NonFiction Favorites

by Kelsey Norwood

in Book Talk

non fiction books to read

I’ve read more nonfiction so far this year than all of last year in total, and I have enjoyed every single one so much! I used to be a strictly fiction reader, but I have discovered the pleasure of nonfiction with these books:

  • The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan about the Israel/Palestine conflict with very interesting perspectives from both sides
  • A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiwicz about the themes and lessons connecting all of Jane Austen’s novels
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand about Olympic runner Louis Zampernini’s experience in WWII – AMAZING STORY
  • The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner about different countries and the relative happiness of different peoples and cultures
  • Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore about a modern day slave and an art dealer and their unlikely friendship

My goal was to read 5 nonfiction books this year, and I’m finished already! I’ll definitely be reading more this year – what are your favorite nonfiction books???


1 Nemesis June 30, 2011 at 11:21 am

Have been on a nonfiction kick myself lately! Some of the best that I’ve read in the last year or so have been:
Baby Catcher
Letters of a Woman Homesteader
Nothing to Envy
We Two: Victoria and Albert
The Prize-Winner of Defiance, Ohio

2 Kelsey June 30, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Oh good – most of the others I read were recommendations from Jenny. Such smart sisters!!

3 FoxyJ June 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm

I was going to recommend Nothing to Envy as well; I also liked Baby Catcher quite a bit. Some of my other nonfiction favorites are:

Here if You Need Me (Kate Braestrup)
The Warmth of Other Suns (Isabel Wilkerson)
Into the Wild (Jon Krakauer)
The Worst Hard Time (Timothy Egan)
When a Crocodile Eats the Sun (Peter Godwin)

I love nonfiction and read a lot! I just reviewed Nothing to Envy and The Lemon Tree for the library review blog. That’s also a good place to get some ideas, and you can even just look at stuff labelled Nonfiction:

4 Amanda June 30, 2011 at 2:04 pm

I’m about halfway through with a book called “The Worst Hard Time” by Timothy Egan. It’s all about the people that survived the Dust Bowl. For some reason, I am obsessed with that time period. People were so strong and courageous, not a bunch of ninnies like we are now. Anyways, it makes the events of that time very personable and it is a great read!

I also finished “Half-Broke Horses”, which is technically historical fiction based on the author, Jeanette Walls’ grandmother. She was a tough gal who lived a lot more life than most of us do.

5 Jenny June 30, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Team of rivals
If you want to write
Lincoln: a photobiography
Marie curie by eve curie
We two: Victoria and Albert

6 Kelsey July 1, 2011 at 1:52 pm

More to add to the list – yay!

7 saricchiella July 2, 2011 at 3:56 pm


Crazy people of history, by Alejandra Vallejo-NĂ¡gera. Belonging to a family of very famous doctors herself (I can imagine their christmas eve dinners have to be quite interesting), she chooses several famous characters in History (Rasputin, members of royal families in Europe…) and analyzes the documents that talk about them so she can find the psychiatric illnesses that they were suffering. Loved it.

Cows, pigs, wars and witches: the riddles of culture, by Marvin Harris. Why hindi don’t eat cow? And why the witches have always been pictured riding a broom? Fantastic book, very mind-opener. One of my all-time favorites.

If you can, complement this non-fiction rush with documentaries. Some of them are incredible (Fake, by Hitchcock, for example…).

Very nice plan for summer, enjoy!! :D

ps.- been follower for a while already, love your blog!

8 Jenny July 4, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Read that one classic movies book I read on goodreads. It’s really fun to read.

9 Shannon Quinn July 6, 2011 at 6:19 pm

I’d like to read Same Kind of Different As Me. I know someone else who’s read it and liked it.

10 Sandy L July 6, 2011 at 8:31 pm

I have a Kindle, so I have a LOT of books. Some of my favorites are: In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin [Kindle Edition] by Erik Larson, The Secret Holocaust Diaries [Kindle Edition] by Nonna Bannister, Angel of Death Row: My Life as a Death Penalty Defense Lawyer [Kindle Edition]
by Andrea D Lyon and Clearing the Mind for Creativity [Kindle Edition] by John Kao. when I was younger, I only read fiction. I find that I enjoy both now.

11 Ashley July 8, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I love love Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. Also any Augusten Burroughs! Something about his writing…Another FAVORITE…The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

12 Beth T. July 19, 2011 at 9:25 pm

“Family” by Ian Frazier, is one of my all-time favorite books. It’s the history of his family, but manages to be a history of America as well. You’ll learn so much from this book, and enjoy it all the while.

“Mornings on Horseback” by David McCullough is a fantastic biography of Theodore Roosevelt’s early years within the context of his family.

“Black Hawk Down” by Mark Bowden was brilliant, and heartbreaking. Another of his, “Guests of the Ayatollah” was also quite good. Just from the forward quote I gained a perspective on historical non-fiction that I’ve benefited from ever since.

There are a lot of great suggestions in the comments above–I’m making a list! Thanks for starting this conversation.

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