By Sherry Early
I've perused all the end-of-the-year lists of Best Books of 2006 for you, and I've come up with seven nonfiction titles that sound interesting enough to tempt me. I haven't read any of these, but out of all the possibilities, these are the nonfiction books I want to add to my to-be-read list. (I might do a separate post with a few fiction titles that made me want to take a closer look.) Maybe you'll see something that catches your eye.
"The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals" by Michael Pollan.
I'm a bit afraid of this book; there is such a thing as too much knowledge. The book tells about where our food comes from, and I hear that the main character is Corn. Pollan analyzes the sources of meals from McDonald's, from Whole Foods Market, straight from the farm, and even a meal made of foods foraged from the wild. I think I'm brave enough to read about a subject so fraught with peril, but if I come out unable to eat at all and I starve to death, it'll be Mr. Pollan's fault.
"Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them" by Francine Prose.
I can learn about how to read and how to write, both at the same time. I've seen this one recommended in several places, and I qualify per the title as one who loves books and wants to write. Well, maybe not books, but I do like to write. So I think I'll check out Ms. Prose's prose. ( I couldn't resist. Don't you know she's sick of the prose jokes!)
"Cross X: A Turbulent, Triumphant Season with an Inner-City Debate Squad" by Joe Miller.
The book follows a year in the life of a Kansas City high school debate squad. I don't have any urchins involved in debate, but I do have some who might be good at it. (They practice on me.) I'm always interested in the ins and outs of competitive intellectual pursuits; athletic competition, on the other hand, leaves me cold.
"Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War" by Nathaniel Philbrick.
This one is on almost all the lists. I'l be very interested to see how revisionist it is. Many of the reviewers mention that it will explode myths and cause readers to rethink their religious, political, and cultural biases. A little bit of revision of images to fit the facts isn't a bad thing, but I'm not a fan of revising the facts to fit a twenty-first century sensibility. We'll see...
"The Worst Hard Time" by Timothy Egan.
This story of the 1930's Dust Bowl won the National Book Award for nonfiction. My grandparents lived through these times in West Texas, so I thought it might be good to find out just what it was they survived.
"Crisis of Doubt: Honest Faith in Nineteenth-Century England" by Timothy Larsen.
I know it sounds a bit esoteric, but I like the Victorians. And John Wilson, in Christianity Today's Books and Culture, says the book "draws attention to a counternarrative that has been widely overlooked, embodied in the experience of men and women who moved from doubt or resolute skepticism to Christian faith."
"A Royal Affair: George III and his Scandalous Siblings" by Stella Tillyard.
Modern day royals and their affairs don't interest me much, but take it back a century or two, and I'm ready for all the gossip. This biography tells the story of George III of England and his eight unruly siblings, also giving some attention to those rebellious "children" of his over in America.
If you want to look over the year-enders yourself, I've gathered up a list of lists over at my personal blog, Semicolon. But, trust me, as a reader who has yet to crack the covers of any of The Best of 2006, these are the Best of the Best.
Sherry Early is a 40-something homeschool teacher, foolish Christian, right-wing conspirator, bookreading fanatic, happily married, mother of eight who lives with her brood in Major Suburbia, Texas.