Nonfiction Books I recommend

This post by Calpundit on Bill Clinton’s “Favorite” books seems awfully titled toward nonfiction, and it seems a wee bit calculated.
Much of the talk in my circle of friends on the Blogs and LJ’s usually revolve around Fictional works.
I’m going to mention some favorite Non fiction books that I think you might enjoy.


Nonfiction Books that Jvstin likes:
Elegant Universe, by Brian Greene
String Theory, the hottest thing in physics and cosmology, is elegantly explained. This is the book recently made into a PBS miniseries that I’d love to have on DVD.
Cosmos, by Carl Sagan
The Original and still the best. Getting a little long in the tooth, yes, but the sheer wonder of the universe is conveyed just as well in these pages as it is in the tv series.
Guns, Germs and Steel, by Jared Diamond
Why and how did Europe go from a backwater to come to dominate the world? Why were the Native Americans still in the Stone Age when Columbus arrived? A fascinating study, which neatly refutes superiority theories based on race, religion, and the like.
Fortune Is a River : Leonardo Da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli’s Magnificent Dream to Change the Course of Florentine History, by Roger D. Masters
Did YOU know that Machiavelli and Da Vinci knew each other? And that they had a bold ambitious plan, never realized, to turn Florence into a full seaport? A historical footnote because it failed, this is a look into a relatively obscure chapter in the lives of two of the most memorable men in 16th Century Italy.

New Penguin Atlas of Ancient History, by Colin McEvedy

Penguin puts out a line of small, relatively inexpensive (~$15) historical atlases from various time periods in history. This one is one of my favorites, covering the Ancient world (Europe to India) from the prehistoric to the fall of the Roman Empire.
Dictionary of Imaginary Places, by Alberto Manguel
Is this NF? I’m not quite sure, but every lover of fantasy, every player of RPGs, everyone of my friends, basically, should have this book. And revel in it. It has 1200 entries and maps from classic locations in fantastic literature, from Homer to Harry Potter. The tone and style is that of a true Encyclopedia or Dictionary, treating the places as if they really exist.
A Short History of Byzantium, by John Julius Norwich
Short only in the sense that it is an abridgement of his massive three-volume Magnum Opus on Byzantium, a comprehensive look at Byzantium’s origin, apogee, and fall.
Five Kingdoms: An Illustrated Guide to the Phyla of Life on Earth, by Lynn Margulis
Covering every phylum of every Kingdom of life, this book tries to briefly survey the wide range of life on Earth, from conifers to archaeobacteria, to mammals. Illustrated wonderfully, too. It requires some biological literacy, but its comprehensiveness is astounding, for the price.
Annals of the Former World, by John McPhee
A look at the geology of North America, the easy to read but never dumbed down John McPhee just seems to know how to get his geological friends to explain matters in a way a layman can understand. (Or in my case, someone with not *much* in the way of geological classes). And yet, McPhee never halts from giving the human story of the places he goes.
I think that set should do…for today.