I’ve been on a bit of a non-fiction kick lately, which is a rarity for someone like me; I’m generally inhaling some sort of thriller or sci/fi fantasy novel. But I needed a bit of a change, and so I’ve consumed about ten non-fiction books since January. I must say that it was an excellent choice to break out of my literary comfort zone. While all were good reads, the following five books had a particularly great influence on me and how I saw the world.
Living With A Wild God – Barbara Ehrenriech
Living With a Wild God is a deeply personal account of the author’s struggle to reconcile her atheist upbringing with a spiritual experience that shaped her teen years. The Nickel and Dimed author navigates the brush with mortality that comes with a cancer diagnosis, living up to her brilliant scientist of a father’s expectations, and her desire to find out the meaning of life while keeping a firm grip on facts and figures. The reader follows her on her quest as she dabbles in Buddhism, agnosticism, and nihilism- among other things. A must-read for anyone who is questioning their place in the world.
Eats, Shoots, and Leaves – Lynn Truss
Lynn Truss has taught me something four years as an english major could not- I finally know how to use an apostrophe on words that end with “s”. Thank God. In another life, Truss could be a comedian, performing to audiences of English majors worldwide. This book is also a history lesson, as Truss laces each chapter with anecdotes about how each punctuation mark was created, as well as any international mishaps each may have caused when used improperly.
2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America – Kathryn Edin and Luke Shafer
A sobering look into the world of America’s poorest. The authors follow several families in various locations (examples include Detroit and Appalachia) whose income amounts to the equivalent of 2.00 per family member per day. This is through no fault of the people themselves and is a direct result of illness, injury, and a chronic inability to secure full time hours, which are desperately needed to support a family. A stark reminder that in some places, the jobs just aren’t there.
Naked Economics – Charles Wheelan
If you’re planning on voting this November, you should read this book. The version I read had somewhat dated examples, being a little over 10 years old, but the economic policy it covers is just as relevant today. Wheelan will show you both sides of the coin on economic policy such as balancing the budget, globalization and trade agreements, and outline various economic theories. Read this book, if only so when people ask you what you think our country’s fiscal policy should be, you can supply a ready answer and look smart as hell.
Where You Go is Not Who You’ll be – Frank Bruni
A regular columnist for the New York Times, Frank Bruni has long been known for writing about the madness that is today’s college admissions process. Through various case studies and research data, Bruni asserts that it really doesn’t matter where you go to school- it’s what you do with your time there that really counts. Read this to feel empowered about your own innate potential, even if you’ve already graduated.
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