Often, you don’t want to delve too far into a topic and it’s a little more fun to get an overview of the generalities of topic rather than spending the next ten years researching it intensely. Sometimes, it’s fun to get to know one small aspect of topic really well, too, instead of having to thoroughly research a topic in order to find that tidbit. The following books are a random mix of non-fiction that should help you learn a bit about a lot of different things - and maybe spark an obsession that’ll lead you to reading much more.
- It’s All A Game: The History of Board Games From Monopoly to Settlers of Catan by Tristan Donovan - This book gives a quick overview of the development of many popular board games and helps show how games have changed through the ages. As a board game lover, I devoured this book and it was quite enjoyable to read. You won’t learn about every game in existence, but you will learn lots of interesting tidbits about a lot of classic games.
- Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Emily Bazelon - While I felt like this could have been more comprehensive, I felt like it was a good introduction into bullying in schools and helps give the reader a general idea of the culture behind bullying. This can be an emotional read, but it’s an interesting one.
- The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson - During the Chicago World Fair, one man took advantage of the chaos and the crowds to murder several fair-goers. This is his story, juxtaposed with the building of the Chicago World Fair. It’s a fascinating microhistory that gives the reader a good look at the time period. Warning: There are a couple intense murders that are not for the faint of heart.
- The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester - This story about the lives of two men who ultimately changed each other and the world with their dictionary is both moving and captivating. It’s an interesting look at the world during this time and also at the figures behind the first OED.
- Vice Capades: Sex, Drugs, and Bowling from the Pilgrims to the Present by Mark Stein - This overview of vices in America is a fascinating look at how public opinions have changed over the past 200 years - and how some things are still the same. Enjoy sampling some colonial erotica and learning about the people behind revolutionary Supreme Court cases.
- Vibrator Nation: How Feminist Sex-Toy Stores Changed the Business of Pleasure by Lynn Comella - Anyone with an interest in feminism will enjoy reading about how sex-toy stores have developed and changed - and how feminism changed the world of sex education and revolutionized women’s sexuality. Those interested in business will also enjoy seeing the unique ways that these stores marketed themselves.
What non-fiction books have you been enjoying lately? What motivates you to read a non-fiction book?