Real-Life Reading

Real-Life Reading

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.

The Reason by Lacey Sturm

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.

Troubled Minds by Amy Simpson

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.

If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski

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 Girls of Atomic City by Denies Kiernan

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.

The Freedom Writers Diary


What are some of your favorite nonfiction books? What subjects do you like to read about? Do you have a favorite memoir or biography? Let’s talk in the comments!

Until next time!

7 thoughts on “Real-Life Reading

  1. I don’t tend to read a lot of nonfiction either, but these books all look really interesting, especially Troubled Minds and The Freedom Writer’s Diary. Some of my favorite nonfiction books (I haven’t read many) include Mere Christianity and Surprised By Joy, (both by C.S. Lewis) Walking on Water by Madeline L’Engle, Epic by John Eldredge, and A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken.

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed it! The books you listed sound really interesting – a lot of people I know have read Mere Christianity, so I think that’ll be one I pick up sometime soon. I haven’t read Madeline L’Engle’s nonfiction, but I lived A Wrinkle In Time, so I’ll have to add that one to my list as well. Thanks for reading!

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  2. Most of what I read is nonfiction, and unfortunately a lot of it is clunky and poorly edited, almost like non-fiction writers believe they are liberated from standard writing conventions of coherence and flow. Autobiographies and even some biographies can be particularly fatal, as the writer tries to fit every single last flippin’ detail into 600+ pages (not that I have any personal experience with this…).

    That being said, two of the best NF books I ever read were a biography (“No Compromise” on the life of Keith Green) and an autobiography (“Born Again” by Charles Colson). The first was written by Melody Green but she had a number of people who (by her own admission) helped her pare it down to a readable format; Colson proved with his later work that he knew how to write (and get help with editing and research).

    From the same era as Colson, “All the President’s Men” by Woodward & Bernstein is an outstanding book (although it’s debatable how much is fiction and how much is true), but the authors’ experience as actual journalists comes through in the pace and readability of the narrative.

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  3. Our answer is in books like THE FRONTIERSMEN by Allen W. Eckert. Ii reads like a very well written novel which it is, and with the accurate no-frills-added details of a well written biography which it also is.

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