Must Read Nonfiction for Summer 2017

Books are intensely personal. What we choose to read is a reflection of our internal musings, our construction of meaning, how we build ourselves.

I’m realizing that our nonfiction reading tastes can reveal as much—perhaps even more—than our choices in fiction.

I talk about books for a living (even if it’s only part of my job, these days) and so luckily I’m not shy about sharing how my interests manifest in my reading choices. This list of nonfiction books I’m reading (or have on my holds list at the library) is as much a catalog of my mind as anything. Perhaps you’ll be intrigued by a title or two, too?

New Nonfiction for Summer 2017

7 nonfiction books for summer 2017 (1)

Memoirs with Meat

I’ve been a huge fan of Roxane Gay since forever, or at least since her first essay collection came out and I started following her on Twitter. I once had a dream where I hosted a library event with her in conversation with Rainbow Rowell and I hope to cross that off my real life professional bucket list some day. (I’m already writing a book and becoming a librarian cartoon character, so anything seems possible).

Hunger by Roxane Gay

I got to meet her at the LA Festival of Books this spring, and she is just so fucking amazing, and her writing is so real and honest and also relatable and accessible and I have a lot of feelings about it.

Hunger: A Memoir of My Body by Roxane Gay is a powerful, deeply personal memoir about the celebrated author’s relationship with food, shame, and her body.

I will probably write something extensive about this book eventually, but for now, all I can say is just read it.

Mister BS asked, “are you looking to fall in love?” after I checked this out.


Affluence without AbundanceI put Affluence without Abundance: The Disappearing World of the Bushmen by James Suzman on hold after reading the interview with the author in The New York Times. After a few months of struggling with work-life balance, I’ve been reading tons of management books but I also read The Weekend Effect, so when I read about how the Bushmen culture doesn’t put a premium on work or labor, my interest was piqued.

how to fall in love with anyone

No, Mister BS, I am not. But I like personal essays.I picked up How to Fall in Love with Anyone: A Memoir in Essays by Mandy Len Catron because I have been reading a lot of romance novels and re-watching The Mindy Project and Jane the Virgin and am generally interested in how we both experience love and how we tell the story of falling in love. So relevant to my interests.

I talked a little bit about the comfort reads I sought out immediately following the election, but I never told the story of working the children’s desk at my library the day after the election on the blog.

Tell Me how it Ends

I always worked the first hour of homework help shift on Wednesdays last fall, which meant I saw a lot of school age kids. Many of them are part Latino or Hispanic families.

A young boy, perhaps nine, came up to me that afternoon. When I asked if there was anything I could help him with, he said that Donald Trump was going to be President, and asked me how many people voted for him.

I showed him how to look it up, and we talked about the electoral college versus the popular vote for a while.

He asked me who I voted for, and I told him.

His body visibly relaxed, and he stepped closer, telling me that he didn’t feel that safe because of the election. Because his family was from Mexico.

My heart just broke, and I did the only thing that I could, and assured him that he was always welcome in the library, that it would always be a safe space for him and his family.

At work we’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how we can best serve families like this, and so after I fell in love with Lusielli’s novels when I read a few for this article on Mexican authors, I knew I had to read Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions, in which author Valeria Luiselli draws on her experiences translating for migrant children facing deportation to capture the contradictions of the immigration process.

Nonfiction for Fans of Fun and Games (and Wine)

It's All a GameI mean my job isn’t all heavy topics, though. I’m also doing a monthly after hours board game program at the library! I really love my local game store Game Seeker and so we’ve partnered for a regular event. My brother and sister are really into tabletop games so it’s fun to learn new ones to share with them when we all get together.

So, when I saw  It’s All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan by Tristan Donovan, which offers an in-depth account of the evolution, history, and psychology of board games, I couldn’t help but pick it up.

I moved to California’s Central Coast in part because I love wine. I’ve been thinking about studying for a sommelier exam. (That involves  drinking a lot of wine and reading, right? Basically my two top skills right there.) While I’m toying with that idea, I thought I’d check out Wine: All the Time: The Casual Guide to Confident Drinking by Marissa Ross and Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker. 

Now I just need to figure out how to afford all the wine I want to drink.

Pirate Women

I’m listening to  A Darker Shade of Magic series on audio, because Mister BS bought them on Audible and when I started reading the last book in the series I was like “what is going on?” so determined I needed a re-read. And it’s got me thinking about heroines and stories and also pirates and historical record, so I was interested in checking out Pirate Women: The Princesses, Privateers, and Prostitutes Who Ruled the Seven Seas by Laura Sook Duncombe.


So that’s the nonfiction I’ve been reading this summer. What’s on your list? 

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  • Nonfiction isn’t something I usually go for–I tend to need a nudge, but I’ve been trying to up my nonfiction reading this year (with a summer “break” because I just MUST read fiction in the summertime). Some of these sound intriguing–I need to add Hunger to my TBR, as it’s one I keep hearing wonderful things about. Tell Me How It Ends jumps out at me too. I love what you told that young boy, and that’s one of about a million reasons why I think libraries are so important, everyone needs a place where they can feel safe, welcome, and encouraged to ask questions and find out information.

    • I totally get wanting to read fiction during the summer! I used to rarely read nonfiction, and over the past couple years I’ve really gotten into it.