Reviews and Blog Posts: nonfiction

Popular Science

2010 was a great year for accessible science writing. If you want to learn something and be entertained at the same time, try out some of these recent popular science and natural history titles.

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean, Susan Casey

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival, John Vaillant

For the Birds

I just finished reading Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O'Brien, and it made me think of the other interesting stories of birds and bird watchers out there.

Wesley is a rescued wild bird who the author, a biologist, raises from when he is just days old. O'Brien's insights into owl behavior, along with this very personal story (and absolutely adorable pictures!), make this an interesting and thought-provoking read. If you're interested in finding out about the diversity of birds, try Sy Montgomery's Birdology: Lessons Learned from a Pack of Hens, a Peck of Pigeons, Cantankerous Crows, Fierce Falcons, Hip Hop Parrots, Baby Hummingbirds, and One Murderously Big Cassowary.

Celestial Happenings

Tonight starting around 11:00 p.m. marks the start of a full lunar eclipse. Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year, celebrated by many earth-centered religions. Want to learn more about these phenomena and how people celebrate the Solstice?

Yet Another End of the Year List

It seems like everyone from the New York Times to NPR is coming out with Best Books of the Year lists right now. As "best" is subjective,  I instead offer you some of my favorites in various categories. Most of these are 2010 books, but are some are older books that I first read or listened to this year.

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction (no zombies): The Passage, Justin Cronin

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction (with zombies): The Reapers are the Angels, Alden Bell, Feed, Mira Grant

O Magazine's Best Books of 2010

In addition to many other Best Books of 2010 lists out there, O Magazine came out with their own list featuring fiction and nonfiction published this year. 2010 must have been a great year for biographies as several of those made the list as well! What has been the best book you've read so far this year?

Top Ten Best Books of 2010 According to Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly has announced their list of ten fiction and nonfiction titles that stood out as the very best of books published this year. As the year wraps up, these lists become more and more common, as Library Journal published their top 10 picks last week. What have been your favorite books of 2010?

Top Ten Best Books of 2010 According to Library Journal

For the very first time, Library Journal, a popular book review magazine, has put together a list of ten fiction and nonfiction titles that stood out as the very best of books published this year so far representing a wide assortment of topics appropriate for a broad reading audience. What have been your favorite books of 2010?

A few book review editors involved in the process of selecting this list chronicled their deliberations on Twitter under the hash tag #bestbooks10. A more in-depth list, including bests in genre fiction and other popular subject areas such as poetry, graphic novels and biographies is scheduled to be published in the December issue of Library Journal.

The Top Ten Books of 2010 According to Library Journal:

Spirited Reads

Campai! Prost! Salud! Cheers! Skol! Whether you choose to imbibe or abstain from inebriants altogether, reading about their rich and often controversial history is entertaining, while also providing insights into science, psychology, politics, and more!

Rum: the Epic Story of the Drink that Conquered the World by Charles A. Coulombe

2010 National Book Award Finalists Announced

The National Book Awards celebrate the best of American Literature published in the last year. The 2010 National Book Award Finalists were announced on October 13 by Pat Conroy at the Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home. The winners in each category will be announced on Wednesday, November 17.

Last winners were Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (Fiction), The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J.

How Many Teeth Does a Snail Have?

When I think of comforting, compelling animal companions, I didn't think of snails until I read The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. During a long period of an autoimmune illness, a snail that a friend brought to her room was both companion and source of wonder.

The book that Bailey has compiled, comprised of both her experience with "her" snail and extensive research into the natural history of snails is a fascinating read. When the snail first arrived in Bailey's life, she was a bit annoyed--she could barely take care of herself, she didn't need another creature to worry about. Despite this, she soon found watching the snail almost meditative, and she began to follow the rhythms of its nocturnal life, becoming fascinated with its habits. She found out about the eating and reproductive habits of snails, about their unique anatomy.

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