I enjoy non-fiction books, but I also find that adult non-fiction can quickly become overly technical or bogged down in minutia beyond my level of interest. I recall once reading a history of American guitar companies that would periodically list production of various models by year. Fortunately, I’ve found the youth library has a number of fun non-fiction titles that I feel other adults may want to know about. Because sometimes you might be only two-hundred pages interested in a subject.
Chocolate: Sweet Science & Dark Secrets of the World’s Favorite Treat by Kay Frydenborg
You’ve eaten it, you probably love it, but do you know where it comes from? Frydenborg explains the history of chocolate consumption and production; and even meets the scientists inventing new varieties.
Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science by John Fleischman
Phineas Gage was a railroad construction foreman who in 1848 walked away from an accident with a thirteen-pound iron rod pushed through his skull. The event understandably changed his life and our understanding of how the human brain affects personality. A fascinating, informative read that never bogs down in medical minutiae.
The Bronte Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Annie by Catherine Reef
A secluded house, an eccentric father, and imaginary kingdoms complete with their own languages. The Bronte sisters’ brief lives are as fascinating as the books they wrote.
Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini by Sid Fleischman
As a child, future Newberry medalist Fleischman was so fascinated by Harry Houdini he would eventually work professionally as a magician. As a consequence, this excellent biography also touches on the author’s own relationship with this childhood hero as he figures out his secrets.
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong
The story of Ernest Shackelton’s daring, ill-fated 1914 attempt to cross Antarctica; and his even more daring expedition across the ice to rescue his crew. Armstrong brings life to the story with archival photos and anecdotes of the crew members as they survived the cold, hunger and sometimes tedium.
Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy
The bicycle’s invention in the tail-end of the 19th century was a fad and a phenomenon in the western world. Women took to the new exercise, and for the first time found themselves traveling independently. At fewer than one hundred illustrated pages, this is a fun afternoon read full of detours about subjects such as women inventors and early celebrity cyclists (Annie Oakley!).