10 Best Nonfiction Books I Read in 2016

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Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

Carry On, Warrior is a memoir about Melton getting her life together. It is difficult and heartbreaking watching her life implode but inspiring to watch her rise. Melton’s new book, Love Warrior, was an Oprah’s book club pick — start with Carry On, Warrior first!

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Year of Yes by Shonda Rimes

I’ve watched all of the Shondaland shows from the beginning. Private Practice is still one of my favorite shows of all time! What makes her shows work is all the time and attention she puts into them. In her memoir, Rhimes talks about carving out space for herself to live amongst all the pressures of Hollywood. It is insightful and a really fun read. Perfect for January when you’re looking to start the year off with some inspiration!

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Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

If you’re anything like me, your education was woefully short on details about apartheid South Africa. Noah’s memoir is the perfect introduction to life during apartheid and just after. Born to a black mother and a white father Noah was considered colored growing up, a designation that in South Africa meant that he could not be considered black or white. The challenges he faced are eye-opening. It is the perfect mix of humor and facts!

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When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanathi

A heartbreaking story of living, dying and modern medicine. Highly recommended for fans of Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.

 

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The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

 

His runaway hit Being Mortal examines the most difficult thing to accept about being human, the fact that we are all dying. The Checklist Manifesto looks at another difficult to accept, that sometimes a checklist is necessary. Gawande does a deep dive into the research about preventing fatalities in the OR and on aircrafts and finds surprising similarities. He interrogates why people so readily accept complex tools, like robotic surgical machines, but won’t implement checklists when shown evidence of their effectiveness. His conjecture? We feel stupid for having to use them.

His writing style is accessible but never dumbed down. He makes you feel as though you are taking part in an intelligent discussion, one for which you are fully prepared and have all the facts.

I highly recommend it to anyone looking for their next non-fiction read. It is perfect for fans of Being Mortal and  Getting Things Done.

 

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Cannabalism by Bill Schutt

Brilliant. Cannabalism: A Perfectly Natural History offers a complex investigation of cannibalism, both its place in the animal kingdom and the cultural taboos that have sprung up around it.The details are at time gruesome and macabre, but are never superfluous.

A fascinating microhistory for fans of Mary Roach’s Stiff and Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.

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Dressing the Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe by Angela Kelley

A fascinating look at the details that go into the royal wardrobe. As a huge fan of everything British, I was riveted by the many steps it takes to get the Queen dressed. Dressing the Queen covers everything from sourcing fabrics to fitting the finished suits. Great for fans of the monarchy, fashion, or tailoring!

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How to Be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman

It’s no secret that I love all things Victorian and this book is no exception! Ruth Goodman is a historian known primarily for TV series such as Tudor Monastery and Victorian Pharmacy, where she lives for a year as a member of the working class in various time periods. In How to Be a Victorian, Goodman brings her expertise to the page. Starting with the morning ablutions, she chronicles each moment of the Victorian day. As usual with history the mundane details are the most fascinating!

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Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda

It’s time to drink the KoolAid! Hamilton is a cultural phenomenon and this book explores its development. Seeing Miranda’s genius unfold is equal parts awe-inspiring and intimidating!

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The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks Out About Race by Jessmyn Ward

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A must read collection of essays edited by the author of Men We Reaped. Taking its title from The Fire Next Time, the collection follows Baldwin’s civil rights footsteps. Some essays in the collection are historical, imagining the life of Phyllis Wheatley’s husband; Others consider the future through the eyes of children. The collection’s angry undertones are understandable and justified, given the hate and racial violence that has occurred over the past year. This book feels important. I highly recommend it for everyone.

 

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