12 Dec 2012

2012 Best MG/YA Nonfiction Reads

Quick disclaimer: these nonfiction books (as well as all the other books included in this Extravaganza) have been selected not based on any professional criteria other than my own enjoyment. This is by no mean a definitive report – in fact, I read two brand new nonfiction books since I set up this post a few hours ago that I might have liked better. Also, I had an extreme problem picking just four and have second, third, and fourth guessed my own choices. Sooo… here we go!

Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for Cure

by Jim Murphy and Alison Blank

What keeps me coming back to nonfiction is the fun of exploring something entirely new that you never new existed before you cracked open the book. The lure is important though – some books can feel dry or off-putting and reading feels more like homework than like fun. Some adult nonfic lures me, but on the whole, nonfic for kids and teens does the lure-in so much better. If I like a book, and it’s about something really weird, then I give the book that much more credit. See: tuberculosis. If you have been in my life lately, you will have observed me throwing tuberculosis, weird old medicine, and the dangers of antibiotic resistant microbes into casual conversation. Aren’t you glad you don’t actually know me in real life and have to talk to me? More ramblings here.

Tales from the Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest with

Pete Athans

by Sandra K. Athans

Extreme mountain climbing has been a popular topic for nonfiction and memoirs for a number of years, but I am pretty much not interested. Too macho? Maybe. Mostly, I think that mountain climbing just sounds like a bad idea; expensive, cold, dangerous… all adjectives I avoid in my daily life. However, I found this slim nonfiction title about climbing Mt. Everest to be completely interesting, maybe because it was so straight forward and detailed – minimal machismo. Athans walks the reader through each rest area and pass, talking about the landscape, the health challenges that climbers face, and basically takes the reader along the journey up the mountain. Sidebars that retell dangerous and heroic and tragic moments inject just enough suspense. Maybe next year I will finally get around to reading Into Thin Air.

The Mighty Mars Rover:

The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity

by Elizabeth Rusch

I live with a space and science geek, so I opened this book having a small inkling of how FASCINATING and AMAZING our space journeys have been during the past 8+ years. But I had no idea that we’ve had two crazy robots rolling around on Mars for SIX YEARS! Also, that they are adorable and there are bunches of scientists who have devoted their professional lives to crafting and caring for them, even though they are oh, on a different planet. Also to note: robots that can only roll a few feet a day should not be this interesting – kudos to Rusch for turning wheels in the sand into something page-flippingly interesting.

And I hope that Spirit comes back to life.

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95

by Phillip Hoose

Birds. Books. Battlestar Galactica.

We may have reached the slap-happy point of this exercise.

I just talked about this book last week. My opinions still stand. Also, Mr. Hoose has informed me that I need to go look at some birds, so I will go consult with Peach – I’m pretty sure she knows where all the good bird-viewing windows are.


Up next… THE TOP TEN! Dun dun dun… catch up here.

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