Nonfiction

/ posted in: Reading

I LOVE Nonfiction!  I can’t understand when bloggers say that they don’t read it.  I learn so much from it.  In the fall, I always want to read a lot of nonfiction.  I’m not sure why but it seems to call to me.  Here are the nonfiction books set at least partially outside the United States (and not about food) that I’ve read since the last readathon.


The Bahamas

War of the Whales: A True StoryWar of the Whales: A True Story by Joshua Horwitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

Two men face off against an all-powerful navy—and the fate of the ocean’s most majestic creatures hangs in the balance.

Germany

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi PastMy Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past by Jennifer Teege
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An international bestseller—the extraordinary memoir of a German-Nigerian woman who learns that her grandfather was the brutal Nazi commandant depicted in Schindler’s List.

Vietnam

At Hell's Gate: A Soldier's JourneyAt Hell’s Gate: A Soldier’s Journey by Claude Anshin Thomas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

In this raw and moving memoir, Claude Thomas tells the dramatic story of his service in Vietnam, his subsequent emotional collapse, and how he was ultimately able to find healing and peace.

Middle East

Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual RevolutionHeadscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution by Mona Eltahawy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The journalist Mona Eltahawy is no stranger to controversy. Through her articles and actions she has fought for the autonomy, security, and dignity of Muslim women, drawing vocal supporters and detractors. Now, in her first book, Headscarves and Hymens, Eltahawy has prepared a definitive condemnation of the repressive forces-political, cultural, and religious-that reduce millions of women to second-class citizens.

France and the United States

The Wright BrothersThe Wright Brothers by David McCullough
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize David McCullough tells the dramatic story-behind-the-story about the courageous brothers who taught the world how to fly: Wilbur and Orville Wright.

Somalia

Desert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert NomadDesert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad by Waris Dirie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

Waris Dirie ran away from her oppressive life in the African desert when she was barely in her teens, illiterate and impoverished, with nothing to her name but a tattered shawl. She traveled alone across the dangerous Somali desert to Mogadishu—the first leg of a remarkable journey that would take her to London, where she worked as a house servant; then to nearly every corner of the globe as an internationally renowned fashion model; and ultimately to New York City, where she became a human rights ambassador for the U.N.

Kenya, Columbia, and the United States

A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating OpportunityA Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity by Nicholas D. Kristof
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

An essential, galvanizing narrative about making a difference here and abroad—a road map to becoming the most effective global citizens we can be.

Spain

I'm Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de SantiagoI’m Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago by Hape Kerkeling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

Overweight, overworked, and disenchanted, Kerkeling was an unlikely candidate to make the arduous pilgrimage across the Pyrenees to the Spanish shrine of St. James, a 1,200-year-old journey undertaken by nearly 100,000 people every year. But he decided to get off the couch and do it anyway.

England (and Greece, Spain, Norway, Romania, and Russia)

Born to Rule: Five Reigning Consorts, Granddaughters of Queen VictoriaBorn to Rule: Five Reigning Consorts, Granddaughters of Queen Victoria by Julia P. Gelardi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

Julia Gelardi’s Born to Rule is the powerful epic story of five royal granddaughters of Queen Victoria, who reigned over the end of their empires, the destruction of their families, and the tumult of the twentieth century.

North Korea

Somewhere Inside: One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her HomeSomewhere Inside: One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and the Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home by Laura Ling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

On March 17, 2009, Laura Ling and her colleague Euna Lee were working on a documentary about North Korean defectors who were fleeing the desperate conditions in their homeland. While filming on the Chinese–North Korean border, they were chased down by North Korean soldiers who violently apprehended them. Laura and Euna were charged with trespassing and “hostile acts,” and imprisoned by Kim Jong Il’s notoriously secretive Communist state.

Sierra Leone

Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star BallerinaTaking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina by Michaela DePrince
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

The extraordinary memoir of Michaela DePrince, a young dancer who escaped war-torn Sierra Leone for the rarefied heights of American ballet.
Michaela DePrince was known as girl Number 27 at the orphanage, where she was abandoned at a young age and tormented as a “devil child” for a skin condition that makes her skin appear spotted.

Americas

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North AmericaThe Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

The Inconvenient Indian is at once a “history” and the complete subversion of a history—in short, a critical and personal meditation that the remarkable Thomas King has conducted over the past 50 years about what it means to be “Indian” in North America.

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

In this groundbreaking work of science, history, and archaeology, Charles C. Mann radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus in 1492.

Greece

Loot: The Battle over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient WorldLoot: The Battle over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World by Sharon Waxman

 

A journey across four continents to the heart of the conflict over who should own the great works of ancient art

England

The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic - and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern WorldThe Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic – and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

Trust Steven Johnson to put an intriguing and unconventional spin on a well-known story! The nimble-minded nonfiction writer who dazzled us in Emergence, Mind Wide Open, and Everything Bad Is Good for You now parses a storied incident from the annals of public health– the Broad Street cholera epidemic of 1854, a deadly outbreak that decimated London’s population in eight days.

Everyday SexismEveryday Sexism by Laura Bates

 

In 2012 after being sexually harassed on London public transport Laura Bates, a young journalist, started a project called Everyday Sexism to collect stories for a piece she was writing on the issue. Astounded by the response she received and the wide range of stories that came pouring in from all over the world, she quickly realised that the situation was far worse than she’d initially thought. Enough was enough.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess BrideAs You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

France

Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy FranceVillage of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France by Caroline Moorehead
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

Le Chambon-sur-Lignon is a small village of scattered houses high in the mountains of the Ardèche. Surrounded by pastures and thick forests of oak and pine, the plateau Vivarais lies in one of the most remote and inaccessible parts of Eastern France, cut off for long stretches of the winter by snow.

During the Second World War, the inhabitants of the area saved thousands wanted by the Gestapo: resisters, freemasons, communists, downed Allied airmen and above all Jews. Many of these were children and babies, whose parents had been deported to the death camps in Poland. After the war, Le Chambon became the only village to be listed in its entirety in Yad Vashem’s Dictionary of the Just.

Nigeria

We Should All Be FeministsWe Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-viewed Tedx talk of the same name—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun.

Tuvalu

Where The Hell Is Tuvalu?: How I became the law man of the world's fourth-smallest countryWhere The Hell Is Tuvalu?: How I became the law man of the world’s fourth-smallest country by Philip Ells
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

How does a young City lawyer end up as the People’s Lawyer of the fourth-smallest country in the world, 18,000 kilometres from home?


Where to Start

Headscarves and Hymens and Everyday Sexism are eye opening books about social issues.

1491 and Born to Rule are great for history lovers.

Be prepared to give away some money if you read, A Path Appears.  This is also a PBS documentary.

All the books on this list are actually very good.  I’d recommend them all.

If you love nonfiction, don’t forget about Nonfiction November coming up!