Touring my TBR Spreadsheet and Shelves

This month I’m talking about some of my favorite non-fiction that I’ve read in recent years. I’m skipping the biographies and memoirs because that’s a topic for another month.

Last summer I had to seriously weed out the bookshelves in preparation for recarpeting the house. These are some of the non-fiction titles that survived the “Great Bookshelf Purge of 2012” for one reason or another. I may never re-read them but they’re books I couldn’t get rid of. Some I kept because I enjoyed them so much. Others I may not have loved at the time but I still think about them and routinely recommend them.

The Great Bridge by David McCullough The Great Bridge by David McCullough: It’s about the design and building of the Brooklyn Bridge. An incredible engineering feat that took years and ultimately the life of it’s designer. I was fascinated by the information about how the bases of the towers were dug into the riverbed. I had no idea that Decompression Sickness got it’s common name “The Bends” during this project. John Roebling and his family lived the building of the bridge with his son and daughter in law taking the lead on the project after his death. It’s a huge epic about the bridge, the Roebling family and the time of the late 1800’s. It’s a bit dry in parts but still fascinating.
Lincoln's Greatest Speech by Ronald C. White Lincoln’s Greatest Speech by Ronald C. White: Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address was only 703 words long but the 210 pages of this book about it are fascinating. It’s one that I still think about even though I read it nearly six years ago. I do want to read it again. It’s a wonderful book about the precision of language and oratory and how Lincoln carefully put together a speech that laid the groundwork for putting the country back together.
Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson:I’ll admit that I waited until my brother was no longer in the submarine service until I read this story of the discovery and exploration of a World War II sunken German U-boat. The drama of the deep wreck divers who found and explored the submarine is only part of the story. The other part is about their efforts to identify the submarine, which took 6 years worth of research and diving and cost the lives of 3 men.
The Devil in White City by Erik Larson The Devil in White City by Erik Larson: This is part true crime story and history. The parallel stories of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and of a serial killer at the same time and place made it seem almost like reading two books at the same time. Just about the time I was getting ready for a break in the story of building and operating the fair, the story would shift to the story of H. H. Holmes and his macabre killing spree.
Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip into the Heart of Fan Mania by Warren St. John Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip into the Heart of Fan Mania by Warren St. John:It’s no secret that I love college football and that we’ve had season tickets to University of Oregon football for many years. I’ve been going to games since 1991.

Warren St. John, a reporter for the New York Times, took a leave of absence to spend a football season with the RVers who travel to the Alabama football games. A devoted Alabama fan himself, St. John wrote this book about his experience. This is part travel memoir, part cultural anthropology about sports fans, and mostly just a whole lot of fun.

What about you? What are some of the best non-fiction titles you’ve read in the past few years?