Good Reads - Nonfiction
Get Real – Nonfiction for Fiction Lovers
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson - 2010
While exploring widespread institutionalized racism across the South from World War I to the 1970s, Wilkerson’s novelistic saga illuminates the lives of three African-Americans who fled Jim Crow in search of a greater sense of freedom.
The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl by Shauna Reid - 2009
What began as a breezy blog about the weight loss experiences of a likable 23-year old Australian morphed into this readable and witty tell-all about Reid’s journey to self-acceptance.
After the Fire: A True Story of Friendship and Survival by Robin Gaby Fisher - 2008
After an arsonist set fire to a New Jersey college dormitory, two roommates began a grueling but life-affirming journey to healing.
Hands of My Father: A Hearing Boy, His Deaf Parents, and the Language of Love by Myron Uhlberg - 2009
Uhlberg grew up in 1940s Brooklyn interpreting the world for his deaf parents - even the cruel parts - at a time when society treated deaf people as if they were invisible.
The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter by Jason Kersten - 2009
Explores the arcane world of a maverick counterfeiter and the private demons that were his undoing.
Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History by Scott Andrew Selby - 2010
A coterie of thieves known as the School of Turin engineered a nighttime heist of over $100 million in diamonds locked behind foot-thick steel doors at Belgium’s Antwerp Diamond Center. The 2003 caper is cinematically portrayed in this page-turner.
Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury - 2009
Audacious art forger John Drewe put more than 200 counterfeit works on the market between 1986 and 1995, wreaking havoc on the art world. Husband and wife journalists Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo reveal Drewe’s story with flair and breakneck pacing.
Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman - 2010
Consequences of a youthful indiscretion landed executive Kerman in prison with street-hardened drug users, many of whom offered her kindness and friendship. This is a middle class white woman’s compelling look at the culture of prison and the ineffectiveness of federal drug policy.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot - 2010
Lacks died of cancer in 1951, but her unique cell samples - taken without consent - have led to decades of medical breakthroughs from the polio vaccine to lifesaving chemotherapies. Skloot’s multilayered narrative also considers how her family was victimized by scientific indifference and greed.
The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife’s Memoir by Patricia Harman - 2008
This heartfelt memoir reveals Harmon’s complicated days in rural West Virginia as healer, wife, and patient. Intimate glimpses into her examining room and her private life divulge bittersweet stories of love, doubt and faith.
The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball - 2010
Kristin abandoned Manhattan to marry Mark and “live outside the river of consumption” on a farming cooperative in upstate New York. She poignantly chronicles their seasons of natural living, and reveals how they transformed, and were transformed by, the land.
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron - 2008
A winsome kitten found in the book return became a permanent and pivotal resident of an Iowa library. See how one small cat made a big difference and rallied the flagging spirits of the author, her staff and a whole town.
I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti: A Memoir by Giulia Melucci - 2009
A Harper’s Magazine exec’s entertaining, recipe-filled memoir of trying to find love in Manhattan.
Titanic Thompson: The Man Who Bet on Everything by Kevin Cook - 2011
Said to be the inspiration for Guys and Dolls hustler Sky Masterson, Alvin Clarence Thomas is brought to life in this breezy account of his days as an outrageous rogue and con artist who mixed it up with Houdini, Capone and Minnesota Fats.
Hurricane Season: A Coach, His Team, and Their Triumph in the Time of Katrina by Neal Thompson - 2007
A high school football team at John Curtis Christian School in New Orleans overcame poverty, homelessness, and the hardships of Hurricane Katrina to win the 2005 state championship.
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall - 2009
Mexico’s Copper Canyon is home to the elusive Tarahumara tribe of ultra-runners known for uncanny endurance, health and serenity. McDougall’s exuberant exploration of the tribe and their environment climaxes in a 50-mile showdown between the Tarahumara and some of America’s best marathoners.
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert - 2006
Battling twin demons of depression and doubt following her divorce, the author embarked on a year-long escape to seek pleasure in Italy, self-knowledge in India and balance in Indonesia. Her talent for making friends brought quirky and interesting people into her orbit in each country.
Black Wave: A Family’s Adventure at Sea and the Disaster That Saved Them by John Silverwood - 2008
An exhilarating true-life story of a suburban California couple and their four children who chucked it all to sail around the world. When their catamaran hit a South Pacific reef, the real challenge began.
Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman - 2009
This sometimes humorous but ultimately harrowing tale depicts the adventures of two young women who decided to circle the globe with little more than backpacks and a goodly reserve of gumption. They quickly found themselves out of their comfort zone, unnerved by both culture and circumstance.
The Bicycle Runner: A Memoir of Love, Loyalty, and the Italian Resistance by G. Franco Romagnoli - 2009
Memories of Fascist Italy are seen through the eyes of a 14-year-old idealist who eventually agreed to deliver secret documents to members of the Resistance. Covering eleven years of Romagnoli’s life, this war reminiscence also warmly explores love and family.
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand - 2010
Runner Louis Zamperini was training for the 1940 Olympics when the games were cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II. The astounding chronicle of his alternate fate as an Army Corps bombardier and prisoner of war driven to the limits of endurance is a stunning story.
Escape from the Deep: The Epic Story of a Legendary Submarine and Her Courageous Crew by Alex Kershaw - 2008
This action-packed narrative tells the riveting World War II story of the nine heroic survivors of the USS Tang, the most successful compact sub in the Pacific theater, which was sunk by its own boomeranging torpedo on its final mission.
Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory by Ben Macintyre - 2010
A multi-layered wartime deception replete with doppelgangers, intrigue, forgery, and floating corpses is cleverly described with a novelist’s skill.
Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal by Ben Macintre - 2007
Eddie Chapman became WWII’s most daring double agent. His checkered life is breathtakingly examined by Ben Macintyre.
Safe Passage: The Remarkable True Story of Two Sisters Who Rescued Jews from the Nazis by Ida Cook - 2008
This is a charming and uplifting story, first published in 1950, of the opera-loving Cook sisters who in 1939 became part of an international mission to help as many people as possible escape Nazi regimes in Germany and Austria. On the brink of war, the transformative power of music offered the sisters inspiration and fortitude.
The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just before the Storm by Juliet Nicolson - 2007
Nicolson provides an evocative snapshot of English society during the summer of 1911 using diaries of people from all walks of life, including royalty, politicians, debutantes, artists and trade unionists. Their entertaining stories are set within the historical context of the looming Great War and the century’s leap into the modern era.
The Lady in Red: An Eighteenth-Century Tale of Sex, Scandal, and Divorce by Hallie Rubenhold - 2010
This is a lively portrait of Lady Seymour Worsley’s scandalous affairs amid the world of aristocratic Georgian England. Her ensuing divorce became so infamous that it was followed by the press on both sides of the pond.
That Summer in Sicily: A Love Story by Marlena De Blasi - 2008
While researching a travel book, the author stumbled upon the centuries-old Villa Donnafugasa and its mistress, Tosca Brozzi. In these pages De Blasi reveals Tosca’s romance with the last Anjou prince of Sicily and the epic drama of her rich life.
War by Sebastian Junger - 2010
Junger’s absorbing first-person combat narrative follows a single platoon through a 15-month tour of duty in the Korengal Valley, one of the bloodiest corners of the Afghan conflict. The action includes the heroics of recent Medal of Honor recipient Salvatore Giunta.
Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation by John Carlin - 2008
In an uplifting story that was made into the 2009 film Invictus, Carlin recounts the defining and symbolic moment when Nelson Mandela hosted the 1995 Rugby World Cup to help ease the bitter legacy of South African apartheid.
The Last Resort: A Memoir of Zimbabwe by Douglas Rogers - 2009
This ripping yarn recounts the author’s recent return to his native Zimbabwe where he found the few remaining white families, including his parents, living in a surreal world of brothels and diamond dealers while struggling to survive under Mugabe’s rule.
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers - 2009
Eggers offers a nuanced look at New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and at the plight of a Syrian-American whose fate was changed by race and culture. It is a haunting and heartbreaking look at crisis mismanagement and the betrayal of ideals we value most.
Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan - 2007
Jourdan left a high-powered job to help out at her dad’s rural medical practice. While ministering to a parade of colorful Southern characters she learned patience, humility, introspection, and the real meaning of making a difference – one person at a time
Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu by Christopher Heaney - 2010
This richly detailed portrait of one of the last great explorers takes us on a hunt for the lost cities of the Incas.
Biography Caldwell, G.
Let’s Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship by Gail Caldwell - 2010
"Finding Caroline was like placing a personal ad for an imaginary friend, then having her show up at your door funnier and better than you had conceived." Caldwell writes of her rich friendship with fellow writer Caroline Knapp and of the last journey they faced together.
Biography Ferguson, C.
American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot by Craig Ferguson - 2009
Scottish-born comedian Ferguson is a reflective writer who reveals his personal journey from addicted punk rocker to proud American citizen with humor and brutal honesty. This is an enormously likeable story of emigration and redemption.
Biography Hancock, E.E.
Trespassers Will Be Baptized: The Unordained Memoir of a Preacher’s Daughter by Elizabeth Emerson Hancock - 2008
Hancock has written an irreverent and funny chronicle about growing up in 1980s Kentucky as the smart-mouthed elder daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher. She shares stories of family, flock, and her own faith journey.
Biography Moses, K.
Cakewalk: A Memoir by Kate Moses - 2010
Novelist Moses tells a smart and wistful coming-of-age story in this mix of remembrance and recipes. The sometimes bitter taste of childhood triggered by her emotionally erratic mother and distant father led to confectionary obsession, honest introspection and, ultimately, a recipe for forgiveness.
Biography Strauss, D.
Half a Life by Darin Strauss - 2010
"Half my life ago, I killed a girl" begins Strauss’ remembrance of a high school outing in his father's Oldsmobile that resulted in the tragic death of a 16-year-old girl on a bicycle. The author’s insightful honesty and self-examination pinpoint the anguish of guilt and forgiveness.
Prepared by Lori Sennebogen, March 2011