100 Best Non-Fiction Books
Who says a summer read has to be light?
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2011 1:35 PM CDT
Joan Didion's 'Slouching Towards Bethlehem.'   (Amazon.com)

(Newser) – Looking for a summer read that’s a little weightier than the norm? Check out the Guardian’s list of the 100 greatest non-fiction books. Some samples:

  • Art: The Shock of the New, by Robert Hughes, traces the story of modern art.
  • Biography: Robert Graves talks, of course, about his childhood and marriage in his autobiography Goodbye to All That, but also gives a brutal account of WWI.
  • Environment: Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring is credited with launching the environmental movement.
  • History: We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families, by Philip Gourevitch, is a terrifying account of the Rwandan massacre.
  • Journalism: In The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe follows Ken Kesey on a cross-country, LSD-infused road trip.

  • Memoir: Mahatma Gandhi recounts his early struggles in The Story of My Experiments with Truth.
  • Philosophy: Plato’s The Symposium meditates on the nature of love via a dinner party debate.
  • Politics: Mary Wollstonecraft makes a case for women’s education in her 1792 book, A Vindication on the Rights of Woman.
  • Religion: The Golden Bough by James George Frazer identifies elements the world’s religions share.
  • Science: Stephen Hawking explores the origins of the universe in A Brief History of Time.
  • Society: Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem is a classic series of essays about California in the 1960s.
  • Travel: Jonathan Raban recounts a voyage from Seattle to Alaska in Passage to Juneau.
Click for the complete list, or if you’re in the mood for something a bit lighter, try these.

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Showing 3 of 17 comments
echegoyen0728
Jun 30, 2011 2:08 AM CDT
"A Brief History of Time"? Poor Stephen Hawkins don't even believe in God. It is way too hard to explain scientifically how the world began and still be able to show precise evidence. This is more like a "fiction" to me. http://yep.it/flight
schmidtkoff
Jun 19, 2011 6:11 PM CDT
i lke fritjof capra's "the web of life". especially when he wrote of david brower's narrative that compressed the age of the earth and how late the human species arrived into the 6 "days of the the biblical creation story." in broward's theory earth is created at midnight on a sunday.... on friday around 4 p.m. the microorganisms invent sexual reproduction...he goes on to write that that the last day of creation, saturday, all the visible life forms evolve. as he goes into saturday he chronicles the marine animals that came to shore, the plants, etc. finally ending with the emergence of homo sapiens. fascinating stuff. urge all to read at least that synopsis of earth evolution vs. creationism. ken wilbur's books are pretty good too.
SPHeroid
Jun 19, 2011 5:38 PM CDT
I've read half these books...I must be really smart..... I agree with Dopefish, " A Brief History of Time " is not very useful if you want to understand the physics of the universe...