11 Nonfiction Books To Gift To The Friend Who's Always The First To Read Everything

by Kerri Jarema

It's a fact that all readers love to receive new books. But finding the right books to gift to bibliophiles is actually much more difficult than one might think...especially if the reader in question already buys tons of books for themselves throughout the year. Chances are pretty high that they've already scooped up that award-winning novel or popular essay collection, and if you don't have a list to go from, how can you know whether they'll even like the book you choose for them? Luckily for you, readers tend to be a group of people who are endlessly interested in almost everything. And there are tons of fascinating, readable nonfiction books out in 2017 that almost anyone would consider unputdowneable.

And unless the person you're buying for is a nonfiction buff, they probably haven't picked this reads up for themselves throughout the year... but will love to unwrap any one of them under the tree come Christmas morning. The 13 picks below range from science to history, pop culture to personality, so you'll find the perfect book for everyone on your list. And if you've been meaning to broaden your own reading horizons this year and haven't quite made it happen...well, you can add some of these to the cart for yourself, too.

'Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries' by Kory Stamper

Readers also tend to be word mavens: the sort of people who have strong feelings about the word "irregardless" or have tried to define undefinable words like "is." This account of how dictionaries are made is for them. Many of us take dictionaries for granted, and few realize that the process of writing them is, in fact, as lively and dynamic as language itself. Kory Stamper cracks open the complex, obsessive world of lexicography, from the agonizing decisions about what to define and how to do it, to the knotty questions of usage in an ever-changing language.

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'Nabokov's Favorite Word Is Mauve: What The Numbers Reveal About The Classics, Bestsellers, And Our Own Writing' by Ben Blatt

In Nabokov's Favorite Word is Mauve, statistician and journalist Ben Blatt assembles a database of thousands of books and asks the questions that have intrigued curious word nerds and book-lovers for generations: What are our favorite authors’ favorite words? Do men and women write differently? What makes a great opening sentence? How can we judge a book by its cover? Data meets literature in this playful and informative look at our favorite authors and their masterpieces. Readers of any genre will adore this look into the stats behind their favorite books.

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'Why We Sleep: Unlocking The Power Of Sleep And Dreams' by Matthew Walker

For the reader who always says "Just one more chapter" Why We Sleep is an illuminating look into why we sleep, what good it serves, and why we suffer such devastating health consequences when we don't do it. Here, neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker gives us a new understanding of the vital importance of sleep and dreaming. Walker answers important questions about sleep: how do caffeine and alcohol affect sleep? What really happens during REM sleep? And he also explains how we can harness sleep for better health, mood, memory and more.

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'The Sentient Machine: The Coming Age Of Artificial Intelligence' by Amir Husain

Artificial “machine” intelligence is playing an ever-greater role in our society. We are already using cruise control in our cars, automatic checkout at the drugstore, and are unable to live without our smartphones. The discussion around AI is largely polarized; either machines will solve all problems for everyone, or they will lead us down a dark path into total human irrelevance. In The Sentient Machine, acclaimed technologist and inventor Amir Husain answers the universal question of how we can live amidst the coming age of sentient machines—and not only survive, but thrive.

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'Reading People: How Seeing The World Through The Lens Of Personality Changes Everything' by Anne Bogel

Personality tests like the Myers-Briggs have become hugely popular on the internet and off over the past few years, and if you've got a reader who is constantly asking people their "type" this book is for them. For readers who long to dig deeper into what makes them uniquely them and why that matters, popular blogger Anne Bogel explains the most popular personality frameworks (Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, Enneagram, etc), the life-changing insights that can be gained from each and shares specific, practical real-life applications across all facets of life.

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'Hit Makers: The Science Of Popularity In An Age Of Distraction' by Derek Thompson

Perfect for the reader who always sneaks in copies of People at the nail salon, Hit Makers not only investigates the cultural phenomena that make up headlines. It reveals the desires that make us all human. Atlantic senior editor Derek Thompson puts pop culture under the lens of science to investigate what every business, every artist, every person looking to promote themselves and their work is after: what makes a hit a hit. Drawing on ancient history and modern headlines — from vampire lore to Game of Thrones — Thompson offers practical lessons for how anybody can make a hit and become a smarter consumer of culture.

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'Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong—And The New Research That's Rewriting the Story' by Angela Saini

Any feminist in your life will love Inferior, which takes on the centuries old idea that from intelligence to emotion, men and women are fundamentally different. But this is not the whole story. Shedding light on controversial research and investigating the ferocious gender wars in biology, psychology and anthropology, Angela Saini takes readers on an eye-opening journey to uncover how women are being rediscovered. She explores what these revelations mean for us as individuals and as a society, revealing an alternative view of science in which women are included, rather than excluded.

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'A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf' by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney

The world’s best-loved female authors are usually mythologized as solitary eccentrics or isolated geniuses. But Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney have proven this wrong, through never before published letters and diaries detailing the friendship between Jane Austen and playwright Anne Sharp; the daring feminist author Mary Taylor, who shaped the work of Charlotte Brontë; the transatlantic friendship of George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe; and Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield, often portrayed as bitter foes, but who enjoyed a complex relationship. For readers who love to know more about the lives of the authors they love, A Secret Sisterhood has inside info galore.

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'I'll Have What She's Having: How Nora Ephron's Three Iconic Films Saved The Romantic Comedy' by Erin Carlson

Rom-com fans and Nora Ephrnon devotees alike will adore I'll Have What She's Having, an insider's guide to the three iconic films When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail. Entertainment journalist Erin Carlson tells the story of the real Nora Ephron and how she reinvented the romcom through her trio of instant classics. With a cast of famous faces including Rob Reiner, Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, and Billy Crystal, Carlson takes readers on a rollicking, revelatory trip to Ephron's New York City, where reality took a backseat to romance.

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'Astrophysics for People In A Hurry' by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Anyone who has ever wanted to know more about space but has no idea where to start will fly through Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, or the train to arrive, this book will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe. It's a no frills guide to the cosmos with acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson as your guide.

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'The Secret Lives Of Color' by Kassia St. Clair

The Secret Lives of Color tells the unusual stories of 75 fascinating shades, dyes, and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso’s blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, acid yellow to kelly green, and from scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history. Fans of art, fashion, or just compiling lots of seemingly useless facts will devour this vivid story of our culture.

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