Originally posted on Leah’s Books.
This week, the prompt was a genre freebie and I decided to do something completely out of character. I’ve always been a fiction reader through and through, and only read nonfiction when I absolutely had to, like when it was assigned for classes. But last year, I decided that I wanted to learn more about various topics, and made it a priority to read at least one nonfiction book each month. Turns out, I found a lot of really interesting nonfiction books, and some of them even read like fiction. I tend to read a lot of these as audiobooks, which can make it even more enjoyable.
A lot of these books started out as my efforts to learn more about other cultures, especially during various heritage months, or in response to recent events. But it wound up becoming so much more than that, and now I’m slowly becoming a fan of nonfiction books. Here are ten of the best nonfiction books that I’ve read recently:
- The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State by Nadia Murad — this brave woman not only survived the most horrific experiences at the hands of the Islamic State, and the genocide of her people, but she overcame the cultural taboo about speaking out and shared her experiences to fight against the Islamic State and work to create change on a massive level.
- Guided Tarot for Teens: A Beginner’s Guide to Card Meanings, Spreads, and Trust in Your Intuition by Stefanie Caponi — after purchasing a tarot deck on a whim, I got a copy of this book, and it was incredibly informative and easy to navigate. Even though I’m clearly not a teen, this book isn’t just for teens.
- Educated by Tara Westover — this woman was raised off the grid, in an unstable family situation, and home-schooled without following a specific curriculum, leaving her unprepared to make her own way in the world. When she left her family home to go to college, she realized how far she had to go in order to catch up, but she eventually made her way to the upper echelons of education, at Harvard and Cambridge. She’s amazing!
- When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867-1973 by Leslie J. Reagan — I read this after Roe v. Wade was overturned, and it talks a lot about the history of abortion services and how the outlawing of them disproportionately affected women of color and low-income women. It’s terrifying to see our own society going backwards, and knowing that once again, it’s going to be people of color and low-income people who are going to have the most difficulty.
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot — anyone who has studied upper level science is aware of HeLa cells, but we never learn anything about the woman behind these miraculous cells that have contributed so much to scientific discovery. In this book, the author took the time to respectfully tell the story of Henrietta Lacks and her family, and how her family has been impacted by the taking of these cells. It also brought up the concern about consent and left me with a lot to think about.
- The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Treuer — my own education skipped over so much of Native American history, and whitewashed the rest, and I felt like it was important to learn more about it from an OwnVoices perspective. This was so informative without getting dry and boring.
- Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga — the First Nations people in Canada have gone through so much, and they continue to experience prejudice and hardships. This story was painful to hear, and I truly wanted the ending to be happy, even though I knew what was coming, although it was written so beautifully and in an incredibly powerful way.
- Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich — this book absolutely broke my heart. It’s a collection of input from so many people who were directly affected by the Chernobyl disaster, whether they were related to the first responders, lived in the town, refused to evacuate, or were conscripted to work in some aspect of the cleanup. Just seeing how little they actually knew about what was going on compounded how heartbreaking this was.
- The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold — our society is so fixated on the perpetrators of crimes that the names of killers are so well-known, while their victims are often forgotten. The author really delves into who these women were, and the circumstances that led to them crossing paths with Jack the Ripper. It was so interesting.
- Before We Were Trans: A New History of Gender by Kit Heyam — exploring the history of people who didn’t quite fit into the gender binary throughout history was fascinating, especially since the author breaks down intersectionality, their own personal feelings, and historical perceptions while reviewing various individuals throughout history.
I don’t really read non-fiction books. It’s so rare when I do and usually it’s for a book club that I force myself to participate in since I know that’s a genre I don’t usually delve into. This is a great list though!
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