Five Great Non-Fiction Reads

Now that I have shared my Top Ten Fiction Reads from 2012, I want to tell you about some of the best Non-Fiction books I enjoyed last year too.  Sometimes finding compelling non-fiction can be difficult, but I came across quite a few exceptional non-fiction reads last year and I am excited to tell you about my favorites.

These are Five Great Non-Fiction Reads, the kind of non-fiction that you can’t put down and can still make you feel a lot smarter when you make it to the last page.  To see more of what I read in 2012 and what my bookshelf looks like in 2013, follow along with me on Goodreads.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks || by Rebecca Skloot

Non-fiction Science is a genre I don’t normally gravitate towards, but this book was a compelling page turner. A scientific detective story, this book follows the cells of a poor African American woman, Henrietta Lacks, who dies of cervical cancer in 1951.  Pieces of the tumor that killed Henrietta were taken without her knowledge and continue to live on in laboratories around the world.  Not only do you find out just how influential those cells have been, you also get the story behind the story: Who was Henrietta Lacks and what happened to her?

French Kids Eat Everything || by Karen Le Billon

I loved this book! It was so fun to read about Karen Le Billon’s experience moving from America to her husband’s hometown in northern France.  The writing is witty, insightful, and personal and I wanted to have Le Billon over for lunch when I finished the book.  Best of all, the book provides really useful information, tips, and ideas for creating healthy eaters, curing picky eaters, and taking great strides toward creating a family food culture.

Triangle: The Fire that Changed America || by David von Drehle

I got my graduate degree in History, but you don’t have to be a historian to enjoy this book.  In 1911 the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York City caught on fire.  Within only fifteen minutes, the deadly blaze had killed 146 workers – mostly young immigrants.  This journalistic account of a tragic moment in history is fascinating. Drehle shows us how workplace conditions led to the unfortunate disaster and how the tragedy fit into the Progressive movement.  The story is shocking and heartbreaking and even enraging at times, but certainly an important tale of social justice in American history.

Can Any Mother Help Me? || by Jenna Bailey

This deeply touching book came to me as an unexpected gift from a dear friend and I am so glad to have read it.  This book appealed to me as a historian, as a woman, and most of all as a mother.  In 1935 a young woman wrote a letter to a popular magazine expressing her feelings of isolation and loneliness.  When women from all over the country wrote back sharing their similar feelings, they banded together to create a private magazine they called “The Cooperative Correspondence Club.”  For 55 years these women correspond and develop deeply meaningful friendships that take them through world wars, personal tragedies, and the day to day routines of marriage and motherhood.  This book is both profoundly moving and very entertaining.

This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland || by Gretel Ehrlich

This book is part armchair travel, part history, and part cultural anthropology.  With beautiful, lyrical writing Ehrlich takes readers on a journey to Greenland where people live for four months in the dark, four months in the light, and a few months in the twilight year in and year out.  With narwhal whales, dogsleds, and glaciers this book took me so far from the life I am accustomed to.   This book is a mystical, poetic, and brilliant account of a place, a people, and a way of life and thought at the edge of the world.

Do you read much Non-Fiction?  What have you read recently?

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