Suggested Titles for Nonfiction Reading
The following suggested titles were gathered from current and previous years’ American Library Association’s lists for college bound students. On the whole, these items are most appropriately recommended for high school students and adults. Since the student will select from the list for him/herself, if the student or parent finds the material too mature, the student should choose another book.
Asinof, Eliot. Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series. 1963.
It's all here: the players, the scandal, the shame, and the damage the 1919 World Series caused America's national pastime.
Atkin, S. Beth. Voices from the Streets: Young Former Gang Members Tell Their Stories. 1996.
Gang members from all races and backgrounds describe why they joined, and why--and how--they left.
Bernstein, Carl and Bob Woodward. All the President’s Men. 1994.
Following lead after lead, two Washington Post reporters lift the veil of secrecy surrounding the Nixon administration’s Watergate cover-up.
Best, Joel. Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers From the Media, Politicians, and Activists. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.
Do you know the difference between “good” and “bad” statistics or how statistics and public policy are connected?
Canada, Geoffrey. Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun. An examination of the history of violence in America.
Conover, Ted. Newjack, Guarding Sing Sing. New York: Knopf, 2000.
Gripping and sometimes humorous insider’s look at Sing Sing prison, through the eyes of a writer who worked for a year as a corrections officer.
Corwin, Miles. And Still We Rise: The Trials and Triumphs of Twelve Gifted Inner-City High School Students. New York: William Morrow, 2000. Twelve seniors from Crenshaw High School’s Advanced Placement English class in Los Angeles dream of going to college, but the harsh realities of their lives threaten to derail their plans.
Coulton, Larry. Counting Coup: A True Story of Basketball and Honor on the Little Big Horn. New York: Warner Books, 2000. Working through racism, alcoholism, and domestic violence, the players on Hardin High School’s girls’ basketball team come out winners in life as well as on the court.
Cuomo, Kerry Kennedy. Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who Are Changing Our World. New York: Crown Publishers, 2000. A collection of biographical sketches and haunting photographs of ordinary people from 35 countries who are leading the fight to ensure basic human rights for every one.
Davis, Wade. Light at the Edge of the World: A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures. Washington, DC: National Geographic, 2001. Through photographs and eloquent text, the author unveils the diversity and unique quality of human culture around the world.
Dershowitz, Alan M. Why Terrorism Works: Understanding the Threat, Responding to the Challenge. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002. Focusing on the idea that terrorism is caused largely by the actions of Western governments, Dershowitz suggests steps to reduce the frequency and severity of these attacks.
Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. 1997. Diamond contends that these three factors determined the course of world power throughout history.
Doyle, William. An American Insurrection: The Battle of Oxford, Mississippi, 1962. New York: Doubleday, 2001. When James Meredith decided to integrate the University of Mississippi, it caused the worst crisis in American history since the Civil War.
Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2001. Can you really survive on minimum wage? To find out, the author left her middle-class life for a year to see what life is really like for America’s working poor.
Eggers, David. What is the What? New York, 2007. A fictionalized account based on true events depicting the story of Valentino Achak Deng, a Sudanese refugee of a bloody civil war, and his eventual trip to America.
--Zeitourn. 2009. The nonfiction account of Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Muslim-American living in New Orleans before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina.
Faludi, Susan. Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. 1991. This unflinching analysis examines the current status of American women.
Ford, Michael Thomas. The Voices of AIDS: Twelve Unforgettable People Talk About How AIDS Has Changed Their Lives. 1995. Individuals whose AIDS experiences have been catalysts for making a difference share their poignant and personal stories.
Frank, Mitch. Understanding September 11, Answering Questions about the Attacks on America. New York, Penguin Group, 2002. These events are burned into images we can never forget—but after the pain of September 11 we ask “why” and “what” do we need to learn about the historical, religious and cultural issues that sparked the attacks.
Freedman, Samuel G. Small Victories: The Real World of a Teacher, Her Students, and Their High School. 1990. How does this overcrowded, underfunded inner city school send 92% of its graduates to college?
Gawande, Atul. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.
Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. 2006.
--- Outliers: The Story of Success. 2008.
--- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. 2002.
Hart, Elva Trevino. The Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child. Tempe, AZ: Bilingual Press, 1999. This honest and moving memoir follows a migrant child and her family as they travel from their home in New Mexico to the farm fields of Minnesota and Wisconsin in search of work.
Hawking, Stephen. A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes. 1988. Cosmology becomes understandable as the author discusses the origin, evolution, and fate of our universe.
Hedges, Chris. War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. New York: Public Affairs, 2002. A Pulitzer Prize winning author presents a passionate, thought-provoking look at wars through the ages and exposes the myths of the culture of combat.
Hersey, John. Hiroshima. 1946. Six Hiroshima survivors reflect on the aftermath of the first atomic bomb.
Horvitz, Leslie A. Eureka!: Scientific Breakthroughs That Changed the World. New York: Wiley, 2002. Horvitz explores the dramatic events and thought processes of twelve great minds that lead to profound scientific discoveries. The author examines the impact of these discoveries on the way we live, think, and view the world around us.
Humes, Edward. No Matter How Loud I Shout: A Year in the Life of Juvenile Court. 1996. Humes paints a tragic and heartbreaking portrait of the chaos characterizing America's juvenile justice system where, as one inmate writes, "my screams have no voice, no matter how loud I shout."
Jonas, Gerald. Dancing: The Pleasure, Power, and Art of Movement. 1992.
This international survey explores dance as social, cultural, and religious expression.
Jones, K. Maurice. Say It Loud! The Story of Rap Music. 1994.
From a village in West Africa to a street in Brooklyn, to MTV, rappers make the Scene.
Junger, Sebastian. The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea. 1997.
Haunting premonitions didn't save seven fisherman from the ferocious and deadly power of the sea.
Susanna Kaysen. Girl, Interrupted. 1993. Kaysen provides unique insight into mental illness.
Kingsolver, Barbara. High Tide In Tuscon. Essays.
Kotlowitz, Alex. There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in Urban America. 1991. Two young boys struggle to survive in one of Chicago’s worst housing projects.
Krakauer, John. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster. 1997.
His dream expedition to Everest became a nightmare when human error and a sudden storm combined to claim the lives of some of the world's best mountain climbers.
Latifa [pseud.]. My Forbidden Face: Growing Up Under the Taliban; A Young Woman’s Story. New York: Hyperion Press, 2002. Sixteen-year-old Latifa dreamed of becoming a professional journalist until the Taliban’s repression of women changed her life.
Least Heat-Moon, William. Columbus in the Americas. Hoboken NJ, John Wiley & Sons, 2003. Was he a visionary and daring explorer, or a ruthless conquistador with dreams of riches and glory? Discover the truth behind the myth of a man whose impact still resonates through the continents he stumbled across.
Martinez, Ruben. Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2001. Martinez explores the powerful forces that drive men, women and even children to risk their lives crossing the border illegally from Mexico to the United States to find work.
Nolen, Stephanie. Promised the Moon: The Untold Story of the First Women in the Space Race.New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2002. The history of women in aviation and as astronauts is revealed in this compelling story.
Pipher, Mary. Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. 1994. Pipher looks at societal "girl poisoning" and the emotional and psychological havoc it wreaks on the lives of young women.
Pipher, Mary. The Middle of Everywhere: The World’s Refugees Come to Our Town. New York: Harcourt, 2002 An exploration of the difficulties and struggles of refugees settled by the United States government in Lincoln, Nebraska as they try to adjust and build a life in America.
Postman, Neil. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. (1985) 1988. The author believes the act and art of public discourse are being degraded by television, which turns important issues into mass media entertainment.
Roach, Mary. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. New York: Norton, 2003. Discover the amazing life-after-death adventures of human bodies in this examination of how medical and research scientists use cadavers to make our lives better.
Rodriguez, Richard. Days of Obligation: An Argument With My Mexican Father. In this series of essays, Rodriguez discusses the nature of culture and assimilation as a Mexican American (featured on the AP Language Exam)
Rogasky, Barbara. Smoke and Ashes: The Story of the Holocaust. New York, Holiday House, 2002. (revised, expanded edition) Some of history’s darkest days are examined in this new look at the horror and humanity of the Holocaust and its aftermath.
Ronson, Jon. The Psychopath Test.
An examination of mental illness, specifically antisocial personality disorder, and how it may be more common than we think.
Sacks, Oliver. Musicophilia. Famed British Neurologist discusses the benefits—and necessity—of music in our lives.
Salzman, Mark. True Notebooks. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. When Salzman agreed to teach a writing class at Central Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles, he had no idea how moved he would be by the lives and the eloquence of his students, all high-risk violent offenders.
Sandberg, Cheryl. Lean In. A discussion of the role of women and their perceptions in the modern workplace.
Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001. The growth of the fast food industry has changed America’s eating habits and greatly impacted agriculture, the meatpacking industry, the minimum wage, and other aspects of American life.
Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Genetics, biology, race, poverty, and gender converge in this expose of a foundational figure in cancer research.
Steinberg, Jacques. The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College. New York: Viking, 2002. Getting in – who and what drives the college admissions cycle? Find out in a behind the scenes look at Wesleyan University through the eyes of an admissions officer seeking members for the class of 2004.
Turner, Sugar and Tracy Bachrach Ehlers. Sugar’s Life in the Hood: The Story of a Former Welfare Mother. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003. An anthropologist who befriends a welfare mother learns about her world and the strategies she uses to get off welfare and into college.
Wheelan, Charles. Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science. New York: W. W. Norton, 2002. Without using charts, graphs or jargon, Wheelan makes economics understandable, even interesting, as he demystifies basic concepts and applies them to everyday life.
Winchester, Simon. Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883. New York, HarperCollins, 2003. When the earth’s most dangerous volcano exploded off the coast of Java, hundred foot waves flung ships inland, a rain of hot ash made temperatures plummet, the shock wave traveled around the world seven times, and 40,000 people died. The aftermath of this disaster saw the rise of radical Islam, civil unrest and a legacy of anti-Western militancy that continues today.
Zimbardo, Philip. The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil.