Non-Fiction Books For September

September is for new pencils, graph paper, and non-fiction reading.

September is for new pencils, graph paper, and non-fiction reading.

There’s something about seeing kids go back to school that makes me want to learn everything all at once. I’m sure I can’t be the only book worm reading my kids’ texts after they go to bed at night. With that in mind, here are 16 non-fiction books that will get you in the September back-to-school reading spirit.

Books That Teach You To Do Things

On Writing by Stephen King - Stephen King writes so much he makes it look easy. In this book though you get the background into the hours and hours he puts into his craft. Part how-to and part memoir of a great American writer, he reads the audiobook himself, and it it superb.

100 Recipes: The Absolute Best Ways To Make The True Essentials By America's Test Kitchen - This book is exactly as promised. The best way to cook almost everything you’d want to cook. I love it, and check it out of the library at least once a year.

The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith - This book is a good antidote to my personal decorating style which is “It doesn’t have to be beautiful to be good enough.” Give it a try if you need a change in your house, but don’t have tons of time or money.

Random Facts About Things You May Never Have Thought Much About

A Clearing In The Distance by Witold Rybczynski - You may not think you care about the trials and tribulations of Frederick Law Olmsted, but this book is super fascinating. I read it when I was visiting the Biltmore Estate, but that’s not required to enjoy it.

The Residence by Kate Andersen - A look at the presidents that you won’t get anywhere else. You can have feelings about politics and campaign promises, but can you really trust a politician if they don’t teat their pastry chef well?

The Road Not Taken: Finding America in the Poem Everyone Loves and Almost Everyone Gets Wrong by David Orr - A deep dive into one of America’s most quoted poems. It’s a short book well worth the time.

Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens by Steve Olson - One of my earliest school memories was my teacher bringing in a glass jar of ashes from Mt. St. Helens. Then it seemed like I didn’t hear another thing about it until I read this really interesting book. Now I’m obsessed.

Leaving Home

Grandma Gatewood's Walk by Ben Montgomery - This is a good one for East Coast hikers who are feeling their years. Anything you’re worried about doing, this lady in her 60’s did it in keds.

Walking With Plato by Gary Hayden - I liked the intermingling of philosophy and walking, and I really liked the relationship of the walkers. This is a nice, soothing book if that’s what you’re in the mood for.

The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau - Everyone needs a quest, and this book will help you realize that. Plus it’s fun to read about what other people are doing in the name of pursuit.

Apollo 8 by Jeffrey Kluger - This is a great book about man’s first Moon orbit, and if you get the audiobook the recordings of the chatter between Houston and Apollo 8 will take your breath away. This was one of my favorite listening experiences ever.

Braving It by James Campbell - This father and daughter adventure story was sweet, and made me realize my kids are capable of more than I give them credit for.

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My favorite non-fiction books from 2016

Earlier this year, I made a goal to read or listen to fifty non-fiction books. I read 47 - not bad, considering I'm in the middle of 3 non-fiction books right now, and I still have 11 days left to go in the year.

My non-fiction books look a lot different from my reading list I created at the end of last year. I managed to get through only 15 of 40 on my list. I can't decide if I need to read harder, or if I need to ease up a bit on my list. I have some very ambitious books on my list while my actual non-fiction reading leaned more towards travel memoirs and cook books. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Here are the non-fiction highlights from 2016. (Note, I'm talking about books I read in 2016, not necessarily books published in 2016.)

Best General Non-fiction from 2016:

Leaving Orbit by Margaret Lazarus Dean - Makes you sad that you didn't pay more attention to the space shuttle program when it was around.

The Road Not Taken by David Orr - An in depth look at the poem everyone quotes without understanding.

When Books Went To War by Molly Guptil Manning - A testamnet to the power of reading.

Best travel memoirs from 2016:

Grandma Gatewood's Walk by Ben Montgomery - Read this book if you want to feel weak (but in a good way.)

Walking with Plato by Gary Hayden - An excellent walking book where the walkers don't end up fighting or divorced at the end.

Braving It by Ben Campbell - A father and daughter go to backwoods Alaska. What could go wrong?

Best Biographies from 2016:

Hissing Cousins by Marc Plyser and Timothy Dwyer - A great look at a historical rivalry.

Rosemary by Kate Clifford Larson - So sad, but extremely interesting.

Best Cookbooks from 2016:

100 Recipes by America's Test Kitchen - Everything in this book is amazing. I keep having grand plans of cooking through it.

Home Cooked by Anya Fernald - Another book of delicious food, but also a great book to curl up with on a stormy day.

Everyone is Italian on Sunday by Rachel Ray - No gimmicks in this book, just great food. Try the oatmeal.

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REVIEW: The Road Not Taken by David Orr

I first read about The Road Not Taken: Finding America in the Poem Everyone Loves and Almost Everyone Gets Wrong in a review last year, and loved the sound of it. I added it to my TBR, and then added it to my 2016 non-fiction reading list. then I took it out from the library twice, and returned it unread. I was a bit intimidated. Finally on my third check out, on my third renewal I had a deadline to either read the book, or return it unread again. Well, third time's a charm. I picked this up earlier this week, and blew through it in two days.

I wouldn't consider myself a poetry fan, but do like to read Frost's poems, especially before I go on a trip to New England. Other than that I didn't really know much about him. Then I read this: "...one should bear in mind that Frost was the kind of man who, first, courts the woman he loves by printing up a volume of his own writing and, second upon feeling himself rejected by that woman, travels over five hundred miles in order to walk into a swamp." Oh Mr. Frost, you are interesting, aren't you?

After a brief biography Orr goes on to consider the poem line by line, the legend of Robert Frost, common misinterpretations, and their connection with the American psyche. This is one of those books where you learn a ton without feeling like you're doing it. Even if you don't like poetry, I think you should read this book. If nothing else it makes for good conversation when you're stuck in an awkward conversation with your boss.

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