Monday, July 26, 2010

Book Recommendations (Sort Of)

I say sort of because I realize these books have a more limited audience (among my children's lit readers, at least), partly because they’re nonfiction and partly because of the subject matter. Still, I found both fascinating, but for different reasons.

Of these two, FREAKONOMICS: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner is the more recent one I've read. I’ve been meaning to check this one out for a while, since I majored in Economics, and it didn’t disappoint. Steven and Stephen investigate, among other things, the similarities between school teachers and sumo wrestlers and the correlation between given names and success. In fact, if you enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell’s OUTLIERS (which had a few things to say about success as well), you’ll probably like this one, too.

On a completely different note, I found COLUMBINE by Dave Cullen positively captivating. Indeed, few nonfiction books hook me as thoroughly as this one did. Mr. Cullen was one of the first journalists on the scene that day, arriving at the school about an hour after the first shots were fired, but what makes his coverage of the tragedy so compelling is that he spent the first few weeks telling one story and then the next several years trying to tell the right one. Definitely an eye-opening read.

Have you read either of these books? If so, what did you think? If not, have you come across any nonfiction lately that you found as engaging as your usual fiction fare?

12 comments:

Kristi Helvig said...

I LOVED Freakonomics and tried to get my book club to read it, but they like the more standard book club books. I'm finishing The Tipping Point right now, but plan on moving to Blink and Outliers next. I'm actually posting tonight on the importance of reading outside your usual genre.

I haven't read Columbine but as I live about 15 minutes from the school, I feel inundated with all things Columbine--I just can't read any more about it!

Jemi Fraser said...

My daughter loved Freakonomics but I haven't picked it up yet - one of these days!

The Columbine one is such a heart-breaking story I'm not sure I'll pick it up.

Krista V. said...

Kristi, those book clubs are tricky things. I shared a book with my book club once that everyone else absolutely HATED. Oops.

Jemi, definitely pick up FREAKONOMICS when you get a chance. And I totally understand being skittish about COLUMBINE. The subject matter is pretty heavy.

suz said...

Hi Krista,

I haven't read Freakonomics, but I love Gladwell's stuff. He is facinating. I just stopped by to say thank you for comments you made on a excerpt I had posted in Nathan Bradford's forums. It was very helpful. You have a really great blog here. Thanks again.

Suzanne Nemeroff

Krista V. said...

You're welcome, suz. Yours was Puckatoo, wasn't it? I thought that first chapter had great voice.

Dave Cullen said...

Thanks very much, Krista. I write fiction too, and I set out to make it read like a novel, because I didn't want people to trudge through this book like it was eating your vegetables. I wanted to draw you in and make you WANT to keep going. Every book should read that way, but especially one on a tough subject. I'm glad it worked for you.

I have to confess that my job was made easier by some fascinating material, and so much that was unexpected. The case was full of mysteries and surprises to me while I researched and wrote it, so I wanted to convey those same feelings as you read.

Dave Cullen said...

For those on the fence about reading, you might check out the book trailer. It captures it pretty well in 3 minutes, and I think will help you evaluate whether it's right for you:

There's lots more info at my Columbine site.

Krista V. said...

Dave, so much of COLUMBINE was completely unexpected. Thanks for stopping by, and for, you know, taking the time to set the record straight.

Myrna Foster said...

Krista, I haven't read either of these, but I've thought about picking up Columbine. It sounds fascinating.

Krista V. said...

Myrna, it was fascinating. By the first line in the second chapter, I was already saying, "Say what?!" Those boys did NOT fit the description I remembered from the initial media coverage of Columbine.

Dave Cullen said...

Thanks, Krista.

It's amazing how badly we in the press got it wrong. I'm embarrassed to say I was a part of that. I apologized for it in the intro.

Krista V. said...

Dave, I appreciated your honesty in the intro. We all make mistakes, don't we? But how many of us spend the next ten years of our lives trying to fix them? :)