There are only a few days left of 2014, and I’m desperately scrambling to wrap up my reviews! I read a few fantastic non-fiction titles this year that I didn’t get around to reviewing, so I’d like to briefly give them some love before the year ends.
Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture by Dana Goodyear
Journalist Dana Goodyear dives head first into foodie culture, giving readers a glimpse into the fascinating community of people who push culinary boundaries, from the raw food movement to molecular gastronomy to eating psychologically difficult foods. It’s a fascinating, informative book, but — ironically — I wouldn’t recommend eating *while* you read it, unless you have a stomach of steel.
The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
This collection of essays about the various ways we respond to one another’s pain was a surprise hit earlier this year. Jamison asks some interesting questions about what it means to be empathetic, how we should relate to someone’s pain, and whether feeling another’s pain is an essentially selfish act. Her writing is lovely and thought-provoking, but something I couldn’t quite put my finger on kept me from really loving this collection.
What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund
Peter Mendelsund, a leading book cover designer, uses a unique format to dissect how we turn physical text into mental images when we read books. This little book is filled with gorgeous illustrations that drive home his points, making it an interesting object to hold. It wasn’t quite as enlightening or thought-provoking as I had hoped it would be, but it was an enjoyable read.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
This essay collection, inspired by Sedaris’ move from New York to Paris, was the first Sedaris book I’ve ever read, and I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped to. Although his writing is funny, I found his essays to be a bit too formulaic for my taste.
Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Lives for the Better by Clive Thompson
I know you’ve heard it: the ubiquitous moaning and groaning about how our reliance on technology is shortening our attention spans, crippling our memories, and making us dumber in general. Clive Thompson combats this viewpoint with fascinating real-world examples of how technology is changing the way we think, work, connect, and create for the better. I used up nearly an entire pack of post-it flags in this book! It’s really fantastic.