My Favorite Nonfiction Books of 2018

I love putting together a list of my favorite books for the year. This year I read 103 books, counting both print and audio (although not counting my rereads, which will be in a separate post). For some reason, I didn't read that many great fiction books. However, this was a great year for nonfiction. There were so many titles I LOVED and still think about all the time.

Just my cute kids and some books they love

In no particular order, here are my favorite nonfiction titles I read this year:

1. Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan
I've enjoyed all of Corrigan's books and I think this one is her best yet. She titles each chapter with something she has learned to say- so the first one is "tell me more" and the others include "say no" and "say yes". I love how she analyzes her experiences and talks about losing loved ones, parenting, and marriage.

2. A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal by Ben MacIntyre
Double agents are such an interesting topic and this book does an excellent job of telling about Kim Philby, who was a British secret agent from the 1930s to the 1960s. However, it came out that he had been feeding information to the Soviet government for that entire time. It was so well-done and I've recommended it over and over again.

3. The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin by Masha Gessen
Russia in general and Putin in particular are so fascinating to me, and I feel like I never get more than the tip of the iceberg in terms of what I can learn. But Gessen's book lays out Putin's background and how he came to power, and then details how he's consolidated that power. It was published in 2013, so it obviously is not up to date with all the recent controversies, but I still feel incredibly knowledgeable about Putin after reading this book.

4. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
This is a book that I still think about all the time. Desmond spent more than a year in Milwaukee embedding himself in the lives of people were trying to find housing despite rising rents and multiple evictions. It helped me understand the need for affordable housing and really humanized the whole issue. If I had to pick a favorite from this list, it would be Evicted.

5. I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O'Farrell
In this memoir, O'Farrell takes us through seventeen brushes with death. Some are serious and others are less so, and all paint an interesting picture of her life. I loved the way she used these experiences to talk about life and death and her personal philosophies.

7. Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones
For years I've been hearing about the opiate epidemic but I never understood the backstory or scope. This book changed all that and provides a thorough tutorial in how we arrived at the national crisis that we are at today. It is highly recommended for anyone with even a cursory interest in the subject.

8. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
A case study of culture clash over Western medicine, I loved this book about a Hmong girl in California. It was fascinating to read about the Hmong culture and history juxtaposed with medical situations.

9. Heating and Cooling by Beth Ann Fennelly
I finished this memoir in a day. It's extremely compact, with 52 mini-essays about her life. Each one is powerful and thought-provoking and have stayed with me ever since.

10. Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle Easby Scott Anderson
World War I is not nearly as much on my radar as other historical time periods, but I heard this one recommended on a podcast and was hooked. It's all about T.E. Lawrence and the role in played in the Middle East during the First World War, and how the events there have shaped that region to this day.

And, for some bonus picks, here are two fiction books I read this year and loved:
1. Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge
2. Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen

P.S. Here are my favorite books from 2017 and 2016. I still stand by all of them!


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