Quite a Few Memoirs Made Our List of the Best-selling Non-fiction of 2003

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2003 was a fabulous year for non-fiction. We got political rants from both sides of the spectrum, off-the-chart diet books, a bunch of gossip filled memoirs and even a few serious sociological and historical works.

5 Seabiscuit: An American Legend

Ok, be honest here: Before this book came out had you ever heard of the racehorse Seabiscuit? Maybe if you’re into horse racing you have but calling him and “American Sports Icon” seems like a bit of overkill to us. Although it seems that that’s what he was in 1938. And that could be why we had never heard of him. While the biography of a horse might fascinate some people, we weren’t immediately excited about the idea and expected it to document a lot more eating of hay. Instead, Laura Hillenbrand uses Seabiscuit’s tale as an focus point to document the lives of the three men surrounding the horse’s success and in fact to describe the subculture of horse racers and American life in general in 1938. Way more interesting than hay.

4 A Short History of Nearly Everything

For the vast majority of us, science was something we studied in order to prepare for exams. What we learned was the things that were important for the curriculum at whatever high school we attended and were very rarely chosen based on what would be most interesting. Of course, that’s not exactly what A Short History of Nearly Everything does but it comes pretty close. The author Bill Bryson, still chose the topics that were the most necessary for a basic understanding of how the universe functions but he didn’t present them in the best way to prepare you for a college freshman’s science class. He actually presents them in a way that is interesting. To do this he uses interviews with the top scientists of our time, anecdotes about historical discoveries and journalistic stories of passionate, and often absurd, fights within the scientific world. This five hundred page book may look intimidating, but it’s the equivalent of a comic book stuck into a copy of War and Peace. Assuming the comic book was going to explain Newton’s Laws of Motion.

3 The Five People You Meet In Heaven

After Mitch Albom topped the charts with Tuesdays WithMorrie, it seems he realized that heartwarming morality is a calling that pays the bills. This book is the story of a man named Eddie who dies saving a child at an amusement park and is brought to heaven to review his life. He is then asked to meet five people in heaven who impacted his life. What he doesn’t expect is that he has never even been introduced to some of them. The idea of course is to display the interconnectedness of all of us and, like in Tuesdays with Morrie, the overriding importance of relationships. While not a book that you could call action-packed, it at least avoids being preachy…most of the time. Since “Heartwarming” isn’t any recognized genre as far as we know, we’ll have to call it a holiday book. It doesn’t mention the holidays at all but it sure gives the feel of them.

2 Lies (And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them)

In case you haven’t heard of Al Franken, we’ll summarize: He was a Harvard political science major who went on to become a writer for Saturday Night Live and later a member of the U.S. Senate. This book is not a political memoir though, since he hadn’t really begun his political career when it was published. Instead, it’s a compilation of the political satire that is really Franken’s claim to fame. Of course, the fact that the Fox News Channel sued Franken after the book’s release may have also contributed its part to the book’s rise on the bestseller lists. The book is a bit inconsistent, including some witty take-downs but also a lot of longwinded verbosity. However, no matter which side of the political spectrum, it’s refreshing to see some political comedy from a guy whose proved on prime time TV that he can actually be, well, funny.

1 Living History

That’s right, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s political memoir tops the list. The best part is probably at the beginning, when we get to read about Rodham-Clinton’s childhood but the majority of the book focuses on her eight years in the White House as first lady. In most cases the memoir of a first lady garners curiosity because it brings a human side to politics but in this case of course there was a lot more gossip that everyone wanted to hear. But don’t get your hopes up because there’s not that much juicy stuff in there. This book is very clearly written by a politician who plans to have a long career ahead of her. She never offends and rarely commits. It’s a little disappointing if you were hoping to finally hear the non-diplomatic side of things but still she had plans to run for president, we can’t actually blame her.

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