You will often see nonfiction -- informational books -- recommended by me here on this blog. I really do love reading books that give me a glimpse into our past, something about science, poetry, cooking or just about anything. Finding a well-written, interesting, and well-designed book of nonfiction, now that is the challenge.
You have those titles that are written to fit the curriculum and offer a wide range topics. From Hurricane Katrina to the history of the American flag to more facts about mammals. These books tend to be more formulaic, using a controlled vocabulary. They fit the bill for an assignment, but they are not the kind of writing you want to curl up with and read for relaxation.
The other kind of nonfiction, that kind that wins awards and receives praise from librarians, covers topics that are really, really interesting and the writing is more of narrative that draws you right in. Some of my favorite nonfiction authors, and this is not a comprehensive list by any means, includes Russell Freedman, Elizabeth Rusch, Sy Montgomery, Tanya Lee Stone, Loree Griffin Burns, Melissa Stewart, Pamela Turner, Steve Jenkins, Steve Sheinken, Candace Fleming, Gail Jarrow and Jim Murphy.
Karen Blumenthal is another favorite writer. Her biography on Steve Jobs is a good resource for middle and high school students who are curious about the creator of Apple.
In her latest, Tommy: the gun that changed America, Blumenthal writes about the origins of the Thompson submachine gun and how it was intended for military use, but quickly began the gun used by gangsters and crooks. Intertwined in this history is the conversation currently making the headlines about gun control. Loaded with black & white historic photos, a bibliography, and other back matter that offers Blumenthal's source of information.
Though I am not be a gun enthusiast, knowing the history behind this very powerful weapon and the creation of the National Rifle Association greatly increases my ability to converse intelligently on this highly debated topic.
I recommend Tommy, the gun that changed America to anyone with an interest in hunting, guns, and the process understaken to develop this lightweight, fast-firing weapon.
Go here to visit the author's website.