I'm going to brag about the Audiobooks I read this year. Counting all Books, Short Stories, Essays and episodes of This American Life, I listened to 943 hours of audio. That's almost 24 solid work-weeks of listening – eight hours a day, five days a week. I also spent a considerable amount of time listening to the radio and a lot of time on the phone and I don't even have estimates for those distractions.
Today I'm going to summarize the Non-Fiction Highlights. Tomorrow I plan on giving you the fiction highs and lows.
Best Memoir: This is a tough one for me because I read some awesome personal stories. Steve Martin's Born Standing Up was a great look at how a person dedicated himself to mastering every facet of a craft – the craft of comedy – and all the hard work necessary to go from having a dream to realizing it. Bob Dylan's Chronicles was an amazing piece of prose, written by a master wordsmith, and following the life of music through the travels of a musician.
But the best, most heartbreaking, and poignant memoir of the year was Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. Ishmael was born in Sierra Leone and was forced to become a soldier or die when he was barely a teenager. He details the atrocities, the rapes, the wanton slaughter that he and other boys did while high on Cocaine and other drugs. It's not only the struggle of one boy who never got to be a boy, but it's a metaphor for a state that can never become a true nation. It was heartbreaking and I wept while listening.
Best Science: I read several good ones in this category also. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan is a guide to eating more real food in greater variety. It taught me a lot about nutrition. Two books by Simon Winchester were interesting: Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 and The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geometry. I'd recommend them both.
The best Science-related book was Einstein by Walter Isaacson. It was a great biography of one of the smartest men of the 20th Century, but it was also a great history of the world of theoretical physics as it launched into the atomic and quantum ages.
Best History Book: This one was by Hampton Sides and it was titled Ghost Soldiers: The Fogotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission. This is the most daring large-scale rescue by a special forces unit in history. Henry Mucci and his Army Rangers and Philippine Guerillas rescued hundreds of survivors of the Bataan Death March and brought them to safety while being pursued by Japanese forces. It's so exciting that it reads like fiction.
After the jump is my Non-Fiction Book List
|Steve||Turner||The Man Called Cash||9:01:41||Rex||Lynn|
|Steve||Martin||Born Standing Up||4:03:13||Steve||Martin|
|Jon||Krakauer||Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith||5:24:11||Jon||Krakauer|
|William||Least Heat-Moon||Blue Highways||16:19:23||Frank||Muller|
|Walter||Isaacson||Einstein: His Life and Universe||21:26:57||Edward||Hermann|
|Michael||Pollan||In Defense of Food||6:22:35||Scott||Brick|
|Simon||Winchester||Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883||12:01:54||Simon||Winchester|
|Sidney||Poitier||The Measure of a Man||7:59:40||Sidney||Poitier|
|David||Barsamian||War and Peace in the Age of Orwell||1:06:09||David||Barsamian|
|Malcolm||Gladwell||Blink! The Power of Thinking Without Thinking||7:44:13||Malcolm||Gladwell|
|Various||The Next Fifty Years, Various Essays||8:56:34||various|
|Robert||Dallek||Nixon and Kissenger: Partners in Power (Abridged)||11:13:23||Eric||Conger|
|Simon||Winchester||The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geometry||9:59:50||Simon||Winchester|
|Ishmael||Beah||A Long Way Gone: Memiors of a Boy Soldier||7:56:08||Dominic||Hoffman|
- rick, reader