Finishing up our holiday book buying guides, we land a list of nonfiction titles that are captivating, interesting, and compulsively readable. Even those who profess to dislike nonfiction will find themselves drawn into the stories here, which include such a diverse range that you're bound to find a gift that appeals to that one person you can never figure out what to get for Christmas.
From left to right, top to bottom...
1. Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson // Follows the Arab Revolt and all the ensuing plots to control the Middle East toward the modern day make up of the region.
2. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan // A superbly researched biography of Jesus.
3. Run, Brother, Run: A Memoir of Muder in My Family by David Berg // Did you know that Woody Harrelson's father is a murderer? This true-crime murder drama, told by trial lawyer and brother of the murdered man, tells the tale.
4. Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson by Jeff Guinn // Through research and interviews, Guinn vividly fills in the background story and mysteries that have long surrounded Charles Manson.
5. After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story by Michael Hainey // A son, now a grown journalist, researches the cause and circumstances of his father's death.
6. The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan // The town of Oak Ridge, TN, was top secret and did not appear on any maps, but for years, the young women who lived and worked there helped build the atomic bomb. Mind blowing.
7. Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier by Tom Kizzia // A homesteading family who aren't as pure as they appear. A man vs. government fight over land. An engrossing look at power on its many scales.
8. Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair by Anne Lamott // An inspirational title about finding balance in life and find ourselves in the face of infinite hardships.
9. Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws who Hacked Ma Bell by Phil Lapsley // A highly original tale of the phone's rise to power and its huge flaw that allowed it to be exploited by "phone phreaks," mobsters, and more.
10. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach // "America's funniest science writer" takes you on a journey that starts in your mouth and ends in your... digestive system.
11. The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks by Amy Stewart // The history of the plants that humans have turned into alcohol, complete with perfect cocktail recipes.
12. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed // When a woman loses everything, she hikes alone for 1,000 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail to find herself again. Powerful.