Grannycary - Bibliography repo

List of Fat Nonfiction Page-turners

I don’t know if there is an official name for this category of books, but if I have a favorite genre of books it is this: big fat non-fiction books meticulously researched, written in an accessible and compelling style, usually bounded by some kind of giant story arc. Is it not narrative non-fiction, which is (in the best case) things like In Cold Blood where it is written as a novel. (I actually have little tolerance for most narrative non-fiction.) It is not just “non-fiction,” which could be anything from slogging academic texts to self-help books. And it doesn’t include books like Devil in the White City, which may have been striving to be counted among the books on this list but falls (far) short in its descent into sensationalism and lack of real insight. I don’t think there is a name for this category of books, but maybe if I start putting a list down a name will present itself. Whatever we call it, this list is very closely mapped to my list of all-time favorite books (though missing, obviously, the novels I love and more explanatory texts like Essence of Decision. One thing I have noted about these books is they tend to be written by people who were trained as journalists. Make of that what you will. I also notice they tend to be written by white dudes – but hopefully that is a reflection of the fact that I usually discover these books when they are approaching the decades-old mark and thus publishing was even more in the grip of systemic racism then than it is now, rather than a reflection of my own tastes.

They are fat, they are compelling, they are fascinating: nonfiction page-turners:

  1. The Power Broker
  2. The Last Place on Earth
  3. The Gun
  4. Fatal Shore
  5. Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
  6. Son of the Morning Star
  7. Rising Tide
  8. The Guns of August
  9. The Modernist City
  10. (Nature’s Metropolis)
    • (This one is actually a little too instructive/explanatory to be fully included in this list. That’s not a criticism – the best parts of the book are the instructive parts – just that it leans towards the academic text side of things rather than the narrative side. But is unquestionable a great (fat) book.)
  11. (For God, Country, and Coca-Cola)
    • (Maybe? I read it a very long time ago and I don’t remember exactly how good it was.)