The Nonfiction Recommendation Engine is a semi-regular feature in which I offer personalized book recommendations based answers to a short list of questions. My real hope with the series is that other readers will jump in with recommendations in the comments, making each post a great resource for nonfiction reads.
One of my friends from high school, Anna, has a couple of topics she is curious about. Here’s her first request:
I’m looking for a book about bananas or the banana industry. I loved Banana: Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World by Dan Koeppel and also The Fish that Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King by Rich Cohen
This is probably the most specific request that I’ve gotten and, to be honest, I had to do a little digging. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about bananas (although after reading the summaries of the books Anna mentioned, I totally want to)! But, I did find one that I think sound pretty interesting, Bananas: How the United Fruit Company Shaped the World by Peter Chapman. Another book on a particular food industry that I’m really curious about is Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit by Barry Estabrook.
And here’s Anna’s second request:
I’m also curious about American presidential history. I’ve read a biography of Taft, as well as a book called The Presidents and Their Faith by Darrin Grinder and Steve Shaw, which was super interesting. I’m particularly interested in biographies (good ones), and interesting tidbits about a broader range of presidents.
This is more up my alley! I’ve got a couple of suggestions:
The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy – I’ve been THIS CLOSE to buying this book several times in the last few months. The Presidents Club was established by Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover when Dwight Eisenhower was inaugurated. Since then, this group has offered an opportunity for the men who have been president to build relationships (complicated, exclusive and powerful) with one another. Every time I see it I think about the episode of The West Wing where all of the presidents head to a funeral together – super fascinating.
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard – I am a sucker for any book with the words “murder” and “madness” in the subtitle, so it’s probably no surprise this book – the story of President James Garfield – has been on my TBR pile since the moment it came out. I’ve heard wonderful things about it, as well as about Millard’s other biography, The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey.
That’s it for this edition of the Nonfiction Recommendation Engine! If you have any additional suggestions for Anna, please share them in the comments!
Interested in getting a personalized nonfiction recommendation? Please fill out this form to get on the list. I currently have two requests in my queue, so any new requests should get answered within the next month.