Non Fiction Books I Want to Read (Part 1)


Last week I talked about my fifteen favourite non-fiction novels, so this week I thought it was only appropriate that I share the non-fiction books that are on my TBR! A few of these were recommendations left in the comments on my post and on twitter! I truly can not wait to get to these books!

Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman


The deep and enduring friendship between Vincent and Theo Van Gogh shaped both brothers’ lives. Confidant, champion, sympathizer, friend, Theo supported Vincent as he struggled to find his path in life. They shared everything, swapping stories of lovers and friends, successes and disappointments, dreams and ambitions. Meticulously researched, drawing on the 658 letters Vincent wrote to Theo during his lifetime, Deborah Heiligman weaves a tale of two lives intertwined and the love of the Van Gogh brothers.

Thank you so much to Malanie @ Malanie Loves Fiction for this recommendation! I never even knew that Vincent Van Gogh had a brother, so I have already learnt something new! I have not read a lot of books about brothers and I am intrigued by this one. It sounds very endearing!

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan


Corrigan opens her memoir with these words: “The thing you need to know about me is that I am George Corrigan’s daughter, his only daughter.”
She continues with an unabashed tribute to the first man in her life.
George Corrigan emerges as an outsized figure of immense good cheer and spirited disposition. A self-assured adman and former all-American lacrosse player (now part-time coach), he shines brightly, and his daughter appears content to live in his reflected glory.
Kelly considers herself lucky for this great touchstone in her life, and her dad’s can-do spirit becomes her greatest asset when she’s diagnosed with breast cancer as a young mother. It is her dad’s pluck and resolve that will see her through the oncoming battles — including the realization that her “cure” will mean the end of her ability to bear children and her dream of having a large family of her own.

Though Kelly writes of her husband and daughters, her mother and her brothers, it is her father’s love that sustains her. And so, readers fear for her when she reveals that George has been diagnosed with cancer, too. It is at this nadir, facing not only her own mortality but her father’s as well, that Kelly finally begins to emerge as a survivor — a wife, a mother, and more herself. Yet, she will always be her father’s daughter.

One of the things I love most about book blogging is getting recommendations for books that I never would have found otherwise. Thanks to Sarah @ What’s Making Sarah Smile for all of your recommendations. The Middle Place sounds exactly like the kind of memoir that I love!

Ice Bound by Dr. Jerri Nielsen


During the winter of 1999, Dr. Jerri Nielsen, the only physician on a staff of forty-one people, discovered a lump in her breast. Consulting via satellite e-mail with doctors in the United States, she was forced to perform a biopsy and treat herself with chemotherapy in order to ensure that she could survive until conditions permitted her rescue. She was eventually rescued by the Air National Guard. Dr. Jerri Nielsens story of her transforming experiences is a thrilling adventure and moving drama. She has written a new chapter for this edition. Since the publication of Ice Bound in hardcover in January 2000, Dr. Nielsen has inspired people throughout the country, met hundreds of fans, received numerous awards including Irish American of the Year, which was presented to her by Hillary Clinton, as well as tremendous praise from the media.

This was recommended to me by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies! This story sounds incredibly intense and inspiring! I can’t believe I have never heard of this one before!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta by Rebecca Skloot


Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.

Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.

Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo — to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.

Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family — past and present — is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother’s cells. She was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space? What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?

Monica H on twitter recommended this book to me! This story sounds so interesting! I know absolutely nothing about this so I can not wait to learn more about it. I am trying to read more historical and/or science non-fiction novels. This one looks like a perfect place to start! (I just watched Annihilation and she was reading this book in one scene. It made me even more excited to read it!)

A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf by Emily Midorikawa, Emma Claire Sweeney, Margaret Atwood


Male literary friendships are the stuff of legend; think Byron and Shelley, Fitzgerald and Hemingway. But the world’s best-loved female authors are usually mythologized as solitary eccentrics or isolated geniuses. Coauthors and real-life friends Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney prove this wrong, thanks to their discovery of a wealth of surprising collaborations: the friendship between Jane Austen and one of the family servants, playwright Anne Sharp; the daring feminist author Mary Taylor, who shaped the work of Charlotte Brontë; the transatlantic friendship of the seemingly aloof George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe; and Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield, most often portrayed as bitter foes, but who, in fact, enjoyed a complex friendship fired by an underlying erotic charge.

Through letters and diaries that have never been published before, A Secret Sisterhood resurrects these forgotten stories of female friendships. They were sometimes scandalous and volatile, sometimes supportive and inspiring, but always—until now—tantalizingly consigned to the shadows.

I think that this book is a must read for any book lover! I adore these authors and I am so excited to learn more about them. I love that there is a focus on friendships and how important these female friendships were in their lives.

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot


Guileless and refreshingly honest, Terese Mailhot’s debut memoir chronicles her struggle to balance the beauty of her Native heritage with the often desperate and chaotic reality of life on the reservation.

Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman’s coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in British Columbia. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bipolar II, Terese Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot’s mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father–an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist–who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame.

Mailhot “trusts the reader to understand that memory isn’t exact, but melded to imagination, pain and what we can bring ourselves to accept.” Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people and to her place in the world.

As as Canadian, I think this is an important memoir to read. I started it last night and it is powerful. Penguin Random House Canada sent my a copy and the book comes out March 13th.

The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World. by Jennifer Baggett, Holly Corbett, Amanda Pressner


Three friends, each on the brink of a quarter-life crisis, make a pact to quit their high pressure New York City media jobs and leave behind their friends, boyfriends, and everything familiar to embark on a year-long backpacking adventure around the world in The Lost Girls.

I am really excited to read this book because it was actually recommended to me by a IRL friend! This is her favourite book and she has read it multiple times. I have a feeling it is going to make me want to travel more!

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay


In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her own past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.

With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved—in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.

I can not believe that I have not read Hunger yet! I have only heard fantastic things about it. I know that it is going to be very raw and completely honest.


I was not planning on having to separate this post in to two parts but as I was writing it I realized just how many nonfiction books are on my TBR! Have you read any of these books? I would love to know what you thought about them.


26 thoughts on “Non Fiction Books I Want to Read (Part 1)

  1. I loved both the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Hunger, and I’ve heard so many good things about Heart Berries, I can’t wait to read it. So many fascinating titles here!

      1. Oh wow, that really makes me want to get to it. Every review I’ve heard of it is so glowing. looking forward to reading more of your thoughts on it and the others!

  2. i’m so happy + srsly honored I introduced you to Vincent and Theo??????!!!!!! i can’t wait to see what you think <3 <3 and now I must read "A Secret Sisterhood," i can already tell i'm going to be in complete love with it 😀

  3. I want to read more non-fiction but it’s so hard with so many great fictions always coming out! I made it my goal to read more though and so far I have not. A Secret Sisterhood sounds awesome thought!

  4. I’m so glad my book recommendation made the list! I loved The Middle Place as well, even though it made me cry so hard. Henrietta Lacks is really fascinating (and I still want to check out the HBO production). I’d like to read Hunger and The Lost Girls as well. Great list!

      1. Ditto – I love seeing what you recommend! (PS – my book group loved Boys in the Boat. Worth checking out — I was amazed that I enjoyed it so much, so not my usual reading material!)

  5. So many great recommendations! I’ve never heard of the book Vincent and Theo, and I’m absolutely intrigued. I’ve been to a lot of museums about Van Gogh and I love his art, and I love the movie Loving Vincent as well. He’s such an interesting person to me, so that book will definitely be up my alley. Thanks for the rec 😀

  6. Great list! The Lost Girls sounds amazing, I love books about female travelers – adding it to my tbr! Vincent and Theo’s been on the top of my wish-list for a while, it’s such a beautiful book.

  7. Great post! Vincent and Theo sounds like something I would enjoy. I need to start reading more non-fiction. At one time that used to be all I read, but now I hardly ever do!

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