I heart nonfiction

Being that it’s Valentine’s Day and all, I thought I’d post about some nonfiction books that I love. I’m not talking about essays here, because that’s another romance entirely and as such it requires an entirely separate list. I’m talking about some full-length works of nonfiction that I have loved:

In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote. The classic nonfiction novel…rich description, research and detail packed into a riveting novelistic structure.
The Lady and the Monk, by Pico Iyer. Part memoir, part travel writing. Japan, exactly. Iyer’s writing is just awesome.
Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder. An amazing profile of a man and his work.
Autobiography of a Face, by Lucy Grealy. A memoir of illness, family, and beauty.
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, by Alexandra Fuller. I’ve read this book two or three times now, and keeps getting better. A childhood in Africa, race and class issues, an alcoholic parent, travel, and landscape.
Heat, by Bill Buford. Food writing, profile writing, and personal narrative at their best.
In An Antique Land, by Amitav Ghosh. Read this and consider modern developments in the Middle East in a new light.
Maus, by Art Speigelmann. OK, so I guess some would call this mixed genre and so perhaps it belongs on another list of mine, Must-read Mixed Genre. Then again, Speigelman himself calls it nonfiction. It’s part memoir, part biography, part graphic novel (graphic nonfiction?) and part …re-creation of family history.
The Zanzibar Chest, byAidan Hartley. Another book on Africa, this time from a journalist. This one’s tough to read — much of it is Hartley’s coverage of Rwanda and Somalia — but worth it. (I don’t recommend taking this one on your honeymoon, as I did.)
Iron and Silk, by Mark Salzman. I’ve read this one I don’t know how many times now, and each time I notice that what appeared to be accidental or haphazard is in fact intricately and purposely done to tell the story in a particular way. Plus, it’s funny and endearing.

Oh, there are so many more, but I must go … it is after all, Valentine’s Day.

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One thought on “I heart nonfiction

  1. Lovely, lovely list. I heart nonfiction too, what can I say? Lots of old favorites on your list that we have in common, but also some new ones I’m going to have to check out: “Iron and Silk” and “The Zanzibar Chest” in particular I simply must go and request from the library pronto. Thanks for the suggestions!

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