I may have mentioned some these titles elsewhere, but I thought I'd start a new thread specifically for non-fiction. While I read a lot of fiction, lit, and poetry, I like to break it up with non-fiction or creative non-fiction from time to time (to cleanse the palate, as it were).
Below are some recent non-fic I have enjoyed. I'd love to see recommendations from you all, as I'm always searching for something new.
Word Freak by Stephen Fatsis
This was one my favorite books from last year, a funny, moving, almost operatic tour-de-force exploration of the wild and wacky world of competitive Scrabble players. To describe the Scrabble maestros as "eccentric" would be like calling Charles Manson "cranky". These guys are geniuses and madmen, and Fatsis (a sports writer by trade) describes the Scrabble tournaments with breathless drama. Will also give you killer tips for playing at home.
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
The rollicking, swashbuckling, foul-mouthed and rowdy (mis)adventures of...a gourmet chef? Anthony Bourdain is one tough cookie, I could almost see him at home in a Hemingway novel or in some masculine Sebastian Junger book. But he doesn't need someone else to write his life story; no one could better than he did in this frank, candid memoir of life on the (prep) line. Will give you new-found respect for cooks everywhere, and the cuisine descriptions are like porn for foodies. Even if you're not a big food-lover (then you're no friend of mine), there's plenty o' drama (and drugs, and sex, and rock 'n' roll) fo' yo' mama in this thrill-a-minute ride from lowly line chef to five star impresario.
Brothel by Alexa Albert
As a medical student, the auther Albert was allowed entree into the exclusive, hidden world of the Mustang Ranch, Nevada's notorious legal house of prostitution, in order to do research on sexually transmitted diseases. Over the course of many years, Albert gained the trust and confidence of the women who worked there, and thus gained fascinating insight on the life of these "women of ill repute". She tells the true stories behind the myth and fantasy here. A sympathetic, never exploitative glimpse into the lives of the women of Mustang Ranch.
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
New York Times writer Ehrenreich goes undercover in the world of minimum wage. She takes various minimum wage jobs (waitress, maid, Wal-Mart Clerk) across America and sees how (if!) she can live off such earnings. This book keeps its chin up with wry, intelligent humor, but breaks the heart with its insights into the lives of America's "working poor". Will make you want to tip every waitress who serves you extravagantly for the rest of your life.
So, what suggestions do you guys have?