I talk a lot about books around here. Most of it’s fiction, because if we’re being honest, stories are sometimes way more interesting than reality. At least, it often seems this way. When I was younger, I thought nonfiction meant the kind of books you use for research projects – big chunky things like textbooks. I never really thought of nonfiction as something people enjoyed reading for fun.
Fortunately, I got over that misconception as I got older, and even though nonfiction still isn’t my genre of choice, I read a lot more of it. I even have a couple of favorite nonfiction books, which I’m sharing today!
The Reason by Lacey Sturm
Not only is this one of my favorite nonfiction books, but it’s one of my favorite books, period. As I’m sure many of you know, Lacey Sturm is a musician I look up to a lot, and the story she tells in The Reason is magnificent. Her writing style is beautiful and oftentimes poetic, and she doesn’t shy away from challenging subjects. I’ve read this book multiple times and it never fails to make me smile, and so I’m always recommending it when I have the chance.
Troubled Minds by Amy Simpson
I read this book a while back for a research project I did my first year of college. It tackles the difficult subject of how Christians deal with mental illness, including how they perceive it, why it’s important to understand mental illness, and what Christians should be doing about it. In addition to sharing facts, Simpson also shares stories from her own family and from others who have struggled with mental illness in Christian communities, and I think those stories add a good personal touch. It’s easy to get wrapped up in facts and statistics, but it’s also important to remember that these are people too. I’m glad that I was able to use this for my project, but I’m even happier that I read it.
If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski
This is a collection of essays and other writings by Jamie Tworkowski, founder of the organization “To Write Love On Her Arms” (TWLOHA). Though they follow a chronology of sorts, the essays also stand well on their own, so it’s easy to just pick it up and read for a while when you need a hug. I mean, not a real hug, but the way Jamie writes about his struggles and finding home and encouragement in the midst of them is comforting in the same way. The book is honest and vulnerable, and it reminds you that you don’t have to face your struggles alone.
The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan
I enjoy history, but you can only take so many generic history classes before the information gets repetitive. Girls of Atomic City sheds light on a subject I wasn’t even familiar with – the town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, which was part of the Manhattan Project during World War II. Not only that, but the book focuses on the women in this town who were recruited to do everything from maintenance to secretarial work. Most of them didn’t even know what they were working on (enriching uranium for the atomic bomb), but they were aware that there was something happening in Oak Ridge. The way Kiernan weaves together the stories of all these different women is awesome, and I personally consider it one of the best historical books that I’ve read.
The Freedom Writers Diary by The Freedom Writers and Erin Gruwell
One time I was running a pretty bad fever and was laid up on the sofa where I watched the second half of The Freedom Writers Diary. Since I was dosed up on medicine, I don’t remember much of the film adaptation, but I do remember wanting to read the book it was based on. Erin Gruwell was a high-school English teacher tasked with instructing “at-risk” students, who eventually became the Freedom Writers. The book contains their journal entries, which are at times both intense and moving. Among many other things, I think this book speaks to the way that writing empowers people, which, as an English major, is something very close to my heart.