What should the person who's read everything read?
June 24, 2008 7:49 PM   Subscribe

I want to give my boyfriend something to read. Help me figure out what he'd like.

My boyfriend is away in New York this summer working an internship for Harper's. I want to send him a care package with (among other things) something new for him to read. He likes nonfiction and "new journalism", Chicago, Ohio, writing, and has a subscription to just about every intellectual-person publication ever (oh, and Esquire). In short, he loves reading most stuff, as long as it's well-written and interesting. However, he doesn't really like science or bizarre history, so he's bored by the things I choose to read (and vice versa). I am at a loss.

Basically, what neat things have you guys read that might appeal to him? I'm looking for books, magazines, poetry, anything. (And he's not completely against fiction; he loves Robert Penn Warren, Nelson Algren, and Saul Bellow, if that helps narrow things down.) I'd just like to find him something he hasn't seen before.

I'll be checking in if you guys have questions I can answer. Thanks!
posted by phunniemee to Writing & Language (20 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The first thing that popped in my head was The New Kings of Nonfiction, a collection of short-story-esque journalism pieces compiled by Ira Glass. I'm about halfway through, and it is an enjoyable read.
posted by sararah at 8:13 PM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

I really enjoyed Best American Nonrequired Reading . I linked to the 2002 edition because that is the first I picked up, but I believe they're all quite good. It's got a little bit of everything. I enjoyed the chapter from Fast Food Nation so much that I ended up buying and (and enjoying) that as well.
posted by radioamy at 8:25 PM on June 24, 2008

Seconding Best American Nonrequired Reading. It is wonderful stuff. I highly reccomend 2006.
posted by milestogo at 8:28 PM on June 24, 2008

Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago. A really neat book that looks at how Chicago dealt with the 1995 heat wave that killed 700 people, written by a sociologist. It's not exactly new journalism, though, so it might be a bit dry if he's not into urban issues or the sociology of cities or things like that.
posted by chrominance at 8:33 PM on June 24, 2008

Sounds like Devil in the White City is at the intersection of stuff he likes.
posted by charlesv at 9:26 PM on June 24, 2008

Something like this book bundle from McSweeney's might be fun to get--and it's a nice variety of things, so there's a good chance there would be something in there he would like. If you want a recommendation of a single book, Them by Jon Ronson might be an interesting read for him--I certainly enjoyed it.
posted by carrienation at 9:33 PM on June 24, 2008

Seconding The New Kings of Nonfiction. It's excellent.
posted by purephase at 9:48 PM on June 24, 2008

David Foster Wallace's nonfiction collections are very good - either Consider The Lobster and A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. Or, more serious, maybe Philip Gourevitch's We Regret To Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families, which is a FANTASTIC dense piece of journalism about the Rwandan genocide.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 9:49 PM on June 24, 2008

Best answer: US Guys: The True and Twisted Mind of the American Man
Get in the Van: On the Road With Black Flag
The Hidden War: A Russian Journalist's Account of the Soviet War in Afghanistan

I don't know if these are new journalism or regular journalism, but I liked them, in any case.
posted by tracert at 9:55 PM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Opps, last two links are from Canadian Amazon, sorry.
posted by tracert at 9:56 PM on June 24, 2008

Gang Leader for a Day, by Sudhir Venkatesh, a Californian who attended grad school at U of C and hung out with a gang in the Robert Taylor Homes.
posted by lukemeister at 10:04 PM on June 24, 2008

If you're boyfriend was born 100 years ago, G. K. Chesterton would be right up his alley. (Even now, no reader, intellectual, lover of ideas, etc. can rest content w/o confronting Chesterton.) Chesterton was an English journalist who wrote over 4000 newspaper essays and 100 books. He debated many of the celebrated intellectuals of his time: George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Bertrand Russell, Clarence Darrow. His writing has been praised by Ernest Hemingway, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Karel Capek, Marshall McLuhan, Paul Claudel, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, Sigrid Undset, Ronald Knox, Kingsley Amis, W.H. Auden, Anthony Burgess, E.F. Schumacher, Neil Gaiman, and Orson Welles. And many more. I would suggest a book of essays, such as On Lying in Bed or a collection of his Illustrated London News essays (see v. 27).
posted by keith0718 at 2:20 AM on June 25, 2008

I loathed Gang Leader for a Day, utterly uninspiring, out dated, and lacking any kind of insight.

I suggest Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. It's the most fun difficult work of modern fiction going. Most people have heard of it but never dared tackle it.
posted by roofus at 2:58 AM on June 25, 2008

Doesn't like science? There's about a third of my books.

Hmm. I recently have liked Kitchen Confidential; John Man's Kublai Khan (straight history, not bizarre); Ruth Cowen's Relish, fascinating book about England's first celebrity chef, his work in the Irish Famine and the Crimean War; La Vie en Bleu which is just packed with interest about, well, France since 1900; White Gold, a decent read on the final years of the white slave trade in North Africa; Ex Libris, by Anne Faddiman, which is about loving reading; Goldie, a collection of writing on the New Zealand painter.
posted by rodgerd at 4:05 AM on June 25, 2008

Oh, and if you/he are feeling adventurous, I highly recommend checking out Joe Sacco (anything, really, but Palestine is one I really liked.
posted by rodgerd at 4:07 AM on June 25, 2008

Thirding Devil in the White City and suggesting The Lighthouse Stevensons. I am not a science fan either, so while this book has to do with engineering it covers far more than that. A great read!
posted by chihiro at 8:10 AM on June 25, 2008

The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically, by AJ Jacobs.
Devil in the White City.
A Sense of the World (about a 19th-century adventurer who traveled the world solo even though he was completely blind).
The Family That Couldn't Sleep, by DT Max.
posted by mothershock at 8:33 AM on June 25, 2008

I think he'd like John McPhee. He even started out as a writer for The New Yorker.
posted by Monochrome at 11:37 AM on June 25, 2008

Response by poster: I have decided to go with The New Kings of Nonfiction and US Guys. They seem right up his alley.

posted by phunniemee at 7:58 PM on June 26, 2008

Seconding John McPhee. 'Encounters With the Archdruid' is one of the best books I've ever read, fiction or non. I've read six of his so far, and every one has been completely arresting.
posted by Darth Fedor at 11:48 PM on July 29, 2008

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