Non-Fiction November Week 1: Favorite Non-Fiction

favorite non-fiction books

Happy Non-Fiction November! I’m so excited that Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness and Leslie of Regular Rumination have put together this monthly event to celebrate a genre that can sometimes get lost in the book blogging world. Though I have tons of non-fiction favorites, I’m trying to save up some for posts later in the month and limit myself to two. 

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson
I owe all of my non-fiction love to this book. As a political science and history major in college, I spent so much time focused on “school” books, that I didn’t realize there was a wealth of insanely interesting books in my subject area until after I graduated. Erik Larson does such an incredible job blending the architectural and cultural history of the World’s Fair with the haunting story of H.H. Holmes that The Devil in the White City reads much like a novel – except it’s filled with random facts!

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
I read this collection of advice column essays for the first time earlier this year and have since read it no fewer than three times. Cheryl Strayed, writing as the anonymous Sugar, delivers beautiful, heart-wrenching responses that just make so much sense. Tiny Beautiful Things is so much more than advice, it’s a tiny, beautiful handbook for adulthood. Read it without crying. I dare you. (To tie into yesterday’s post on The Best Bookish Podcasts, Episode 9 of Literary Disco is focused on Tiny Beautiful things and it’s wonderful.)


  • I haven’t read Strayed before, but always hear great things about her, so I’m not entirely surprised to see her on your list. Devil in the White City is actually the book that made me reconsider that fact that I don’t read non-fiction. I read it a couple of years ago and was blown away by it.

    • I was really apprehensive about reading Tiny Beautiful Things at first, but I’m so, so glad I picked it up.

  • I remember when Cheryl Strayed first came out, admitting that she was Sugar and I’ve wanted to read her column ever since. This post reminded me that I have to get around to doing it.

  • I’ve been dipping in and out of Tiny Beautiful Things for a while now. I just love it!

  • Kelly Massry

    Oh, am totally going to listen to that episode!

  • I haven’t read either of those books, but I do actually want to read both! I know I have a copy of Devil in the White City. . . I just need to find time to read it!

  • Lindsey Stefan

    Those are both great picks! I hope you have a blast with nonfiction November. :)

  • I haven’t read Devil in the White City, but I read Larson’s newer book In the Garden of Beasts and thought it was very good. And of course I have all the love for Tiny Beautiful Things! I have a few essays bookmarked that I have read over and over :)

    I don’t read as much non-fiction as I should — it’s so easy to overlook it for all the shiny novels coming out. But hopefully I’ll remedy this next year! I’ve got a copy of Careless People by Sarah Churchwell that I’m DYING to dig into.

  • Jennine G.

    I loved the random facts in Devil in the White City, but also how he presented them…kind of built up to it and then surprise. And it’s like, oh, cool.

    • I felt like I could totally rock Jeopardy after reading that book!

      • Jennine G.

        I know! And I ran into a specific couple facts repeatedly in the weeks following. Love when stuff I’ve read comes back!

  • lulu_bella

    Oh, Tiny Beautiful Things. Sigh. It is one of my favorites, as is Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I just love her so much. I haven’t read Devil the White City, though I’ve certainly been meaning to!

    Thank you so much for participating in Nonfiction November. I can’t wait to see next week’s post!

    • I’m almost afraid to read Wild because I love Tiny Beautiful Things so much. It’s silly – I even have a copy!

      • Kim Ukura

        That’s not silly! I read Wild first and was nervous to read TBT because I felt the same thing — what if the Sugar columns I love don’t hold up in a collection? But they did and I loved both :)

  • I haven’t read either of these, but they both sound wonderful. Although for some reason I wonder if I’d started that Larson book…. yeah, I think I was reading it when I landed in the hospital when C came along 2 months early and it got shifted aside to make room for the chaos that followed. I need to find it!

  • Stacy

    Yes yes yes! Devil In The White City made my Nonfiction November post as well. I just love that book. It’s so suspenseful and fascinating. I learned so much random stuff from it, about Ferris wheels, landscape architecture, medical cadavers, belly-dancing music, on and on.

    • It’s such a fantastic book, I feel like it’s one that you could always find little bits of information you missed.

  • I’ve been saving Devil in the White City for my next trip to Chicago. Thanks for Tiny Beautiful Things — that will make the perfect Christmas gift for a couple of young adults in my life.

  • Leslie

    The Devil in the White City has been on my reading list for so long it’s made my Reading Bucket List! Embarrassing though because I live in the Chicago suburbs, the book is sitting there on my shelf, I’m interested in the subject and should have read it ages ago when everyone else in the city read it. Duh! Now I’ll be thinking about it again.

    • Oh, you would probably love it, especially if you’re in the area…you would be able to pinpoint all of the locations and find even more awesome facts!

      • Leslie

        Exactly! And I worked in the city for 20 years, I know the history. New Year’s Resolution, read the book!

  • Oh wow – The Devil in the White City is one of my all-time favorite books….fiction or nonfiction!