Friday, August 26, 2011

Some Non-Fiction Recommendations

I have recently had a successful run of very interesting non-fiction books (and a documentary).  I felt they were worth recommending.

1.  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  This is the second book I have read by Hillenbrand - I thoroughly enjoyed Seabiscuit.  And I loved this book even more.  I found this blurb on that summarizes the book better than I could:   From Laura Hillenbrand, the bestselling author of Seabiscuit, comes Unbroken, the inspiring true story of a man who lived through a series of catastrophes almost too incredible to be believed. In evocative, immediate descriptions, Hillenbrand unfurls the story of Louie Zamperini--a juvenile delinquent-turned-Olympic runner-turned-Army hero. During a routine search mission over the Pacific, Louie’s plane crashed into the ocean, and what happened to him over the next three years of his life is a story that will keep you glued to the pages, eagerly awaiting the next turn in the story and fearing it at the same time. You’ll cheer for the man who somehow maintained his selfhood and humanity despite the monumental degradations he suffered, and you’ll want to share this book with everyone you know. --Juliet Disparte

2.  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  I was absolutely fascinated by this story!!  Again, stealing from, It is the story of the life of the woman whose "seemingly immortal line of cells that made some of the most crucial innovations in modern science possible.  Henrietta Lacks was a mother of five in Baltimore, a poor African American migrant from the tobacco farms of Virginia, who died from a cruelly aggressive cancer at the age of 30 in 1951. A sample of her cancerous tissue, taken without her knowledge or consent, as was the custom then, turned out to provide one of the holy grails of mid-century biology: human cells that could survive--even thrive--in the lab. Known as HeLa cells, their stunning potency gave scientists a building block for countless breakthroughs, beginning with the cure for polio. Meanwhile, Henrietta's family continued to live in poverty and frequently poor health, and their discovery decades later of her unknowing contribution--and her cells' strange survival--left them full of pride, anger, and suspicion. For a decade, Skloot doggedly but compassionately gathered the threads of these stories, slowly gaining the trust of the family while helping them learn the truth about Henrietta, and with their aid she tells a rich and haunting story that asks the questions, Who owns our bodies? And who carries our memories? --Tom Nissley "
3.  Evita:  The Real Life of Eva Peron by Nicholas Fraser, et al.  I have to admit there were parts of this book that were hard for me to get through - Argentinian politics and war history - but overall I really enjoyed reading the story of this woman.  If you love the Broadway musical  as much as I do - you will probably enjoy reading more about Eva Peron - especially the end.
4.  Waiting for Superman - a documentary about the public school system.  If you have children in school, if you are a student, if you are a teacher, if you care about the public school system, if you care about the education system - then watch this movie.  It was fascinating!!


katik said...

All sound interesting but your recommendation of Waiting for Superman has tipped my "should I?" scale. I will watch it. But then will I want to look into private schools?

Jen said...

Read both Unbroken and Henrietta Lacks this past July--and loved them both, too! Unbroken kept me up until about 3 a.m. one morning, finishing the book.

The Harrises said...

I'm in the middle of Henrietta Lacks right now. Just got to the part about Debra and Gaylan. I can't imagine!

I loved unbroken. That one had me thinking for weeks. Life doesn't seem so bad when you look at it from his perspective.

squeezeme said...

No, not private schools...charter schools! I second your recommendation on Waiting for Superman, Emily...Regarding Waiting for Superman & charter schools, you and I have much to catch up on since last week.

Thanks for the other great recommendations. I have always been fascinated by Evita...perhaps because of the musical? I'm looking forward to these good reads.

Jennette said...

Great recommendations. I've only read Henrietta Lacks from your list, and I really enjoyed it. Incredibly fascinating. I will have to put the others on my list. Thanks!