Sunday, July 25, 2010


i am, admittedly, not a big reader of non-fiction.

most of the non-fiction books on my shelves have been gathering dust since college. and in my "favorites" book cases, there are only two tiny shelves populated by non-fiction:

(and if you look closely, you can see a few fiction titles creeping their way into the non-fiction sections, threatening to push the true stories off the "favorites" shelves altogether.)

a quick glance shows most of the books are memoirs, because even in my non-fiction, i want to read a good story.

however, it occurred to me today there is one non-fiction book - a reference book, no less - that i have read at least half a dozen times. in fact, i'm reading it right now.

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World is 850 pages of facts - no fiction.
and every time i plan a trip to WDW or DisneyLand, i read the unofficial guide cover-to-cover.
every. single. time.
why? (well, because i am a type-A commando vacation planner, especially when it comes to Disney.) but also because it is laugh-out-loud funny. it is great writing, plain and simple. it takes what could be an overwhelming chore and turns that chore into entertainment.
for example:

"Country Bear Jamboree has run for so long that the geriatric bears are a step away from assisted living and the fleas all walk with canes."

"When Disney first rolled out Magic Your Way, the No Expiration option actually was pretty reasonable. Well, they couldn't let that continue, could they?"

"Disney is sending a message here: FASTPASS is heaven; anything else is limbo at best and probably purgatory. In any event, you'll think you've been in hell if you're stuck in the regular line..."
some of the humor may be lost on non-disney fans, so i'm not advocating anyone go grab this book for a beach read or anything. i'm just making the point that non-fiction can be entertaining, and i need that reminder sometimes myself.

if your own non-fiction shelves are sparse like mine, and you're looking to fill them up, i personally recommend these titles:
The Genius Factory, by David Plotz and The Google Story

outside of my 4 copies of the Unofficial Guide (yes, four. don't judge me), Genius and Google are my fave non-fics.

i'd love recommendations from all of you. what other non-fiction out there tells a great, entertaining story? what should i add to my own shelves?


Ellen said...

One of my favorites is Not in Kansas Anymore, by Christine Wicker, in which she gets to know various "magical" groups across the US (vampires, practitioners of witchcraft, voodoo and hoodoo, etc). It's reeeally interesting, and I love how the author kept an open mind about topics many people would laugh off

Meredith said...

I love reading travel guides, and I tend to read them cover to cover while planning a trip. I also love biographies of powerful women--always makes me want to write a kickass female protagonist :)

Angie said...

Ok, the three I read recently were:

The Glass Castle - it's a memoir told almost like a fictional story. Very sad, brutal but entertaining at the same time.

Schindler's List - if you've seen the movie, then you should read the book. Things make so much more sense to me now. There were parts of it that I think were really left out of the movie, like the way that he cheated on his wife, but still was a truly amazing man.

And if you're into gangsters, read John Dillinger Slept Here. It tells all about the gangsters who hung around St. Paul, MN during the 20's and 30's. Ok, I'm from MN, so I'm sort of a biased, but it's still pretty darn good.

erinjade said...

nice! thanks for the suggestions everyone. interesting stuff!

Gem said...

You have to read Walt Disney's biography - Walt Disney: The Dark Prince of Hollywood. So juicy and gives great insight into his life.

And the new Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton biography - Furious Love. I've heard nothing but good about this, but it's a little pricey in hardback.

I'm into reading books about NYC history - hells kitchen in the drugs era, the mob, the secret deals that go on in real estate - and a psychology book about Doormen.

erinjade said...

a psych book on doormen? that sounds fascinating. send me a title! i think i'll pick that one up. and the Walt one too. thanks Gem!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

This sounds really amusing. I'm hoping to go to Disney World next year. I think I need to get this before I go.

I see you have Anthony Rapp's memoir. LOVE that one. Another non-fic book I like is No Easy Answers: The Truth Behind Death at Columbine by Brooks Brown

I'm a bit fascinated with school shootings and especially Columbine. Brooks grew up with Dylan Klebold (one of the shooters) and was sort of friends/enemies with Eric Harris (other shooter) so it's very fascinating!


erinjade said...

Lauren, if you are even THINKING about a disney vaca, especially to the world, you MUST go buy this book! i always buy it after i've started planning and then wish i'd bought it sooner. it is great for just disney dreaming and plotting.

the Columbine book sounds fascinating. i was in college when that happened, and it helped cement my decision to go into journalism, so i'm sure i'd love that book. thanks for the rec!

Gem said...

Keep meaning to email you this and forgetting: Doorman by Peter Bearman