Commentary #95: “Non-Fiction That Changed My Life”

Non-Fiction Quote

Image Credit: AZ Quotes

I enjoyed Norees’ post so much, I wanted to share it.

Here’s the link to her original post:


The only book on Norees’ list that I have heard of is Quiet.

I’m intrigued by The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Alex Haley.


Her question was: What are some non-fiction books that had a big impact on you?

Here’s my list, in somewhat chronological order in terms of when I read it, or was assigned to read it.

The Diary of a Young Girl (1947)

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This was one of the first books I was assigned to read about World War II, the persecution of Jewish people during that time, and the Holocaust. I re-read it every couple of years as a reminder.

Night (1958)

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We read this as part of our Holocaust study in eighth grade. Now, I want to read the rest of the trilogy, after I re-read this one.

A Child Called “It” (1995)

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I was probably a bit too young to read this when I did (Middle school, I think), but it left a profound impact on me. I had legitimate nightmares and crying spells for weeks.

The Freedom Writers Diary (1999)

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This is one of those rare instances where I saw the movie adaptation, several times, before reading the book. I first read the book through one of the libraries, whether it was in Chesapeake or Farmville. I now have my own copy. I’m grateful for teachers like Erin Gruwell.

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (2002)

Nickel and Dimed

This was one of the first books I was assigned when I started at Longwood in the fall of 2007. It left a profound impact on me. I’ve read it several times since then. Ehrenreich is now one of my favorite writers.

In Cold Blood (1965)

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I read this somewhere between high school and college. Capote was an incredible writer.

The Last Lecture (2008)

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I first heard about this book from one of my professors, Jeff Halliday. It’s one of the most moving, powerful books I have ever read. I believe everyone should read this book at some point in their lives. Also, if you haven’t seen Randy Pausch on YouTube, I highly recommend it. It’s powerful stuff.

Tough Choices: A Memoir (2006)

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I read this when I was in college. I found it at the library. Fiorina is an impressive woman!

Columbine (2009)

I learned about this book when the author, Dave Cullen, was a guest lecturer at Longwood in 2009. I had the pleasure of interviewing him for The Rotunda. It’s a tough book to read, but a good one.

The Glass Castle (2006)

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I first stumbled upon this book when I was in my junior or senior year at Longwood. This is another book, a memoir, that everyone should read.

Tornado Warning: A Memoir of Teen Dating Violence and Its Effect on A Woman’s Life (2011)

Image Credit: www.shapingyouth.org

This is another book that I think many should read, both men and women. And, I’m glad I’ve re-read it a couple of times.

If I Am Missing or Dead: A Sister’s Story of Love, Murder, and Liberation (2007)

If I Am Missing Or Dead

This is another book that came into my life at the perfect time, in February 2016. I’ll never forget reading it, late at night, in the early months of being married to Al, grateful that I was able to escape. Thanks to my good friend, Mike H., I learned about Janine and her incredible story. This is another book I think many others should read.

Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood (2005)

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I found this book at a thrift store at the perfect time, about 12 years ago. It’s a compelling account of how alcohol can affect someone so early. I think I need to re-read this. I first wrote my book review in 2016!

The Unknown and Impossible: How a Research Facility in Virginia Mastered the Air and Conquered Space (2017)

The Unknown and Impossible

Remember Mike H. from earlier? He’s now a published author. I loved reading this compelling 100-year history of NASA!

Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond (2012)

Grace and Grit - Amazon

I learned about this book through my church bulletin, as one of the women’s circles was reading it for discussion. I’m so glad I found out about this book. Lilly Ledbetter has had an incredible life, and wanted to fight for what’s right.

Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide (2017)

Girls Auto Clinic - Amazon

Patrice Banks is a bad-ass! This was another author interview on Fresh Air. This is a must-have for every glove box!

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (2016)

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Matthew Desmond was interviewed on Fresh Air, discussing the book and his ongoing project on evictions and the database he has been building. Like Ehrenreich, Desmond is a true ethnographer, and I can’t wait to read more from him.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (2010)

Unbroken A World War II Story of Survival Resilience and Redemption

I’m glad I received this book through a book swap. Hillenbrand is a remarkable writer. This is not my most favorite non-fiction book in the world, but Louie Zamperini’s story is incredible and important.


Want to Read

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010)

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I’ve been wanting to read this for years.

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (1997)

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I took a Linguistics course at Longwood. We read a different book by Bryson, and I really enjoyed it. I’ve always been fascinated by the Appalachian Trail, so I think this book would be great.

Hidden Figures (2016)

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I’ve wanted to read the book since the movie adaptation was released. The movie is excellent, so I’m pretty the book is pretty terrific, too.

Educated (2018)

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Tara Westover’s interview on NPR’s Fresh Air was one of the most riveting podcast episodes I’ve listened to. I hope to read this before the end of 2019.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (2016)

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I’ve been curious about this memoir since hearing the author’s interview on NPR’s Fresh Air.

Parkland: Birth of a Movement (2019)

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I’m not ready to read this yet, but just knowing that Cullen wrote it is enough to put it on my list.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (2012)

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Granted, I didn’t hear about this book until the movie adaptation with Reese Witherspoon was announced, but it peaked my interest.


 

8 thoughts on “Commentary #95: “Non-Fiction That Changed My Life”

  1. A Walk In The Woods looks awesome!

  2. This is such a great list. Some of these books are very hard to read, I imagine. This title alone – “A Child Called “It” makes me want to cry. I am pleased to see the inclusion of “Hillbilly Elegy”. It is on my TBR list for September.

    • Thank you! Yes, “A Child Called ‘It’” was definitely a Challenge. I’m hoping to read “Hillbilly Elegy” by the end of the year. Thanks for reading, and commenting, Diana!

  3. This is a great idea for a series and discussion. Lessing’s The Golden Notebook comes to mind for me.

  4. I thought Night and Columbine were both well written and very emotional. I read Smashed a couple of years ago and it was really eye opening. Great post!

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