Top Ten Nonfiction Books On My TBR

This year, one of the reading goals I made was to read more nonfiction. I’ve only finished one so far and I really want to pick up my game.

Here are ten nonfiction books that I’m really excited about reading!



Bright and likeable, seven-year-old Steven Stayner always listened to his mother. Especially about talking to strangers. But when soft spoken “Reverend” Parnell asked to speak with his mother about church, Steven guessed it would be okay. Until he got into the man’s car. By then, it was too late.

Held captive by convicted child molester Kenneth Eugene Parnell for seven years as his “son Dennis,” Steven was forced to endure abuse so terrible that he forgot his own name. Parnell evaded a statewide search for Steven, keeping his young prisoner moving from one cheap motel to the next. Finally, Steven made a desperate escape with five-year-old Timmy White, another kidnapped boy, return home to their parents, then courageously testifying to convict Parnell for his inhuman crimes.

I recently discovered this one through one of Zuky’s Friday Finds over at BookBum. It sounds extremely interesting and I’ve been getting more and more interest into true crime and figured this would be a great introduction.tt1

“My father had more than fifty children.” So begins the haunting memoir of Anna LeBaron, daughter of the notorious polygamist and murderer Ervil LeBaron. With her father wanted by the FBI for killing anyone who tried to leave his cult–a radical branch of Mormonism–Anna and her siblings were constantly on the run with the other sister-wives. Often starving and always desperate, the children lived in terror. Even though there were dozens of them together, Anna always felt alone.She escaped when she was thirteen . . . but the nightmare was far from over. A shocking true story of murder, fear, and betrayal, The Polygamist’s Daughter is also the heart-cry of a fatherless girl and her search for love, faith, and a safe place to call home.

I was watching a show awhile back that discussed the dark sides of radical Mormonism and mentioned Anna LeBaron. Looking her up I discovered she had a book coming out and knew I had to add it to my TBR.tt3

What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-viewed TEDx talk of the same name—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun.

With humor and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences—in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad—offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike.

Browsing through Barnes and Noble, I stumbled upon this little book and it reminded me that I really ought to read it. I’m very passionate about feminism so I think this will be a very good book to pick up regarding the movement.tt9

When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she’d gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk. What happened?

In a swift and breathtaking narrative, Cahalan tells the astonishing true story of her descent into madness, her family’s inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen.

I found this from Amazon recommended books. I’m not really one to be interested in medical mysteries, but this just seems too good to pass up.

Brilliantly evoking the long-vanished world of masters and servants portrayed in Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs, Margaret Powell’s classic memoir of her time in service, Below Stairs, is the remarkable true story of an indomitable woman who, though she served in the great houses of England, never stopped aiming high.

Powell first arrived at the servants’ entrance of one of those great houses in the 1920s.  As a kitchen maid – the lowest of the low – she entered an entirely new world; one of stoves to be blacked, vegetables to be scrubbed, mistresses to be appeased, and bootlaces to be ironed. Work started at 5.30am and went on until after dark. It was a far cry from her childhood on the beaches of Hove, where money and food were scarce, but warmth and laughter never were.

Being a fan of Downton Abbey, I had to know more about the culture of the working class people “downstairs,” especially since this is the book that inspired Downton Abbey.tt2

By 63 BCE the city of Rome was a sprawling, imperial metropolis of more than a million inhabitants. But how did this massive city—the seat of power for an empire that spanned from Spain to Syria—emerge from what was once an insignificant village in central Italy? In S.P.Q.R., Beard changes our historical perspective, exploring how the Romans themselves challenged the idea of imperial rule, how they responded to terrorism and revolution, and how they invented a new idea of citizenship and nation, while also keeping her eye open for those overlooked in traditional histories: women, slaves and ex-slaves, conspirators, and losers.

This was another Amazon recommended read. Being a big fan of ancient Rome (I studied it a little bit in college), I am highly inclined to add this to my shelf.tt7

Alexander the Great, perhaps the most commanding leader in history, united his empire and his army by the titanic force of his will. His death at the age of thirty-two spelled the end of that unity.

The story of Alexander’s conquest of the Persian empire is known to many readers, but the dramatic and consequential saga of the empire’s collapse remains virtually untold. It is a tale of loss that begins with the greatest loss of all, the death of the Macedonian king who had held the empire together.

With his demise, it was as if the sun had disappeared from the solar system, as if planets and moons began to spin crazily in new directions, crashing into one another with unimaginable force.

Around the holiday seasons a while back I went through a mad craze to buy nonfiction books, mainly being about ancient Rome or Greece hence this one about the aftermath of Alexander the Great’s rule.tt5

An epic history of a doomed civilization and a lost empire.

The devastating struggle to the death between the Carthaginians and the Romans was one of the defining dramas of the ancient world. In an epic series of land and sea battles, both sides came close to victory before the Carthaginians finally succumbed and their capital city, history, and culture were almost utterly erased.

Drawing on a wealth of new archaeological research, Richard Miles vividly brings to life this lost empire-from its origins among the Phoenician settlements of Lebanon to its apotheosis as the greatest seapower in the Mediterranean. And at the heart of the history of Carthage lies the extraordinary figure of Hannibal-the scourge of Rome and one of the greatest military leaders, but a man who also unwittingly led his people to catastrophe.

The history of the destruction of Carthage is absolutely terrible and yet fascinating. I really want to know more about the Carthaginians. tt4

A haunting account of teaching English to the sons of North Korea’s ruling class during the last six months of Kim Jong-il’s reign

Every day, three times a day, the students march in two straight lines, singing praises to Kim Jong-il and North Korea: Without you, there is no motherland. Without you, there is no us. It is a chilling scene, but gradually Suki Kim, too, learns the tune and, without noticing, begins to hum it. It is 2011, and all universities in North Korea have been shut down for an entire year, the students sent to construction fields—except for the 270 students at the all-male Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), a walled compound where portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il look on impassively from the walls of every room, and where Suki has accepted a job teaching English. Over the next six months, she will eat three meals a day with her young charges and struggle to teach them to write, all under the watchful eye of the regime.

I found this forever ago at Barnes and Noble. Just happened to pluck it off the shelf, read the back, and thought “holy crap! I’ve got to read this!” and thus here we are. But it’s still collecting dust on my shelf… I am the worst. Emoji Pngs (9)tt8

I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

I began reading this sometime last year and ended up putting it down once I descended into a long reading slump. I haven’t picked it up since, but this is the book I wish to finish the most this year. It’s too important not to.

And there you have it! I hope you liked my list. Let me know if you end up adding one or two to your TBR. Emoji Pngs (5)

Are you a fan of nonfiction books?

What is your favorite one you’ve read so far?




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11 thoughts on “Top Ten Nonfiction Books On My TBR

  1. I’m adding 90% of these to my TBR list! Like Amy, I’ve also been trying to consciously add more nonfiction to my reading list, and I was struggling the other week to find anything that really struck my fancy. I’m currently reading Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, and it’s really good! Definitely want to read The Polygamist’s Daughter…it sounds fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been making a conscious effort to read more nonfiction. Most of my picks have a medical bent – on my TBR list are ‘Anaesthesia’ by Kate Cole-Adams and ‘Admissions’ by Henry Marsh.
    ‘Without You, There is No Us’ is fascinating (and unsettling). Well worth reading 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cool, you added I Know My Name is Steven to your TBR! Doesn’t it sound so dark and interesting? I also have The Polygamists Daughter on my TBR… another book about mormons and polygamy is Under The Banner of Heaven, that’s a great read! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You have some great books listed. Ghost on the throne sounds like it would be interesting. I recommend “The Woman Who would be King: Hatshepsut’s rise to power in ancient Egypt by Kara Cooney. You might like it.

    Liked by 1 person

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