Non-fiction: Not Just "Heavy" Reading

Some people associate non-fiction with textbooks and other weighty reading. It ain't necessarily so! Offered here is a mere sampling of books that are fascinating, mystifying, entertaining, or just plain fun - and all true.

Waiting for Aphrodite: Journeys Into the Times Before Bones

By Sue Hubbell

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In this book, the author takes us on a journey through the mysteries of time -- geological, biological, and personal -- as she writes of the evolution of life on this planet and the evolution of her own life: her childhood next to a Michigan graveyard; the three colleges where she "learned three things;" her twenty-five years keeping bees on a farm in the Ozarks; and finally her move to a "strange little house" in a small Maine town, "the place I wanted to grow old in."
Also available on audio.

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Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood

By Oliver Sacks

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"In an unforgettable portrait of an extraordinary mind, the distinguished neurologist who wrote Awakenings offers an account of his youth as fascinating as his celebrated case histories. Overflowing with humor, sadness, sensuous recollection, and the almost physical rapture of discovery, this bestseller re-creates the wonder of science as it is first experienced."

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The Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists are Unraveling the Mysteries of our Favorite Crustacean

By Trevor Corson

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A fascinating study of lobsters and their sex lives (!), trapping lobsters and studying lobsters and lobster wars and lobstermen and.... You get the idea!

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The Orchid Thief

By Susan Orlean

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John Laroche is a renegade plant dealer and sharply handsome guy, in spite of the fact that he is missing his front teeth and has the posture of al dente spaghetti. In 1994, Laroche and three Seminole Indians were arrested with rare orchids they had stolen from a wild swamp in south Florida that is filled with some of the world's most extraordinary plants and trees. Laroche had planned to clone the orchids and then sell them for a small fortune to impassioned collectors. After he was caught in the act, Laroche set off one of the oddest legal controversies in recent memory, which brought together environmentalists, Native American activists, and devoted orchid collectors. The result is a true tale that is strange, compelling, and hilarious.
Later made into the movie, Adaptation, starring Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep.

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The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession

By Mark Obmascik

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Three birding fanatics compete with each other and themselves to see the most number of birds in and around the U.S. in one year. Where they go, what they do, and how much they spend are almost unbelievable. Talk about obsessed!

Also available on audio.

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Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

By Mary Roach

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A few of the chapter titles will tell you more about this book than we can: A Head is a Terrible Thing to Waste; The Cadaver That Joined the Army; and Out of the Fire, into the Compost Bin. Need we say more????

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Running with Scissors: A Memoir

By Augusten Burroughs

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The true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her unorthodox psychiatrist who bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus. So at the age of twelve, Burroughs found himself amidst Victorian squalor living with the doctor's bizarre family, and befriending a pedophile who resided in the backyard shed.

Also available on audio.

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

By John Berendt

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Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty, early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares.
Available on audio as well as in a movie version starring Kevin Spacey and John Cusack.

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Hot Lights, Cold Steel: Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in a Surgeon's First Years

By Michael J. Collins, M.D.

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A fascinating and often touching account of an orthopedic surgeon's four-year residency. Share the ups and downs of a young man just starting out on his chosen career.

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Catch Me If You Can: The Amazing True Story of the Youngest and Most Daring Con Man in the History of Fun and Profit

By Frank W. Abagnale, Jr.

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Frank Abagnale pretended to be an airline pilot, an attorney, a professor, and a physician, among others, and conned a lot of people out of a lot of money. Hard to believe one person could get away with so much for so long in real life! His story is so compelling that it became a major feature film.
Also available in large print.

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