Bank crisis, North Korea books on Samuel Johnson list

Wed May 26, 2010 5:48am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Books about everyday life in North Korea, the global financial crisis and how maths is not only for geeks were among the six titles shortlisted for the BBC Samuel Johnson award for non-fiction.

Jenny Uglow's "A Gambling Man," a biography of the 17th century king Charles II, has been declared favorite by bookmakers, followed by "Blood Knots," Luke Jennings' account of learning how to fish.

"There is something for everyone, whether it be maths or fishing," said radio presenter and economist Evan Davis, chair of the judges.

"Perhaps the only common feature of these books is the passion and sheer enthusiasm of the authors for their subjects."

"Alex's Adventures in Numberland" by Alex Bellos aims to explain how mathematical ideas underpin just about every aspect of our lives, and "Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea" by Barbara Demick seeks to lift the veil of secrecy on life in the communist state.

"Too Big to Fail" is Andrew Ross Sorkin's account of the financial crisis while in "Catching Fire: How Cooking made us Human," Richard Wrangham argues that cooking was a key part of man's evolutionary progress.

The winner, who takes home a cheque for 20,000 pounds, will be announced on July 1.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Steve Addison)