Current favorite nonfiction reads


I used to loathe reading nonfiction. I'll never forget when I was a freshman in Pre-AP World Geography and we had to read a nonfiction book + write an essay on that book. We got to pick our book from a list provided by our teacher, and even though we had choice in what we read, I still dreaded completing the assignment.

I chose Alive by Piers Paul Read, a work that tells the story of the Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed into the Andes mountains in the 1970s. Many of the passengers died, but others were forced to survive in the harsh climate of the Andes and made unimaginable decisions in hopes of being rescued.

This book changed my perspective on nonfiction reading. I wouldn't say I was changed in that moment, but it did show me that nonfiction doesn't have to be boring and laborious. I still find myself mostly seeking fiction books, but if there's anything I've learned during my reading journey, it's that there are some incredible nonfiction books out there. So today, I am going to share my recent favorites with you in hopes that you'll find a nonfiction book that means something to you.

BOOKS I'VE READ

1. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

My team and I chose this as our book club pick toward the end of the school year, and I devoured it; I even reread some sections when I finished. This book tells the story of Sasha and Richard, two teens who live in Oakland, Calif., but run in two very different circles. Sasha, who is agender, and Richard end up on the same bus—the 57 bus—one day after school. Sasha falls asleep, and Richard's friends dare him to light Sasha's skirt on fire. Richard follows their lead, and Sasha ends up with burns all over their body, resulting in Richard being charged with a hate crime. I loved this book because instead of persecuting Richard and painting him as this career criminal, Slater explores both kids' pasts and who they are at their core, while simultaneously opening the reader's eyes to the world of being an agender person in today's society. It's written almost in a journalistic approach, which truly captivated me from beginning to end.

2. Educated by Tara Westover

At times, I couldn't believe I was reading a true story. Educated is a memoir that tells Tara Westover's story of growing up with survivalist parents—parents who are anti-education, anti-government, and anti-modern medicine. Through the encouragement of her older brother who "escaped" the family's ways, so to speak, but with many obstacles, both physically, financially, and emotionally, Westover escapes herself. She enters the classroom for the first time at 17 years old at Brigham Young University, where she first learns about the Holocaust, the Civil Rights Movement, and other important aspects of the world that were previously foreign to her. Educated will grip you from the first page to the very end (and it will leave you speechless, as well).

3. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Brown Girl Dreaming is a collection of poems by Jacqueline Woodson that chronicles her life growing up a young African American girl in the 1960s and 1970s, with the remnants of Jim Crow still fresh and the Civil Rights Movement on the horizon. This National Book Award, Newberry Honor, and Coretta Scott King Award winning work details Woodson's life so beautifully that you'll feel as though you are right there with her, experiencing it all firsthand.

ON MY T0-BE-READ LIST

4. I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

I have heard nothing but incredible things about this book. Michelle McNamara investigated the story of the "Golden State Killer," a serial murderer and rapist who eluded authorities for years. Her investigative work, I'll Be Gone in the Dark, which was published by her husband after her death, is credited with aiding in the investigation.

5. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs

I've owned this book for a few months, but I don't plan on allowing it to collect dust on my shelf for much longer. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace tells Peace's story of escaping a dangerous neighborhood in New Jersey to Yale University, where he met the author, Jeff Hobbs. Despite this initial escape, Peace returned to the dangers of his neighborhood after attending the Ivy League to pursue a career in education. Hobbs writes that Peace never quite found himself as he was stretched between the two worlds. According to a review in The New Yorker, "Hobbs uses [Peace's] journey as an opportunity to discuss race and class, but he doesn't let such issues crowd out a sense of his friend's individuality."

What are your favorite nonfiction books? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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