Thursday, December 30, 2021

2021 Non-Fiction Favorites

2021 isn't quite over yet, and I'm still reading great books, but I've already compiled my favorites of this past year to share with you.  I know there are other great books that might have made my "favorites" list, but out of the 220-ish books I've read this year (about 21% were nonfiction), these are my favorite non-fiction reads:


1.  Grace and Steel by J. Randy Taraborrelli - I enjoy biographies and after years of reading about the Bush men, I finally was able to enjoy reading a book focused on the Bush women. Some of what I read was what I already knew, but there were enough anecdotes and little tidbits of new-to-me information that I found this book thoroughly enjoyable.

2.  The Burning Blue: The Untold Story of Christa McAuliffe and NASA's Challenger Disaster by Kevin Cook - I was in middle school when Challenger exploded just 73 seconds into flight killing Christa McAuliffe and the six astronauts on board.  I read everything I could get my hands on about this at the time and appreciate this book which provides a well-rounded look at McAuliffe and her life as well as that of the other astronauts.  Although this book covers what happened technically, it's always the human stories that keep me reading.

3.  The Man I Knew: The Amazing Story of George H. W. Bush's Post Presidency by Jean Becker - this is another book about the Bush's, I know, but Becker's personal look at the first president Bush is a close-up look at this amazing man.  The anecdotes, the humor, and his true decency are all worth reading.  This was a book I read while running on the treadmill and I actually anticipated running each day just so I could keep reading.

4.  Crisis in the Red Zone by Richard Preston - Long ago I read The Hot Zone about the ebola virus (which is also fantastic).  This book focuses on the deadly ebola outbreak in 2013-14, providing information on how we are fighting these viruses, but full of suspense as various health care workers rush to attempt to contain ebola before more people die.  Unfortunately this story is true, even though it feels a bit like a horror novel.

5.  Did I Say That Out Loud? Midlife Indignities and How to Survive Them by Kristin van Ogtrop - van Ogtrop and I are probably close in age and I totally could relate to most of the things she wrote about: children growing up, aging parents, your own aging, along with a lot of very humorous things as well.  I felt like I was chatting with someone who was a good friend.  

6. Going There by Katie Couric- I spent years watching Katie Couric on the Today show and because of that felt like I knew her (right along with the rest of America).  Getting to read her memoir was a fun trip down memory lane in some ways and also revealed a little more about her inner thought processes and parts of her life she had not shared publicly before.  I was sad when I turned the last page in this book.  

7.  Good Apple: Tales of a Southern Evangelical in New York by Elizabeth Passarella - I loved, loved this memoir.  Passarella shares her childhood in Memphis and move to NYC where her conservative views tilted left a little.  She writes of her faith and the work she has done to put that first and instill those same values and beliefs in her children.  I appreciate Passarella's ability to put into words what I think many people feel.  Although I never pick a favorite, or rank order my reads, this one might be at the very top of my list.  I haven't stopped thinking about it since I read it in March.

8.  Children Under Fire: An American Crisis by John Woodrow Cox - Cox's book has been highly praised, and I found it to be thought provoking and heartbreaking. He looks at school shootings from the perspective of children who have survived them and the various mental health issues they face - sometimes for their entire lives.  He focuses on two young kids, Ava and Tyshaun, from different parts of the country, but who have many things in common.  Their stories will break your heart.   A variety of ways our country could address this problem are also discussed and after reading this I see more than ever a need to find a solution to this very real issue

9.  Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival and Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliott- Elliott follows Dasani for eight years - from her Brooklyn shelter to Hershey, PA, and back as she fights to protect her siblings, struggles with homelessness, tries to find help while often the victim of a broken system, and yet gets up and tries again.  A short synopsis won't do this book justice, but I loved Dasani, yet found her and her family frustrating and felt how frustrated they were as well. If you don't understand how this type of situation exists or don't know anyone who has experienced this, count yourself lucky.

10.  Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are by Libby Copeland -My husband's family has done their share of 23 and Me testing.  While they've enjoyed connecting with some family members, there are ramifications to this new technology that many have never thought of.  Copeland explores this in her book, providing anecdotes about various people who have been affected in not-so-positive ways.

I still have several 2021 non-fiction releases sitting in a pile by my bed. While I would have loved to have read them before the end of the year, I read great books these past twelve months.  What nonfiction book did you read that I need to add to my pile?  Have you read any on this list?  

1 comment:

Anne@HeadFullofBooks said...

I read quite a bit of nonfiction but I haven't read any of these. Tomorrow I start my role as a nonfiction reader for the Cybils Award in the Senior High division. Maybe I just read YA nonfiction. Ha!