Top Ten Tuesday: Non-fiction books.

[This post is done as part of the Top Ten Tuesday meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish]

As promised, here’s the second part of my “Top Ten Books in X Genre” write-up that started last night.

I know this week was supposed to cover both comedy and other non-fiction books but as I was collecting entries I realised that there’s only one book that’s actually considered comedy (although several others just happened to be wittily written). So, I decided to collapse them all under the huge not-really-a-single heading of “Non-fiction books”.

This being a pretty large category, there’re books that cover several of my totally-not-connected interests, ranging from memoirs…

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (Jenny Lawson)

Jenny Lawson’s amazingly hilarious blog posts (if you haven’t gone to her blog, you need to do so now because it’s only the best blog ever. No, serious, go now. I’ll wait here) translate surprisingly well into an entire book on her…quirky childhood and life experiences.

In a year where I read memoirs by professional comediennes like Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling and Ellen DeGeneres, this one still shone above the crop and remains one of the only books (non-fiction or fiction) that I awarded five stars to on Goodreads. The laugh-per-sentence ratio remains the highest of any book I’ve read and I can’t wait for the sequel from my second favourite JLaw in the world.

…to tennis memoirs…

You Cannot Be Serious (John McEnroe) and Open (Andre Agassi)

Who knew that tennis legends (or maybe the ghost writers of tennis legends) could churn out such compelling reads? Both books offer riveting insights into the going-ons behind the scenes at some of the biggest tennis events in history (and feature some of the other most famous players in history).

Both written by champions of their time, these two autobiographies come with the trademark no-holds-barred rocket delivery of the two tennis greats as known for their fiery personalities and on-court antics as their skill with the racquet.

…to tennis books that are not memoirs…

A Terrible Splendour (Marshall Jon Fisher)

A history piece masquerading as a tennis book, Fisher tells the story behind a 1937 Davis Cup match between Baron Gottfried von Cramm and Don Budge, two of the top players at that time. The book frames the battle within its sociopolitical environment, that of two players from opposing camps (the Baron Germany’s top player and Budge the American Champion) in a world on the cusp of World War II and is packed full of historical nuggets that go way beyond a simple match recap. Fascinating read.

…to food books…

The Year of Eating Dangerously (Tom Parker Bowles)

I’m not usually a fan of food books (unless they come with pictures) because I find it very difficult to imagine the cuisines being described, especially if I’ve never had them before or have no idea what they are.

Despite that, and despite the fact that this book is literally about eating dangerous and somewhat gross-sounding foods, Parker Bowles’ gastrologue makes for a great read, if not for the detailed descriptions of food and his (mis)adventures trying to down them, then for the fascinating look at some of the cultures that these foods are located in. I mean, kudos to anyone who makes me want to go to an exotic Asian locale to munch on suspicious sounding “delicacies”.

…to books that sound like they’re about food but are actually grammar tomes in disguise…

Eats, Shoots and Leaves (Lynne Truss)

Who knew that a book about punctuation would make for such a great read? Truss is a fantastic writer, transforming something so dry and boring to most into witty little pieces of advice with great examples and anecdotes and a breezy writing style that is easy to follow and chew through. This should be required reading in all schools.

…to books about putting that grammar to (good?) use…

Wannabe a Writer? (Jane Wenham-Jones)

Like I mentioned in my review of this book, the best how-to guides are those that make me want to go out and do whatever it is they’re talking about straightaway. Part-guide, part-autobiography about her experiences in the publishing industry, Wenham-Jones has a candid, hilarious (if somewhat meandering) style that sucks the reader in and entertains while educating them. Adding in personal stories and anecdotes push this guide book beyond the bland dross that other books on this matter often dole out.

…to random books about running by renowned authors who don’t usually write about running…

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Haruki Murakami)

I have to admit: I’ve never read one of his novels (*cue literary snob gasps*). They just seem very…literary and deep, two things I am not as a reader. Despite that, his autobiography on his running experiences came highly recommended and, seeing as this was not a novel and also really really short, I figured I had nothing to lose and read it.

Let me tell you, reading this during a period of sickness where I was homebound was torture. Murakami writes about his hobby with such obvious passion and fervour that it was all I could do to restrain myself from shoving on my track shoes and heading out for some flu-addled jogging. Great for running enthusiasts and haters alike.

…to books meant for another type of running…

Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers (Uncle John?)

I’ve always been a HUGE fan of trivia and spent much of my childhood devouring encyclopaedias and the like (which…might explain a lot about me now). Uncle John’s readers? Are the best. They’re at perfect lengths for their purpose (i.e. bathroom sits), are well written, with just the right balance of information and humour, and come in a wide variety of topics to satisfy anyone.

Plus, there are like seventy editions of them!

…to books about education and countries that I’m in love with…

Tune in Tokyo (Tim Anderson)

Even though I’d only given this book a 3.5 out of 5 star rating, it’s made more of an impact on me than I originally thought. It has, still does, make me want to go to Japan and teach English. I mean, for real. Japan has always been the country I’ve been most fascinated by and Anderson’s little anecdotes just magnified those charms by tenfold. I want/need to go there right now.


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