In 2019 I challenged myself to read more nonfiction, by reading one nonfiction book a month and it actually went okay. I am not someone who shies away from nonfiction. I like learning more about topics that I am interested in and do pick up some nonfiction without prompt, but I wanted to make a specific effort to read more than I usually do. Also, not going to lie this challenge happened a bit retroactively. I read the first two books and was like, “well might as well continue this”. Also, note that I did not include star ratings in my mini reviews, I did rate most of these on Goodreads, but I typically rate them based on my enjoyment which did not feel fair for most of them.
I have listed some tips when picking up nonfiction & some of my recommendations at the bottom of this post.
I counted memoirs as nonfiction so a lot of months it was a memoir, but hey it’s my challenge so I make the rules.
January: White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
February: Contagious by Jonah Berger
March: Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
April: Naturally Tan by Tan France
May/June: We are Lincoln Men by David Herbert Donald
August: The Stonewall Reader by the New York Public Library & Edmund White
September: Monster She Wrote by Lisa Kröger & Melanie R. Anderson
October: Lincoln’s Last Trial by Dan Abrams & David Fisher
November: My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams
December: In progress
JANURARY: White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
We started the year strong. This was a very educational read and should be required reading for all white people, especially those who think they are not racist, but are not actively fighting against systemic racism. I did know a lot of what she discusses, but now I am better able to explain certain things to other people. It is also relatively short and is divided into sections that make for easy reading. I highly recommend this one.
FEBRUARY: Contagious by Jonah Berger
I’m not going to lie, I had to read this for my graduate program. We had a week to read and write a 1,000 word book review on a book of our choice from a list. I chose this book because my library had a copy and I liked the author’s writing style, it is easy to read and entertaining. He writes well and has an engaging voice. I really enjoyed this book and I learned a lot about what makes things go viral. Here is my class review if anyone actually wants some depth to this one. Honestly, not sure if you can access it, but figured I would link it anyways.
MARCH: Talking as Fast as I can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls by Lauren Graham
This one was great! If you are a fan of Gilmore Girls, you will enjoy this. The audiobook is amazing and Lauren narrates it herself. It is a quick listen and I really enjoyed the experience of listening to it. Fun fact, I had read part of this when I worked at my campus bookstore but had never finished it. Fun Fact two: I also recently gifted this to a friend for her birthday. Fun Fact 3: When I bought this at B&N the cashier asked, “Is this the woman who is canceled because she paid for her kid to go to college” and when I said, “no it’s the woman from GG”, he was like, “Oh we still stan”. It was a great moment.
APRIL: Naturally Tan by Tan France
Thanks so much to the publisher for an arc of this! I almost passed out when I opened the package that this came in and saw that it was THE TAN FRANCE’S BOOK. I really enjoyed this one. I did want to see more about behind the scenes of Queer Eye (he mainly focuses on the casting process which was fascinating, but I wanted more). I love Tan though and it was cool learning more about him. If you like Tan at all, I recommend reading this book. I need to read the rest of the Fab Five’s books.
MAY /JUNE: We are Lincoln Men by David Herbert Donald
I am a major Lincoln Stan and thus have accumulated various Lincoln books from library book sales and just life. But I did not enjoy this one. It focuses on the men Lincoln was friends with, but also says that he did not have many friends. It was not that interesting and mainly quoted from other books. It also took me two months to read because it was boring.
I blame that bad Lincoln book for this lol.
AUGUST: The Stonewall Reader by the New York Public Library & Edmund White
This is an anthology that chronicles the Before, During, and After of the Stonewall Riots in the 1960’s. I learned a lot reading this and really need to pick up more nonfiction that discusses LGBTQ+ history because I really don’t know much about it (thanks public school system!). But, I do not like anthologies, so some of the stories were very interesting and some were boring. Overall, I am glad I read this because it gave me new perspectives on a few things and I always like learning more about peoples’ experiences, but at times it was hard to get through. I also need to pick up a history book on the Stonewall Riots because I want to learn more about the actual event.
SEPTEMBER: Monster She Wrote: The Women who Pioneered Horror & Speculative Fiction by Liza Kröger & Melanie R. Anderson
Thanks to Quirk Books for a copy of this one! This book has profiles of different women who were and are forces in both these genres. As someone who does not read much of either genre I did not know who most of these women were. But, I always love learning more about historical women. I had no idea that women were so dominant in these genres and it was cool seeing their influence. This book is cool because it recommends which of their books you should read and mentions modern works that are influenced by their work.
OCTOBER: Lincoln’s Last Trial by Dan Abrams & David Fisher
Another Lincoln book hahaha. I read this as part of my reading challenge (read more about it here) and listened to the audiobook. I was honestly not the biggest fan of this one. It very heavily focuses on the trial and I wanted the focus to be on Lincoln. I did learn some stuff, but I did not find the story very engaging. For context, I am not the biggest fan of legal stories.
NOVEMBER: My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams
This book is written by one of Anna Delvey’s friends and discusses her relationship with her. If you do not know who Anna Delvey is, she is a scammer. Do some Google searches for some interesting reads. This book was engaging and I got sucked in. It isn’t the best book and you can kind of tell that the author wants the readers to like her and be sympathetic towards her, but it is still an interesting (and mildly disturbing) story. I got from Book of the Month and flew through it. If you want to sign up for Book of the Month you can use my link and we both would get a free add on book.
DECEMBER: Look I’m working on it. This is most likely going to be Becoming by Michelle Obama but I haven’t started it.
Some Tips When Picking up Nonfiction:
- Stick to subjects you enjoy
- For memoirs, pick books by people you know or are interested in their life, you won’t care about random people’s life stories.
- Audiobooks are a good way to read longer audiobooks
Nonfiction Recommendations (not sure if I have mentioned these before):
Why Not Me & Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Make Trouble by Cecile Richards
We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Between the World & Me by Ta- Nehisi Coates
Bad Girls Thoroughout History by Ann Shen
Dead Presidents by Brady Carlson (I LOVE THIS ONE SO MUCH)
Notorious RBG by Iran Carmon & Shana Knizhnik & illustrated by Ping Zhu
What are some of your favorite nonfiction books?