There is nothing like escaping into great fiction, but choosing a nonfiction book for your reading group can open up the conversation in unexpectedly rewarding ways. Whether the book is a memoir that provokes group members to share stories of their own lives, an investigative look at a topic that demands action from your group, or a reflection on ways each individual can improve his or her own life, nonfiction can provide new opportunities for meaningful discussions. With that in mind, we have collected five incredible nonfiction titles below that are sure to inform, challenge, and inspire you and your reading group.
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer
“An important, difficult and timely subject…. Meticulously reported, fascinating and deeply disturbing.” —USA Today
Acclaimed journalist Jon Krakauer investigates a spate of campus rapes that occurred in Missoula, Montana over a four-year period. Taking the town as a case study for a crime that is sadly prevalent throughout the nation, Krakauer documents the experiences of five victims: their fear and self-doubt in the aftermath; the skepticism directed at them by police, prosecutors, and the public; their bravery in pushing forward and what it cost them. Rigorously researched, incisively written, Missoula stands as an essential call to action.
“A Path Appears is a compelling read that can’t help but to educate and energize.” —Bill and Melinda Gates, co-chairs of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
With scrupulous research and on-the-ground reporting, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn explore how altruism affects us, what the markers are for success, and how to avoid pitfalls. In their recounting of astonishing stories from the front lines of social progress, we see the compelling, inspiring truth of how real people have changed the world, underscoring that one person can make a difference. Kristof and WuDunn know better than most how many urgent challenges communities around the world face to¬day. Here they offer a timely beacon of hope for our collective future.
“Not only a titillating exposé on the reported ‘you’re kidding me’ aspects of the religion, but a powerful examination of belief itself.” —Entertainment Weekly
Scientology presents itself as a scientific approach to spiritual enlightenment, but its practices have long been shrouded in mystery. Now Lawrence Wright—armed with his investigative talents, years of archival research, and more than two hundred personal interviews with current and former Scientologists—uncovers the inner workings of the church. We meet founder L. Ron Hubbard, the highly imaginative but mentally troubled science-fiction writer, and his tough, driven successor, David Miscavige. We go inside their specialized cosmology and language. We learn about the church’s legal attacks on the IRS, its vindictive treatment of critics, and its phenomenal wealth. Through it all, Wright asks what fundamentally comprises a religion, and whether Scientology in fact merits this constitutionally protected label. Brilliantly researched, compellingly written, Going Clear pulls back the curtain on one of the most secretive organizations at work today.
“[An] important and useful book that will help many readers take on humanity’s most important task: creating a better, more compassionate world.” —Tricycle
Karen Armstrong—one of the most original thinkers on the role of religion in the modern world—provides an impassioned and practical guide to helping us make the world a more compassionate place. The twelve steps she suggests begin with “Learn About Compassion,” and close with “Love Your Enemies.” In between, she takes up self-love, mindfulness, suffering, sympathetic joy, the limits of our knowledge of others, and “concern for everybody.” She shares concrete methods to help us cultivate and expand our capacity for compassion, and provides a reading list to encourage us to “hear one another’s narratives.” Armstrong teaches us that becoming a compassionate human being is a lifelong project and a journey filled with rewards.
“Deeply moving…. Sister Prejean is an excellent writer, direct and honest and unsentimental…. She almost palpably extends a hand to her readers.” —The New York Times Book Review
In 1982, Sister Helen Prejean became the spiritual advisor to Patrick Sonnier, the convicted killer of two teenagers who was sentenced to die in the electric chair of Louisiana’s Angola State Prison. In the months before Sonnier’s death, the Roman Catholic nun came to know a man who was as terrified as he had once been terrifying. She also came to know the families of the victims and the men whose job it was to execute—men who often harbored doubts about the rightness of what they were doing. Out of that dreadful intimacy comes a profoundly moving spiritual journey through our system of capital punishment. Here Sister Helen confronts both the plight of the condemned and the rage of the bereaved, the fears of a society shattered by violence and the Christian imperative of love.