One of my favorite genres of books is one I’ve often seen referred to with the somewhat lengthy name “nonfiction that reads like fiction.” While I think we need to come up with a shorter, catchier name for this genre (if you know of one already, please let me know), it seems to me that books written in such a style are becoming more common.
The most recent one I’ve finished is Thunderstruck by Erik Larson. I was already somewhat familiar with his work, having read The Devil in the White City (for which Larson won the Edgar Award) a few years ago. That book was actually my first foray into this genre and I highly recommend it.
But back to Thunderstruck: it reads like a fast-paced thriller, yet every bit of it is true. It tells two stories: Marconi and the advent of wireless and London’s second most famous murder. The chapters alternate between these two stories and eventually climax when the modern invention has a startling impact on the murder investigation.
The book is long: 480 pages in the hardcover edition (though that does include many pages of notes at the end). Despite the length, however, this is a quick read. The chapters themselves are fairly short and so engaging that once you start reading you’ll probably forget to stop. I read the majority of the book in just one day.
If you’re looking for a book to get lost in, Thunderstruck should do the trick.