My 15 Favourite Non-Fiction Novels


I do not tend to read a lot of Non-Fiction and that is something that I am hoping to change this year! I thought it might inspire me to pick it up more often if I looked back on all of the non fiction books that I have read and loved. I am not going to include WWII non fictions books on this list because I have read enough of those that I think they deserve a post all on their own!

Scrappy Little Nobody- Anna Kendrick

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I adore Anna Kendrick and all of her quirkiness! Her personality really shines through her writing. Even though she is a huge celebrity, she came across as completely relatable! I learnt some things about her that I didn’t know, and ultimately is was a fun and quick read.

Hemingway in Love: His Own Story- A.E. Hotchner

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Hemingway is an interesting man who led an interesting life. I have read and enjoyed the majority of his books so it was enlightening to learn more about the man behind such great novels. Hemingway was friends with the author so it was nice to get A.E. Hotchner’s perspective. This book main focus is on Hemingway’s marriages and all the mistakes that he made, and the decisions that he regrets.

The Glass Castle- Jeannette Walls

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The Glass Castle is the book that opened up the world of memoirs to me. The way that the author tells the story of her childhood makes it feel almost like a fiction novel. She has a powerful and magical writing style, and her story is one that every one should read. I have yet to watch the movie because I am nervous that it will not hold a candle to the book.

I Am I Am I Am- Maggie O’Farrell

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I Am I Am I Am is my most recent non-fiction read, and the book that inspired this post! Maggie O’Farrell tells her life story through her near death experiences, and I thought that was so unique! Some of the brushes with death were more intense than others, but each of them taught her something and had an impact on her life. The last chapter had me in tears!

Scar Tissue- Anthony Keidis

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A friend recommended Scar Tissue to me, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, but she was insistent that I read it! I enjoy The Red Hot Chili Pepper’s but never really knew or cared to know much about them! I am so glad that my friend pretty much forced this book on me because it is one that I still think about. I found it to be very raw and enlightening. It definitely made me appreciate his music that much more.

The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times- Jennifer Worth

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I love the show Call the Midwife, so of course I had to read the book that inspired the TV show! I learnt a lot from it, but there was still the sense of humour and fun that is present in the show. It is also beautifully written, and I want to share the following quote with you so you can see how amazing the writing is.

“Now and then in life, love catches you unawares, illuminating the dark corners of your mind, and filling them with radiance. Once in awhile you are faced with a beauty and a joy that takes your soul, all unprepared, by assault.”

I’ll See You Again- Jackie Hance

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I have to warn you that this book is absolutely devastating. Jackie Hance lost her three children in a car accident, and she describes what that day was like and how she has been coping. There were times where it was very moving, and times where it was very frustrating and you just wanted to scream “life is so not fair!” It then becomes a story about hope, and how life can start anew.

Moonlight on Linoleum: A Daughter’s Memoir- Terry Helwig

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I read Moonlight on Linoleum because I was looking for a book that was similar to The Glass Castle, and I loved it. It has a very similar feeling to The Glass Castle, but it stand on its own. It shines a light on the power of sisterhood, and it is beautiful. I really became invested in her story and her family!

A Stolen Life- Jaycee Dugard

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I have read a lot of books written by strong, incredible women, but I would be hard-pressed to find a more inspiring woman than Jaycee Dugard. If you do not know who she is, she was kidnapped at the age of 11 and was freed with her daughters 18 years later. She goes in to detail about her experience, and it is difficult to read. What she has been able to overcome is truly inspiring.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier- Ismael Beah

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A Long Way Gone is another book that is both heartbreaking and inspiring. Ishmael Beah was a child soldier in Sierra Leone and he goes in to great detail about what that experience was like for him. It is amazing to see where he is now, and the man that he has become. His memoir was truly eye-opening.

Diary of a Player: How My Musical Heroes Made a Guitar Man Out of Me- Brad Paisley

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I love country music, and I particularly adore Brad Paisley. I picked up this book kind of on a whim but was surprised my how much I enjoyed it! Paisley is just so charming and I loved reading about his life. The story about how he met his wife, actress Kimberly Williams from Father of the Bride, is particularly adorable!

Stories I Only Tell My Friends- Rob Lowe

I love Rob Lowe! Look at that face! He is 25 years older than me but that has never stopped me from crushing on him. He has also lead an interesting life, and I loved getting to know some of the behind the scene stuff from his movies and his life in Hollywood.

The Last Lecture- Randy Pausch

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I read the entirety of The Last Lecture through tears! This is Randy Rausch last lecture after his discovers that he has pancreatic cancer. It is so powerful, and I often turn to this book when I need reassurance or inspiration. Here are just a few of my favourite quotes:

“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.”

“The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have. ”

“Look, I’m going to find a way to be happy, and I’d really love to be happy with you, but if I can’t be happy with you, then I’ll find a way to be happy without you.”

Tuesdays With Morrie- Mitch Albom

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Tuesdays With Morrie is one of those book that people say everyone should read before they die, and I think they say that for good reason. It is about Mitch Albom reconnecting with an old professor, Morrie, who has been diagnosed with ALS. They decide to have one last class together- they meet every Tuesday and Morrie teaches him about life. It is another book with life lessons that I turn to when I feel like I have lost my way. Here are just a few quotes I love:

“Accept who you are; and revel in it.”

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”

“You see, you closed your eyes. That was the difference. Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them, too–even when you’re in the dark. Even when you’re falling.”

A House in the Sky- Amanda Lindhout


Amanda Lindhout tells her harrowing story of being held hostage for 460 days in Somalia. What she went through is truly horrific, and her resilience is inspiring. She also talks about her childhood, and the decisions that she made that lead to her ending up in Somalia in the first place. At the end of the day it is the story of the power of the mind!


Wow just writing this post has reminded me how much I enjoy non-fiction, and apparently I really enjoy memoirs! I would love to know if you have read any of these books and what you thought about them!

I am extremely motivated to read more non-fiction, and I would love to hear your recommendations!


68 thoughts on “My 15 Favourite Non-Fiction Novels

  1. Great post! I’ve only read The Glass Castle out of those listed here, but I loved it. I also read tons of memoirs and often they can be really emotionally intense, like some of the ones you listed here. Some really fantastic suggestions, and of course I love your idea of reading more nonfiction! 🙂

  2. Hi Kristin! Glass Castle is one of the books that I read again and again. I also love the writing style which is magical and captivating 🙂 Tuesdays with Morrie is a book that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  3. Amazing list. It seems like one book after another here is very inspirational and should be read by everyone. I also read only the Glass Castle out of these, but now I really want to read The Midwife and I am, I am, I am.
    It is very interesting that you also recommend Rob Lowe book. I always thought that guy did not get what he really deserved in show business. With such breathtakingly handsome looks and an acting talent, he could have been much bigger than Tom Cruise as a star now, and it is such a pity with all that scandal happening, etc.

    1. Thank you! I definitely look for inspiring stories in non fiction! The Midwife and I Am I Am I Am are fantastic. I think you will enjoy them! Rob Lowe is gorgeous and so talented. I also think he’s quite funny! Yeah that scandal did not help his career that is for sure!

  4. Kristin you have read some incredible nonfiction!!

    You have given me a lot to think about when I choose my next nonfiction…

    I do love Anna Kendrick, so I might pick that up for a light read, but the rest sound inspirational, harrowing and meaningful- I could pick any one of them. 🙂

  5. I NEVER used to read non-fiction. After reading Jenny Lawson’s books at the end of last year, however, I realize that I am probably missing out. I’ve made it a mini goal to read a few more non-fiction books this year.

  6. I enjoyed reading this post – and I have read majority of these books and couldn’t agree more with your list (and added some others)

    I loved Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Lauren Graham Talking as Fast as I can, Three cups of Tea (Had to go back to my Goodreads list to find some of these!), The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan (I just bought her new book and can’t wait to start it!), Wild by Cheryl Strayed (not sure if this counts), Robin Roberts Everybody’s Got Something, Why Not Me Mindy Kaling and lastly Clint Hill The Five Presidents.

    The one I thought I would love that didn’t care for – was Neil Patrick Harris Choose your own Biography – I just didn’t care for the style and writing. Also, I vaguely remember being a bit dissapointed by Ellen DeGeneres’ book – and I couldn’t love her more for who she is.

    1. Thank you so much! I also loved Lauren’s Graham’s book! I can’t believe I forgot about it! Thank you so much for all of your recommendations! I am so intrigued be The Middle Place.

      I have heard the same thing about NPH’s book which is so disappointed. I was not a huge fan of Ellen’s book either but now that you mention it it reminded me that I did love Portia De Rossi’s book. It is definitely worth reading!

  7. I read A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard as well! It’s incredible how strong of a woman she is with everything she went through! I was really hesitant about reading it because I knew there would be some graphic topics brought up and it was really painful reading them. I just couldn’t imagine. But I just had this draw to read it.

  8. This is a great post! I don’t read nearly enough non-fiction, but I love really inspiring and life affirming autobiographies. I’ve looked at The Last Lecture before and it’s on my TBR, but I’d forgotten about it until reading your post, and the quotes you picked out were enough to make me want to read it sooner rather than later! Thanks for a great list!

  9. Love this! I’ve been trying to make it a goal to read more non-fiction. I’ve been meaning to read Jaycee’s story because I’ve seen her in interviews and she seems like such a strong and inspiring woman. I’ve heard awesome things about Anna Kendrick’s book too! Awesome post 🙂

  10. Tuesdays with morrie!!!!! that book always makes me feel better when I’m down. and those quotes are MY FAVORITE!!!! <3 <3 i love nonfiction, too (which this post has reminded me of) and my favorite recently is "Vincent and Theo" by Deborah Heiligman, you MUST read it!!!! there is not enough platonic rep in books, and the brotherly love in this book breaks my heart

  11. I don’t normally gravitate toward NF, but I’d still like to try reading more – thanks for all these recs! Anna Kendrick’s has been on my radar for a while and I think Rob Lowe is a total babe 🙂 . For my young adult literature class, I read Steve Sheinkin’s “Most Dangerous” and “Port Chicago 50” both of which are narrative NFs – I loved them!

  12. Wonderful choices! Favorite NF for me include This Is What A Librarian Looks like- Cassidy, Into The Wild-Krakauer, Gun, Germs and Steel-Diamond and Someplace Like America-Maharidge. I try to mix a NF book a month into my usual fiction and graphic novel selections.

  13. I read Stories I Only Tell My Friends when it first came out and I loved it. Learning about his life was so interesting and I loved hearing his perspective on certain events. I think he was one of the first celebrity memoirs I read and it was a good start. 🙂

  14. Great list! I really enjoy reading non-fiction, but I haven’t been doing that much lately. Definitely something I should fix and I can start my adding some of these to my tbr 🙂

  15. I’ve never heard of I’ll See You Again, but I’m now definitely very interested in it! I just read The Glass Castle, and I loved it. One of my very first 5 star reads this year <3 I love how unique Jeannette's life is!

      1. I’ve never heard of Jeannette Walls before, but after loving The Glass Castle I’m definitely looking forward to reading her other works!

  16. I hardly ever read non fiction or memoirs, but this post is making me want to try them out more!! I have been meaning to pick up The Glass Castle, your high praise of it is definitely making me more interested ahah. This was such a great post, I will totally have to come back to it the next time I’m looking for a non-fiction book to read. ❤️

  17. OH I love your list! First of all, I adore Scrappy Little Nobody & The Glass Castle, and now I want to read Moonlight on Linoleum too. I am I am I am, sounds really cool. I want to read some more nonfiction and this sounds like the perfect addition to my list.
    The quotes you highlighted from The Last Lecture are absolute perfection. I’m saving them for myself.

    1. Thank you! If you loved The Glass Castle then I know you will love Moonlight on Linoleum!

      I Am I Am I Am is the perfect book to get in to to non fiction again. It’s inspired me that is for sure!

      It makes me so happy that those quotes spoke to you too!

  18. Awww Now I want all the books on this list. I tend to read more fiction than non fiction. I haven’t read any non fiction book this year, but all the books here seem so good that I might start reading non fiction once again. Great post. Glass castle sounds really interesting

      1. I am sure I will! Anna Kendrick is amazing and really funny and nice from what I’ve experienced. (Also, pretty short 😂 so little already fits)

        And Trevor’s book is so good and insightful! I can only recommend it!!

  19. Jaycee Dugard’s book is so painful –I really admire her courage in sharing her story. I believe there’s a follow-up book, but haven’t read it yet. One non-fiction that I always recommend is Ice Bound by Jerir Nielsen. It’s really a remarkable story. Great list! I still need to get around to Rob Lowe’s book. 🙂

  20. I love Mitch Albom’s books so much! I still need to read Tuesdays with Morrie though. I’ve read all his others (besides The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto (still need to read that too).

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