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 unique look at our how our minds work, nonfiction can provide new opportunities for meaningful discussions. With that in mind, we have collected six incredible nonfiction titles below that are sure to inform, challenge, and inspire you and your reading group.
Teaching White Supremacy by Donald Yacovone
“The most profoundly original cultural history in recent memory.” —Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University
In Teaching White Supremacy, Donald Yacovone shows us the clear and damning evidence of white supremacy’s deep-seated roots in our nation’s education system in a fascinating, in-depth examination of America’s wide assortment of texts, from primary readers to college textbooks and other higher-ed course materials. Sifting through a wealth of materials, from the colonial era to today, Yacovone reveals the systematic ways in which white supremacist ideology has infiltrated American culture and how it has been at the heart of our collective national identity.
“Inspiring…Always in demand for her keen perception and bewitching storytelling, Atwood presents witty, parrying, and complexly illuminating tales about her long, ever-vital writing life.” —Booklist
In this brilliant selection of more than fifty essays, the award-winning, bestselling author of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments offers her funny, erudite, endlessly curious, and uncannily prescient take on everything from debt and tech to the climate crisis and freedom and the importance of how to define granola.
“A lively exposé of the growing consensus about the limited power of rationality and decision-making.” —The New York Times Book Review
The bestselling author of Subliminal and The Drunkard’s Walk is back with another fascinating look at how and why we act how we act. In Emotional, Mlodinow taps into cutting-edge science to explore why feeling is every bit as important as thinking—and how we can learn to best use one of nature’s greatest gifts.
“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.
“[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.
Civil Rights Queen by Tomiko Brown-Nagin
“A must-read for anyone who dares to believe that equal justice under the law is possible and is in search of a model for how to make it a reality.” —Anita Hill
Born to an aspirational blue-collar family during the Great Depression, Constance Baker Motley was expected to find herself a good career as a hair dresser. Instead, she became the first black woman to argue a case in front of the Supreme Court, the first of ten she would eventually argue. The only black woman member in the legal team at the NAACP’s Inc. Fund at the time, she defended Martin Luther King in Birmingham, helped to argue in Brown vs. The Board of Education, and played a critical role in vanquishing Jim Crow laws throughout the South. She was the first black woman elected to the state Senate in New York, the first woman elected Manhattan Borough President, and the first black woman appointed to the federal judiciary.