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It’s been a long while since writing a previous blog, Reading Nonfiction Books. Many books later, it’s time to share more favorites books that have provided hours of reading pleasure and meaningful conversations during monthly book club meetings.

Take a look. You might enjoy reading these books and learning from them as I have.

10 favorite nonfiction books continued

A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell. Virginia Hall, an American, a spy for the British, and an amputee with only one leg, performed heroic deeds during the French resistance.

Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson. With the setting for this book just an hour or so away, the events of this prison uprising were familiar from news accounts at the time. What was not familiar was the story of the devastation that occurred to real human beings and their families with lasting effects. What an eye opener.

The Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II by Vicki Constantine Croke. Set in World War II Burma, elephant wallah Billy Williams put elephants to work with compassion, tenderness, and love. What the elephants accomplished building bridges and leading an escape on a mountain stairway was nothing short of miraculous.  

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. This thriller is a wake-up call of what occurs when those in power stop others who they deem unworthy from rising, succeeding, and living the good life.

The Library Book by Susan Orlean. The Los Angeles Public Library burned to the ground in 1986.  Library lover Susan Orlean explores why, who, and how this happened. From the devastation through the rebuilding and beyond, the library’s role as a magnet for people from all walks of life comes alive. There are many people to thank for making the public library a special place. I, for one, couldn’t live without it.

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe. Understanding the opposing parties during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, where violence ruled, is no easy matter. Patrick Radden Keefe gives an up close and personal account of a 1972 murder and exposes the personalities and motivations of the time.

Seven Million: A Cop, a Priest, a Soldier for the IRA, and the Still-Unsolved Rochester Brink’s Heist by Gary Craig. A local reporter and local crime story, the names and places were very familiar to book club members. With $7 million yet unfound and a tie to The Troubles in Northern Ireland, this book was a winner for our book club.

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild. For me, the highlight of this book was how Arlie Russell Hochschild synthesized what she learned about one side of America into one Deep Story and what she knew about her side into another Deep Story. Different narratives. Different worldviews. The challenge is how to cross the divide.

These Truths:  A History of the United States by Jill LePore. What I loved about this dense book that starts in 1492 and goes to just a few years’ short of the present day is the message I received: knowing our history is critical to understanding and confronting current, unsettling events.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. Isabel Wilkerson tells the stories of real families who migrated from the South to the North and West in search of a better life. For many and likely most, better was far from perfect. Captivated by the beautiful writing and rich, thoroughly-researched content, our book club is now reading Wilkerson’s second book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Even in the opening pages, it’s clear that Caste is another must-read book.

What are some of your favorite nonfiction books?

Photo is courtesy of Creative Commons,  https://www.flickr.com/photos/zanzibar123/186131987/sizes/s/

Photo is courtesy of Creative Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/zanzibar123/186131987/sizes/s/.

This long weekend is a good time for me to delve into The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870 – 1914, this month’s selection for our nonfiction book club. The book looks daunting, all 700 or so pages. Yet, what motivates me to get started is the trust I have in club members who have recommended noteworthy books by authors who can craft memorable, literary works of art.

Our method of selecting books is fairly arbitrary. If a club member likes a book and wants the club to read it, we do so as long as the roster for the year covers a variety of nonfiction genres and topics. Of the 50 plus books we have read and discussed, some have been gems.

On a long, hot, summer day, grab a drink, stretch out on a hammock, become immersed in someone else’s world, and enjoy reading a great book. Ten books that I might not have selected on my own but found to be more than worthwhile might just suit you. Take a look.

10 favorite nonfiction books

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. There’s so much to learn about a remarkable individual who held the moral high ground, at great cost, during World War II Germany.

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard. This is a wonderful record of President Garfield’s life and long, painful, mistreated illness and eventual death.

The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T.S. Reid. While searching for a remedy to his own medical problem, the author uncovers how the approaches to treatment and healing vary from country to country. Read More