Sunday Coffee – Nonfiction Rec Requests

IMG_9496Every few years, I go on a short nonfiction kick. I’m not really a big nonfiction reader most of the time, so I take advantage of these times whenever they come up. Over the last couple months, I’ve read and enjoyed tons (for me) of nonfic, including a book on parental psychology (All Joy and No Fun), two memoirs (Choose Your Own Autobiography and Displacement), a history (The Romanov Sisters), and a trauma psychology (The Body Keeps the Score – review forthcoming).

I have a few other nonfiction books on my immediate radar. However, because I rarely read nonfiction and am very picky about those I do read, I really don’t know much of what’s out there! I need some good nonfic recommendations, especially those that work well on audio. Some of you out there are so much smarter than me re: nonfiction, so I’m asking – what’s good? What should I check out?

Preferences: food history/science, psychology, sociological issues, cultural and geographical explorations, religion or history ONLY in a sociological context, cultural anthropology, gender studies of all kinds (including both LGBTQ studies and women’s studies), and light literary analysis. Things I generally don’t enjoy: politics, military history, non-sociological history or religion, inspirational, memoir/diary/journal except in rare cases, biography, letters, self-help, and nonfiction with a very strong bias. I have a directory of all the nonfiction I’ve read and blogged about, and my About section lists a few of my favorite nonfiction works over the last few years.

Thank you, smart bloggers!! I appreciate it. 🙂

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
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14 Responses to Sunday Coffee – Nonfiction Rec Requests

  1. Shaina says:

    You already know I quite liked The Underground Girls of Kabul, not sure if there’s audio/how good it is. I definitely think it *could* work.

    Some others (no idea about audio quality, sorry!): The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (can skew a bit medical but is also a good exploration of race relations/rights), Mountains Beyond Mountains (medical anthropology/social inequality), The Fire Next Time (two GREAT essays about racial injustice), Blindspot: The Hidden Biases of Good People (academic but interesting look at how implicit attitudes affect our thoughts and actions, also basically what my current job is about :D), another in that vein is Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us.

    I’ll keep thinking, but after a sweep through my non-fiction GR shelf, all I’m thinking about is how I need to get back to reading non-fiction! It’s been fiction-heavy round here lately.

    Hope you find something great!


    • Amanda says:

      Underground Girls is definitely on my to-investigate list though sadly my library doesn’t have an audio copy, grr. I’ll look some of those others up. Probably not the medical ones as I’m not really into that, but the two about the biases sound interesting. Hopefully my library has some on audio!


  2. I came to suggest Dead Wake by E.Larson but it sounds like that might not be your thing. I agree with Shaina, The Underground Girls is excellent. It’s right up your alley too 😀 A recent nonfic that I really enjoyed is Irritable Hearts. It’s about a journalist suffering from PTSD and it’s eye-opening.

    Good luck on your quest to find more nonfiction!


    • Amanda says:

      I really, really want to read something by Erik Larson! I’ve tried to read the White City book so many times, both in print and in audio, and I have a feeling that one day it’ll click for me. It’s one of those books that even though I’ve abandoned it multiple times, I keep trying again. I did the same with Howl’s Moving Castle and eventually fell in love! I put the audio of Dead Wake on hold – it *does* sound fascinating.

      As for the other two, Underground Girls is definitely on my list and hopefully I’ll find an audio version somewhere, and Irritable Hearts sounds amazing! I need to see if I can find audio, too, though I might just get the in-print version. I am VERY interested in PTSD at the moment.


  3. Trish says:

    Have you read anything by Bill Bryson? His “At Home” is a look at the history of every room in the house. It’s full of random and interesting tidbits. I’ve also read/listened to some of his travelogues and enjoyed them as well (Sunburned Country on audio, Walk in the Woods on paper…because he only does the abridged version).

    Troost (think first name is J Marten?) is also great for travelogues. I enjoyed his The Sex Lives of Cannibals (not really about the sex lives of cannibals…). Simon Vance narrates all of his books. 🙂

    Bad Feminist was interesting for social/feminist studies. Quiet–though I remember you saying you were off-put by the beginning. Emperor of Maladies (though I only listened to the first quarter…it was when I was home full-time and it was taking me too long to get through it). Stiff by Mary Roach. I’ll second the recommendation for Henrietta Lacks.


    • Amanda says:

      I’ll take a look at those. I’m not sure any of them will work (Stiff sounds WAY too gross for me, and I’ve tried a few of the others and didn’t like them) but hopefully one of them will be exactly what I’m looking for!


  4. lenoreva says:

    The only non-fiction audio I’ve listened to was Cooked, and it looks like from your review that you weren’t too fond of it. I’ll follow these recs with interest, though, because I’ve found that I can’t listen to fiction on audio – just non-fiction.


    • Amanda says:

      I liked it okay, but not as much as some of his others. I’m very picky on audio (fiction or nonfic) but I’m so picky about nonfic in print that audio tends to work better for me.


  5. gricel says:

    Have you read The Fortune Cookie Chronicles? It’s a look at the history of Chinese food and it’s one of the best non-fic finds I’ve read.


  6. Kim says:

    If you haven’t read “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain, I would recommend it. I think it offers good insight, even if you are not introverted.


    • Amanda says:

      I tried reading that one a few summers ago and it opened so condescending toward extroverts that I couldn’t continue. :/ Even though I know everyone else loves it.


  7. Trisha says:

    I don’t read much nonfiction; although I tend to like the ones I do pick up. Unfortunately nonfiction tends to bleed out of my brain shortly after finishing. The only books that pop into my head immediately are Warrior Women, Pilgrim’s Wilderness, and a bunch of education/teaching books like Socrates Cafe. I will say that Guns, Germs, and Steel is my go-to nonfiction book for a quick chapter and then long stretches of non-reading.


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