Time for the annual best-of ritual. I'm dividing my non-fiction category into life story forms (biography, memoir) and anything else. Here were the non-biographical non-fiction highlights of my 2012 reading:
The Emperor of all Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Remarkable Creatures by Sean B. Carroll
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
In Europe by Geert Mak
There isn't a single title in this list that I wouldn't strongly recommend. Since The Emperor of all Maladies and Behind the Beautiful Forevers got a lot of air time from others, I think I'll call it a tie between In Europe and Remarkable Creatures. I found In Europe impressive for combining tremendous scope - covering all of Europe and the 20th Century - with a sense of the impact of history on individual human beings. Remarkable Creatures makes an adventure story out of a narrative that shows how science done by individual mavericks contributes to the fund of general knowledge.