What are your favorite non-fiction anthologies?
January 14, 2010 10:44 AM   Subscribe

I really enjoy reading those anthologies of the best American non-fiction stories that come out every year -- particularly because they a) are easy to finish in 20-40 minutes and b) introduce me to new magazines/writers/concepts. I'm looking for other compendiums of magazine-style writing or articles or suggestions on where to go to find new collections of feature-length non-fiction pieces.

I checked the Best Non-Fiction 1989-present out of the library and they were all fantastic.

I know the New Yorker has their archives online but I guess I'm looking for compendiums that I could take on a train ride or to a coffee shop. I know I can just print out old articles, but that's a) messy and b) time-consuming and not every magazine has their archival work online.

For example, if The Walrus or The New Yorker or The Atlantic or Harper's published a "Best of" book, I would most definitely pick it up. I think these are the sort of things I'm looking for.
posted by melodykramer to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
You might enjoy the Best American Travel Writing series or the similar volumes on Essays (general), Sports Writing, Nature Writing, etc. You can see some of these just down the page from that link. The editors for each volume change annually, so if work from one year isn't your particular style, try picking up another year. Since these are annual, you can find past years Very inexpensively.
posted by BlooPen at 10:52 AM on January 14, 2010

Check out Da Capo's "Best Music Writing" yearly anthology. Consistently high quality stuff.
posted by Otis at 10:58 AM on January 14, 2010

Best Food Writing (2009 and other years).
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:00 AM on January 14, 2010

I'm reading the New Kings of Non-fiction edited by Ira Glass, which perfectly fits what you are looking for and is quite excellent. There are other similar threads on this topic, which is how I found it in the first place.
posted by shrimpsmalls at 11:09 AM on January 14, 2010

I've always liked The Best American Essays series (along with the rest of The Best American Series).
posted by tenstairs at 11:10 AM on January 14, 2010

Response by poster: Are there compendiums that exist that are like The Best American Series but not necessarily all US authors?
posted by melodykramer at 11:18 AM on January 14, 2010

The Best Creative Nonfiction (and Vol. 2 and Vol. 3) might fit the bill.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:29 AM on January 14, 2010

I get The Best American Magazine Writing every year.
posted by triggerfinger at 11:40 AM on January 14, 2010

Seconding The New Kings of Non Fiction. Wonderful essays and a book I picked up after working my way through most of the "Best American" series. It left me wanting more and more of these essay collection books.
posted by beautifulcheese at 11:50 AM on January 14, 2010

The Open Laboratory is an annual compilation of the best of ScienceBlogs.
posted by lakeroon at 1:37 PM on January 14, 2010

melodykramer: "For example, if The Walrus or The New Yorker or The Atlantic or Harper's published a "Best of" book, I would most definitely pick it up. I think these are the sort of things I'm looking for."

They're not exclusively nonfiction and they're not easy to lug on the train, but since you mentioned them by name:

An American Album: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Harper's Magazine

The American Idea: The Best of the Atlantic Monthly
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:41 PM on January 14, 2010

The Norton Reader. Seriously. This thing is the end-all be-all of nonfiction anthologies. Get a used one cheap, any edition is packed with awesome essays.
posted by mattbucher at 3:06 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I enjoy the nonfiction in the Believer quite a lot, and they just came out with an anthology: http://store.mcsweeneys.net/index.cfm/fuseaction/catalog.detail/object_id/0cb6a496-78fc-47d5-9398-c90d37cd154b/ReadHard.cfm. It's generally long-form, varied in subject matter, and entertaining/thought-provoking.

I'll also second people's suggestions for Best American Travel.
posted by dervish at 3:37 PM on January 14, 2010

You should also look at Granta. It's been ages since I read it, but I remember the non-fiction as powerful and compelling. Granta has more of an international slant (or is at least non-U.S.-centric) and offers a number of genre collections. "The Granta Book of Reportage" looks particularly interesting.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:56 PM on January 14, 2010

Traveler's Tales puts out some really excellent anthologies. They have regionally-based ones (ie, "India," "Central America," "Mexico"), as well as thematic ones (spiritual travel, adventure travel, humorous travel stories, etc). All are comprised of first-hand travel stories, many by famous authors.
posted by lunasol at 12:13 AM on January 15, 2010

Best American Science Writing. The 2009 edition is in stores now!
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:48 AM on January 15, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks. I have a lot of these but will look for some others. :) I just really like long form non-fiction and these books usually deliver.
posted by melodykramer at 1:46 PM on January 17, 2010

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