This category turned out to be one of the hardest to decide; this was an excellent year for adult nonfiction in particular.
The Night Circus
I was immediately drawn into the world of a mysterious circus that only appears at night. It’s a strange read at times, but if you roll with it and accept it, you’ll have quite the magical read. Out of the adult fiction I read this year, this was the highlight.
Rin Tin Tin: The Life and Legend
This brilliant account of a World War I German Shepherd puppy who saved the Warner Brothers company and inspired a dynasty was ten years in the making. Orlean also inserts her personal stories of her own love for dogs and of her journey while researching Rin Tin Tin’s story. A truly remarkable read.
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, And the Murder of a President
I didn’t post a review of this, which is too bad. A terrific NPR interview with the author tuned me into this book. We obviously have many NPR fans in our community, because this book soon stacked up an impressive amount of holds after that interview . I knew next to nothing about James Garfield before reading this, and I soon discovered that he was quite an intelligent and forward-thinking man, particularly for his era. Candice Millard recreates the exciting and bewildering years of the late 19th century, when the country was only just starting to recover from the Civil War and when the golden era of inventions and discovery was on its cusp. Alexander Graham Bell figures prominently in this book; someone needs to write a new comprehensive biography of this man (please?). This is narrative nonfiction at its best.
Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World
Rock the Casbah is an extraordinary glimpse into the multifaceted societies in the Middle East. Concentrating on the struggles being fought by traditionalists, extremists, and moderates in Middle Eastern communities, this is a fascinating look at the young Muslim revolutionaries, filmmakers, stand up comics and actors, feminists, and game changers in this ever-changing part of the world.
My other 2011 lists won't show up until the beginning of January. I'm still reading!