What are the most well-written textbooks?
October 21, 2009 9:19 PM Subscribe
What are the most well-written (i.e., enjoyable to read) textbooks and/or books written for an academic audience? I'm not looking for the "best" textbook on any given subject, but textbooks on any topic that are compelling to read because of the wit and lucidity of the writing style.
posted by crLLC to Writing & Language (32 answers total) 82 users marked this as a favorite
I generally enjoy reading nonfiction about various topics, but I find the prose of many books that try to make academic or technical concepts accessible to popular audiences a little too simple and tedious. On the other hand, much academic writing is bad writing. But I have come across a few textbooks that really bring their subject to life through great writing. The one that prompted me to write this question was an older edition of Sidney Painter's Western Europe in the Middle Ages
. Another example might be Gombrich's A Story of Art
. I'd like to find more books along these lines, and they can be on any academic or technical subject, so long as you enjoyed reading them. What I'm not looking for are books that might be described as popular nonfiction, no matter how good they might be (e.g., Brian Greene or Bill Bryson). And I'm not necessarily looking for the book that provides the most comprehensive or most accurate analysis of its subject. My focus is on writing style -- the substance need not be perfect. Thanks!