Books·Posted on Nov 10, 202230 Nonfiction Books To Read If You Don't Really Read NonfictionTrue story.by Rachel StrolleBuzzFeed ContributorLinkFacebookPinterestTwitterMail Rob Jason Enate / BuzzFeed Essay collections are a great starter into nonfiction, because it's so easy to read a single essay in one sitting. Sometimes, when folks think of nonfiction, images of a collegiate library with tomes upon tomes of research appear in their minds. But being able to pick up a book and read 20 pages told in an accessible and compelling way? Priceless. 1. Wild Tongues Can't Be Tamed edited by Saraciea J. Fennell Flatiron Books Wild Tongues Can't Be Tamed is a collection of 15 original pieces by authors such as Elizabeth Acevedo, Meg Medina, Mark Oshiro, Ibi Zoboi, and more, recounting journeys about living within the Latinx diaspora. Put together by the incredible Saraciea Fennell, the pieces cover ghost stories, kitchen memories, theater, travel, anti-Blackness, love, and more. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 2. She Memes Well by Quinta Brunson Dey Street Books Quinta Brunson is most recognizable these days for her spectacular (and Emmy-winning!) show Abbott Elementary, so it's no shocker that her essay collection is delightful. Ranging from stories about her BuzzFeed days to finding a signature hairstyle to internet notoriety to dealing with depression, and all told with Quinta's signature voice, She Memes Well.Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. 3. Opening My Eyes Underwater by Ashley Woodfolk Feiwel & Friends Ashley Woodfolk has long been a favorite fiction author of mine, and her first foray into nonfiction is this powerful essay collection. Woodfolk explores her own life journey in harmony with experiences of Michelle Obama, from childhood to adulthood. This interweaving makes the essay collection, that covers topics from heartbreak to bullying to racism, even deeper and more approachable. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 4. Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall Penguin Books Mikki Kendall's incredible book presents some things that are missing from mainstream feminism. Not only is meeting basic needs rarely brought up as a core feminist issue, but modern and well-publicized feminism promotes the privileged few instead of the survival of all, focusing mainly on white women. This and more is explored in this volume which is one of the most significant calls to action for anyone considering themself a feminist. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 5. Disability Visibility edited by Alice Wong Vintage This essay collection, available in its original format and also now adapted for young adults, features 37 (17 in the Young Reader's Edition) first-person accounts from disabled writers about their complex and diverse disability experiences, collected by Alice Wong. The collection delves into community, ableism, celebration, history, and more.Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. Rob Jason Enate / BuzzFeed 6. Messy Roots by Laura Gao Balzer & Bray/Harperteen If you're new to nonfiction, graphic memoirs are a great place to start. Laura Gao's graphic memoir chronicles a coming-of-age journey, from early childhood in Wuhan, to immigrating to Texas, and to the beginnings of the current pandemic. Throughout it all, young Laura tries to navigate the distance from Wuhan and her family there, parental expectations, and the fluttery feelings emerging when around girls. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. 7. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh Gallery Books There might not be a single piece of nonfiction media ever that has stuck in my brain as distinctly as the cake story from this collection. Each story from Allie Brosh's life that is chronicled in this book is done so in the form of a comic (you may recognize the DO ALL THE THINGS meme, which originated from here), and truly, there is a breadth of story from cannot-catch-my-breath-laughing-so-hard to oh-my-god-punch-in-the-gut-feels. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. 8. Ma and Me by Putsata Reang MCD Putsata Reang's family fled Cambodia when she was just 11 months old, spending nearly three weeks aboard an overcrowded Navy vessel before making it to an American naval base in the Philippines. Put's life was then saved by the American military nurses and doctors that Ma had rushed her into the arms of, a story which, repeated constantly over the years, became family legend. For many years, Put tried to repay in kind, making choices that would befit a good Cambodian daughter while building a successful career as an award-winning journalist. But achievement and expectation do not inhabit the same house, especially when Put comes out in her 20s. Their relationship fractures when Put announces her upcoming marriage, to a woman, at the age of 40. As Put tries to put the pieces of their family history together in the midst of heartbreak, she'll confront the idea of life debt and inherited trauma along with love and duty. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 9. Know My Name by Chanel Miller Penguin Books Chanel Miller was known as Emily Doe when her victim impact statement went viral. The man who sexually assaulted her on Stanford's campus was sentenced to just six months in county jail. In the aftermath, her statement was read on the floor of Congress, viewed by 11 million people within four days, and lead to the recall of the judge in the case. Know My Name is Chanel's story. Delving into a culture that protects the privileged, despite evidence of their wrongdoing, and the oppression foisted upon victims, Miller's story is filled with strength, determination, and hope. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 10. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner Knopf Publishing Group Michelle Zauner, also known as the indie pop singer Japanese Breakfast, tells her story of growing up in this highly acclaimed memoir. She grows up in Eugene, Oregon, one of very few Asian American kids, and eventually leaves for the East Coast, college, marriage, and more. But it's the cancer diagnosis handed to her mother that throws Michelle into a whole new understanding of not only her own identity, but also of her mom. Get it from Bookshop. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 11. I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy Simon & Schuster Jennette McCurdy's memoir is a heart-wrenching journey through the backstage trauma she endured from the time she went to her first audition at 6 years old. Young Jennette was pulled through show business by a mother who so desperately wanted stardom for her that she put her through hell. Hell that includes the beginnings of eating disorders as well as Mom showering her until age 16. With all her income going to support her family, things were tight until Jennette was cast on iCarly. As she goes through her life living someone else's dream, now with the added stressors of an abusive show creator and a network trying to silence her, addiction and unhealthy relationships wander onto the scene. But post-her mother's death, with trips to therapy and quitting acting altogether, Jennette finally gets to begin the journey toward healing. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. Rob Jason Enate / BuzzFeed 12. Brazen by Pénélope Bagieu First Second I am a sucker for the specific genre of "here are a bunch of cool historical people who all have X topic in common, so let's put them all together with mini-biographies in a collection," and "nifty historical women" is a favorite topic of mine, so it's no shocker this has been one of my go-to recommendations for nonfiction. Brazen tells pieces of the stories of Josephine Baker, Christine Jorgensen, Hedy Lamarr, Mae Jemison, Las Mariposas, and so many more, introducing these incredible women through art. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. 13. Notable Native People by Adrienne Keene Ten Speed Press Jessie Little Doe Baird has worked to revive the Wampanoag language. Elizabeth Peratrovich's advocacy helped get the first state/territorial anti-discrimination law enacted in the US passed in 1945. These two are among the 50 Indigenous activists, scientists, and more chronicled in this collection. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. 14. Revolution in Our Time by Kekla Magoon Candlewick Press A finalist for the National Book Award, Revolution in Our Time delves into the history of the Black Panther Party, from its roots with the first arrival of enslaved people all the way to the movements of today. Introducing readers to not only prominent figures within the party but also the evolution of the ideas and structure within it, Magoon chronicles the Panthers' story and fight with a deft hand and gorgeously composed visuals. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 15. Black Birds in the Sky by Brandy Colbert Balzer & Bray/Harperteen Colbert's searing nonfiction debut covers the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. Discussing the lead-up to the event, seen through the history and development of the area and the attitudes of the people, as well as how and what happened and the legacy it left, Colbert chronicles one of the most devastating acts of racial violence in US history. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 16. Pinball: A Graphic History of the Silver Ball by Jon Chad First Second The true joys of nonfiction come when you pick up something you never really knew you wanted to know more about. That's this book for me, Pinball, which provides a history of the game of Pinball. For instance, it was once outlawed in New York City for being supposedly tied to gambling and crime! It has roots in the Court of Louis XIV! And here's all this information, given in graphic form with great illustrations! It's nifty. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. Rob Jason Enate / BuzzFeed 17. Girly Drinks: A History of Women and Alcohol by Mallory O'Meara Hanover Square Press Girly Drinks covers the history of alcohol, but covers the way women and alcohol have mixed through the years. From the ways in which women were part of sake brewing, to an ancient Sumerian beer goddess, to the many ways in which alcohol has been presented as gendered through the years. It's a point of view I'd never considered before reading and a fascinating history. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 18. Eat Up! by Ruby Tandoh Vintage As someone who was rooting heartily for Ruby on The Great British Bake Off, it was a joy to discover this book by her. It's not always enjoyable as a fat person to read books that delve into food and societal standards around bodies, but Tandoh explores all of that in this journey through food (and body) appreciation and societal critiques. If you're a baking/cooking show fanatic, this is the book to pull you into nonfiction!Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. Rob Jason Enate / BuzzFeed If what is holding you back from jumping into nonfiction is either 1) There's just too many possible topics, and choices are hard or 2) Everything seems too long... do I have the collections for you! 19. Pocket Change Collective Penguin The Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books (and I mean small, they are 64 pages) that all cover a different topic. Presented by artists and activists such as Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Kimberly Drew, Adam Eli, and more, the books discuss the internet, queer identity, art, and so much more. Each topic is presented through the lens of its storyteller, and it makes the topics extremely accessible and is fun to read. Check out the full collection here. 20. Object Lessons Bloomsbury Published as a partnership with the Atlantic, Object Lessons is a collection of books focusing on specific things. Alarm clocks? Check. Gin? Check. Rust? Yep. Potato?? Of course! It's all about the hidden lives between things that exist without us really thinking about them. Check out the full collection here. Rob Jason Enate / BuzzFeed 21. How to Money by Jean Chatzky, Kathryn Tuggle, and the Her Money Team Roaring Brook Press Truly one of the most complicated things about entering adulthood is money management. There's so much advice and rules you don't know and places that will take advantage of you. But this guide for teens (and anyone else who needs it) is an incredible visualization of the basics, like student loans, credit cards, budgets, and more. Now, all I need is someone to explain health insurance to me the same way!Get it from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. 22. How to be Perfect by Michael Schur Simon & Schuster As a self-proclaimed Michael Schur show fangirl (I mean, hello? Parks and Recreation? The Good Place? The devastatingly-cancelled-too-soon Rutherford Falls?), I was intrigued to learn about Schur's philosophical journey into the pages of this book. And it is truly a philosophical journey, chronicling many of the questions raised in The Good Place, and delving into an exploration of deep moral questions. If you're thinking to yourself, "Rachel, this all sounds too complicated," you'll be thrilled to know that the questions presented are gone through in a sort of beginners guide to philosophy, with the delicate hand that brought many of these questions up through the adventures of four dead humans on TV. Also, it's really freaking funny, which always helps. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 23. Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask (Young Reader's Edition) by Anton Treuer Levine Querido One of my favorite nonfiction titles is this young readers edition of Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask (the young readers edition is updated and expanded from the original edition). An engaging book filled with answers to questions such as "Why is there such a fuss about nonnative people wearing Indian costumes for Halloween?" and "What's it like for natives who don't look native?" Plus, the new edition pulls in sections on identity and politics in addition to recent events such as the Dakota Access Pipeline. And not to bring up the tragically-canceled Rutherford Falls twice in one list (Peacock, please, I'm begging you to bring it back), Jana Schmieding who played Regan actually did the beadwork for the cover!Get it from Bookshop. 24. The Other Talk by Brendan Kiely Atheneum Books While many kids of color, especially Black kids, grow up with "The Talk" about the racism of the world and how to best survive it, many white kids don't. This book is a conversation starter for white kids and their parents about privilege, racism, and what it actually means to be an ally. By using examples from his own life, and speaking in a casual rather than a more academic-y voice, Kiely has provided a must-read resource. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 25. The (Other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat & Fierce edited by Angie Manfredi Amulet Books This nonfiction anthology features personal essays, poems, art, and more, all by incredible fat influencers, authors, and creators such as Ady Del Valle, Alex Gino, Samantha Irby, Isabel Quintero, and Saucye West. One of my absolute favorite things about this book is that in the back, you'll find a resource list for fat fashion, which I have turned to several times since this book was first released. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 26. An Immense World by Ed Yong Random House We experience the world through our senses, and this book delves into those sensory experiences from the perspective of other animals. Told by science journalist Ed Yong, this book contains information you may never have thought of. From the complex vision of scallops to the sensitivity of a crocodile face, even to the smells of a dog, Yong explores a fascinating side to the animal kingdom. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 27. The Catch Me If You Can: One Woman's Journey to Every Country in the World by Jessica Nabongo National Geographic Society Nonfiction covers such a wide range of topics, that a travelogue might not be one of the first things that springs to mind when you think of it. This stunning record of Jessica Nabongo's journey to 195 UN-recognized countries is here to change this. Nabongo, the first Black woman (on record) to visit every country, documents her travels through photos and stories, from Venezuelan shores to mosques in Afghanistan, to South Sudan and North Korea and Peru. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. 28. What the Fact? by Dr. Seema Yasmin Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Delineating fact and fiction can feel impossible sometimes, especially right now with the huge influx of online hoaxes and conspiracy theories. Journalist Dr. Seema Yasmin uses this book as a guide for folks to learn crucial media literacy skills. Perhaps one of the most imperative books on the list, What the Fact? is not only informative, but also builds skills to help identify everyday occurrences like clickbait and propaganda. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 29. March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell Top Shelf Productions This three-book chronicle of the early years of John Lewis's time in the Civil Rights Movement is an absolute must-read when it comes to nonfiction. Told in graphic novel form, with great art and a trio of relatively short volumes (all under 250 pages), March not only provides insight into the late, great congressman's life, but also a glimpse into iconic pieces of history. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. 30. Better Than We Found It: Conversations to Help Save the World by Frederick Joseph and Porsche Joseph Candlewick Press There's no question that young people are inheriting a catastrophic amount of crises. Lack of housing, widespread transphobia, the ever-growing wealth gap, and gun violence all contribute to the overwhelming anxiety and dread. This nonfiction title features interviews with tons of activists, authors, actors, and politicians (such as Elizabeth Warren, Robert Reich, Chelsea Clinton, Mehcad Brooks, Anna Paquin, and more!) about making change. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.