Top 10 Nonfiction Books from the Library Archive

Your trusty archivist has a week off, mostly to read. So I thought why not share some of the non-fiction books that fill my tilting libraries.

E-books are great, but there’s just something about the feel of a book and the ability to write in the margins. I divide my stacks into five basic categories: non-fiction, novels, plays (scripts), poetry (lyrics), and science fiction. These are the top 10 non-fiction that I guard against anyone borrowing.

Your Herald Archive ideas for topics to explore are fantastic, so email [email protected] Look for those who start again next week. Here is my leave entry for this week. (I’ve included a UFO bonus, since ET is back in the news)…

Dear Theo,Vincent Van Gogh‘s autobiography

This series of letters edited by Irving Stone shows Van Gogh’s powers of observation. He shares all of this with his brother Theo. I lost my copy (or gave it away or someone borrowed it… who knows) so I ordered a new one. It is a book that you must have in your library. Early on, Van Gogh captured the muddy life in the land of coal to take you to the mesmerizing colors and bright starry nights that became his obsession. He struggled, but his art became immortal.

The innovator’s dilemma“, by Clayton Christensen

Have a highlighter ready when you read this book! Christensen is an author for our digital age. How your organization responds to customers – your “value web” – by embracing the “attacker’s advantage”, disruptive and sustainable innovations, investing in what people want and learning from successful innovators and failed makes this tome worth your time. I should add that he uses DEC, Digital Equipment Corp., as an innovative company that hasn’t seen the future of computing. (They missed everyone wanting a computer in their homes, cars, pockets.) DEC’s demise here in Massachusetts is worth its own “From the Archives” report.

“The prince,” by Niccolo Machiavelli

Written in 1513, it is still filled with wisdom, especially for leaders of all kinds. “Those who counted less on fortune”, writes Machiavelli, “were the most successful”. For me, that means making your own luck. Do the digging. Seek the truth. And, he adds shortly after, “it is necessary to ask whether… innovators are autonomous or dependent on others”. There is so much more that still resonates today.

“The making of the atomic bomb”, by Richard Rhodes

Everyone should read this book. “The bomb was latent in nature as a genome is latent in the flesh. Any nation could learn to command its expression,” writes Rhodes on page 379 of my copy. Everything is here. Einstein, Fermi, Szilard, Oppenheimer, Roosevelt. It’s always, as Eugene Wigner wrote during The Manhattan Project, “unlocking a giant.” Little Boy and Fat Man were the first and we’ve never stopped worrying since.

“Hiroshima” by John Hersey

I have two copies of this book. It’s so powerful that you just can’t pass it up, especially the pocket version listed at $4. He is an eyewitness to the raging giant, as mentioned above. “A huge flash of light streaked across the sky… It looked like a sheet of sunshine.”

“Night,” by Elie Wiesel

The link above is to the full text, free of charge. Everyone should read this book. “I will never forget that night, the first night at camp, which turned my life into a long night,” writes the author. Of course, this is the story of the Holocaust. A nightmare from which we fail to learn.

“And the band kept playing,” by Randy Shilts

The subtitle says it all: the politics, the people and the AIDS epidemic. I purchased this book shortly after my colleague, Ron Doyle, died of AIDS. (I wrote about Ron at the start of the COVID pandemic.) I wrote: There are parallels between the AIDS epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic. Early misinformation proved harmful. Blame and political wrangling didn’t help either. Some very heroic medical professionals worked tirelessly then and now to keep people alive.

“1776”, by David McCullough

“Truman” and “John Adams” are amazing, so why list “1776?” You walk away realizing that our nation could have failed that year; George Washington could have given up. But neither happened. It is the embodiment of Carpe Diem!

“Lincoln”, by David Herbert Donald

The author says in the video below that his goal was to write stories that people will want to read. Add to that Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War that changed America forever and you have the ingredients for a perfect book. That’s what I think of Donald’s “Lincoln”. He is perfect. Flawless. Inspiring.

“A Brief History of Time,” by Stephen Hawking

I wrote down this passage: “God created the donkey and gave it thick skin. It’s Hawking quoting Einstein and it helps you realize that the clues to our questions are everywhere. Space and time, black holes, this book explains everything. Now I’m rereading it this week because I’m not sure I understood it the first time. Since UFOs are sneaking all around us, maybe it’s time to study more seriously.

UFO bonus: “Extraterrestrial,” by Avi Loeb

Could UFOs be scout ships? Avi Loeb considers this possibility in his book on “Oumuamua”, or “scout” in the Hawaiian language. “When you have the chance,” he begins in his book, “step out and admire the universe. … The universe is always there, waiting for our attention. The mere act of looking up, I find, helps change your perspective.

About Bernice D. Brewer

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