The Nonfiction Book Club has now been meeting for about a year and a half and in that time, we’ve stumbled on quite a few hidden gems of nonfiction. Our upcoming selections (we’ve picked through April 2021!) all sound spectacular, so I figured I’d do a recap of the favorites so far before we dive into our fall titles.
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From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty
This book kicked off my “summer of death books” last summer, the collection of books I read to try to wrap my head around my grandmother’s death and to help me separate death from grief. Caitlin, a mortician in LA, traveled the world over looking at different cultural practices surrounding death and it was one of the most interesting conversations we had as a club. Downside, Caitlin is obviously a Western and her inherent, though unintentional, bias is apparent.
Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper
Who would have thought a book about dictionaries would be so interesting or lead to great conversation? We had a lot of fun discussing Word by Word and I even gave a copy to my mom’s husband for Christmas last year as he’s a big word/grammar nerd.
The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
The Soul of an Octopus is by far the collection Nonfiction Book Club favorite book that we have read thus far. When new members join asking what previous book(s) they should read, we always steer them towards this one and we find a way to mention it at least once a meeting. Originally recommended to me, and the group, by my husband, it’s gone on to also be a bestseller at the bookstore.
The Poison Squad: One Chemist’s Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the the Twentieth Century by Deborah Blum
At the turn of the Twenty-First Century, we’re still dealing with some of the same food safety issues the are discussed in The Poison Squad. There is no shortage of things to talk about here and we had one of our longest, and most divisive, conversations ever when we met to discuss this book.
Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of El Faro by Rachel Slade
This one is definitely more of a personal favorite instead of a book club favorite, though it did yield a very interesting conversation. I’m a tad obsessed with shipwrecks, shipping, ocean travel, how it all interconnects us, and climate change, so this book had just about everything I would want in a nonfiction work.