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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