It is time for Nonfiction November and I am sharing my favorite nonfiction books!
We love nonfiction books. Both Grace and I read a lot of nonfiction.
Fifty to sixty percent of my reading is usually nonfiction. Grace’s is probably close to eighty percent. A month like Nonfiction November is definitely something we can get behind and support.
In honor of Nonfiction November, I am sharing my favorite nonfiction books. It was hard for me to narrow down my list of favorite nonfiction books. Instead of all time favorite nonfiction let’s consider this my favorite nonfiction books that I have read in the last few years.
Favorite Nonfiction Reads
Aloha Rodeo by David Wolman and Julian Smith is part Hawaii history and part cowboy history. It is also a book for those that love to learn little known historical facts and story. I thought this was a well written fascinating read.
My husband and I can’t stop talking about The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington. We both read this a few years ago and have recommended it to quite a few people.
This is a true story that is so hard to believe that it happened. Yet it did happen. Not only that it happened in recent history. This is an “it happened in my generation” story.
If you love true crime books, this is a great read. It is about crime and injustice in the south and how two men manipulated the system. This book does cover crimes against women and children, so it is not an easy read, but I think it is an important one.
Dust Bowl Girls by Lydia Reeder is another book that I keep talking about. This book is another book that tells the little-known story of a girls basketball team in Oklahoma during the dust bowl.
If you have a sports fan in your life this is a great book. But if you are like me and you aren’t a big sports fan it is still a great read. I did not know that I would find a girls basketball team so interesting.
Forty Autumns by Nina Willner is the story that a family that lived on both sides of the Berlin Wall. It follows the family through multiple generations of life in Germany before, during, and after the Berlin Wall.
There are very few books written about life in communistic life in Eastern Europe following WWII. If you grew up during this time period, I think you will enjoy this look behind the scenes at the news headlines we so often read. I read this a few years ago and really enjoyed it. My dad read it recently and loved it as well.
If you read and loved Nancy Drew, Girl Sleuth by Melanie Rehak is a must read. This is the unusual story of how Nancy Drew came to be and how she became so popular.
The book also shares a look into the publishing world during the early 1900’s, so if you love books about the book world this is an interesting one.
I will totally admit that one of the reasons that I love Shoe Dog by Phil Knight is that I grew up in Oregon, not far from NIKE headquarters. This book is a memoir, a business book, and sports book all in one.
If you are a sports fan or love business books, this is a book I think you will enjoy.
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls is one of the best memoirs that I have read. It is a tough read, but so well written. This book is honest and real. She doesn’t shy away from sharing her tragic childhood.
A lot of people have said that this book is hard to believe, but I disagree with that. I actually think that far more people come from dysfunctional families like this than we care to believe.
Did you know that elephants were used to help fight WWII? Elephant Company by Vicki Croke shares the story of elephants in Burma during WWII. This book is part war story, part biography, and part animal story.
This is a great read for those that love WWII nonfiction this shares little known facts. It does contain a few very graphic parts, but besides that I really enjoyed it.
I read Endurance by Alfred Lansing at least ten years ago, but it is a book that I often still think about. In fact, it is a book that I need to reread.
Endurance is the true story of Ernest Shackleton’s attempt to reach the south pole. It is a nonfiction book that reads like fiction. The story tells of adventure, leadership, and endurance during the most difficult circumstances.
If you enjoy biographies and memoirs and have not read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, I highly recommend that you pick it up. It is on my list of favorite books of all time.
Unbroken is a WWII story about survival and forgiveness. It is a true story, but it reads like fiction. Laura Hillenbrand did an amazing job writing the story of Louis Zamperini.
My husband and I both read Midnight In Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham on vacation and really enjoyed it. Does the fact that we read a book like this on vacation say something about us…yes, we really do love nonfiction. As soon as I finished it, my husband picked it up to read. I didn’t know that a nuclear disaster could be so interesting.
If you grew up in the 1980’s and remember this story from the news headlines, I think you will find this book fascinating. It is a bit heavy on the science and math topic in some spots, but it is a well written book that the author did a ton of research on.
Syria’s Secret Library by Mike Thomson is another recent read that I can’t stop talking. I can’t stop talking about it because I can’t stop thinking about it. It is one of the books that I choose to talk about when I was a guest on the Book Gang Podcast.
In the middle of war torn Syria a secret library existed. People risked their lives to save books. They longed for reading and learning.
In America, we have all kinds of books all around us. We can have just about any book we want in our hands in a matter of days if not minutes. That is not the case in countries like Syria. If you love books about books or books that share little known history facts, this is good read. I am pretty sure this book will leave you with a new appreciation for books, reading, and education.
You Learn By Living
Written in 1960, You Learn By Living by Eleanor Roosevelt, could have easily been written today.
You Learn By Living is part memoir part lessons on life. Eleanor Roosevelt talks about fear, using time wisely, being useful, facing responsibilities, and so much more. At just over 200 pages, this is a fairly quick nonfiction read. This book makes a great book gift.
I do not think that Canyon Dreams by Michael Powell has gotten the attention it deserves. This book is the story of basketball in the heart of the Navajo Nation.
Michael Powell is a journalist, and it shows in this book. It is so well written and researched. You can tell the author truly cares about the people in this book. And this book is about far more than basketball. This book is about part of America that a lot of people don’t want to admit exists.
Bad Blood by John Carreyrou is part true crime part medical drama. This book is narrative nonfiction at its best. It is a story of real life being stranger than fiction.
This book got a lot of attention when it came out. If you love nonfiction and haven’t read it, I think you will enjoy it.
I read My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me by Jennifer Teege in two days. I could not put this book down. It is the story of a black woman who found out that her grandfather was a well known Nazi commandant depicted in Schindler’s List.
This book contains graphic war content, but it is a great read for those that love WWII nonfiction.
Inheritance by Dani Shapiro makes you think, question, and marvel at modern science, medicine and DNA.
Once I started this book, I could not put it down. It is a fascinating memoir that once again proves that fact is stranger than fiction.
I will say that this book covers some tough topics. If you have dealt with paternity issues, adoption, and not knowing who your parents are, then this might be a tough read for you.
I read The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson in 2020. Erik Larson is an automatic buy author for me. I have loved the books by him that I have read. I still have a few more of his backlist to read, but I will pretty much buy anything he writes.
The Splendid and the Vile is about Winston Churchill’s life and leadership during the Blitz. It shares his life’s both political and personal. It showed his leadership but also the reality of his family life. It portrayed him as a leader but not a perfect one.
It took me about 100 pages to get into this one, but once I did, I could not put it down.
The Year of Peril by Tracy Campbell is another book that I read in 2020. I could not stop talking about this book.
The Year of Peril follows the United States during 1942. It starts with Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and then each month that follows is a chapter of the book.
We think of WWII is a time that the U.S. came together, but the reality is that it was very similar to current times. The U.S. was divided.
There were shortages and stockpiling and the government restricted what people could and could not do.
If you love WWII books that are a little different, I think you will enjoy this one.