Even though nonfiction makes up a pretty big portion of my reading, not enjoying it is a feeling I totally understand. I just started to find my niche in nonfiction over the last few years and it can be a tricky road to navigate; there’s often a fine balance between riveting and mind-numbingly boring. I’m on a mission to help the nonfiction novice! We’re going to start with the one thing I hear most often from other readers: “The only nonfiction titles I really like are memoirs.” It’s usually followed by an interest in branching out and uncertainty over where to look first. If you’re comfortable reading memoirs, it may be best to take baby steps and head toward narrative nonfiction that blends the author’s life experience with research on a specific topic. I have a few favorites to get you started.
Maureen Corrigan’s love for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby pushed her to write So We Read On, which examines the history of the novel and its impact on American culture.
In Galileo’s Middle Finger, Alice Dreger shares her experiences, both high and low, learning to navigate the delicate balance between research and activism.
In his incredibly powerful book, Atul Gawande uses his experience as a surgeon as a lens for examining the modern missteps of end of life care.
Bad Feminist is Roxane Gay’s collection of essays focused on the intricacies of modern feminism, told by pulling apart her own life experiences, pop culture, and politics.
Kristen Green tells the story of her hometown in Prince Edward County, Virginia, and the shocking role it played in resisting school integration in the 1950’s.
After visiting one of the group’s founding schools in Tibet, Rosemary Mahoney is determined to learn more and commits to spending three months teaching English at a Braille Without Borders’ adult school in India.
In chapters that range from heartbreaking and infuriating to uplifting and hopeful, Bryan Stevenson details his time working with prisoners on death row and juveniles facing endless life sentences.
In Among the Janeites, Deborah Yaffe digs into the Jane Austen fandom from both the inside, with the the Jane Austen Society of North America, and the outside.
Which nonfiction titles have helped you branch out from memoirs?