A few months ago, I wrote a post listing the five fiction books I typically recommend to friends who are looking for a good book to read. I wanted to follow up that post with one on the nonfiction books I recommend frequently. As I stated in the other post, I’m always wary to recommend books, especially ones that I hold near and dear to my heart, but bibliophile that I am, I’m often asked about books so I do my best to tailor my recommendation to the person asking.
So, if you’re looking for a fascinating nonfiction book that will make you think and question everything you ever thought you knew about life, here you go!
1) The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal
I read this book back in 2014, and wrote a blog post on some of my biggest takeaways, and it is still my most-recommended nonfiction book. In this book, McGonigal breaks down how our brain responds to willpower and self-control, basing her work on scientific studies and lots of anecdotes. Her writing style is fun and engaging, and I truly think I’ll read anything she writes, on any subject.
Best for… people looking for a science-based book about habits, motivation, and how our brains work.
2) Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
This book is a collection of responses that Cheryl Strayed wrote when she was an advice columnist, writing her Dear Sugar column. She covers a whole range of topics in this book, from family estrangement to miscarriage to grief. It’s not necessarily an easy book to read, but it is a beautiful one. Cheryl’s advice is always so on point and I found myself highlighting passage after passage.
Best for… people looking for a book that offers advice and encouragement.
3) In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero
This was a very recent read for me, but I can’t help but recommend it to everyone I know because it had such a powerful impact on me. It’s a memoir about Diane Guerrero’s life: her parents came to the United States illegally, had Diane here, and then were deported when she was only 14 years old. She was left alone in this country, depending on the kindness of friends to take her in and give her a home. Diane’s words are powerful and parts of her story made me sob. My views on immigration reform have been forever changed.
Best for… people looking for a book that tackles a serious topic using a firsthand account.
4) Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
So, this is an interesting recommendation for me because I didn’t really love this novel. I liked it… enough… but I didn’t love it. But I still recommend it because I’m in the minority with my opinion and it is more of a “me, not you” sort of reason as to why I didn’t love the novel. Just not my taste! It’s a memoir filled with inappropriate jokes and funny stories, some of which were taken from her super popular blog. I found some of her stories to be a bit over-the-top, but some people like that!
Best for… people looking for a laugh-out-loud funny book.
5) Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Yep – I have two Cheryl Strayed books on this list. Deal with it. My crush on her knows no limits. This is Cheryl’s memoir about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail after losing her mom and downward spiraling due to her grief. I was captivated by this story from the very beginning, and it shocked me that I was because a hiking memoir is so not my usual taste. But this book is really so much more than a hiking memoir: it’s also about grief, about vulnerability, about finding yourself again after tragedy.
Best for… people looking for an engaging memoir.
Have you read any of these books? What’s a nonfiction book you always recommend?