I am back this week with my favorite non-fiction reads of 2023. Now, it’s important to note, that I am a late bloomer when it comes to reading non-fiction on a regular basis, but these last 3-5 years I have found myself intrigued by quite a few books, leaned into reading them and now get great recommendations from non-fiction lovers all the time. Not to brag or anything, but 28% of those 111 books I read in 2023 were non-fiction. They truly are an amazing genre that helps me to keep learning and diving deeper into people, places and times that I wouldn’t necessarily consider. So without further ado, let’s get to my top five!
Starting at #5 we have “Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution” by Cat Bohannon. I LOVED this book, but I am placing it at #5 because it is not necessarily for everyone. It is a bit of a tome, coming in at over 437 pages as well as it dives deep into the science of evolution. I listened to the audio version, which I highly recommend. It is a fascinating revelation about human evolution through the literal bodies of the women who carry, bear and raise children.
At #4, we go back to the beginning of 2023 and my season of “garden” reading. Throughout the Spring I had an odd fascination with farming and gardening books of all genres but the one that has stuck with me is Natalie Baszile’s “We Are Each Other’s Harvest: Celebrating African American Farmers Land and Legacy.” A wide and deep dive into the historical and current farmers of color who are all too often erased in the world of agriculture.
Number 3 is a book for anyone in the nonprofit world, or for anyone who has ever wondered why, with so much money in philanthropy, the world remains “unfixed.” Originally a recommendation from a dear friend, this book broke open my own culpability in the charade of social change. It is hard to excavate deeply held understandings of our world and how to fix it, but if you are ready for an eye opener this book is an excellent guide.
At #2 we have “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers” by Mary Roach. This was the first Roach book I have read and Haddi had chosen it for our bookclub. Not a book any of us thought we would enjoy, but we were ALL surprised by the humor and authenticity Roach used to approach her research and what does happen to the human body after death, particularly those used for science. An accessible read on a subject all of us will have to consider eventually for our loved ones and ourselves.
And at the coveted #1 spot we have “The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women” by Kate Moore. For me this book ranks at the top for 2023 because I honestly believe anyone could and everyone should read this bit of American history. Kate Moore does a fantastic job telling these stories with grace, interest, intrigue and humanity revealing how much they influenced work safety of the following century. If you don’t read a lot of non-fiction this is the place to start.