Books. Those loyal companions that speak to us of the human lives- the good, the bad, the beautiful, the brave. All strung together and scribbles on yellowed pages and infusing meaning and sense into our otherwise often times confusing existence. Books truly are best friends and they travel with you wherever you have the heart to take them. On a plane, in the washroom (it’s all because of that 1 chapter that has the biggest action scene in the entire manuscript), in your bags, as a shopping companion (breather at the café)- the companionship of books is unconditional, healing, and even necessary.
So, as you prepare to cozy up during these winter days and look forward to spending some good ol’ time holed up in your house, here’ s a list of non-fiction books to keep you company and keep you warm.
1. Ordinary Light: A Memoir by Tracy K. Smith
Pulitzer Prize- winning poet Tracy K. Smith tells the story of growing up in a loving and middle-class black family. When her mother is diagnosed with cancer, life takes a sharp turn and leads Tracy to dive more deeply into family dynamics and experience what it means to lose, love, and believe. Writing that is wonderfully poetic.
2. On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks
One of the most talked about non-fiction books of the year, On The Move relates an honest account of a life riddled with struggles and dreams coming true. Oliver Sack’s wit and profoundness shines through his words and make this book a truly engaging read.
3. Irritable Hearts by Mac McClelland
McClelland shares her own story of what life was like after going to Haiti post the 2010 earthquake as an investigative journalist and suffering from PTSD. She also shares accounts of other people who have combated PTSD and where PTSD stands in the world today.
4. Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan
A beautiful meditation on love, family, friendship and what it means to live a life centered on one’s passion. Finnegan gives an account that is both adventurous and also tells of finding the perfect Home for oneself no matter the circumstances.
5. The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal by David E. Hoffman
If spies are your thing and action is what you’re looking for, then this book is a must-read. Detailing the true story of spies during the Cold War, the book is no less than a James Bond film (if not more!) Think high voltage action meeting ground-breaking research and you have a real hard-to-put-this-down book in your hands. Perfect if you want to know the hidden landscape of what life as a spy is.
6. Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy
For something dark, gritty, and ultimately revealing, pick up Ghettoside in which Leovy untangles the mechanisms of some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in America with candidness and dexterity.
7. Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson
Writer Margo Jefferson tells of the good and bad side of being a middle/ upper-class Black in America and the challenges that come up with living in a world biased to color, race, and origins.
8. ISIS: The State of Terror by Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger
Your encyclopedia for all things ISIS, this book details the roots, the structure, and the workings of one of the most notorious terrorist organizations in history.
9. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
One of the most acclaimed books of the year, H for Hawk tells the story of Macdonald’s grief after losing her father and the solace she found in falconry by taking on the formidable task of training the goshawk. Equal parts memoir and nature writing.
10. Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Each year, plenty of books are written that analyze the reign of Hitler and what life as a Jew/ Nazi was then. This book, instead, forms a link and gives a warning. A warning based on exhaustive analysis of our world and Hitler’s and the similarities between both. A riveting work telling how the world progresses in a circular fashion and the dangers facing us that we are so unaware of.