Nonfiction Books on My “To Be Read” List


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The Week 5 Nonfiction November (hosted by Ronnie at What’s Nonfiction) prompt is: “New to My To Be Read (TBR) List.” For full Nonfiction November link up schedule go here.

Nonfiction books are not what they used to be. When I started reading seriously about 25 years ago (yep, I am OLD) I felt the draw towards nonfiction mainly as an obligation. I slogged through some pretty dry histories and biographies and did not enjoy them as much as just feeling very “smart” and “accomplished” once I finished. To be fair, I do enjoy certain subjects so much that it does not matter how dry or boring the book is to most people, I am on board with it.

These days, the selection in the nonfiction book arena is ridiculously varied and there is truly something for everyone. I now often reach for nonfiction even when I don’t have a craving or need to feel smart. Go figure.

I have read about 15 nonfiction books so far this year (around 20% of my reading). I normally listen to nonfiction on audio these days, as I find it helps me get through them easier. My TBR is generally pretty unmanageable and has way more books than I will ever get to on it.

However, here are the top 10 from my nonfiction TBR list:

Murder in the Bayou: Who Killed the Women Known as the Jeff Davis 8? by Ethan Brown (Scribner, 2016): I cannot stress enough how much I love true crime. I have been reading about the ethical and psychological concerns about how obsessed most of the American public is with true crime and especially serial killers. Is it wrong that it only makes me want to read true crime books more?

American Predator book

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan (Viking, July 2019): See comments above. Can’t get enough true crime and this one comes highly recommended by my fellow true crime fanatics.

Moment of Lift book

The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates (Flatiron Books, April 2019): The key to raising civilization upwards is to empower women. Pretty sure this is one of the most profound statements I have ever read.

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of September 11, 2001 by Garrett M. Graff (Avid Reader Press, September 2019): I was working on Capitol Hill in DC across the street from the Capitol building on that fateful day. I evacuated and then ran down the street after hearing there was a plane headed for US. I went back to work the following day because my colleagues and I agreed: no terrorist was going to stop us from living our lives. Still, that day left its mark on me, so I am not sure when I will be able to get to this book, but I do plan on making it there. Look for a review and an account of my memory of that day that I am planning on doing soon.

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep (Knopf, May 2019): I guess this could go under the true crime heading, but I think I am interested in it more for the Harper Lee connection. I am a rare person you will find that actually enjoyed Go Set a Watchman. I don’t think it was for the book as much as just the opportunity to spend a few more hours in the world of Scout and the setting of To Kill a Mockingbird, even if the character revelations WERE less than ideal (probably a MAJOR understatement). Anyway, I keep hearing about this one, and I hope to get to it soon.

Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North by Blair Braverman (Ecco, 2016): After I read Kristin Knight Pace’s This Much Country (my review), someone on Instagram suggested I might also like this one which is similar. It has remained on my list although I have just not had time to get to it. Yet.

The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir by Ruth Wariner (Flatiron Books, 2016): I have noticed this one listed in many roundups of memoir must-reads lately. It is a title I mostly hear compared to Educated and The Glass Castle, two memoirs I read this year and loved. The library hold list is miles long, but I was lucky enough to find a copy of it at Half Price Books recently so it’s on the pile!

That Wild Country: An Epic Journey Through the Past, Present and Future of America’s Public Lands by Mark Kenyon (Little A, Dec 1, 2019) I snapped this one up recently as a part of the Amazon First Reads program (one free book/month on their Editor’s favorites list of pre-release books). I am a lover of the outdoors and belong to a family (both mine and my husband’s) with a strong tradition of hunting and fishing. Being a native Texan, the concept of public lands is somewhat foreign to me so I can’t wait to read this book which focuses on public lands in America.

And Then We Grew Up cover Then We Grew Up: On Creativity, Potential and the Imperfect Art of Adulthood by Rachel Friedman (Penguin Books, Dec 31, 2019): The premise of this one really caught my eye and when the author offered to send me a review copy, I jumped at the chance. Much like being a professional athlete, living a life devoted to art always seemed like an unrealistic or even silly goal to me. I see now how ignorant that is considering the devotion, training, talent and not to mention grit that is required of people so focused on their art. Still, can or should one pursue art as a life-long profession? This book examines this question. (Note: I received a free advance copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.)

Buy Yourself the F*ing Lilies: And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, From Someone Who’s Been There by Tara Schuster (The Dial Press, Feb 18, 2020): I keep reading about how something really simple like buying fresh flowers on a regular basis can improve not only your day but your whole mood and even contribute to good mental health. It always seemed like a frivolous expense that did not fit within my budget UNTIL I purchased some really nice mums for our porch this Fall. I spent way more on them than I normally would and then started noticing my mood improving every time I drove up or walked by. There is something to this buying flowers thing. I am intrigued to find out more. (Note: I received a free advance copy through Net Galley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.)

What nonfiction books are YOU hoping to read soon? Feel free to post your #NonficNov TBR list link below!

8 thoughts on “Nonfiction Books on My “To Be Read” List

  1. I can second that recommendation for The Sound of Gravel, it is amazing. One of the best memoirs I’ve read. American Predator and Murder in the Bayou are also both really good. You’ve got such a great list!

  2. I totally agree, nonfiction has really evolved! I am just now starting to get into reading it, and I was thinking about doing audio, something I usually don’t do. Reading that you do this, I think I might give it a whirl! And I am leaving with three new books that I missed during the month. LOL.

    1. I started with audio on nonfiction because that is what my hubby reads and we needed something to listen to together in the car. Only this year did I add in fiction to my audio list….and I have found that there are some books that really lend themselves to it. I especially like thrillers on audio!

  3. Non fiction used to equate to text books in the past – as you say they were very dry sounding. But these days the variety of subject and the variety of writing style is impressive.
    From your list the one that appeals to me most is The Only Plane in the Sky.

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