The Best Nonfiction of 2019

Last week I looked at the novels that received the most love in 2019 from book reviewers. Today I will tackle nonfiction. I compiled 30 notable lists and more than 500 books, including our own favorites from the Cook Memorial Public Library District’s reference desk staffers. I’ve added links to our catalog for book descriptions, and listed the Cook staffers who recommended the titles. Did any of your favorites make it?

23 Times:

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, the runaway winner, recommended by Joe, who warns that it is very sad.

16 Times:
Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe. Recommended by Becky and Rob.

Trick Mirror: Reflections of Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino.

14 Times:

How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones. Recommended by Jo.

She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story that Helped Ignite a Movement by Jodi Kantor anfd Megan Twohey. Recommended by Nate and Joe.

13 Times:

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, recommended by Nate and Joe.

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo. Recommended by Jean.

The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom.

12 Times:

The Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey N. Cep. Recommended by Ellen.

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Treuer.

Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert McFarlane.

11 Times:

Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob. Recommended by Andrea, Jo and Nate.

Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller.

10 Times:

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei. Recommended by Jo.

Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me by Adrienne Brodeur. Recommended by Jean and Becky.

9 Times:

Midnight in Chernobyl: the Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham.

Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century by George Packer

Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells. Recommended by Andrea.

8 Times:

Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch. Recommended by Joe.

The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton by Rick Atkinson. Recommended by Andrea.

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow.

Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esme Weijun Wang.

The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir by Samantha Power. Recommended by Rob.

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Sephanie Land. Recommended by Susie.

No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know about Domestic Violence Can Kill Us by Rachel Louise Snyder.

Once More We Saw Stars by Jason Greene. Recommended by Jean and Becky.

Shout: A Poetry Memoir by Laurie Halse Anderson. Recommended by Heather.

The Source of Self Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations by Toni Morrison.

The Unwinding of the Miracle by Julie Yip-Williams. Recommended by Connie.

7 Times:

Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America by James Poniewozik. Recommended by Nate and Rob.

Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves by Frans de Waal.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb. Recommended by Jenn.

6 Times:

American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago by Alex Kotlowitz.

Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration by Emily Bazelon.

Figuring by Maria Popova.

Parkland: Birth of a Movement by Dave Cullen. Recommended by Joe.

5 Times:

The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson. Recommended by Jane, Rob and Jenn.

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell. Recommended by Nate.

I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum.

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love by Dani Shapiro. Recommended by Sonia and Ellen.

Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America by Christopher Leonard.

Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick. Recommended by Emily and Mark.

Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life by Amber Scorah.

Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl. Recommended by Haley.

Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement by Albert Woodfox.

Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family by Mitchell S. Jackson.

Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom. Recommended by Susie.

The Witches are Coming by Lindy West. Recommended by Jenn.

Sources: Amazon, American Library Association’s Carnegie Medal Longlist, Barnes and Noble, Booklist, BookPage, Book Riot, Buzz Feed, Chicago Public Library, Chicago Tribune, Cook Memorial Public Library Favorites, Goodreads, Entertainment, Esquire, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, The Guardian, Kirkus, Library Journal, Literary Hub, New York Public Library, New Yorker, New York Times, NPR, Oprah Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Real Simple Slate, Time Vox, Washington Post.

One thought on “The Best Nonfiction of 2019

  1. Pingback: The Best Fiction of 2019 | Shelf Life

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