Summer Reading Challenge #1: Read a Nonfiction Book

By Ashley Rands, Marketing

First challenge for our summer reading program might seem unexciting in some circles. Nonfiction books stand as pillars of truth, knowledge, and enlightenment. They offer a glimpse into the vast expanse of human understanding, from scientific discoveries to historical events, from personal memoirs to philosophical inquiries. Unlike fiction, where the boundaries of reality blur into the realms of imagination, nonfiction books ground us in facts, experiences, and insights. If you’ve never read a nonfiction, now is your change to broaden your reading horizon. 

Nonfiction Reading Recommendations

Science and Nature 

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Dive into the depths of human history with Harari’s captivating narrative that spans thousands of years. From the emergence of Homo sapiens to the present day, this book offers profound insights into the evolution of human societies, cultures, and beliefs. It challenges conventional wisdom and prompts readers to reconsider their understanding of humanity’s journey.

The Visible Unseen by Andrea Chapela and Translated by Kelsi Vanada 

Andrea Chapela delves into light, mirrors, and glass in her newest essay compilation. She is an author and chemist. Leveraging scientific principles to shed light on complex notions of identity, narrative, and perspective. Expect a stimulating journey through the human psyche and the natural realm with her experimental essay forms, inviting you to ponder deeply on the mysteries of existence. This book also checks off another of our summer reading challenges since it was originally published in Spanish.

Memoir Recommendations

Educated by Tara Westover

Tara Westover’s memoir is a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Raised in a strict and isolated household in rural Idaho, Westover defied the odds to pursue education, eventually earning a PhD from Cambridge University. Her story is one of courage, self-discovery, and the transformative power of education.

Ducks by Kate Beaton

I held my breath through long chunks of this extraordinary book. Beaton’s account of her experience in the Alberta oil sands transcends mere memoir—it serves as a testament to the extremes of human nature, offering a nuanced portrayal of complexity. It captures the essence of a profoundly captivating yet perilous environment. Through a lens of compassion and subtlety, Beaton navigates the intricate webs of ecological devastation, labor injustices, sexual and gender-based violence, isolation, toxic masculinity, and financial despair. It is a work of beauty, humor, sorrow, and unfiltered truth.

History Recommendations

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

Wilkerson chronicles one of the most significant yet often overlooked movements in American history: the Great Migration. Through the stories of three individuals who embarked on different paths during this period, she sheds light on the social, economic, and cultural impact of African American migration from the South to the North and West.

The White Mosque by Sofia Samatar

For readers who appreciate nonfiction that defies traditional genres, this book is a must-read. In the 19th century, a community of Mennonites established a Christian settlement amidst the predominantly Muslim landscape of Central Asia. Fast forward to the 21st century, where Sofia Samatar, the daughter of a Swiss Mennonite and a Somali Muslim, embarks on a quest to retrace their path. Within these pages—part memoir, part history, and part travel narrative—she recounts her journey across Uzbekistan. It’s not just a quest for a nearly-forgotten piece of history but also a personal exploration of the narratives that shaped her life.

Psychology and Self-Help Recommendations 

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

In this timeless classic, Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist, reflects on his experiences in Nazi concentration camps and explores the importance of finding meaning in life, even in the most dire circumstances. His profound insights into human resilience and the pursuit of purpose continue to inspire readers worldwide.

10% Happier by Dan Harris

After having a nationally televised panic attack, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. The voice in his head, which pushes him to do more also caused his downfall. Eventually Harris found an effective way to rein in that voice. This book takes readers on a ride from the outer reaches of neuroscience to the inner sanctum of network news to the bizarre fringes of America’s spiritual scene, and leaves them with a takeaway that could actually change their lives.

Reinvent Yourself by James Altucher

Altucher has written a book that he wished he had at the beginning of his journey. He shares techniques, stories, and gives the ultimate guide to not only how but why it is critical for individuals to master the skills of reinvention. This book is a wonderful self-help book and is filled with lessons from around the globe.

Nonfiction books serve as windows into the past, mirrors reflecting our present realities, and compasses guiding us toward the future. Whether you seek to expand your knowledge, gain a deeper understanding of the world, or simply immerse yourself in compelling narratives, the world of nonfiction literature offers something for every curious mind. So, pick up a book, embark on a journey of discovery, and let the pages of nonfiction ignite your imagination and broaden your horizons.

Read a Nonfiction Book