Nonfiction
The Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity

The Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity

$9.99$1.99

I don’t know enough about math to even describe this book: ask me in three months? Goodreads reviewers swear it’s readable, and the author has been a frequent guest on Radiolab, which gives me hope. While it sounds interesting, this isn’t the kind of book I’d usually take to the beach. I’m making a place for it this summer.

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The Economy of Cities

The Economy of Cities

I’m weirdly fascinated by urban planning, so this follow-up to Jacob’s classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities (one of the books that makes me feel like I’m not crazy) is on my must-read list. Many consider this later work by Jacobs to be her crowning achievement as an author and shaper of society.

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Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

Technology is changing the way we interact with each other: but is that good or bad, and what should we do about it? Turkle, an MIT professor, draws on 15 years of data to show how face-to-face relationships are changing in the facebook age. Because I make my living largely from behind a screen, this is on my must-read list.

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Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks

Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks

This book has been enthusiastically recommended by several book nerds with great taste, and explores the history of mapmaking from the olden days of parchment to today’s google maps and GPS. I love a good map (who doesn’t?) and am totally intrigued: when it comes to geography, I don’t know enough to know what I don’t know.

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Creativity, Inc.

Creativity, Inc.

$11.99$2.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

Pixar has been called the most fascinating company on the planet, and it's easy to see why in this enthralling history, filled with big players (Steve Jobs, George Lucas) and bigger leaps forward in technology that changed the animation business, and popular culture with it. Catmull gives us a glimpse inside the company-like-no-other, from the little things (why they ditched their oval table for a square) to the big ones (Pixar's annual shutdown day, devoted to company-wide improvement). Sure to delight creatives, managers, and anyone who loves a good yarn, and an absolute must-read for Pixar fans.

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The Remedy

The Remedy

$12.99$5.49Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

If you liked The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, this is for you. Tuberculosis was the biggest killer in the 19th century, and one of the most frightening—because no one knew its cause. When Nobel winner Robert Koch announced he had found a treatment for the disease, the world flocked to his door. But Conan Doyle (better known as the creator of Sherlock Holmes) remained skeptical, and justifiably so: Koch's faulty remedy proved to be his undoing. Goetz's account of fledgling germ theory, medical pioneers, brash personalities, and deadly diseases reads like a true crime thriller. Follow this one up with A Study in Scarlet.

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Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir

Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir

$11.99$1.99

At age 6, Goodwin's father taught her how to keep score, igniting a lifelong love affair with baseball—and the Brooklyn Dodgers. This family history is hopelessly tangled with post-war life on Long Island and the grand scale events of the era. Popular (and accessible) historian Goodwin gives a fascinating glimpse into 1950s New York: the advent of television, Cold War nuclear drills, and the rise of the free agent. Surprisingly, this book isn't much of a departure from her prize-winning work on heavy-hitting subjects like Lincoln, FDR, and the Kennedys. Lots of fun—even for Yankees fans. You don't have to love baseball to love this book, but it sure doesn't hurt.

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Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal

Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal

$10.99$1.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

This deeply-researched, fascinating glimpse into twitter's early days has the pacing of a good novel and is rich with interesting insights into social media, the larger web, start-up culture, and human nature. You can't make this stuff up—but if you tried, you could only hope to invent anecdotes as bizarre and readable as the ones in this account. Recommended reading for Jon Krakauer fans.

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The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap

The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap

If you've ever dreamed of opening your own bookstore, this one's for you. Wendy Welch and her husband flee jobs they loathe and escape to the tiny Virginia coal-mining town of Big Stone Gap, where they buy a huge white house to fulfill their lifelong dream of—what else?—opening a used bookstore—a decision fueled by piles of nachos and pitchers of sangria. It was an audacious goal (do people still buy real books, anyway?) but they lived to write about it. Book nerds will swoon over the behind-the-scenes peeks at a bookseller's life. A must-read for book (and bookstore) lovers.

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The Perfect Storm

The Perfect Storm

$10.99$1.99Audiobook: 1.99 (Whispersync)
Author:
Series: Adventure, Book 3
Genre: Nonfiction
Tag: 2012 Reading Guide

This true story of the storm of the century, which took place off the coast of Nova Scotia in 1991, weaves in the tales of the fishing crew aboard The Andrea Gail and the dramatic rescue of the three-person crew aboard the sailboat Satori in the Atlantic. A compelling and page-turning tale of man vs. nature. Add Audible narration for $3.99.

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Born to Run

Born to Run

Author:
Series: Adventure, Book 2
Genre: Nonfiction
Tag: 2012 Reading Guide

McDougall’s quest begins with a simple question: “Why does my foot hurt? In search of the answer, he delves into a world of ultramarathons, American expats and the Tarahumara Indians in the Copper Canyons of Mexico. Don’t be put off by the lengthy segue about Why Running Shoes Are Bad. This is a great book.

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Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2’s Deadliest Day

Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2’s Deadliest Day

$15.95$1.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

K2 is slightly shorter than Mt. Everest, but it's far more deadly: for every four climbers who have summited, one has died trying. In August 2008, a series of disasters—avalanches, ice falls, broken safety ropes—contributed to the deaths of a record 11. Miraculously, two Sherpas survived. This book chronicles the disaster from the Sherpas' perspective, and brings their fascinating history to life. A must-read for anyone who loved Into Thin Air. Riveting.

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Seabiscuit: An American Legend

Seabiscuit: An American Legend

I didn't think I was interested in the story of a racehorse, but after devouring Unbroken, I trusted Hillenbrand to take me on a remarkable ride, no matter the topic. She masterfully weaves together the stories of a knock-kneed racehorse and the three men who made him a champion: a bookish half-blind jockey, an eccentric trainer, and a limelight-loving owner. An incredible tale.

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Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage

$11.99$2.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Audible)

Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew were stranded on the Antarctic ice for 20 months beginning in January 1915. Alexander's story (which is named for Shackleton's ship) is compiled largely from the journals of Shackleton's 27-man crew and contains jawdropping photos by the expedition's photographer. Spellbinding.

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Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History

Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History

This is a real-life Ocean’s 11 tale of a 2003 robbery in Antwerp, Belgium, when thieves broke into a supposedly airtight vault and made off with 108 million dollars of loot. The crime was flawless, but the getaway was clumsy, and real-life diamond experts Campbell and Selby were called in to track down the thieves in a real-life worldwide goose chase.

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The Read-Aloud Handbook

The Read-Aloud Handbook

Don’t be fooled by the title: this book tells you not just how to read aloud to your children, but why, and why it’s important for you to be reading, too. Packed with tips, strategies, and over a hundred great titles, this is a book you’ll pull off the shelf whenever you’re in need of a pep talk or some new book suggestions.

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Makers: The New Industrial Revolution

Makers: The New Industrial Revolution

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.

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

$7.99$2.99Audiobook: 12.99 (WhisperSync)

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.

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The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance

The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance

$11.91$1.99Audiobook: 4.49 (Whispersync)
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Genre: Nonfiction

I heard the author speak last year and his presentation on how to discover and develop natural talent was fascinating, whether or not you're an athlete. I wrote about it here. The book is a little heavy on the science for the typical reader, but it's well worth diving into if the topic interests you. I'd pay for the high jump story alone. Add Audible narration for $4.49.

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The Gift of Failure
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing Of The Lusitania
Money Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference

Money Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference

$10.99$0.99Audiobook: 11.49 (Whispersync)

This topic won't be new to readers of Crystal's popular blog Money Saving Mom, but much of the content is. Crystal calls this a hands-on manual to help you discover your passions and talents and turn those into a profitable business. I most appreciated the behind-the-scenes looks at Crystal's own business: what's made her successful, and what mistakes she's made along the way.

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Being Mortal: Medicine And What Matters In The End

Being Mortal: Medicine And What Matters In The End

I resisted reading this for a year because it sounded so heavy: it's a personal meditation on aging, death, and dying. But Gawande, a surgeon by trade, tackles weighty issues by sharing lots of stories to go with the research, making this book eminently readable. Ultimately, this book is about what it means—medically and philosophically—to live a good life. I'm so glad I didn't wait longer to read this: this book gave me a much better understanding of the wants and needs of my own aging family members. I found all the superlatives I'd heard bandied about to hold true: it's riveting, absorbing, paradigm-shifting, life-changing.

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The Alchemist

The Alchemist

This is the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who dreams of treasure and sets off on a journey to find it, meeting all kinds of interesting characters along the way. This little book has been on the bestseller lists for years and has over a million ratings on Goodreads.

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So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

$13.99$1.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

Public shaming used to be a common punishment, but it was stopped long ago: not because it was ineffective, but because it was deemed far too cruel. But with the dawn of social media, public shaming is back in a big way, and it's being carried out by ordinary people. Ronson walks the reader through some recent examples of lives ruined over one public mistake: a fabricated quote in a book, one ill-considered tweet, one Facebook photo that went viral. This is one of the scariest books I've read in a long time, and I'm not saying that lightly. An important but uncomfortable read for anyone on social media, and that's most of us.

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Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time

Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time

This is the book I can't stop talking about. Speck is a bit of a contrarian: at its heart, the book isn't about walking at all. Instead, Speck aims to show how we can deliberately plan urban spaces to be useful, safe, comfortable, and interesting. At a deeper level, Speck reveals how our spaces shape our behavior, whether or not we're aware of it. Pragmatic, relevant, and completely fascinating.

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Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free

Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free

$9.99$3.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)
Author:
Series: Father's Day
Genre: Nonfiction
Tag: Quick Lit

Ann Patchett called this the best book she read in 2014, a fabulous book club pick, and a moving true story. That's enough for me. When Chile's San Jose mine collapsed in August 2010, thirty-three miners were trapped beneath thousands of feet of rock for 69 days—longer than anyone thought they could survive. While they were still trapped in the mine, the men agreed that if they told their story, they would only do it together. On their release, they entrusted Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tobar with its telling.

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It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways

It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways

Eating well is a foundational habit: people who eat right find it much easier to follow through in other areas of their lives. I've logged a half dozen or so Whole30s, and found the experience so valuable I'm tempted to urge everyone to try it at least once. This terrific guide from the Whole30 creators shows you everything you need to know, and will make you feel like you CAN do this.

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Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital

A brilliant, difficult book—easy to read, but the content will make you want to weep for humanity. This meticulously researched, journalistic account of what went down in the aftermath of Katrina reads like a novel and won the Pulitzer to boot. So good and so readable, but so very sad.

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Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up