I love making lists and always look forward to listing what I thought were the best books of the past year. These are the best I read in 2009, although they don't necessarily have to have a 2009 publication date. Today I cover the best Non-Fiction of the year. Here they are:
Outliers: The Story of Success (2008) - Malcolm Gladwell
What is it that makes some people succeed? Is it talent alone? Gladwell doesn't think so. Outliers takes a fun, somewhat scattershot approach to what makes people successful, but much of the material consists of information you may have read in other places. Even so, Gladwell is always a fun, thoughtful read.
Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose (1968) - Flannery O'Connor
If you become a fan of Flannery O'Connor, you'll want to read everything she ever wrote, both fiction and non-fiction. Her thoughts on writing, the South, and Christianity contain gems that I already look forward to revisiting.
Making Movies (1985) - Sidney Lumet
Lumet is one of my favorite film directors, so it's no surprise I devoured this memoir of films and how they are made.
Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference (2009) - Warren St. John
I first heard of this book on a podcast and was intrigued enough to seek it out. I'm glad I did. I have little interest in soccer, but great interest in how people from other cultures behave in unfamiliar environments. Further thoughts here.
Strange Telescopes: Following the Apocalypse from Moscow to Siberia (2009) - Daniel Kalder
This was one wild ride! Initially I thought this was a work of science fiction, but it's got more imagination and strangeness than most sf stories I've run across. More here.
The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership (2009) - Bill Walsh, Steve Jamison, Craig Walsh
Being a Cowboys fan, I never rooted for the 49ers, but after reading this memoir/leadership book, I have a whole new respect for Walsh and his philosophy. More here.
Columbine (2009) - Dave Cullen
That's it for general non-fiction. Next: the Best Books on Christianity and Culture