In case you missed yesterday's post, I am spending some time this week on my "Best of" lists for the year. Today I'm focusing on my favorite non-fiction reads of 2010.
I always feel like non-fiction gets a bad rap, as many people automatically think of technical books, self-help, or boring history novels. Not so! There is nothing quite as gripping as a well-written account of true events, whether it involves crime, war, or a biography. Here are three that brought the past right to my front door.
1. The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien
I know this one has been around for a long time, in fact it just celebrated its twentieth year of publication. That in no way lessens the Mack-truck impact of this collection of short stories, written by a man who has been there. You get the Vietnam war from the ground level - from his perspective - about the horror of Vietnam, the fear of young soldiers going to war, the difficulty of returning home, and the ghosts that haunt. Well-written, thoughtful, and even poetic, this one is a keeper.
2. Columbine - Dave Cullen
Even though I'd owned this book for a couple of years, it took me this long to come to terms with reading it. The tragedy of Columbine affected us all, and made us collectively ask "why". How can two boys from upper middle class families harbor so much hate, to the point of wanting to kill all of their teachers and classmates?
You won't necessarily get the answers, but what you will get is the whole story. Police blunders, the urban myths that were not true, the reactions of friends, family and the community, and documentation of two boys' descent into madness. This is true crime at its very best, but without any of the sensationalizing.
3. A Hundred Feet Over Hell - Jim Hooper
Yes, another Vietnam novel, brought to you by the Vietnam Reading Challenge. When it comes to war, any war, if you can find an author that can take you there, you will have a winning non-fiction read. It generally isn't always pleasant, but if you want to really open your mind and walk in another man's shoes, and maybe even experience a shot of adrenaline, you need to give it a try.
In this case, we live with a group of recon pilots, who flew through napalm, rainstorms of bullets, all from tiny little single engine tin cans. Written by a pilot's brother, missions are re-created by veterans that are still a tight-knit group today. When you finish this book, you will have a tiny clue of what it was like to live on the edge of hell.
Tomorrow, I will bring to you some of my favorite audiobooks (my passion!), which will include a variety of all genres. See you then!