So you want to read nonfiction but you don’t know where to start. Well, there’s a nonfiction book for you! Or maybe you think you don’t want to read nonfiction–hopefully I can offer up a suggestion here that will whet your nonfiction appetite and have you seeking more. Reading nonfiction can feel stuffy or boring or stiff, but not all nonfiction books are stuffy and boring.
Below is an almost ultimate guide to reading nonfiction. Hope you find something tasty…
If you love science: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (my thoughts)
Notable recommendations: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (part biography, part history, part genetics) (my thoughts); The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean (chemistry, also qualifies for longest title ever (according to me))
If you love travel: The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost (bonus points for listening to the audio narrated by the fabulous Simon Vance)
If you love philosophy: The Tao of Pooh by BenjaminHoff
If you love adventure: The Lost City of Z by David Grann (my thoughts) – A real life search for El Dorado in the Amazon
Notable recommendations: Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (Everest), Wild by Cheryl Strayed (The Pacific Crest Trail), A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (The Appalachian Trail)
If you love true crime: The Hot House: Life inside Leavenworth Prison by Pete Earley (my thoughts)
Notable recommendations: Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale
If you love history: The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester (bonus points for you literary folks as this is about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary)
Notable Recommendations: A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo (Vietnam, also memoir), Thunderstruck by Erik Larson (electricity), Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (WWII)
If you love learning about people from around the world: My Father’s Paradise by Ariel Sabar (Iraq) (my thoughts)
Notable Recommendations: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (Iran), The Storyteller’s Daughter by Saira Shah (Afgahnistan), A Long Way Gone b y Ishmael Beah (Sierra Leone)
If you rather read fiction: First–let me say that I am not trying to devalue these narratives by comparing them to fiction. I simply mean that they feel more similar to reading a novel than reading a history text. There is a lot of great nonfiction out there, but if people are reluctant, I always recommend memoirs as a kind of nonfiction gateway.
If you love fiction: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (my thoughts)
Notable recommendations: Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, Wild by Cheryl Strayed (also for adventure and travel)
I realize that I have a lot of holes in my recommendations, but this post was starting to get way out of control. There are books for foodies (I loved Kitchen Counter Cooking School), and women’s studies (Bad Feminist), books for comic lovers (Persepolis and Maus are must reads), and more. I also recognize that I am lacking in female authors. This is something that I’m working on remedying, especially outside of the memoir subgenre.
This post is part of a series for Nonfiction November hosted by Kim, Becca, Lu, and Katie. While they asked us to Be the Expert for today, I just couldn’t narrow this post down to one little area. Instead of being an expert, I’ve always gone for breadth rather than depth. I hope you’ll visit Lu’s Be the Expert link-up today and find even more nonfiction recommendations to add to your list.
I would love to hear what you would recommend for any of these nonfiction categories–or others!