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Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Because If I'm Going to Read Non-Fiction, I Want It to at Least Read Like Fiction


First off, congratulations to Cheri, who won my 15th Blogoversary Giveaway for a free book.  Enjoy your prize!  Thank you to her and to all of you for being loyal readers of BBB.  I appreciate it more than you could possibly know.

Today's TTT topic is Top Ten Books I Wish I Could Read Again for the First Time.  It's a fine prompt, but one that is just not inspiring me today.  Time to go rogue?  Yes, yes it is.  

I've always been a lover of fiction, with little to no interest in reading non-fiction.  Occasionally, an inspiring self-help title would catch my eye or I'd dive into a biography of a fascinating person, but for the most part, it was all fiction, all the time.  Lately, though, I've developed a growing appreciation for narrative non-fiction because, you know, if I'm going to read non-fiction I want it to at least read like fiction!  I've especially enjoyed listening to these types of books on audio while I drive or do housework.  In an effort to find more great titles in this genre, I'm going to share my favorite examples and ask you to recommend yours.  Deal?  

Before we get to that, though, I have to give a shout-out to our host.  Click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl to learn more about TTT and to give Jana some love!

Top Ten Favorite Non-Fiction Books That Read Like Fiction   


1.  Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer—I've read a couple books by this author, but this one is my favorite by far.  It details Krakauer's harrowing climb up Mount Everest during a terrible storm in May 1996 that killed five people.  The riveting account is replete with Everest history, lore, and firsthand knowledge of what it's like to scale the beast.


2.  Dead Wake by Erik Larson—I just finished listening to this book on audio.  It tells the story of the Lusitania's last voyage, explaining how and why it sank.  Larson makes the tragedy personal by featuring various passengers and their experiences on board.  It's fascinating!

Speaking of Larson, a lot of people rave about his The Devil in the White City, which is about a serial killer who preyed on women during the Chicago World's Fair in 1893.  While the story is intriguing, I couldn't stomach the grisly details and had to stop listening.  I do plan to read his other, less disturbing books, however. 


3.  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand—Another engrossing read, this one recounts the experiences of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner turned World War II soldier.  He experienced so much heartache and trauma during the war that it really is a miracle he survived.  This is an inspiring read on many levels.


4.  The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin—Lark from Lark Writes...on Books and Life recommended this one, which describes a freak storm that occurred in the Midwest in 1888 right as schoolkids were being let out for the day.  The unexpected blizzard wreaked deadly havoc on a lot of unprepared people, many of whom were children.  It's a sad read, but a gripping one.


5.  Columbine by Dave Cullen—This is another sad one, but it's also a fascinating and illuminating recounting of the horrific school shooting.  Very thought-provoking.


6.  The Lost Family by Libby Copeland—As a family history fanatic, I love learning about genealogical research, DNA, nature vs. nature, adoption, and many other related topics.  This book uses the story of a woman who got unexpected results back from a DNA test to ask probing questions about who we are and how our genetics and biological families affect our identities.


7.  Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand—By the author of Unbroken, this may have been the first book I read that really qualifies as narrative non-fiction.  Even though I know nothing about horses and horse racing, I found it to be a very compelling read.


8.  The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming—Like many people, I'm intrigued by the mystery of Anastasia Romanov.  This book discusses the murder of her family and the circumstances that led up to it.  Fleming uses real letters to contrast the Romanovs' luxurious lives with those of the common Russian during that period, making for an especially thought-provoking read about the lives of this royal family.


9.  The Cold Vanish by Jon BillmanLark and I share an affinity for survival stories set in remote locations, so I get all kinds of great recommendations—like this one—from her.  This book talks about the many people who go missing from America's national parks every year and what's being done to bring them home.  It's a fascinating read.


10.  The Third Pole by Mark Synnott—Okay, this one's a cheat because I just started this book today.  It's riveting, though, so I predict it will become a favorite.  The book talks about Synnott's expedition to Mount Everest in 2019 in which he and his team hoped to find the camera George Mallory and Sandy Irvine purportedly had on them when they died trying to summit the mountain in 1924.  If photographic evidence exists, it could prove that they were actually the first to top Mt. Everest via the North Col, not the Chinese team who famously did it in 1960. 

There you have it, ten narrative non-fiction reads that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Have you read any of them?  Which non-fiction-that-reads-like-fiction books have you loved?  Which would you recommend?  I'm especially interested in those that explore historical disasters, natural or otherwise.  True crime is too much for me, unless it's of the less-graphic variety.

Happy TTT!      

78 comments:

  1. The Children’s Blizzard was such a good read!

    My post: https://lydiaschoch.com/top-ten-tuesday-books-i-wish-i-could-read-again-for-the-first-time/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really was. It gave such a great overview of the disaster.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lydia!

      Delete
  2. I've always been fascinated by the Romanov family and the mystery of Anastasia. The Family Romanov looks like one I would enjoy.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Same. Ever since I watched the cartoon movie, I've been fascinated by what happened to Anastasia and her family. It's a sad story, but such an interesting one!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Tanya!

      Delete
  3. Such a great list! I definitely have to check these books out! =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you do! Let me know what you think of them.

      Thanks for popping in, Diana!

      Delete
  4. #9 - sounds interesting, like a mystery. I don't read much non-fiction. I've always found them a little too much of reality to take in.

    One book I would recommend is 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' by Jean-Dominique Babuby - one of the only non-fiction book that sort of love. It's about a man who lost the use of his body and the only way to communicate is through blinking his eyes. It's actually translated from French but I really like the writing style.

    Another one I would recommend is 'When breath becomes air' by Paul Kalanithi - about a doctor who was diagnosed with a terminal illness and it explores his past and present life. It's a sad read.

    Have a lovely day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, THE COLD VANISH talks about a lot of missing persons mysteries, although it does focus on one case in particular.

      I've heard of THE DIVING BELL, but I've never read it. It sounds great. I have heard of WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR, but I have not read it either. It's on my TBR list, though.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lissa!

      Delete
  5. Oh, I'm glad you've gone rogue here today, I've just added a number of these titles to my wish list for further investigation. Always love to read something a little different, and I'm fascinated by the Romanov family as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I still don't read tons of non-fiction, but I'm trying to read more. It makes a nice change of pace from my usual fiction-centric reading.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Alex!

      Delete
    2. Indeed, always love popping in here to see what you've got for me.

      Delete
  6. I haven't read any of these but i love the Seabiscuit film!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I watched the film in the theater when it came out and enjoyed it. I think it's time for a re-watch!

      Thanks for stopping by, NickiMags!

      Delete
  7. Finding non-fiction that keeps my attention isn't always the easiest thing to do, either. This is a great theme for the week!

    I've been wanting to read The Devil in the White City, but I've been procrastinating it for some reason. Your comments on the gory nature of the subject make me think I've been putting it off for a good reason.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same. I like to read non-fiction, but not if it's written like a textbook. Snore!

      I read DEAD WAKE by Larson and it was PG-rated, so I was hoping THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY would be the same. Because of the subject matter, it's got some grisly content. The chapters that talk about architecture are not at all gory - it's the ones about the serial killer that are so disturbing. I only got a few chapters in before I'd had enough. It's an interesting book, though, and I've seen it recommended really widely. I just couldn't stomach it.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Nicole!

      Delete
  8. I love that you went rogue because this was a great topic! I hate when non-fiction reads like a textbook, so I loved getting ideas that don't!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same! I love learning through non-fiction, but the book has to be engaging or I lose interest FAST.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Deanna!

      Delete
  9. I didn’t know someone wrote a book about Columbine! What a terrible day that was.

    Here is our Top Ten Tuesday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A horrible day for sure. The book is disturbing and sad, but it's also fascinating.

      Thanks for stopping in, Astilbe!

      Delete
  10. What a great theme! I do read non-fiction, not as quickly as fiction, but have not heard of a lot of these. Thanks for sharing. Here is my TTT: https://cindysbookcorner.blogspot.com/2021/08/top-ten-tuesday-reread-for-first-time.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same here. I always read non-fiction more slowly, even if it's really good NF. I'm not sure why that is exactly, but it is!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Cindy!

      Delete
  11. I love your twist on today's prompt. You have some great books on this list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I'm still a newbie in this genre, so I didn't have a lot to choose from since I've read so few narrative non-fiction books. I have read some good ones, though.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Wendy!

      Delete
  12. I generally read non-fiction for only specific reasons too, but I have to admit several of these books sound really interesting to me. My experience with narrative non-fiction mostly involves Holocaust-related books, so it's probably time to expand my horizon.
    My TTT

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally get that! It might sound macabre, but I love books about the Holocaust, especially those that are based on true stories. They're just fascinating. What are your favorite non-fiction Holocaust books?

      Thanks for popping in, Kristi!

      Delete
    2. The Hiding Place and the Maus books are my favorites at this time, but there are others I haven't read since high school that I plan to read again soon and may end up making the list too, like Night and The Diary of Anne Frank.

      Delete
  13. Such a good list! I have really grown to love narrative nonfiction as well. I'd add Boys in the Boat to this list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Somehow, I have not yet read BOYS IN THE BOAT. I really need to. Thanks for the reminder!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Helen!

      Delete
  14. Have you ever read The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Mendelsohn? It's a nonfiction book that I really loved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not yet, but another book blogger that I like (Stephanie @She's Probably at the Library has really raved about it. If both of you love it, I NEED to read it! It does sound amazing.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lark!

      Delete
  15. This is a really interesting rogue take on the prompt this week! I don't have any specific recommendations, but I do love memoir for narrative non-fiction. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I enjoy memoirs as well, although honestly, I haven't read that many of them. I need to keep an eye out for more good ones.

      Thanks for popping in, FangirlFlax!

      Delete
  16. Hmmm... Narrative nonfiction. I haven't read much from this genre in a while. Thanks for the recs!

    Here's my Top Ten Tuesday list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! If you discover any good ones, definitely let me know.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lectrice!

      Delete
  17. I completely agree! I love narrative nonfiction! You might like Killers of the Flower Moon (no not horrow!) ....a story of the Osage Native Americans by journalist David Grann. I also loved The Girl With Seven Names (escape from north Korea) and The Glass Castle memoirs. You might also like the Only Place in the Sky...an oral history of 9-11. The clips are put together to form a history of the day (almost like a collaborative memoir).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh, thanks for the recs! I haven't read any of these yet except THE GIRL WITH SEVEN NAMES, which was fascinating. I'll have to check out these others.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Carol!

      Delete
  18. I'd definitely check The Family Romaniv! My mom and I have always been interested in their story.

    Genesis @ Whispering Chapters

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really is a fascinating story. Sad, but SO interesting, especially the whole mystery surrounding Anastasia.

      Thanks for popping in, Genesis!

      Delete
  19. Great list! Have you read Radium Girls?

    When you get the chance, I hope you stop over at my blog and take a read: https://readbakecreate.com/10-books-i-would-love-to-see-as-a-movie/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have not read RADIUM GIRLS! I've heard good things about it, though, so I'll definitely add it to my TBR list. Thanks for the rec!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Pam!

      Delete
  20. I'm the same way- I don't read a lot of nonfiction but I do find myself being drawn to certain titles, especially if they're written in a fiction- ish way, if that makes sense. :)

    Into Thin Air I bet is interesting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. INTO THIN AIR is super interesting! It's very readable, too - fast-paced, exciting, and just really compelling. I highly recommend it.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Greg!

      Delete
  21. Okay, I have to say your blog is adorable!!! I LOVE the design. It looks so good!
    I haven't read Unbroken, but I saw the movie and loved it! Definitely a hard one to digest though.
    Ooooh I'm a sucker for anything Anastasia related too! I might give that one a try. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Heather! I'm really happy with the re-design. It's been a fun change :)

      I still haven't seen the Unbroken movie. I agree - the story is a hard one to read, but it is fascinating and inspiring.

      I hope you like THE FAMILY ROMANOV if you read it! Let me know if you read any other good Anastasia/Romanov books.

      Thanks for popping in, Heather!

      Delete
  22. You've read 7/10 of my books today and I've read 4/10 with a fifth that's already on my TBR. Not too shabby!

    I credit Into Thin Air with stirring my interest in nonfiction. I don't even know why I picked that book up but I could NOT put it down. I try to keep one nonfiction book in my rotation all the time now. I don't read them as quickly as fiction but I've learned a lot of interesting facts from them.

    Hmmm... My recommendations? In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides was fantastic if you like explorers. Same with Ada Blackjack by Jennifer Niven. Rome 1960 by David Maraniss (I'm not a sports fan but really enjoyed this books about the Olympics that year and all the social upheaval around them). The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot... I could go on but I'll have mercy and stop there. Great list/topic!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're like reading twins! I love finding others who have similar reading preferences to mine. It's very helpful :)

      I'm not sure why I picked up INTO THIN AIR either since I have zero interest in mountain climbing or extreme sports of any kind. I agree, though, I could NOT put it down and even years later, I still think about it. Such a fascinating book!

      I haven't read any of the titles you recommended, so I'll definitely add them to my list of TBR narrative non-fiction. Thanks for the suggestions!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Jen!

      Delete
  23. Great choices here! Columbine is phenomenal. It really affected me, because I was a HS student at the time. I was the same age as the youngest victim at the time and remember hearing all the theories and myths that surrounded it. His book was so illuminating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Goodness, yes, I can see why it affected you so much. I had high school-aged family members who were living in Littleton at the time it happened and it was terrifying not knowing if they were safe or not (they were). I agree - the book was very illuminating and thought-provoking.

      Thanks for stopping in, Amy!

      Delete
  24. Ooh, this is a great idea for a list! I love Nonfiction, even if it doesn't read like fiction. :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. NF pretty much as to read like fiction for me to like it :) Ha ha. I guess I just have a short attention span.

      Thanks for popping by, Angie!

      Delete
  25. This is such a great list! I recently finished The Last Nomad by Shugri Said Salh, an autobiography that completely read like fiction, and realized how much I like nonfiction that reads like fiction. I'm going to have to check these out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh, I've never heard of THE LAST NOMAD, but it sounds really interesting. I'm definitely going to check it out. Thanks for the rec!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Leah!

      Delete
  26. What a fun rogue topic, Susan! I have several of these on my TBR and you've inspired me to push them up higher on my list! And congratulations on your 15th blogiversary!! That is truly incredible! Glad you blog and glad I have found your blog :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you enjoy these if you read them. Let me know what you think! And I'm glad you found my blog as well :)

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Jane!

      Delete
  27. The Children’s Blizzard was such a good read!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wasn't it? It gave such a great overview to the whole disaster and the many reasons why it was so devastating. Such an interesting book!

      Thanks for popping in, Azka!

      Delete
  28. Replies
    1. Thanks, Rajani! I'm headed over to check out your newest poetry now.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  29. Great list! truth i have heard of non of these.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha. Well, now you have! One of my favorite part of TTT is discovering new books I've never heard of.

      Thanks for popping in!

      Delete
  30. Another great list Susan. There are a couple on here that have been on my TBR for awhile, but you have definitely added to my mountain today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha. My goal is to make everyone's TBR mountain chains as high as mine!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Carla!

      Delete
  31. I totally agree with you, I prefer my non-fiction to read like fiction (though I also read other ones, I just want to know everything!)

    I haven't read any of the books on your list but they all sound fantastic. I read a book by one of my favourite authors about Columbine, The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb. Great book.

    Thanks for visiting my TTT earlier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard of THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED, but I didn't realize it was about Columbine. Interesting. I'm definitely going to check it out now. Thanks for the heads-up!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Marianne!

      Delete
    2. It's not a non-fiction, though, it picks up a few fictional characters that had to do with it, especially some victims, teachers and students. I really like Wally Lamb and this really was a good book.

      Delete
  32. Ooh, The Cold Vanish looks really excellent. I can't seem to get enough of wilderness survival stories this year, and I also read a lot about missing hikers on the Reddit sub Unresolved Mysteries. It's really mind-blowing how thoroughly a person can disappear out there, and how hard it can be to find remains.

    I'm not sure if I have any good recs for you, alas -- I average 10-20 nonfiction books a year, but they're usually about animals, cool houses and/or memoirs, and I don't think any of them are historical or about disasters other than a couple of survival memoirs (Jungle, Adrift). Feel free to peruse my (poorly-organized) nonfiction shelf, though.

    Also hi! I left a comment on your last TTT post, because I meant to do that a week ago but never got around to finishing it, but in case you see this first I'll just mention again that I love the new site.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same. I really like wilderness survival books and, I agree, it's terrifying how easy it is for someone to disappear completely in our national parks.

      I like memoirs, too, so I'll definitely check out your GR shelf.

      I'm glad you like the new look here. It's fun, isn't it?

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, RS!

      Delete
  33. Same! I read very little nonfiction these days (although I should try to pick up more) so it has to be a really good one to hold my interest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly! If it's not engrossing, I'm not going to read it, no matter how much I want to learn about whatever subject is being addressed.

      Thanks for stopping in, Louise!

      Delete
  34. Great choices. I've read four or five of these, too, and really enjoyed them. In my estimation, it's hard to go wrong with anything by Erik Larson...especially if you want it to read like fiction. He's really good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. I like Larson's storytelling style a lot. I borrowed the audio of ISAAC'S STORM to read next. I'm just about done with TRUE GRIT on audio, so that one will be my next listen.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Sam!

      Delete
  35. Oh I love this topic! So far I've read 3 Erik Larson books and Dead Wake was by far my favorite. I just finished listening to Devil in the White City and the Holmes murder storyline just seemed extra and weirdly I ended up finding the stuff about the Fair WAY more interesting. The Lost Family and the Romanov book both look like 2 I need to read!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really liked DEAD WAKE. And, actually, I was quite enjoying learning about the Chicago World's Fair and would have continued with THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY if it had only been about. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought the Holmes stuff was weird and unnecessary. ISAAC'S STORM is next up on my Laron reading (actually listening) list, so we'll see what I think of that one.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Katherine!

      Delete
  36. Unbroken is such a good book! I also read and enjoyed The Boys in the Boat which I thought had a similar vibe if you haven’t read that one yet! Some of my favorite narrative nonfiction books that I’ve read recently are “All You Can Ever Know,” “Know My Name,” “Born A Crime,” and “The Glass Castle.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually haven't read THE BOYS IN THE BOAT yet, which is weird because I definitely like books with that vibe. I have read BORN A CRIME, which I liked, but didn't love. The others I have not read, although they're all on my TBR list. Thanks for the recs!

      Thanks for popping in!

      Delete
  37. I hardly ever read non-fiction, I definitely need to read more of it. Great list!

    ReplyDelete
  38. I loved Unbroken. It was so good!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Oh Dead Wake sounds very interesting. I'll have to see if our library has it.

    ReplyDelete

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