Every year I seem to be reading more and more non fiction, and I have really been enjoying it. I think there is often a misconception that non fiction is dry and too academic, but the books I am going to talk about today prove that that is far from true!
The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff
The Only Plane in the Sky is by far the best non fiction title of 2019. It is incredibly well-researched and utterly heart-wrenching. There was so much that occurred during 9/11 that I was ignorant to before reading this book. I loved that Graff highlights the resilience of the human spirit. I will talk about this book more when I share the best audiobooks of the year.
From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by Tembi Locke
From Scratch is a memoir that I find myself thinking about from time to time. Tembi Locke’s love for her late husband was so apparent and it made it that much more difficult to read about his illness and ultimate death. I love that Locke shared how they met and showed the reader her husband’s personality. It was fascinating to read about her connected with his family, even though they did not approve of the marriage. Such a powerful story!
Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness
I adore Jonathan Van Ness even more now having read his novel. I did not think that was possible! There was so much about his life that I knew nothing about and I think it is so brave of him to share it all with us. His story was a lot darker than I was expecting, but of course his signature humour is sprinkled throughout.
Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek, M.D.
Working Stiff took me by complete surprise. I was not expecting to become as invested in Judy Melinek’s story as much as I did. She was a medical examiner during 9/11 and I found the chapters about that time of her career fascinating and devastating. It is an aspect of that tragedy that I have never considered in the past. I appreciate that she also shared about her personal life outside of work, particularly her relationship with her husband.
Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption edited by Daniel Jones
Modern Love is a collection of essay that each highlight different kinds of love. I thought that it was so special and I think everyone will find a story they relate to. The one that stood out to me was the dating ad a dying woman wrote for her husband- it punched me in the gut. I also absolutely adored the TV series on Amazon Prime. The first episode is my favourite!
Me by Elton John
2019 was the year of Elton John for me. Rocketman has become my all time favourite movie, I have been listening to his music nonstop, and I adored his memoir. I love that he did not shy away from highlighting his strength and his weaknesses. I also loved when he spoke about his relationship with other celebrities including Princess Diana, Versace, and Rod Stewart. He does not hold back!
How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones
How We Fight For Our Lives is one of those books that will stay with you and you find yourself reflecting on often. Saeed Jones is a poet and, although this book is written in prose, it is evident in his memoir. One of those beautifully written, honest, and powerful memoirs I have ever read. I loved that it was almost a love letter to his mother.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is probably the book that I have recommended most this year. I think it is a book that absolutely everyone can benefit from. I appreciated that it read more as a memoir than it did as self-help. It was in no way preachy, it was simply the author’s perspective as both a therapist and as someone in therapy.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
Hunger was one of the first books I read in 2019 and reflecting on it still makes me emotional. Roxane Gay has been on a journey with her body and I am in awe of her bravery and her candor. Hunger is both gut wrenching and inspiring. I understand the feeling of wanting to become invisible. To want to hide from men. Sadly, I think it is a feeling many of us have experienced. It is something I am constantly working to overcome, and I will forever be grateful to Roxane for sharing her experience. I can not remember the last time I felt so heard.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
In Cold Blood starting me on a path of true crime when I read it earlier this year! It also made me realize how much I enjoy narrative non fiction. I have since done researched on In Cold Blood and I question some of the inaccuracies and I think it is important to know that going in. In spite of that, I enjoyed it for what it was and I love the way that Capote writes. He was a fascinating man!
I have love so many non fiction titles this year and it makes me excited to see what 2020 will bring in terms of my non fiction reading. I am thinking of starting the decade with Know My Name by Chanel Miller.
What was your favourite non fiction title of 2020?