Fiction can sweep you up into a far-off land, but nothing grounds you like reading a riveting true story.
Here are the Top 10 Best Non-Fiction Books of the Year So Far, according to Amazon editors:
1. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach: This funny science book takes us on an unforgettable tour of the alimentary canal, asking questions like: Why do we like to eat crunchy food? And why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? Roach is a witty, beautiful writer who makes the human body a fascinating and comedic subject.
2. Detroit: An American Autopsy by
Charlie LeDuff: Pulitzer Prize — winning journalist Charlie LeDuff goes back to explore his broken hometown, where he finds a city in decay. He explores the current state of the city and how it affects its citizens, including his own family.
3. The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Though the Heart of the Grand Canyon by
Kevin Fedarko: This book tells the thrilling adventure story of a group of river guides who secretly launched a small, hand-built wooden boat named the Emerald Mile into the Colorado River right after one of the largest chain of “superstorms” ever hit the American West in 1983.
4. The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum by Temple Grandin and Richard Panek: Temple Grandin, one of the foremost authorities on autism, discusses the latest science behind autism in an exciting manner. She also weaves in her own experiences (she has autism herself) to make the illness more relatable.
Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction by Annalee Newitz: This fascinating science book focuses on humanity’s long history and how it has managed to avoid mass extinction on numerous occasions from tsunamis to asteroids. It also speculates how we can learn from the past and use it to avoid disasters in the future.
6. Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer, the Evolution Debates, and the African Adventure that Took the Victorian World by Storm by Monte Reel: In 1856, explorer Paul Du Chaillu set out into the wild to find and study the gorilla. He emerged successfully with the then-mythical animal and brought him back to society, only to launch right into the center of a debate on Darwin’s theory of evolution. The books blends adventure and history.
7. Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws who Hacked Ma Bell by Phil Lapsley and Steve Wozniak: This book tells the story of the telephone, from its birth by Alexander Graham Bell to the rise of mega-companies like AT&T to the high-tech smartphones of today. There are also interesting anecdotes on hackers, mobsters, and telephone company wars.
8. Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism by Elizabeth Becker: Tourism is one of the largest industries today, but it wasn’t always that way. Elizabeth Becker explores how travel and tourism went from a rich person’s hobby to a massive empire with serious impacts on the economy, environment and culture of countries around the world.
9. Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America by Peter Andreas: Looking back at American history from colonial times to modern day, this book shows how the U.S. is built on a history of smuggling, whether it was slaves in the 19th century, illicit booze in the 20th century, or drugs today.
10. Ship It Holla Ballas!: How a Bunch of 19-Year-Old College Dropouts Used the Internet to Become Poker’s Loudest, Craziest, and Richest Crew by Jonathan Grotenstein and Storms Reback: The Ship It Holla Ballas were a group of underage poker players who won tens of millions of dollars in online poker — and then spent it all in an epic fashion. This book traces the rise and fall of online poker through one of the most successful Internet poker crews ever.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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