Image from Pexels

Image from Pexels

You know the novels that The Prospect staff swoons over. You know why you should be reading nonfiction books. But which nonfiction books should you be reading? Fear not. The staff is back with 14 totally truthful books that you absolutely MUST add to your summer reading list.

1. Teen Angst?…Nah by Ned Vizzini

I admittedly have not read as many nonfiction books as I should have (including my old AP Chem textbook…whoops), but of the ones I have read, this is my absolute favorite. Vizzini actually wrote this memoir when he was 19 which is really impressive considering how insightful and wise it is. The stories are totally relatable and none of the segments overstay their welcome. It made me feel less alone when I read it. 

Image from Erin Podolak.

Image from Erin Podolak.

2. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. 

Eggers’ surprisingly funny, clever, and generally quirky memoir follows him beginning in his college years when he suddenly inherited the upbringing of his eight-year-old brother following the deaths of his parents. The anecdotes from the years that pass build a fantastic novel about keeping a broken family together and surviving unfortunate circumstances with optimism and humor,” is how Barclay Sparrows describes this gem. 

3. Napoleon’s Buttons by Penny Le Couteur

Science buff Jasmine Mahli recommends this easy read that explains the role chemistry has played in history. “This book explains that, from Napoleon’s failed conquest of Russia to the opiates that obsessed China with morphine and the ones that drove Great Britain to conquer India. This conversational book is the perfect combination of chemistry, history, and humor and I definitely recommend it!” she says. 

4. South of Heaven by Thomas French

“The author follows around students, teachers and administrators at a high school for an entire year,” Kayla Williamson explains. “Although a decade old, it still relates to students now. The dedication it took to detail everything into an actual story is astounding.”

5. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Warning: this book might make you reevaluate your entire life. It gives an inside look about where our dairy and meat products actually come from, and you may very well be shocked. If you read about Upton Sinclaire’s The Jungle in your APUSH class, then you have a bit of an idea about what this book is like. Jasmine Russell thinks it is a super important read. “It’s about the culture of eating, factory farms, and it convinced me to go vegetarian (vegan soon)!”

6. A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity by Bill O’Reilly 

Cynthia Aquino had no idea who the famous Republican radio talk show host was when she picked this one up, and thus was able to read it with unbiased eyes. “It’s a biography of his life, and he showed how and why his principles and belief in life were built.  The way he laid out his points were intricate and spoke to me [so much] that I adapted some of his beliefs in my life too. But not all–there were things I didn’t agree too which made it much more interesting for me,” she says. Just goes to show you really can’t judge a book by it’s cover!

Image from Better World Books.

Image from Better World Books.

7. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?  by Beverly Daniel Tatum

“It’s an anthropological/sociological book giving examining why members of a minority tend to stick together and how to address conversations about race in general,” Alicia Lalicon explains. “It was really insightful and eye-opening. I could relate to it as a minority with mostly similar race friends.” 

8. One-Dimensional Man by Herbert Marcuse 

Eric Aldieri recommends this book, written in the 1960’s just after the Red Scare, saying that “Marcuse examines the role of automation and technology in totalitarian forms of government–both capitalist and communist. This is the most intriguing and relevant critique on modern man and society I have read.”

9. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

If you are ever feeling like volunteering at the soup kitchen makes no difference or that your small contribution to Relay for Life means nothing, reading this book will help you to understand how important every contribution is. “While I personally don’t agree with all of the author’s ideas, I had to read this book for a class I took and it made me think about service work in a different way.  It’s really helpful if you feel like you might never make a difference in the world on your own,” says Patricia Johnson. 

10. A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn 

A quick flip through any history book will tell you that history is always told from the winner’s point of view, but this piece takes a different perspective. Joe Gu describes it as the retelling of historical American events through the eyes of the losers. “It really helped me [gain a new] perspective and it’s a fantastic read!”

11. The Click Moment by Frans Johansson 

Kelly Chan’s book of the moment is a study on how randomness is essentially taking over the world. Random ideas are constantly popping into people’s heads, and occasionally they turn into ground breaking, earth shattering ideas. “It’s a book discussing the power of randomness, and how to work so that you have better luck! Johansson’s tips and stories are very motivating, and they show me that even the smallest thing I do is a step towards my success,” Kelly explains. 

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Image from Good Reads.


12. The Chicken Soup for the Soul series

This collection offers a book for every age, perspective, and culture. Each volume is a anthology of stories, divided into chapters based on subject. They are emotional and inspiring and something in there will always get you a little teary-eyed. “Whichever one I read, there’s always a story that hits beautifully close to home and reminds readers that they are never alone in whatever they face,” Lauren Collier tells. 

13. Blessing The Hands That Feed Us by Vicki Robin

“This book will inspire you to drop everything you’re doing and go be an organic farmer,” Elizabeth Winters promises. “Robin details her foray in the world of local eating-adopting a “locavore” diet. She documents her discovery of how food and agriculture bind a community together, creating healthier individuals and relationships while maintaining the integrity of the earth. I highly recommend it as a thought provoking, splendidly written read perfect for anyone who enjoys the act of eating.”

There you have it, prospies! Did we forget a book you absolutely love? Comment below and let us know what you think!



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the author

Kathleen is a Northern California native and incoming freshman at Washington & Lee University. She spends much of her free time obsessing over the future (not in a crystal ball way) and making plans to visit as many countries as humanly possible throughout her four years of college. She loves her dog Morton, Grey's Anatomy, and money. One day she hopes to become the perfect mix of Cristina Yang, Mindy Kaling, April Kepner, and Amy Poehler. Until then you can find her crying over how exciting life is and retaking the Myer's Briggs Test to make sure she really is ENTJ.

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