Santa’s Reading List: Nonfiction Edition

Let’s poke around in Santa’s bag some more and see what else he’s reading up on, shall we? Nonfiction books rarely get the same level of fervor as fictional tomes, but what’s crazy is they actually make pretty amazing gifts. All you have to do is tap into your loved one’s personal interests and presto, there’s likely a book out there that aligns with ’em. Case in point? These top titles which I’ve handpicked for your potential reading pleasure. I actually had my husband read a few of them for me, being much more of a subject matter expert on particular topics – and he’s given many ringing endorsements for all of the books he’s been paging through over the last few months. Note that for the purposes of this post, all book prices have been included at list price.

Orr My Story
For The Hockey Nut: Orr: My Story by Bobby Orr – $32
In a nutshell, this is Bobby’s life as Bobby saw it. If you’re a Bobby Orr fan you’ll already know most of his story, but he keeps it fresh by adding tidbits that he hasn’t previously shared with the world (at least in great detail) – like what happened after he got his bell rung by Pat Quinn in Toronto. If you don’t know much about Orr but are a hockey fan, you’ll enjoy the book as it’s an easy and quick read and gives fresh insight into one of the game’s greatest players. You also get to hear from other people, including the legendary Don Cherry, reflecting on Bobby’s career, plus Bobby himself gives his thoughts on the status of hockey today and into the future.

Amy 27
For The Musical Conspiracy Theorist: Amy, 27: Amy Winehouse and the 27 Club by Howard Sounes – $30
Although there is some myth to it, the 27 Club is a name assigned to the disproportionate number of musicians that have died at this young age. In particular, a notable ‘Big 6’ that includes Brian Jones (a founding member of the Rolling Stones), Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and most recently, Amy Winehouse. This book dissects the lives of the Big 6 in a parallel fashion to draw on similarities that may have pointed to Winehouse’s untimely passing. It takes a look at their childhoods to their first taste of fame to their inability to truly grasp massive success to their deaths, and the conspiracy theories that surround most of them. An interesting read for fans of any of these notable artists, 27 Club awareness or not.

Isa Does it
For The Resident Vegan / Vegetarian: Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week by Isa Chandra Moskowitz – $33

I first started eating a plant-based diet around the time vegan superchef Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s last major cookbook came out, the calorie conscious ‘Appetite for Reduction’. It’s been a couple of years since then so I was super excited to hear a new tome was on the way, packed with even more weeknight-friendly recipes. To put it simply, this book was long overdue: it is so comprehensive, loaded with so many photos and tips, with recipes covering every possible dinner course you could ask for (there are 3 separate chapters on soups, stews, and bowls, for example) plus bonuses on topics like breakfast, desserts, and meat-free proteins. Long story short, if you’ve got a veggie of any sort on your list, buy this book (if they haven’t already snapped it up for themselves.)

In My Shoes Tamara Mellon
For The Couture Admirer: In My Shoes: A Memoir by Tamara Mellon – $32

Oh my word this book was scandalous! Everyone knows Jimmy Choo, and perhaps they’re aware of the brand’s public face, Tamara Mellon. This book delves deep into the down and dirty behind the scenes stuff you had NO idea about. From the early hardscrabble days when Tamara’s unwitting namesake business partner nearly sunk the company to decades spent battling various private equity relationships to incredible personal strain in Tamara’s own family and love life, this book truly redefines what it means to write a ‘tell-all’. Whether you’re a massive Jimmy Choo fan or a sartorial observer, this is truly a dishy read that belongs on any fashionista’s wish list.


For The Cycling Junkie: Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever by Reed Albergotti & Vanessa O’Connell – $29
This book starts from day one of the largest sports scandal and business frauds in recent memory: the Lance Armstrong story. It’s written by two journalists who were following Lance Armstrong through his ups and downs in his personal life, his Livestrong business and  the Tour de France. Well-researched and well-written, it’s thrilling to see how the pieces were so neatly stacked up and then how quickly they came tumbling down for Lance and his closest allies. If you’re a cycling enthusiast this is a must, but a general sports fan will enjoy it too. The lying, cheating and deception of the world is so revealing, and at some points you feel bad about yourself for believing Lance through his seemingly impossible feat of endless Tour de France wins – including some after he was diagnosed with cancer. Eye-opening, shocking, enlightening, this is a jaw dropper of a book, even if you already think you know the story.

Elizabeth Smart My Story
For The Current Events King or Queen: My Story by Elizabeth Smart – $29.99

Most people ‘know’ the Elizabeth Smart story: a fourteen-year-old girl is kidnapped from her home in Salt Lake City, sexually and physically threatened and assaulted on a daily basis, only to be miraculously rescued nine months later. While Elizabeth’s story has something of a ‘happy ending’ – she was after all, returned to her family and has gone on to become a prominent social activist and news correspondent – for the first time ever she’s put digital pen to paper to speak out about what really happened during her captivity and the inner strength she gained from this incredibly trying time and the subsequent court case. It’s a good read for any sensationalist news buffs out there that want to get more insider scoop on this particularly high-profile case.

David and Goliath Malcolm Gladwell
For The Business Brain: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell – $32
Malcolm is one of the best storytellers in the applied psychology world. He unravels the mind and showcases why people do what they do. You don’t have to enjoy psychology to enjoy his works as his ability to break down these abstract principles into tangible storytelling examples is so effortless and enjoyable. At the end of the day, this book is more about how we think about obstacles and disadvantages and how we can and have overcome them. It’s a great book to have on the shelf if you’re a small business owner or a marketer in particular, but any existing fans of Gladwell will certainly be hoping for it under the tree too.

Johnny Cash The Life
For The Country Legend Fan: Johnny Cash: The Life By Robert Hilburn – $35

Having read numerous bios about Johnny, this is one of the most complete tomes out there. Diehard fans will recognize similar topics to what’s in other bios, but this particular take gives you a good third-party view into the life of Johnny from birth to death. After all, Cash was always good at telling a story, so you never knew what was true and what wasn’t. Author Robert Hilburn (a former music editor for the LA Times) jumps in and attempts to separate fact from fiction. After all, Johnny has been known to say, “I never let fact get in the way of a good story.” If you’re a Cash fan this is a must-read, but classic country music fans will like it too (particularly after the resurgence of interest in Cash after Walk the Line). You get a glimpse into Johnny’s rise into stardom while learning getting there is only half the battle. He lived the life of a rock star, a father, a lover, an addict and one of the most gifted songwriters this world has ever seen. And you get to relive all of it, page by page.

Power Foods For The Brain
For The Middling of Aged: Power Foods for the Brain: An Effective 3-Step Plan to Protect Your Mind and Strengthen Your Memory by Dr. Neal D. Barnard – $29.99
This book was intriguing to me for a number of reasons. First, I’m familiar with Dr. Barnard from his appearance in the film Forks Over Knives, which is what persuaded me to try out a plant-based diet (note what is – or isn’t – on the cover of this tome). Second, my parents are getting older and heck even I’m getting older, and the whole ‘you are what you eat thing’ is something they passed down onto me; I’m just wondering if they realized that what they’re eating could have a pretty incredible impact on their brains, for the better. This book touches preventative measures to avoid Alzheimer’s and dementia, based on groundbreaking research that gives this book some fresh ‘meat’ (for lack of a better word) compared to many other nutritional books out there. It’s got some surprising insight on what is and isn’t good for you in terms of food – even supposedly healthy supplements may put you at an increased risk for disease – but it goes beyond your diet to address some of the key health concerns we should all be thinking about. Some you’ve heard of (sleep is great!), some are specific and interesting (cardio improves your brain’s memory function!) – combined, they’ll help you feel better today for a hopefully more healthy outlook tomorrow. 

Man Repeller
For The Fashionista: Man Repeller: Seeking Love. Finding Overalls. By Leandra Medine – $28

New Yorker Leandra Medine’s Man Repeller blog is one of the most influential in the world. The writer’s self-deprecating, sarcastic wit combined with her fearless approach to fashion has won her legions of fans to date, thus a book was in order. This particular memoir plucks out a dozen or so key pieces in Medine’s wardrobe from childhood to a day where she wore a ‘big white dress’, and gives them context in terms of a particular coming-of-age moment in her fashion, love, and personal life. What’s surprising is the book ultimately harkens back to the Man Repeller concept – that Leandra’s sense of style is so daring and out there and kind of ugly-pretty, it’s made men reject her throughout her life. Readers may be surprised at how big of a component Medine’s love life is in the book, when on her blog it was mostly kept hush hush (until a watershed moment), but really, this book is more of a thesis on the concept of Man Repelling and that’s a critical part of the story. To be clear: it’s a fun, flippant, fashionable thesis, but very much, and surprisingly, theory-driven nonetheless.

Santa's Reading List Nonfiction Prize PackIf you’d like to add a little nonfiction reading into your life, I’ve got two prize packages filled with three hot nonfiction titles each to give away from Elizabeth Smart, Malcolm Gladwell and Bobby Orr. Here’s how to enter to win this suite of awesome reads:

1) Tell me in the comments below by January 5th, 2014: Which of these 10 nonfiction titles would you be most interested in reading and why?

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 January 6th, 2014 to select the winners, 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 for this promotion.

4) Bonus Entries: A handful of publishers have teamed up with me to pull together these great titles. Want to stay on top of their latest and greatest nonfiction releases? Then definitely sign up for their social media, and while you’re at it, earn bonus entries into this giveaway!

Raincoast Books – Is the publisher of Elizabeth Smart, My Story. Follow them on Twitter, tag them (and me @cdngiftguide) in a Tweet about which of their titles you’re most excited about (feel free to view their website to see more), and link back to your Tweet below.

Penguin Books Canada – Is the publisher of Orr: My Story, Wheelmen, Amy, 27, and In My Shoes. Follow them on Twitter, leave a comment on their wall about which of their titles you’re most excited about (feel free to view their website to see more), and link back to your comment below.

Hachette Book Group – Is the publisher of David & Goliath, Power Foods For The Brain, Isa Does It, Man Repeller and Johnny Cash: The Life. Follow them on Twitter, leave a comment on their wall about which of their titles you’re most excited about (feel free to view their website to see more), and link back to your comment below.

5) Bonus Entries Part Deux: Add as many of these titles as you’re genuinely interested in reading to GoodReads. Leave a link back to your GoodReads to-read list and earn one extra entry per addition.

82 Responses to “Santa’s Reading List: Nonfiction Edition”
  1. beach650 says:

    I’ve enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell’s other books, so I’m most curious about David and Goliath.

  2. Lori P says:

    Number One on my list is ‘David and Goliath’, by Malcolm Gladwell. Tied for second place are ‘My Story’ by Elizabeth Smart and ‘Wheelmen’ by Albergotti & O’Connell.

  3. Joan G says:

    I would love the Bobby Orr’s Orr My Story for my grandson – he’s plays hockey and is interested in the history and the great players of the past.

  4. Kimberley says:

    I would most like to read Malcolm Gladwell’s newest book David & Goliath. I am a huge fan of this Canadian transplant.

  5. Juliee Fitze says:

    Power Foods for the brain – I need it for my memory

  6. Jane Hammill says:

    My Story Elizabeth Smart. I adore books about triumph over adversity and survivors so inspirational and uplifting.

  7. ikkinlala says:

    I’d be most interested in reading ‘Orr: My Story’ because is my dad’s all-time favourite hockey player.

  8. Laura says:

    Johnny Cash – The Life for sure because I’m a huge fan of his 🙂

  9. Julie G. says:

    I’d like to read the Bobby Orr book – saw an interview with him and think the book would be a very interesting read. My hubby would like this as well. We’re big hockey fans.

  10. Emilia says:

    David and Goliath I like learning through story telling

  11. Athena says:

    I’d like to read the Elizabeth Smart My Story – it just looks like a really intriguing read.

  12. Athena says:

  13. Athena says:

  14. Athena says:

  15. linnett says:

    My Story by Elizabeth Smart, very courageous young girl.

  16. Evan says:

    The title which most caught my eye was For The Country Legend Fan: Johnny Cash: The Life By Robert Hilburn. Cash has been one of the most talked-about artists over the past half century, and definitely made his mark on music. Thank you.

  17. Annette Chai says:

    Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath .. I enjoy his books.

  18. natalie sq says:

    I always read serious novels, but when it comes to nonfiction I really enjoy a good comedy especially a sarcastic one, I would most like to read: Man Repeller: Seeking Love. Finding Overalls.

  19. Pam says:

    Big fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s books

  20. alan parker says:

    malcolm gladwells david and goliath

  21. Erin McSweeney says:

    For The Resident Vegan / Vegetarian would be a great book to use in trying to bring more veggies into my diet.

  22. GARRY S says:


  23. Sandi Tymchuk says:

    Of the above, the Wheelmen book would be very interesting–I’m curious as to how extensive the conspiracy is/was. Of the three, the Elizabeth Smart story would be inspiring to me.

  24. I would love the Bobby Orr one for my son,as he loves Bobby Orr,and I know this would make a great gift for him.!

  25. I follow Penguin Canada on twitter & tweeted them

  26. Donna L. says:

    I’d like to red Bobby Orr’s book because he’s my husband’s hero and I was lucky to meet him once.

  27. Jeannie says:

    Once again, thank you for having a book contest! I just entered your fiction book contest and I love, love books! Im not sure which book I would love to read the most but I love fashion so maybe In My Shoes or Man Repeller. I also think that Power Foods for the Brain would be a really interesting book to read as well. Oh what the heck, I want to read them all!

  28. Anne Derkat says:

    I’d love the Bobby Orr book for my 2 hockey playing grandsons.

  29. the Elizabeth Smart story would be a great book to read i know it’s a very strong story and thanks for this giveaway also i love reading

  30. Susan says:

    As my father passed away from Alzheimer Disease, I’d be most interested in reading Power Foods for the Brain: An Effective 3-Step Plan to Protect Your Mind and Strengthen Your Memory.

  31. John Crawley says:

    David & Goliath to gain some introspection

  32. CLC says:

    I’d like to read the Elizabeth Smart story.

  33. Janice Lewis says:

    In my Shoes sounds like a good behind the scenes look at where Jimmy Choos all started, might be good as an entrepreneur to read about mistakes and how they got to where they are today

  34. sandra furlotte says:

    I would love Orr My Story for my husband who is his greatest fan.

  35. the Elizabeth smart book. It seems like it could help me grow as a person.

  36. silverneon2000 says:

    I would choose Orr: My Story by Bobby Orr for my Husband as he enjoys Hockey and interested in reading about Hockey from players from the past to today so I know he would enjoy this.

    silverneon2000 at yahoo dot com

  37. silverneon2000 says:

    . Follow Raincoast Books on Twitter @silverneon2000

    and tweeted

    silverneon2000 at yahoo dot com

  38. silverneon2000 says:

    Follow PenguinCanada on Twitter @silverneon2000

    and tweeted

    silverneon2000 at yahoo dot com

  39. Audrey Skinner says:

    Would love to read the Bobby Orr book as he is one of my all-time favorite hockey players.

  40. sean pynaert says:

    I’d love to read Orr – I’m a huge hockey fan.

  41. KellyPC says:

    I’d love to read Johnny Cash:the Life. I was never a hardcore fan but there are tons of his songs I love, I watched a show about him last year & I’d love to know more about him.

  42. Angela Mitchell says:

    I’d love to read Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week by Isa Chandra Moskowitz . I love vegetarian cooking and love trying new recipes.

  43. Shirano says:

    I want to read Malcolm Gladwell’s book since I have enjoyed his other works (Outliers was very interesting).

  44. Crystal Kordalchuk says:

    I would love to read Amy Winehouse’s book as I’m curious to have more insight to the life she led before she past.

  45. Holly says:

    Shoes!! I would read In My Shoes. I want a pair of Jimmy Choos!

  46. Grace says:

    I’d like to read the book about Amy Winehouse – I’m so curious about the 27 Club

  47. Kristina Ziegler says:

    Orr because my husband always talks about Bobby Orr and I would love to read about his life!

  48. cookie3 says:

    I’d love to read Amy, 27: Amy Winehouse and the 27 Club by Howard Sounes
    only because I love all things music related.

  49. Tegan says:

    Isa does it is on my wishlist right now! I can’t wait to try it out.

  50. Victoria Ess says:

    David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell because I really found his other books, like Outlier, fascinating.

  51. Victoria Ess says:

  52. Victoria Ess says:

  53. Victoria Ess says:

  54. julia g says:

    Your prize pack actually contains my top three choices. Elizabeth Smart’s book is my top choice.

    I have added four of your picks to my “To Read 2014” list on Good Reads.

  55. power foods for the brain…i love reading about food

  56. Jessica Lord says:

    I would like to read “Johnny Cash, The Life” as I’m a big fan

  57. In my Shoes, i am a big fan of Jimmy Choo

  58. Julia H says:

    I’d be most interested in reading David and Goliath, because I’ve read another book by that same author (I think it was called Blink), and I really enjoyed it.

  59. Vicki says:

    I’ve read a few Malcolm Gladwell books and was planning on getting around to David and Goliath. I also could always use more vegan recipes!

  60. debra says:

    would like to read david and goliath as have enjoyed his previous books

  61. Francine says:

    I’d love to have either Bobby Orr’s “Orr My Story” or “Johnny Cash: The Life” for my husband, as he’s a big fan of them both.

  62. beewbedard says:

    My Story by Elizabeth Smart – I have been wanting to read this – what an amazing women

  63. beewbedard says:

  64. Hard to choose .. BUT .. I love conspiracy theories and am a little celebrity obsessed .. I would read For The Musical Conspiracy Theorist: Amy, 27: Amy Winehouse and the 27 Club first. I have been interested in the 27 Club because I love The Doors and Kurt Cobain .. so this would be an interesting read !

  65. I love biographies, especially about stuff I would not normally be interested in. Knowledge is power !! I have added 7 of the above books to my reading list # 332 – 338 !!

  66. Karen says:

    I love reading!

  67. Linda says:

    I would love to read Barnard’s book on Power Foods as my parents are in their 80’s and want to maximize their good health. I also have been striving to follow a healthy diet over the past year and would like to learn more.

  68. Emilia says:

  69. Emilia says:

  70. Genevieve Franklin says:

    I’d love to read Johnny Cash:the Life I’ve always been a big fan !

  71. I really want to read My Story by elizabeth Smart. I think she’s an amazing person to have gone through what she went through, and come out of of it all right.
    andrea_hockeygirl at hotmail dot com

  72. Diane says:

    I’m most interested in reading David and Goliath because I loved Malcolm’s other books.

  73. Megan Young says:

    I would like to read the Elisabeth Smart book because I would love to hear her side of the story.

  74. edmontonjb says:

    I’m most interested in My Story by Elizabeth Smart because I’ve been enthralled in her story since the very beginning and would love to read her own words about the whole ordeal.

  75. Judy Hunting says:

    I would love to read Bobby Orr, as both me and my husband are hockey nuts

  76. Burcu says:

    For The Business Brain because I read Blink and it was amazing.

  77. Angela says:

    I’d like to read these three: man repeller, bobby orr and david and goliath!!

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