Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Nonfiction for Your Book Club


Q: What do you get when you combine today's Top Ten Tuesday topic with Nonfiction November?

A: My recommendations for book club-worthy  nonfiction

The books below are nonfiction on a variety of topics. I've read them all and have discussed most with my book club. They have sparked some of the liveliest, most far-reaching discussions we've had over the past (almost) twenty years.


This is the first nonfiction title I remember discussing with our group... sometime back in the late 90s. It prompted us to begin selecting nonfiction on a regular basis. 


Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
One of my favorites this year, the book club will discuss it in the spring... and hear the author speak!


A difficult read at times, but a very lively and emotional discussion.


Subtitled An African Childhood... it's good to discuss lives far different from our own.


Our most well-attended meeting last year, and a truly exceptional discussion.



Popular culture meets book discussion... we enjoyed talking about differences between the book and the series.


A memoir that provided a few ideas for future selections.


Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss
A fascinating look at the food industry, this book made all of us angry.


Probably too long for all but the most Kennedy-obsessed reader, but an excellent book nonetheless. I highly recommend the audio version.


Quindlen is a favorite, especially her nonfiction. We all loved this memoir/essay collection.


Self-discovery through travel... discussion quickly veered to our own travel experiences.


A personal favorite, but my book club also loved this look at 1960 America. The audio is excellent.


Have you read any of these books? What are some of your nonfiction favorites?
Visit The Broke and the Bookish for more Top Ten Tuesday posts.





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37 comments:

  1. That's such a wide-ranging list...with books that I've been meaning to read. :)

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    1. AUdrey - I've been enjoying nonfiction a lot more the last few years... especially on audio!

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  2. Travels with Charley is my Grandmother's favorite book and she's been at me to read it for decades. No idea why I haven't but definitely need to fix it as I've loved almost all the Steinbeck I've ever read. The book clubs I've been in haven't discussed nonfiction but my husband and I have overlapping interests and I love discussing nonfiction with him. So many of these are on my TBR and I'm really looking forward to reading them!

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    1. Katherine - Travels with Charley is one of my favorite books, too. I loved it both in print and on audio :)

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  3. Yes, definitely, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down and a big yes to Travels with Charley! Two of my favorite nonfiction books of all time. Charley got me over my fear of Steinbeck who is now one of my favorite authors. And The Spirit Catches you is unputdownable. Great list!

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    1. Karen K. - I was already a big Steinbeck fan before I read Charley, but it felt like I got to know him a lot better through that book.

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  4. Excellent list! I read The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down when I first started working with refugees, it's an amazing book that has really stuck with me through the years. I read Just Mercy this year - another good one! Being Mortal is on my TBR list.

    Here's my TTT: Liane Moriarty has been very popular with my neighborhood book club!

    Here's my TTT: https://4thhouseontheleft.wordpress.com/2016/11/01/top-ten-tuesday-top-picks-for-a-read-the-world-book-club/

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  5. Huh, not sure where the Liane Moriarty comment came from, LOL. That's weird!

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    1. 4thhouseontheleft - Laughing at the Liane Moriarty comment, but she's popular with a lot of book clubs around here, too! Being Mortal was one of my favorite books last year... not exactly "fun" reading, but very important and thought provoking.

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  6. I've read Just Mercy, Missoula, & Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake and enjoyed them all too. I like to read nonfiction occasionally on sociological issues, or memoirs, particularly of the "everyman" overcoming obstacles.

    Good choices (and I'm envious, I would love to belong to a book club, and for so long!). Thank you for sharing your thoughts and titles.

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    1. Rita - I'm not sure if I mentioned it before, but my book club started out as a play group when the kids were little. Eventually they all went to school and the moms decided we genuinely enjoyed each other's company and turned ourselves into a book club! Most of the original members have moved on and new ones have joined, but there are still a couple of the play group moms involved :)

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  7. I've read Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake and loved it. I listened to the audio of Missoula and it was disturbing but eye opening. I have Just Mercy and The End of Your Life Book Club on my shelves. Great non fiction book club list. Thanks!

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    1. Anita - You are in for a treat with Just Mercy... that book made me cry, made me angry, and made me think!

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  8. I wish I could get my book club to read nonfiction. This is a great list!

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    1. Kathy - We try to read at least one nonfiction every year, but it often turns out to be more... and I'm pretty happy with that.

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  9. I wrote about nonfiction picks for book clubs, too!! Great minds think alike, obviously. :D

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    1. Jane - Definitely a case of great minds... I've enjoyed most of the books on your list and want to read all the others!

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  10. Oh these are good ones! I have read the Will Schwalbe book which was sad but good. You have read a good array of nonfiction, I'm impressed. I'm drawing a blank at the moment on nonfiction books, but I have liked Krakauer's Into Thin Air and Into the Wild. Though those are a bit old now.

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    1. Susan - I loved Krakauer's Into Thin Air, but haven't read Into The Wild... though I picked it up at a library sale a few years ago. If you haven't read it, Under the Banner of Heaven was excellent, too.

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  11. We've read a couple of these and had good discussions. Think Being Mortal needs to be added to next year's list.

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    1. Lisa - Being Mortal was one of the best, and most well-attended, meetings ever!

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  12. I just finished Elle & Coach. Excellent. And just began First Dads which looks so great.

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    1. Nan - Elle & Coach looks wonderful! This is the first I've heard of it, but it reminds me of Comet's Tale (which I read a few years ago) about a greyhound service dog. Will be curious to hear what you think of First Dads.

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  13. I'm hoping that checking out what everyone is reading during Nonfiction November will help me to enjoy nonfiction more. I really struggle with nonfiction and seem to like best the ones that read like fiction! This is an area I need to grow in and I see several on your list that I think I'd like. Thanks.

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    1. Susie - That's my favorite kind of nonfiction, too. Most of what I had been reading was dry and boring, but blogging opened up a whole new world of nonfiction, including narrative nonfiction, for me. I'm sure your wish list will explode this month, lol!

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  14. Read the Anne Fadiman book years ago and fell in love with her writing. My favorite book of hers is "Ex Libris." After I finished reading it, I went through the book and made a list of every word she used that was new to me. Wish she would write more books. For fans of all things New England, Anne's husband, George Howe Colt, wrote an excellent book called "The Big House." Makes you really want to go and spend some summer time on the New England coast.

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    1. JudyMac - I loved Ex Libris, too, and still have a copy on my shelf... will surely reread one of these days. The Big House was also a favorite several years ago!

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  15. What a great idea to combine these two events, JoAnn! I've read only three of the listed books, so there are a number of good possibilities for my TBR list. Thanks!

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    1. Debbie - I'm sure all of our TBR lists will be much longer by the end of the month!

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  16. This is a great list! :-) I've only read Missoula in this list (and totally agree with its inclusion here) but I need to pick the others. There's nothing better than discussion-worthy nonfiction books.

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    1. Athira - I'm so glad my book club is choosing more nonfiction. We have a couple of members that prefer it, so it's getting voted in a lot more frequently.... and that's just fine by me!

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  17. Great selection of nonfiction! I loved Travels with Charley and hope to reread it when my husband and I start traveling in our trailer (a 19' Escape from Canada!). I also agree with you on Being Mortal. It's one of the best books I've read about aging and grief. The Spirit Catches You is one I read many, many years ago. I think it was a selection for one of my online book groups back in the late 90s. Very thought provoking and informative. The End of Your Life Book Club was an excellent audio. I think I listened to it based on your review. I should really get a copy of the print edition for a reread...

    I still want to read Missoula and Just Mercy. I may start the latter today, as I have it on audio and I'm trying to read all nonfiction this month. As soon as I finish my print book (Gemini by Carol Cassella), I WILL pick up Quindlen's book, which has been on my shelf for years! Every year I add it to a TBR list and every year it gets ignored. What am I waiting for??! :)

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    1. Les - You got trailer?? SO exciting! I have friends who retied, sold the house, put everything in storage, and are exploring the country in an RV for 5 years. What an adventure... I love following them on Facebook.

      There are alway so many excellent reading choices in front of us every day, it's a wonder we settle on anything to read. You can't go wrong with any of the books you mentioned.

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    2. We don't have possession of the trailer, but put a deposit down a couple of months ago. It's in the process of being assembled and will be ready for pick up next summer. Here's a link, if you're interested. :) We're not planning to go fulltime like your friends, but we do hope to go on some long trips, exploring the U.S. and visiting friends and family along the way. Between that adventure and our move to Oregon, I may have to start thinking of a new name for my blog. :)

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    3. Les - That will be so much fun. I'm excited for you! I know what you mean about changing the blog name... was thinking about Gulfside Musing when I get to Sanibel full time ;-)

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  18. Those are some great choices JoAnn! I've read Spirit Catches You, Just Mercy, and Being Mortal and agree that they are some of the best nonfiction I've read. I should check out some of the others. :)

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    1. Rachel - Those are among the best, for sure, but the others are pretty great, too.

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