It’s easy to quote a funny line from a movie or share a meme, but if you want to up the quality standard on social media, look no further than these books. Each one is filled with insightful commentary about the world, groundbreaking events, and grand misfortunes.
1. An Ordinary Man: The Surprising Life and Historic Presidency of Gerald R. Ford
A fascinating portrait of a much-overlooked President, this book is highly quotable if only to make the point that history always repeats itself. The chapters about the transition after Nixon resigned are riveting and reveal a lot about the American political machine.
2. The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder
To say The Wager is a page-turner is not giving this historical account of a famous shipwreck enough credit. A surprising yarn that is actually true, the narrative rolls up and down like the ocean until you reach the end. It’s also thankfully light on the gory details.
3. Magic Words
An excellent bookshelf companion — quite literally in my case — to a similar book by Mark Batterson about words that open doors, this business-oriented look at persuasion and motivation is by one of my favorite authors. What works so well? The intelligent insights based on exhaustive research.
4. Gentleman Bandit: The True Story of Black Bart, the Old West’s Most Infamous Stagecoach Robber
I can’t imagine what life was like in the Old West, but this book gave me a unique perspective based on detailed research. We all know it was a dangerous time, but in this account of a gentlemanly stagecoach robber, you come away thinking it was wild, chaotic, and intense.
5. The Real Work: On the Mystery of Mastery
One of my favorite The New Yorker writers (and I have several), Adam Gopnik has a knack for making insightful commentary seem accessible, reality-based and down-to-earth. My favorite section involves how he learned to drive a car after many years using a bike.
6. Battle of Ink and Ice: A Sensational Story of News Barons, North Pole Explorers, and the Making of Modern Media
I don’t know of a book topic that would resonate with me better than this one. It’s the story of newspaper empires and their evolution, the search for the North Pole, and the people who were behind both adventures. It’s a brilliant and well-written epic.
7. The World: A Family History of Humanity
Saving the best for last, here’s a book that is bigger, more extensive, and heftier than two of the books on my list combined. It’s literally the story of the world, told through the lens of the people who made all of the headlines — dating back to the earliest human exploits.