Non-fiction book, cool, short and sweet
December 2, 2017 12:14 PM   Subscribe

Need a recommendation for a non-fiction book.

The receiver of the book is very busy so he doesn't have a lot of time to read, thus I prefer something in the realm of 200-250 pages, but it could be longer if it sounds amazing! Comic books are fine too.

It doesn't have to be necessarily current but if it's sorta old it's better if it's obscure. Good writing, and a page turner would be ideal. Things that are unusual and unexpected are cool too.

Interests: design (as a concept, like it's treated in the 99% invisible podcast, not graphic design or product design - he teaches architecture), art, self-improvement, food. But his interests are vast, so if you think, "Hm my friend Lara who is curious and has similar interests loved that intriguing book so much!" then I want to know what book is that no matter the topic!

posted by TheGoodBlood to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
John McPhee: Oranges.

Short, and, er, sweet.
posted by notyou at 12:27 PM on December 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

Anything by Mary Roach.
posted by jeather at 12:44 PM on December 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I love short books! Don't bore us, get to the chorus etc.

Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture by Ross King
Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents by Ellen Ullman
The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute by Zac Bissonnette (google claims this is 272 pages long, but it's pretty zippy)
Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis - a comic book about Betrand Russell and Wittgenstein
How to Look at a Painting by Justin Paton - short, elegant, funny book on art
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud - comic book about comic books!
The Bloomsbury Object Lessons series on various mundane object's cultural histories is very 99% Invisible - the Hood one and the Walkman one are both great, and they're novella-sized
posted by Gin and Broadband at 12:49 PM on December 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage. Runs a bit long at 330ish pages but a fast read, and you could chunk it because it has 6 parts.
posted by Wretch729 at 1:09 PM on December 2, 2017

Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck is listed at 321 pages, but at least 40 of those are various endnotes and works cited. It's about 5 years old, and urban planning may be a close enough field to architecture that he's already read it, but it's compulsively readable.

Agree about Mary Roach, and Sarah Vowell also tends to quick, fascinating reads, if any of their book topics jump out at you.
posted by the primroses were over at 1:53 PM on December 2, 2017

"Stranger than we can imagine: an alternative history of the 20th century" by John Higgs (Globe & Mail review) -- a surprisingly fast read, well written and really fascinating.
posted by heatherlogan at 2:06 PM on December 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Prisoner of Trebekistan by Bob Harris, the story of how he prepared to play on Jeopardy, and how the show impacted his life.

Ticks the "self-improvement" box without being explicitly a "how-to".
posted by themanwho at 2:41 PM on December 2, 2017

Oranges is the correct answer. Any John McPhee should work, though.
posted by kevinbelt at 2:42 PM on December 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Zbigniew Herbert's Still Life With A Bridle is a leading Polish poet's study of Dutch art, now old enough to be obscure and quite short.

Gary Gutting's Thinking the Impossible: French Philosophy Since 1960 is only about 225 pages.

Paul Seaver's Wallington's World dates from the period when every historian was doing studies of, like, one obscure artisan to illustrate a particular era, but it's a very solid example from the English Revolution. I think about 275 pages.
posted by praemunire at 3:13 PM on December 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Anything in Bloomsbury's Series: Object Lessons.
posted by pinkacademic at 5:03 PM on December 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Mind of a Mnemonist. Well known in its field, but perhaps not so well known outside of it. A psychologist talks of his decades long interaction with a patient who appeared to have a limitless memory.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 5:49 PM on December 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

I recently read a memoir called “Notes on a Banana”. The author is David Leite, a food writer who touches on being gay, his Portuguese heritage, and how food was an important part of shaping him. It was a fun, quick read.
posted by Night_owl at 5:50 PM on December 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Nothing to Be Frightened Of, by Julian Barnes. 250 pages.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:36 PM on December 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Joe Gould's Teeth at 256 pp. by Jill Lepore. The Secret History of Wonder Woman is great, but twice as long. In between. about 370 pp. there's The Name of War because Jill Lepore just writes one incredible book after another.
posted by layceepee at 10:24 PM on December 2, 2017

Response by poster: K, will get Jill Lepore's book and Logicomix. So many great suggestions, and I got as a bonus a bunch of books added to my own to-read list! Thanks all! And please keep them coming, I'll definetelly refer to this ask in the future.
posted by TheGoodBlood at 8:50 AM on December 3, 2017

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