Week 1: (Oct 31-Nov 4) – (Katie) Your Year in Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?
Nonfiction sometimes gets a bad rap from hard-core readers. The perception is that nonfiction is dull and dry and that reading nonfiction doesn’t provide the same “benefits” as fiction reading. To that I say, “Pshaw!” and “False dichotomy!” Nonfiction can be just as entertaining as fiction and as edifying. For me, Nonfiction November is a chance to celebrate the best-of and maybe woo some of those fiction-only types.
So far this year, not quite a third of my reading has been nonfiction. That might be a little light for me, but the last two months have mostly been RIP reading. My top three of the year so far:
Shocker, two of my favorites have been about magicians:
The Magician and the Cardsharp: The Search for America’s Greatest Sleight-of-Hand Artist by Karl Johnson – Johnson details master card magician Dai Vernon’s search for Allen Kennedy, a gambler known for an undetectable middle deal. This book is not only about a slice of magic history, but about the history of the American mid-west in the 1930s and 1940s.
The Amazing Harry Kellar: Great American Magician by Gail Jarrow – This being a book for children instead of an in-depth biography of a magician from the turn of the 20th century who isn’t Harry Houdini, I was dubious of its seriousness. It’s easy to concentrate on the wiz-bang aspects of a personality rather than the facts. I was happily surprised by The Amazing Harry Kellar. Jarrow gives a great overview of Kellar, warts and all, amid gorgeous reproductions of Kellar’s promotional posters.
The third book is probably the one I would recommend the most:
The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day
by David J. Hand – Really big numbers are difficult fully fathom, but very important to how the world works. How is it possible that someone could win the lottery three times? Or be hit by lightning more than twice? Hand breaks down the hows and whys of big number statistics in a very readable way. Trust me, this is math explained in a way that even I can understand.