 12:14:09 AM   
Felix

 

Posts: 15692
Joined: 29/9/2005
From: Brighton
This thread really does exactly what it says on the tin. What are your favourite non-fiction books?

I've recently started to read more of them, not necessarily your typical 'biographies', I suppose 'faction' would be the incredibley naff way of putting it. The two most recent I've read are:



Which is amazing and if you havent read it, then go read it now, or I'll ban you.



Another fascinating period of history of which I knew very little about. It really gets across the importance of the need to discover a way of measuring longitude, and also the struggle which John Harrison encountered in trying to prove his invention was worthy of the prize on offer.

And I've just started this one, which is really enjoyable so far:


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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 6/6/2007 12:26:24 AM   
Grunny

 

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Don't read many non-fiction books unless for educational reasons, but I read a few pages of this book and brought it. V Poetic, odd, disturbing and honest.

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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 6/6/2007 12:27:11 AM   
bozo


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A Brief History Of Time - Stephen Hawking

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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 6/6/2007 12:35:05 AM   
Twinkle


Posts: 1327
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From: Planet Telex


I've read that one a few times - Mary, Queen of Scots interests me and you can't beat Antonia Fraser for a cracking historical biography. 

Highly recommended, she had an incredible life ... and death ...


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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 6/6/2007 9:17:09 AM   
jonson


Posts: 9150
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In Harms Way by Doung Stanton. An incredible true story of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. Quite horrific really but well worth a read. Was a 1965 movie and a remake is inevitable

The Somme by Peter Hart. I bought this after the 90 year celebrations after realising I knew very little about The Somme. Again, quite horrific, if you know nothing about WW2 you won't go far wrong reading this book. You'll never not wear a poppy again.

Life On Air - Sir David Attenborough. A brilliant read for nature lovers and anyone interested in documentary/film making. I don't read many books twice but this one I have and will read again.

On Location....on Marthas Vineyard - Edith Blake. An Islanders account of the making of Jaws. A good companion to another excellent book The Jaws Log by Carl Gottlieb (essential reading for any potential movie maker) If you like the movie then read the book. Funny with some fantastic photos and wonderful accounts of the crew and actors and their months of hell on Martha's Vineyard.

The Dirt, Confessions.... - Motley Crue. Yes, I used to be a fan, but you don't need to be to enjoy the book. If you thought Wetslife were rock n'roll, you've seen nothing yet. Hilarious, utterly hilarious, how these guys survived the last 30 years is anyone's guess. The best rock autobiography I've read.

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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 6/6/2007 10:28:27 AM   
Felix

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: jonson
The Somme by Peter Hart. I bought this after the 90 year celebrations after realising I knew very little about The Somme. Again, quite horrific, if you know nothing about WW2 you won't go far wrong reading this book. You'll never not wear a poppy again.



Did you read it quickly?

Thanks for the suggestions. Definitely going to get some of these after finishing my current book.


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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 6/6/2007 10:35:58 AM   
sharkboy


Posts: 6295
Joined: 26/9/2005
From: Belfast
Big thumbs up for In Harm's Way and Longitude - both excellent reads. Sticking with Dava Sobel, I'd also recommend both The Planets (a tour of the solar system) and Galileo's Daughter (a telling of the life of Galileo through the correspondence he had with his daughter).  Both are fascinating stories and come heartily recommended.

Fans of travel writing should seek out anything by Tim Cahill.  Most of his books are collections of the features he's written while a journalist for Rolling Stone and its sister magazines, in which he's sent off on some wild (and usually life-threatening) adventure like flying a plane up the wall of the eye of a hurricane, diving for sea snakes while pissed on the local homebrew, rapelling into the world's deepest cave etc.  Imagine a more manic Bill Bryson and you're getting close - just as funny but more laughs to the page.  Road Fever is a brilliant adventure as Cahill and a professional rally driver attempt the record for quickest drive from Tierra del Fuego to the northernmost tip of Alaska while high of caffiene from eating nothing but coffee granules for 2 weeks.

If ancient history is your thing, Tom Holland's books are essential reading - Rubicon tells of the final days of the Roman Republic from the rise of Pompey to the fall of Caesar and establishment of the Empire.  Persian Fire deals with the all-conquering Persian Empire from Cyrus through Xerxes to its eventual collapse.

For those who prefer their history more modern then Laurence Rees' "Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution" is worth getting your hands on.  In fact, it should really be compulsory reading for everyone - we should never forget what happened at that hell on earth.

From the depressing to the uplifting now.  The movie adaptation took the top prize at Cannes, but you really can't beat the book - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is one of the most life-affirming and uplifting books I've ever read.

And of course, the textbook we all wish we'd had at school - Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything.


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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 6/6/2007 10:39:36 AM   
Felix

 

Posts: 15692
Joined: 29/9/2005
From: Brighton
quote:

From the depressing to the uplifting now.  The movie adaptation took the top prize at Cannes, but you really can't beat the book - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is one of the most life-affirming and uplifting books I've ever read.


I didnt realise they've made a film of that. Its an amazing book, really stays with your for ages when you've finished reading it.


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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 6/6/2007 10:48:46 AM   
Castor Troy


Posts: 7076
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From: Rocky's graveside
   

Spotting a trend yet?


Also:

  

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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 6/6/2007 10:51:43 AM   
Castor Troy


Posts: 7076
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From: Rocky's graveside
quote:

ORIGINAL: Felix




Which is amazing and if you havent read it, then go read it now, or I'll ban you.


I might have to track that down actually. Sounds very interesting.

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The individual human mind. In a child's ability to master the multiplication table, there is more holiness than all your shouted hosannas and holy holies. An idea is more important than a monument and the advancement of Man's knowledge more miraculous than all the sticks turned to snakes and the parting of the waters.

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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 6/6/2007 11:35:06 AM   
MOTH

 

Posts: 3479
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Heartily recommend all of the below
 
Science & Nature
Genome - Matt Ridley (Genetics)
Cosmos - Carl Sagan (Life, The Universe, History & Everything)
Life at the Extremes - Frances Ashcroft (Anatomy and Physiology)
The Code Book - Simon Singh (Mathematics and Codebreaking)
One Renegade Cell - Robert Weinberg (Cancer)
The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins (Genetics)

Sport
Full Time: The Secret Life of Tony Cascarino - Paul Kimmage
Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football - David Winner
Only A Game: Diary of a Professional Footballer- Eamon Dunphy
Hurling: The Revolution Years - David Walsh
The Lifelong Season: At the Heart of Gaelic Games - Keith Duggan
Laptop Dancing & the Nanny Goat Mambo - Tom Humphries

Movies and Movie-making
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls - Peter Biskind
The Kid Stays in the Picture - Robert Evans
Story - Robert McKee
Adventures in the Screen Trade - William Goldman
You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again - Julia Phillips



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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 6/6/2007 3:35:32 PM   
Castor Troy


Posts: 7076
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Rocky's graveside
quote:

ORIGINAL: Castor Troy

quote:

ORIGINAL: Felix




Which is amazing and if you havent read it, then go read it now, or I'll ban you.


I might have to track that down actually. Sounds very interesting.


I just had a quick look at it in the library and a) it's fucking massive and b) I didn't realise it was a fictionalised account. Neither of which are a bad thing of course. So is it a story made out of true events of the Beagle?

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The individual human mind. In a child's ability to master the multiplication table, there is more holiness than all your shouted hosannas and holy holies. An idea is more important than a monument and the advancement of Man's knowledge more miraculous than all the sticks turned to snakes and the parting of the waters.

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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 6/6/2007 5:41:49 PM   
Castor Troy


Posts: 7076
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Rocky's graveside
Fuck it - I bought it from ebay for £3.05 inc P&P!

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The individual human mind. In a child's ability to master the multiplication table, there is more holiness than all your shouted hosannas and holy holies. An idea is more important than a monument and the advancement of Man's knowledge more miraculous than all the sticks turned to snakes and the parting of the waters.

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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 6/6/2007 6:38:25 PM   
Hardcore Raver

 

Posts: 1454
Joined: 27/10/2005
From: Stroud, Gloucestershire
quote:

ORIGINAL: jonson

Life On Air - Sir David Attenborough. A brilliant read for nature lovers and anyone interested in documentary/film making. I don't read many books twice but this one I have and will read again.


quote:

ORIGINAL: sharkboy

And of course, the textbook we all wish we'd had at school - Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything.


Both of those are excellent. I don't really read much non-fiction but those two are definitely amongst my favourite books. Also, I'm currently reading this,

which is also brilliant, even if it does make me very angry at times.

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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 6/6/2007 9:07:16 PM   
FlangeBags


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From: Preston
Reckon I might have to get This Thing of Darkness, if only to see how it relates to The Voyage of the Beagle.
Speaking of Darwin...
The Origin of Species is my favourite non-fiction book

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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 6/6/2007 11:06:37 PM   
Felix

 

Posts: 15692
Joined: 29/9/2005
From: Brighton
quote:

ORIGINAL: Castor Troy

Fuck it - I bought it from ebay for £3.05 inc P&P!


You wont regret it. Its not an exact account but a fictionalised version of true events. Its really good though and thoroughly gripping. Really shows the man that Darwin was to keep going with his discoveries in the face of public opinion at the time.

Its really sad reading it though, as the author died just after completing the book.

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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 7/6/2007 1:11:17 AM   
soderbergh1


Posts: 395
Joined: 3/10/2005
From: Funky Town
i haven't really read many non-fiction books but after seeing munich i read and thoroughly recommend...
 



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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 7/6/2007 6:14:27 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 78128
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
quote:

ORIGINAL: Twinkle



I've read that one a few times - Mary, Queen of Scots interests me and you can't beat Antonia Fraser for a cracking historical biography. 

Highly recommended, she had an incredible life ... and death ...




Not read that one, but I have read her book on The Gunpowder plot.

A few of my favourites



50 years on and still the best book about that night.



Autobiography of the man who discovered the wreck of he Titanic. Fascinating stuff.





2 books exploring conspiracies and cover-ups about the sinking,. In case you couldn't tell. I'm interested in the Titanic


Most non-fiction books I read tend to have been ones that have been turned into films, and these are three of the best










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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 7/6/2007 12:17:57 PM   
Castor Troy


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This thread is costing me money. Just bought Attenborough's Biography for £3 on ebay.

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The individual human mind. In a child's ability to master the multiplication table, there is more holiness than all your shouted hosannas and holy holies. An idea is more important than a monument and the advancement of Man's knowledge more miraculous than all the sticks turned to snakes and the parting of the waters.

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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 7/6/2007 3:49:40 PM   
Monkeyshaver

 

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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 7/6/2007 7:22:01 PM   
Tech_Noir

 

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Born on The Fourth of July (Ron Kovic)

Myths to Live By (Joseph Campbell)

Cosmos (Carl Sagan)

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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 9/6/2007 3:07:41 PM   
Rinc


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A heartbreaking and compelling recording of the Rwandan massacre. A reminder of how evil and how good humans can be.

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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 11/6/2007 9:36:32 AM   
jonson


Posts: 9150
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Rinc



A heartbreaking and compelling recording of the Rwandan massacre. A reminder of how evil and how good humans can be.


This was also a brilliant documentary from about 3 years ago, taking the author back to the Killing Fields.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0424435/


I'll have to check the book out now.

As a bit of light relief, I've just finished Jeremy Clarkson's And Another Thing, the second book of his Times columns. He's a dick but he is funny, very funny. I quite enjoy reading them in between a "heavy" book.
A couple of columns before I go to bed and I normally drop straight off


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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 11/6/2007 9:50:28 AM   
Helen OHara

 

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I always liked Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, by (I think) Dee Brown. Just about to be serialised on HBO I believe. Also the Tom Holland books mentioned above, which I've already cheerled (cheerleaded?) for elsewhere. Anything Bill Bryson or William Goldman is also worth reading, Antonia Fraser's got some game, and I just read (for review) the latest Kirk Douglas memoir, which I found myself really liking.

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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 11/6/2007 10:23:24 AM   
Hobbitonlass

 

Posts: 11919
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Westeros


I remember reading this about 15 years ago and thought it was amazing.  It starts in 1863 going through 98 years to when JFK became president of the USA.  Incredibly interesting.



Amazon blurb
quote:

In 1978 Warren Fellows was convicted of heroin trafficking between Thailand and Australia. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in the notorious Bang Kwang prison - better known as the Bangkok Hilton. It was the beginning of 12 years of hell in a place where sewer rats and cockroaches are the only nutritious food, where prison guards laugh as they deliver pulverising blows and where the worst punishment is the khun deo - solitary confinement, Thai style. The Damage Done is one man's story of an unthinkable nightmare. It is not Warren Fellows' plea for forgiveness nor his denial of guilt, but a story of endurance and survival and the abuse of human rights during the decade of a life wasted in leg irons. It is an essential read: hearbreaking, fascinating and impossible to put down.


Horrendous but fascinating read



Interesting theories that thousands of years before ancient Egypt and ancient Greece there was a great civilisation that existed.


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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 15/6/2007 5:46:07 AM   
boaby

 

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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 15/6/2007 12:23:32 PM   
Twizzle


Posts: 1684
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From: London
One of my faves is:

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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 15/6/2007 5:40:37 PM   
Skiba


Posts: 4402
Joined: 24/11/2005
From: London
It's been mentioned already I think but this is one of the greatest reads ever!  You don't have to be a fan of their music but it's just a phenomonal read!



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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 15/6/2007 10:00:44 PM   
Funkyrae


Posts: 20419
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From: Just stick a pin in a map
quote:

ORIGINAL: Helen OHara

I always liked Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, by (I think) Dee Brown. Just about to be serialised on HBO I believe. Also the Tom Holland books mentioned above, which I've already cheerled (cheerleaded?) for elsewhere. Anything Bill Bryson or William Goldman is also worth reading, Antonia Fraser's got some game, and I just read (for review) the latest Kirk Douglas memoir, which I found myself really liking.


I was just about to suggest this one.  Certainly not any kind of easy reading, I've cried a few times reading it in the past and have read it about 3 times now.  Another one to throw into the mix here is




Joseph Campbell is pretty much a genius.  It's hard to describe but he takes modern history and puts it into an ancient world mythology.  One of the examples I can give is the assassination and funeral of JFK.   He shows how we are apt to create and live out the themes of mythology. But he also takes the mythology of heroes and blends them with other ancient mythology, perhaps most notably is the segue from the Sumerian sky goddess Inanna to Han Solo.

It's well worth checking out, if for no other reason than Campbell's amazing knowledge of ancient world myths.




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RE: Whats your favourite non-fiction book? - 16/6/2007 12:01:07 PM   
pedros


Posts: 1667
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Castor Troy

This thread is costing me money. Just bought Attenborough's Biography for £3 on ebay.


I second that. I've only just looked at it and have already bought This Thing of Darkness and Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee. I wouldn't mind so much but i'm going through a period of not reading much at the moment and so have an ever-growing pile of unread books next to my bed.

I would definitely agree with Life on Air and A Short History of Nearly Everything.

I would also include:



And a couple of travel selections for anyone intrested in China:



Or Japan:



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