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The Sound of Ideas

2009 Best Non-Fiction Selections

Posted Friday, December 4, 2009

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2009 Best Non-Fiction Selections Trying to find the right gift for all the people on your holiday shopping list? Try a book. Friday morning at 9 Regina Brett and guests comb the shelves to come up with the most interesting reads of 2009. They'll help select the best biography for Uncle Joe, a great analysis of the changing political landscape for Dad and books on what we can learn from this recession for those soon-to-be college graduates. Books that enlighten the mind--and make for great holiday gifts!


Other, Community/Human Interest, Miscellaneous, Holiday


Parul Sehgal, Non-fiction Editor, Publishers Weekly
Megan Sullivan, Head Buyer, Harvard Book Store
Dave Ferrante, Owner, Visible Voice Books

Additional Information

Check out Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2009 list
Harvard Book Store's Holiday Hundred features some of the best hardcover and paperback titles of the year.

Dave Ferrante’s Picks:
Return of Depression Economics: Paul Krugman
Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How we Can Recover
edited by Katrina Van Heuvel
Marx’s General: Tristum Hunt
Green Metropolis: David Owen
The New Great Game: Lutz Kleveman
Ghost Wars: Steve Coll
Opium Season: Joel Hafvenstein
The Photographer: Into War Torn Afghanistan With Doctors Without Borders, By Emmanuel Guibert (graphic novel)
A Peoples History of American Empire: Howard Zinn (graphic Novel)
The Guide to Ohio Vegetable Gardening: James A Fizzell
A Kids Guide To Giving: Freddi Zeiler
Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records John Cook

Parul Sehgal’s Recommendations:
Bright-Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich
A Paradise Built in Hell by Rebecca Solnit
Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford
The Big Burn by Timothy Egan
Green Metropolis by David Owen
In Cheap We Trust by Lauren Weber
After America by Paul Starobin/When China Rules the World by Martin Jacques

Megan Sullivan’s Suggestions:
The New Literary History of America edited by Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors
The Fourth Part of the World by Toby Lester
The Book of Codes by Paul Lunde
A Gambling Man: Charles II’s Restoration Game by Jenny Uglow
Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits by Linda Gordon
Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
Justice by Michael Sandel
Wrestling with Moses by Anthony Flint
The War that Killed Achilles by Caroline Alexander

ideastream® staff picks:
Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives
It’s about the military personnel who have to tell soldiers’ families that a loved one was killed in action.  It’s beautiful.
-Regina Brett, co-host, The Sound of Ideas

My favorite book that I read this year was a memoir written by Jeannette Walls called The Glass Castle. She tells about her literally crazy parents and dysfunctional childhood. It was a miracle that she survived. It was really good. She has written another story about her grandmother called Half-Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel. Both books have gotten great reviews.
-Jean O’Malley, Educational Services Programming Coordinator

“Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” a memoir by U. S. President Barack Obama. I wanted to learn more about President Obama’s formative years, especially his experience working as a community organizer for a nonprofit on Chicago’s south side; he did not disappoint. I also enjoyed President Obama’s captivating and lyrical writing style.
-Gail Grizzell, Grants Director

Here’s one I just bought as a Christmas gift:
“Breaking News” by Martin Fletcher, NBC News’ Tel Aviv Bureau Chief & Correspondent
I heard Martin Fletcher speak at the Mandel JCC Festival of Jewish Books & Authors, and his stories were amazing!
-Grace Heese

Mary Karr’s new memoir “Lit” just came out so I picked up her first memoir “The Liar’s Club.” It was great.  She set the stage for the memoir writing boom we’ve experienced in the last decade or so.  She doesn’t hold back and that’s refreshing.
-Bridget De Chagas, Producer, The Sound of Ideas

The book I’m reading now is Joel Osteen’s “It’s Your Time.”
-Joyce Schneider, Content Support Coordinator

Leave a Comment

Please follow our community discussion rules when composing your comments.

Melanie, Cleveland Heights 10:45 AM 12/4/09

I have two:  for anyone interested (and who shouldn’t be?) in what’s happening in Afghanistan, the book “Ghost Wars”, by Stephen Coll, provides a great historical context.  It deals with the history of the US involvement in Afghanistan dating back to the ‘70s, yet somehow manages to read like a novel.  I believe it won the Pulitzer Prize. 

Secondly, “God’s Problem” is written by a former Pastor who has rejected Christianity.  It deals with human suffering and how it’s addressed in the Bible.

Susan, Cleveland Heights 10:47 AM 12/4/09

In Praise of Slowness
by Carl Honore
Excellent read

Michael Lawrence, Trinity Commons Books 10:48 AM 12/4/09

1. (New) THE CASE FOR GOD by Karen Armstrong
2. (New) LIFE AMONG THE LUTHERANS by Garrison Keillor

Lynne, WCPN member 10:50 AM 12/4/09

One of many suggestions:
Sandra Dallas “The Chile Queen”
Great read
Real twist at the end
Author shows continuing growth in her wordsmithing.

Craig Rimlinger 10:52 AM 12/4/09

"Zeitoun” by Dave Eggers is one of the best accounts of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and how it nearly destroyed on family that one could ever read.

Kevin 10:55 AM 12/4/09

"A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church”
This is the memoir of Rembert Weakland, a disgraced Archbishop but it really shows his humanity as he grew up, became a monk

Michele Anderson 11:01 AM 12/4/09

I want to recommend “City of Gold - Dubai” by a former Clevelander, Jim Krane. This is a very timely book given the default of Dubai on its massive debt. It is a fascinating story about this city’s rapid rise from a sleepy port to a major metropolis. As this financial drama unfolds in the news, Jim Krane’s book can fill in the background on the Dubai story.

Janie 11:20 AM 12/4/09

Did anyone catch the name of the book that was in the commercial with the name of something along the lines of “The Lot: How Americans are now owned by real estate” or something like that?  I am not seeing it on the lists.  Thanks!

Parul Sehgal 10:42 AM 12/5/09

@ Michele Anderson: the book is Our Lot by Alyssa Katz. Highly recommended!


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