I’ve finished more nonfiction this quarter than I have read over several years, and I’ve read more nonfiction (including a book on my state history) than new fiction this year. I read too much popular nonfiction. Popular nonfiction is fine occasionally and selectively, but I think (believe) reading pop nonfiction on intellectual topics is irresponsible and intellectually lazy.
Here are 11 of the 12 (!) books of nonfiction I read this year. I’m disgustingly proud of myself.
Scholarly and Intellectual. Recommendations: I highly recommend all.
Liberty’s Refugee: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly by John D. Inazu—I believe it’s probably written for those more professionally and academically familiar with the U.S. judicial system; however, I think that we laymen should attempt to read scholarly works to better exercise our minds and to more fully understand our world.
The Intolerance of Tolerance by D. A. Carson—This work is essential to understand our time.
Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell—Extremely intellectual without burdening us with technical terms. We (including intellectuals) as a nation are incredibly ignorant of basic economics.
Artistic Nonfiction. Recommendations: first two, yes; Pioneer Girl, the preface.
Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl—Make sure you get the expanded version (it’s not the sequel I thought). Dahl is an excellent storyteller.
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff—A charming quick read that I didn’t realize was nonfiction until embarrassingly late.
Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder—This is the original manuscript for the Little House books (before Ingalls rearranged and fictionalized it), an explanatory preface, and tons of notes.
Popular Nonfiction. Recommendations: first two, yes; third, eh; last two, NO.
The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines—This book is fun and interesting. Chip and Joanna and both of their families have amazing legacies of incredibly hard work and vision as well as amazing family love and loyalty.
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance—This is a personal memoir, not an academic study, and does NOT explain the election. I DON’T recommend this AT ALL if you are mainly reading politically.
All Roads Lead to Austen: A Yearlong Journey with Jane by Amy Elizabeth Smith—While reading I greatly enjoyed this and it inspired me to want to travel in South America. However, I later realized she probably greatly exaggerated and romanticized, at least in her personal story.
Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom and Discernment by Brian Godawa—The secondary title is misleading. The first is as well. I could go on, but I’ll just say this got 1 star from me on Goodreads.
Trust Me I’m Lying: Confessions of A Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday—Interesting but simplistic, inconsistent, and reads like conspiracy theory.