Summer reading: nonfiction

Chris Schluep on June 30, 2020

Summer reading: nonfiction

Every summer the Amazon editors put together a list of summer reads, and while hot summer fiction gets the spotlight, I always enjoy putting together a list of nonfiction books. There are some big names and some hidden gems in our 2020 list. So enjoy the warming weather, and enjoy some of the best nonfiction of the summer. 

The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History by Andy Greene

Summer is a good time to features some quirky books, and an oral history of the television show The Office falls into that category. This book is for the superfan of the show. Rolling Stone writer Andy Greene talks to writers, producers, and cast members to deliver readers the stories and memories from the individuals most involved in the production of the groundbreaking show The Office

Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life by Marie Kondo

I imagine when Marie Kondo and Scott Sonenshein first started talking about this book they didn't realize how many people would be working from home over the summer. Maybe you've tidied up your closets and drawers using Kondo's best selling The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. But now that you're working at home (unless you're using your closet as a home office), you're going to need some more help in tidying up your workspace. That's where this book comes in.

Faster: How a Jewish Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Beat Hitler's Best by Neal Bascomb

Neal Bascomb's book has all the elements of a great narrative history. A team of underdogs. A famous race. Cool cars. An unlikely hero. And working against the hero, some real bad guys. Bascomb's done his research here, and the pace of his storytelling will keep you turning the pages. This is a wonderful summer read, and a wonderful read in general.

The Vapors: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, America's Forgotten Capital of Vice by David Hill

Maybe it's just me, but I don't think a summer nonfiction list can exist without a dose of true crime. And if it has a hint of Southern Gothic, all the better. Hot Springs, Arkansas has a past that's way more sordid than most realize, and author David Hill is here to tell us about it. Horse racing, casinos, brothels, and the mob found their way to the little southern town, and Hill focuses on three characters—a bar girl, a mob boss, and a talented gambler who was the son of a Cherokee bootlegger—to weave their opportunistic, backstabbing, dark, dangerous, and rousing tale from a bygone era.

Becoming Better Grownups: Rediscovering What Matters and Remembering How to Fly by Brad Montague

Sometimes you stumble upon a book that you didn't realize you were waiting for. To be honest, I looked at the cover and thought there's no way I'd like this book. I'm glad I opened it. Author Brad Montague sought advice on life from the very young and the very old, and he incorporated it into Becoming Better Grownups, which is a bit of an emotional roller coaster, especially if you just give in to the message—but for many readers, it will feel like the book they really needed at this particular moment in time.

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