The Best Ten Non Fiction Books of 2019

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

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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?


38 thoughts on “The Best Ten Non Fiction Books of 2019

  1. In Cold Blood has always been one of my favorite nonfiction books, and I loved Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. I’m putting The Only Plane in the Sky on my TBR list, although I think I will find it terrifying. Thanks for the recommendations!

  2. Great selection of books Kristin. My favourite non fiction book this year, and probably of all time, is Quiet by Susan Cain about the importance of being an introvert in an extroverts world. Currently reading the Secret Barrister which is really good so far too ☺️

      1. I hope you do get the chance to read Quiet. I’ve learnt so since about myself from it.

        And I picked up the Secret Barrister because everyone was talking about it too. It’s a bit slow at the start but it picks up. Plus if you’ve watched any of the million law/true crime shows out there, you’ll enjoy it ☺️

  3. I’m really interested in Maybe You Should Talk To Someone… I started therapy a few months ago and it would be interested to read about it from the other perspective.

    I also already have Hunger, which I really need to get around to reading…

    Excellent list 🙂

  4. I really want to read ‘Over the Top’. I’ve heard so many good things about it and I love Jonathan so much!

    A large part of me wants to read ‘Modern Love’ … but I’m also scared that I’ll cry non-stop ha-ha! Still going to add it to my TBR list.

    Great list!

  5. Oh, I love this best of non-fiction list and am always here for non-fiction love! A lot of my non-fiction reading this year has been academic oriented (and even then it’s only been bits and pieces of books) so I haven’t had much time for other types of non-fiction. I definitely want to make more time for non-fiction next year though as I love it.

  6. I’m planning to read more non-fiction in 2020, so I have to look into these!


  7. I hadn’t heard of any of these before reading your post – but they all sound great! I’m definitely going to look into Working Stiff and Modern Love as I had no idea the TV show was based on a book!

  8. Terrific, inspiring list! There are several here that I know I want to read (Elton John, In Cold Blood, Modern Love), and some others that are now going on my must-read list (From Scratch, Only Plane in the Sky… probably all of these). I haven’t read much non-fiction this year, but I do love it when I find a non-fiction book that really grabs my attention. Thanks for sharing your recommendations!

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