Mid-Year Must Reads: Nonfiction Edition

I’ve decided that there’s no sense in waiting till the end of the year to know the best of the best when it comes to reading. Although a GREAT number of must-read titles will be launched come fall (just in time for the holidays), a wonderful array of fiction, nonfiction, and YA fiction has already been burning up the book charts since January 1, 2012. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be showcasing some of the top-rated, most-read, chart-storming titles, starting with today: nonfiction.

My spouse wasn’t much of a reader until this year, and now he’s nearly matched me in the number of books we’ve collectively devoured over the last six months. His specialty, however, tends to be nonfiction – he prefers stories rooted in reality. With that in mind, if you’ve got a fellow giftee (or even yourself) that loves the written word but maybe not the fictional world, here are some of the most buzzy nonfiction books on the planet for 2012.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
It certainly helps any author when you’ve got the official Oprah stamp of approval on your book, but let’s give Cheryl Strayed some credit where it’s due when it comes to her ridiculously bestselling story: the woman’s TOENAILS fell off. How, you ask? By taking on a solo, 1,100 mile trek up a treacherous course that encompasses rocky mountains and sandy deserts alike. Why, you ask? Because she was 26, her life felt like it was in shambles, and despite having no experience as a hiker, she felt it would be therapeutic in piecing her life back together. The memoir has racked up tons of commercial and critical acclaim for the author’s fearless sense of discovery as much as for her incredibly raw emotional state throughout the book. It’s a great pick for anyone on your list that’s either going through a rough spot, or simply has that zest for adventure.

Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired–and Secretive–Company Really Works by Adam Lashinsky
Considering that one of last year’s most hotly-touted books was the Steve Jobs’ biography, it’s no small surprise that other books on the mystique of the world’s most valuable company would pop up – like Adam Lashinsky’s story of what it was really like to work under the reign of Jobs. Although not an employee himself, Lashinsky mined the inside scoop by conducting interviews, and using his own masses of research (this is the guy who predicted Tim Cook as Jobs’ successor, well before Cook was elevated to this prominent status in the company), to not only reveal the emotional atmosphere, but the smart business practices that may prove useful in your workplace. Altogether, this is a great book for any Apple junkie that’s looking for a new fix between product launches and post-Jobs’ biography, but it’s also an insightful business book for any executive-level leader on your shopping list.


Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever by Jack McCallum
Sure this book was just released in July but there’s no denying the magic of timing that has shot this book right up the charts over the last couple of weeks. Everyone knows the story of The Dream Team: the incredible, amazing 1992 USA men’s basketball team that captured the hearts and minds of sports fans worldwide. McCallum, as a seasoned sports reporter, was there for it all – from the guy’s professional careers through to the selection and training process, and sitting court side as they shone in Barcelona (and the parties and chats in-between). But why does a story like this need to be told 20 years later, especially when we know the outcome? Well for one, McCallum has conducted some fresh interviews to give the story some much-needed perspective. For another, every sporty lad and lady alike *knows* about The Dream Team, and will absolutely love this nostalgic kickback. Lest we forget, the names of the team are hardly faded – Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird anyone? A fantastic pick for the sports junkie on your list.

The End of Growth by Jeff Rubin

Economist, resource analyst, and doomsday prophet? Maybe not. In Jeff Rubin’s new, urgently-paced book, he argues that our (arguably unsustainable) years of economic growth in first world countries has always been supported by nearly unlimited access to affordable, abundant fuel sources (hi, oil). With those years and resources quickly drying up – and behemoth population swells causing us to do more with less – Rubin maintains that our growth is finally going to hit a very stiff brick wall in the very near future. But is that necessarily a bad thing? Although the book is packed with some hard realities, it’s also somewhat optimistic, pointing to research that shows people with much less than us are just as, if not moreso, happy – even if their GDP is stagnant. Your business-minded sibling or parent will definitely dig this sobering yet smart look at our planet, but it’s also a great option for your idealist college-age pal or relative, to inspire them to be the change in our next generation.

Quiet by Susan Cain
This book warms the cockles of my often-introverted self. In a passionate appeal, Susan Cain’s exhaustively researched yet deeply human book broadcasts to the world how much we’re losing by not valuing society’s introverts – even though they’ve already proven themselves worthy as in the case of the minds behind a quite famous painting of sunflowers, and the very thing I’m typing on, the home computer. What’s cool about this volume is it’s neither a ‘tolerance for introverts!’ tome, nor is it strictly a guide for introverts to stop being so damn introspective and quiet. It’s an inspirational, educational book that shows how success can be achieved for introverts and working with introverts alike. Naturally, this is a cool gift for the timid one of your circle of friends, but it’s also not a bad gift to pass onto a sibling, spouse, or parent that has a bouncing-off-the-walls personality that could do with a little reality check.

There you have it! Typically speaking, the nonfiction world erupts in the fall, expect to see some updated additions for the holiday season, when interest-buying is at its peak (i.e. you would buy a Dragon’s Den bio for a fan of business, inventions, or the show itself). In the meantime, let me get you started with a freebie pick: I’m giving away one copy of Inside Apple to a lucky reader. Here’s how to score:

1) Leave a comment by August 22nd on which title featured in this post would make it onto your own must-read list.

2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around August 1st to select the winner, who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.

3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible to participate in this promotion.

4) Bonus Entry: Tweet about this giveaway. Get creative – i.e. talk about more than just the link, and don’t write the same thing every day. Limited to one Tweet per day. Throw me the links to your Tweets in the comments below.

33 Responses to “Mid-Year Must Reads: Nonfiction Edition”
  1. Tracy says:

    Hmm, this is a tricky one…they all sound great and appeal to the different sides and layers of me.I’m like your hubby in that I’m not naturally a big reader for pleasure, mostly because of time restraints and other commitements, but with my summer break I’m finding myself catching up on my magazine pile and a great book would be a nice next step. They’d all make my good-intention-to-read list but the one I’m most interested in is Inside Apple, followed by Quiet.

  2. Victoria Ess says:

    I’ve read Quiet and I loved it. It challenged a lot of commonsense ideas I had about what traits are needed for success — and also injected my introverted self with a boost of confidence! I’d add The End of Growth to my list.

  3. Jeannie Smyth says:

    I would like Quiet by Susan Cain. Im a introvert and this really speaks to me. I think that introverts are sometimes ignored and undervalued. This looks like it would be a good read.

  4. Prim says:

    The End Of Growth? They all sound cool, but this one caught my eye.

  5. Evan says:

    I would select Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever by Jack McCallum. I’m a longtime basketball fan and recreational player in past years. It’s the 20th anniversary of the Dream Team from 1992 … several of the players on the team are on the Top 50 Players of All-Time list from the NBA, and Jack McCallum is a great sports writer/journalist with ties to Sports Illustrated, etc. Thank you kindly!

  6. Liv says:

    What a great list of books. ‘Quiet’ would have to be my first choice. Since I am a huge fan of self help books, I feel I could gain a lot of inspiration & education from this book. Then I would pass it around to my family. I would also add Inside Apple to my must read list. I am very curious to see what when on inside this huge company.

  7. arash naghdi says:

    ‘Quiet’ is my first choice

  8. Susan says:

    I’m usually a fiction reader, but Quiet by Susan Cain has definitely piqued my interest. (As has Wild by Cheryl Strayed). #CGG

  9. Hannah says:

    I’ve been hearing about Wild all year long, so I’d have to go with that one.

  10. Cathy M says:

    I would choose Dream Team

  11. Audrey Skinner says:

    I would add Quiet to my list.

  12. Jessica Lord says:

    I would select “Quiet” to my must-read list

  13. Tracey says:

    Quiet would make it onto my own must-read list – it sounds very interesting.

  14. Jody says:

    The End of Growth by Jeff Rubin would be my pick.

  15. mousecat says:

    The End of Growth by Jeff Rubin sounds really interesting!!

  16. Grace says:

    These all look really cool but I think Wild would be my pick.

  17. alan shawn says:

    great contest

  18. Ashley says:

    I’m WILD for WILD.

  19. Lori P says:

    The End of Growth by Jeff Rubin is my must/should-read!

  20. Bex says:

    The boyfriend would love the basketball book but I think Quiet sounds cool. I’m an extrovert but my sis is an introvert..might b eneat to learn more about her.

  21. arash naghdi says:

    Quiet by Susan Cain

  22. Cathy C says:

    I think I would pick Wild to read, but they all look good and I have not read any of them so hope I win so I can

  23. sean pynaert says:

    Inside Apple looks interesting

  24. Debbie Petch says:

    Inside Apple sounds fascinating! I would like that book. Thanks.

  25. Jennifer R says:

    I would love to read “Wild”. It has been on my reading list for awhile now.

  26. Lucy elder kabatoff says:

    I would pick Wild to read.

  27. Jayne Cameron says:

    I would like to read Quiet

  28. Ali says:

    Quiet by Susan Cain

  29. intensev5 says:

    I would love to read Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired–and Secretive–Company Really Works by Adam Lashinsky

  30. prim says:

    quiet looks cool

  31. Sandy says:

    WIld and Inside Aplle would probably make it to my to-read list!

  32. Jan says:

    Not Dream Team because I don’t think professional athletes should be in the Olympics, hockey or basketball! Wild sounds very interesting and the woman who took this journey, by herself, sounds very brave.

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