Top Five 2008 Nonfiction

Choosing our top ten titles this year (Lynn’s list / Cindy’s list) was so hard. Even when Lynn cheated and added an extra title many of our favorite books were still left out. So we decided to list our top five nonfiction titles too. These are chosen for their outstanding quality and are listed alphabetically by title. We’d love to hear what nonfiction books are your favorites!

Lynn: Top Five Nonfiction 2008

Ain’t Nothing But a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry, by Scott Reynolds Nelson (National Geographic)

The librarian in me loves the beautifully explained research process but what I love best is the way this fascinating book reads like a mystery. (archived Bookends post)

The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary, by Candace Fleming (Random House)

In my Top Ten of the year, this inviting book is the perfect blend of impeccable research, interesting design and fascinating writing.

Sandy’s Circus: A Book about Alexander Calder, by Tanya Lee Stone (Penguin/Viking)

This playful book perfectly captures Calder’s joyous spirit. If only all biographies could be so much fun! (archived bookends post)

The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West, by Sid Fleischman (HarperCollins/Greenwillow)

This fascinating look at Twain’s western years is delightful and packed with quotes from Twain. You won’t be able to resist reading large chunks of this to anyone nearby.

Washington at Valley Forge, by Russell Freedman (Holiday House)

We all know Valley Forge was important but Freedman helps us really understand how and why. I couldn’t put this book down.

Cindy: Top Five Nonfiction 2008

Ain’t Nothing but a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry, by Scott Reynolds Nelson
(National Geographic)

A treat of a read that shows just how rewarding, mysterious and how much fun research can be. This is the kind of book that makes a librarian’s heart go pitter-pat! (archived Bookends post)

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Through the Gates and Beyond, by Jan Greenberg (Roaring Brook)

A book that makes me long to witness their art in person. Beautiful bookmaking, too! (archived Bookends post)

Frogs, by Nic Bishop (Scholastic)

This book could easily be on my top picture book list as the photographs are so incredible and are integrated with the text beautifully. Fascinating frog information, attentive graphic design, and stunning photography combine for a remarkable read.

Sandy’s Circus: A Story about Alexander Calder, by Tanya Lee Stone (Penguin/Viking)

Another book that could have been on my favorite picture book list, but I didn’t want to ignore the wonderful storytelling that illuminates Calder’s childhood and fits so well with the gorgeous artwork. If you need a graduation gift for an artistic student, this is it. (archived Bookends post)

The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West, by Sid Fleischman (HarperCollins/Greenwillow)

In a perfect melding of author and subject, Fleischman’s writing is as spirited and sarcastic Twain’s, and this is just as entertaining as his previous Houdini biography.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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