In the Amazon Books editor’s picks for the best nonfiction of the month: An outstanding debut collection of unusual and original essays; an exploration of courage and curiosity from bestselling author Brené Brown; a deep-dive into the disaster that ended the era of supersonic air travel; and two books about books, including the latest from The Orchid Thief author Susan Orlean, and possibly the most comprehensive TBR list ever compiled.
Impossible Owls: Essays by Brian Phillips
Since his days writing for the long-gone and lamented Grantland, Phillips has consistently produced original, thought-provoking, and nuanced takes on culture and whatever catches his attention. In one of the best nonfiction collections of the year—if not the best—he heads north to report on the Iditarod, prowls for tigers in India, and untangles a creepily twisted family tree in Oklahoma. And more. This is a fine debut.
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
Anyone at all familiar with Orlean’s The Orchid Thief knows that she can peer through the keyhole of a seemingly picayune topic and see endless fascination on the other side of the door. The Library Book explores the world of, well, books and reading through a Los Angeles library lost to fire, possibly arson, in 1986. We love books about books, and now we eagerly await the Charlie Kaufman/Nicolas Cage film adaptation. Please.
Last Days of the Concorde: The Crash of Flight 4590 and the End of Supersonic Passenger Travel by Samme Chittum
It’s been almost 20 years since Flight 4590 burst into flames taking off from Charles de Gaulle Airport and killed all 109 aboard, ending the brief but glamorous era of supersonic travel. This companion to a Smithsonian Channel series dives deep into the disaster, the investigation, and aftermath, presenting a complex and technical story in a context accessible to any reader interested in the history of aviation.
Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown
Great leaders, Brown shows us, are willing to stay curious, have tough conversations, and be brave. With her signature no-nonsense style, humor, and storytelling flair, Brown demonstrates how we can bring connection and courage to work and change the way we live.
1,000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life-Changing List by James Mustich
Look here, another book about books! With Mustich’s wide-ranging, diverse, and comprehensive collection, you’ll never have to wonder what to read next again. But you’re going to need a bigger bedside table.
More of the best Nonfiction of October:
- LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media by P. W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking
- Beautiful Country Burn Again: Democracy, Rebellion, and Revolution by Ben Fountain
- Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World by Scott Harrison
- Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking
- The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis
- The Souls of Yellow Folk: Essays by Wesley Yang
- Brand by Hand: Blisters, Calluses, and Clients: A Life in Design by Jon Contino
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