For all you intellectual types--and you know who you are--these compelling nonfiction reads weave together story with tales of science, publishing, technology and the Oxford English Dictionary. Take your pick: you can’t go wrong with these.
This genre-defying narrative combines history, science, memoir, and biography. You’ve been affected by the HeLa cells derived from Maryland woman Henrietta Lacks, called “immortal” because they thrive in the lab: they’ve been used to develop the polio vaccine, cure cancer, and fight the flu. But her family didn’t discover anything about the cells until more than twenty years after her 1951 death. Skloot unearths the incredible story of how that happened, weaving the tale of the HeLa cells together with Lacks’ personal narrative. More info →
For longtime L’Engle fans, and anyone intrigued/appalled/bewildered by the devastating New Yorker piece, this collection provides the ultimate (inconclusive) 360 review. More than 50 friends, colleagues, family members, and fans shed light on the real Madeleine L’Engle. The contradicting accounts (sometimes wildly so) add to the fascination. More info →
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary
The OED project began in 1857, and took 70 years to complete, even with the help of thousands of contributors. One of the most prolific contributors, submitting nearly ten thousand entries over the course of 20 years, was Dr. William Chester Minor, an American Civil War veteran from Connecticut, who turned out to be an inmate at one of Britain’s harshest insane asylums. A fascinating and mysterious true story. The audio edition is fantastic. This is the audiobook that got me hooked on audiobooks. More info →
In this fascinating follow-up to The Long Tail Wired editor Anderson explores what it means when almost anyone can own the means of production. He examines what it looks like when the Web generation turns to the real world, covering today’s cottage industries, niche markets, the new “factories,” and what it means for our future. More info →