2019 In Review: My Favorite Nonfiction

With 2020 mere days away, I need to finally announce my favorite nonfiction books of 2019. I read some great nonfiction books this year, all but one courtesy of the public library. I’d like to limit my list to just 10, but I just can’t. So here’s 12 books in no particular order of preference I have no problems whatsoever recommending.

  1. A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown by Julia Scheeres
  2. If All the Seas Were Ink by Ilana Kurshan
  3. The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World by Catherine Nixey
  4. The Global Age: Europe 1950-2017 by Ian Kershaw
  5. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance
  6. Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich
  7. The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss
  8. The Library Book by Susan Orlean
  9. 1924: The Year That Made Hitler by Peter Ross Range
  10. In the Darkroom by Susan Faludi
  11. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
  12. Educated by Tara Westover

Sadly, I haven’t been able to review all the books on this list but hopefully I can post the rest in the next few weeks or so. This year, proclaiming an overall winner has been agonizingly difficult. After much consideration I’m going to go with Svetlana Alexievich’s Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets.

Add to this list a slew of honorable mentions like T. J. English’s Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It to the Revolution, Ken Silverstein’s The Radioactive Boy Scout: The True Story of a Boy and His Backyard Nuclear Reactor and Nathan Miller’s New World Coming : The 1920s and the Making of Modern America and the more I think about it, 2019 was a pretty decent year for nonfiction.

9 thoughts on “2019 In Review: My Favorite Nonfiction

  1. I’ve only read Hillbilly Elegy and Educated from your list, but the others sound interesting. I was left wanting a bit more from Hillbilly, but Educated was one of my favorites when I read it.


  2. This is the greatest possible list for me because I have only read one of them (Hillbilly Elegy) so I can just add all the rest straight onto my reading list! A couple are already there (1924, The Library Book, and Secondhand Time) but I’m excited to learn more about the others.


  3. I loved The Library Book! I also found Educated and Hillbilly Elegy fascinating reads. I bet the Alexandre Dumas book is also really interesting. I hadn’t heard of the Jonestown book but I do want to read Jacqueline Speier’s memoir about Jonestown so that’s another one to check out. Thanks for the recommendations!


  4. Pingback: Soviet Spotlight: Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich | Maphead's Book Blog

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