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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