Nonfiction gets a bad rap. So many people (including past me) automatically dismiss it as “boring”, but lately I’ve come to realize that nonfiction is only boring if you’re not reading the right books.
Narrative nonfiction is written “like fiction”, making many books written in this style as engaging as novels while still remaining unequivocally in the nonfiction category. And reading nonfiction about something that interests you is infinitely more engaging than, say, reading… a dictionary.
I still read more fiction than I do nonfiction, but I’ve been trying to increase the number of factual books I read– and I’ve discovered some new favorites in the process.
Without further ado, here are some of the best nonfiction books I’ve read in the past few years!
1) Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson
Read if you’re interested in: WW2, Russian history, history in general, classical music
I read this book in January, and I quite literally could not put it down; it was one of the most fascinating nonfiction books I have ever read. I was glued to my Kindle, and I learned a lot of things I don’t think I will soon forget.
It follows the life of Dmitri Shostakovich, a famous classical composer, intertwining the history of the Soviet Union from the Russian Revolution through World War 2, and focusing on the symphony Shostakovich wrote while living in Leningrad during the siege.
I learned a lot of history and a lot more things I didn’t know about music– I would especially recommend this if you play an instrument or like listening to classical music.
2) Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
Read if you’re interested in: business, Silicon Valley, biotech, true crime, investigative journalism
This book was recommended to me by a friend, and while I don’t usually gravitate towards books about the business world, I was completely sucked into this one. It traces the history of the Theranos scandal, a company that fraudulently sold “revolutionary” blood test equipment that didn’t actually work, exploring the CEO’s life and inspiration, how the company covered up the scam and how the story eventually broke.
3) Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Read if you’re interested in: space, physics, science, science history
In Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Neil deGrasse Tyson summarizes prominent astrophysics topics in relatively simple English, as a kind of overview of the field. The book isn’t too long, nor is it too difficult to understand, and the material is absolutely fascinating. If you want to learn about what we think happened during the Big Bang, how the universe might end, what Einstein’s theory of relativity actually means, or how much of physics is still pure speculation… well, read this book!
4) Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Read if you’re interested in: psychology, sociology, personal development
This is a pretty popular in the blogging community, and for good reason! It is a fascinating analysis of introversion vs. extroversion, the evolution of societal personality ideals over time, and the strengths of both introverted and extroverted people. I learned so much from this book, and I couldn’t put it down because it was just so interesting. If you have any interest in personality types, psychology, or just want to figure out how to deal with being introverted (or extroverted), give this book a try!
5) A Night to Remember: The Classic Account of the Final Hours of the Titanic by Walter Lord
Read if you’re interested in: the Titanic, history, maritime history
I actually read this one back when I was in middle school, and it scared me so much that I vowed never to set foot on a cruise ship, ever. The book chronicles the night the Titanic sank: why it hit the iceberg, why it was not unsinkable after all, and the disaster’s effect on public opinion, technology, and ultimately history. It’s written as narrative nonfiction, so it’s very readable and impossible to put down. And there are so many facts about the Titanic that I learned from this book and still remember, even five years after reading it.
Those are all the books I’m going to feature today, but I have so many more recommendations that I might just have to write a Part 2…
Do you read nonfiction? If so, What is your favorite nonfiction book? Have you read any of the ones on this list?
As always, thank you for stopping by Frappes & Fiction today!