Strangers Reading at Chapters, Ottawa, September 2011
Strangers Reading at Chapters, Ottawa, September 2011

My love story with books started when I was three years old. I have never stopped reading since. I love hard covers, paperbacks, magazines, essays, newspapers… hell, if I’m desperate, I have been known to enjoy the back of the cereal box or user manuals.

I usually read novels, especially mystery and thrillers. But except for a brief period when I was breastfeeding, I haven’t had much time to open a book lately, let alone bury myself in a twisted whodunit. So I started to read nonfiction—I find it’s easier to read a few pages and pick up where you left off.

And I discovered I truly loved nonfiction. I am a curious person and I felt I was learning something, I was seeing the world from another point of view and exploring various topics, such as business, parenting or travel.

I am not going to turn this blog into a book club but I wanted to share a few finds. So here are ten awesome nonfiction books I enjoyed!

Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip—Confessions of a Cynical Waiter

I find the food industry fascinating. We all eat out once in a while but few of us know what’s really going on behind the scenes. Tn this book, “The Waiter” (his real name is Steve Dublanica, he is no longer anonymous) shares tales of customers and presents the server’s unique point of view. You can also check out his blog, Waiter Rant.

Keep the Change: A Clueless Tipper’s Quest to Become the Guru of the Gratuity

In his second book, “The Waiter” focuses on the practice of tipping and explores various customer service-oriented industries. I loved this read because as a French, I found tipping very awkward when I first came to Canada. Guess what? Even North Americans aren’t sure how much to tip and who should be tipped!

Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality

Ever spent the night in a hotel? Sure. But do you know the hospitality business from an employee’s perspective? This book explores this industry and the author shares a few secrets and tips. You will never see your hotel room the same way again!

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America

Barbara Ehrenreich goes undercover as an unskilled worker to reveal the dark side of American prosperity. How do minimum-wage employees get by? How hard is it to move up the ladder? This is a fascinating tour in the land of fast food, big-box stores and hotels.

Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism

People travel more and they travel further. But how does it impact countries around the world? This book explores the booming tourism industry and it may make you reconsider where (and how) you will take your next trip. From ecotourism in Costa Rica to angry residents in Venice, from China to the USA, gain a new perspective on your role as a tourist!

Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps

Even if you are technically an adult, this book offers practical tips and advice everyone can benefit from! Because really… who knows it all?

My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire

Great practical advice to start a freelance business (and actually make money!). It explores the freelance world, the dos and donts, the keys to make it work for you and provides numerous anecdotes. Unlike many other books on the same topic, this one doesn’t sell a “get rich quick” scheme but offers valuable advice.

The Freelancer’s Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Have the Career of Your Dreams – On Your Terms

A comprehensive book exploring finding the work, getting paid for it, plus healthcare, taxes, setting up an office, marketing, and so on. Some chapters may not be relevant for a Canadian audience (i.e. healthcare insurance) but it’s a great reference book anyway.

How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: And Other Adventures in Parenting (from Argentina to Tanzania and everywhere in between)

Parenting books can be very patronizing—this one, on the other side, explores how various cultural groups around the world raise their kids. It’s entertaining and offers a different perspective on parenting.

Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World

In a tough economy, we all want a good deal. We look for specials, fall for group deals and ask for discounts. You won’t find any practical shopping trick in this book (sorry!) but you will learn how retailers have developed their own tricks to protect profit margins amid such markdown mania—ones that include secret sales, shifting prices, and shredding perfectly good clothes.


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