PUBLISHED AUG 14, 2019

Best Non-Fiction Books for Keeping It Real

Reads for Keeping It Real

These memoirs and non-fiction picks will fill your 'stranger than fiction' fix.

"Dear Girls" by Ali Wong
"Dear Girls" by Ali Wong

Netflix comedy special(s)? Check. Write, star, and produce her own rom-com? Check. Author? Check. Ali Wong is out with her first book—a collection of essays written to her daughters. It covers everything from motherhood to making it in the comedy world. Warning: you'll laugh in public while reading.

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"The Line Becomes a River" by Francisco Cantú
"The Line Becomes a River" by Francisco Cantú

This is the non-fiction story of a man who joins the US Border Patrol to better understand the place he grew up (the Southwest US border). It's equal parts personal reflection and timely meditation on a topic you're hearing a lot about: immigration.

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"Trick Mirror" by Jia Tolentino
"Trick Mirror" by Jia Tolentino

Meet New Yorker staff writer Jia Tolentino. She's described as "what Susan Sontag would have been like if she had brain damage from the internet” and this collection of essays will have you down an Internet rabbit hole. She dissects everything from self delusion, the cult of Sweetgreen, marriage, reality TV, and more. Trick (mirror) and treat yourself to this one.

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"The Yellow House" by Sarah M. Broom
"The Yellow House" by Sarah M. Broom

This memoir is an intimate retelling of her family story—one affected by Hurricane Katrina. Her family's, yup, yellow house serves as a physical symbol of her family, but also a metaphorical symbol of New Orleans, family, race, and inequality.

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"Inconspicuous Consumption" by Tatiana Schlossberg
"Inconspicuous Consumption" by Tatiana Schlossberg

This one examines how our everyday lives—from what we wear to the food we eat—impacts the environment. It's divided into four main parts: technology, food production, fuel and fashion. Oh and did we mention Schlossberg is JFK’s granddaughter? A former NYTimes science reporter too. 

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This Will Only Hurt a Little
"This Will Only Hurt a Little" by Busy Philipps

You guys. Busy Philipps has a memoir. The "Dawson's Creek" alum and everyone's favorite Instagram follow gets into everything from what it's like being a woman in Hollywood to her friendship with Michelle Williams to dealing with postpartum anxiety. Spoiler: she's not afraid to call people out along the way. Get busy.

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Educated
"Educated" by Tara Westover

This book is a memoir about a young woman from a survivalist family in Idaho. She doesn't set foot in a classroom until she's 17. But eventually winds up at one of the best colleges in the world.

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We're Going to Need More Wine
"We're Going to Need More Wine" by Gabrielle Union

Gabrielle Union is here. Tuck into her collection of essays. She tackles what it's like to be a woman in Hollywood, working with Heath Ledger, supporting an ex that doesn't deserve her, and much more.

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When Breath Becomes Air
"When Breath Becomes Air" by Paul Kalanithi

A 36-year-old neurosurgeon gets diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. Turns out, the surgeon is also a brilliant writer who will make you cry in public. This book, published posthumously, will make sure you don’t take your health for granted. Just in time for our New Year, Healthy(ish) You week.

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Grit
"Grit" by Angela Duckworth

If you've ever wanted to know what makes people succeed, this is the book for you. Spoiler: it's not talent. There's research, analysis, and reflection from famous psychologist Angela Duckworth. Perfect for a career slump or the next time you need some motivation.

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The Source of Self-Regard
"The Source of Self-Regard" by Toni Morrison

Fact: there can never be too many Toni Morrison books on your shelf. Her latest collection of essays, speeches, and reflections on money, race, female empowerment, and more was released earlier this week. Psst...it includes the Nobel lecture she delivered after becoming the first black author to win the award for literature. Cue the chills.

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March, Book Three
"March, Book 3" by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

Meet the graphic memoir trilogy you'll binge like your favorite TV show. It chronicles the life of Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. In 2016, the third book of the series became the first graphic novel to win a National Book Award. NBD.

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How To Skimm Your Life
"How to Skimm Your Life" by theSkimm

Want to own every aspect of your life? Meet your manual. Our book has tips on everything from going green, to investing your cash money, picking out the right bottle of wine, and more. Plus, it includes advice we've received from inspirational women.

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Life Will Be the Death of Me
"Life Will Be the Death of Me" by Chelsea Handler

Memoir alert. Memoir alert. Chelsea Handler’s back to drop some more of her truths. This one’s all about her year of reflection as she enters therapy, grapples with politics, and takes a stab at domestic life.

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The Honey Bus
"The Honey Bus" by Meredith May

This memoir goes down like honey. Because it's about beekeeping. Stick with us. When a young girl escapes a troubled childhood and goes to live with her unconventional grandfather, she learns a lot about how to take care of herself...and how to take care of bees.

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The Gifted School
"The Gifted School" by Bruce Holsinger

The novel that’s telling this year’s college admissions scandal 'hold my SAT score.' It’s about families in a fictional town in Colorado where everyone’s competing to get their kids into a new, exclusive magnet school. Think: “Big Little Lies” with a bit of introspection into the concept of privilege.

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My Friend Anna
"My Friend Anna" by Rachel DeLoache Williams

Last year, you might've read articles about Anna Delvey, aka the "Soho grifter." She conned people into thinking she was a German heiress with an unlimited bank account. In this book, one of her former friends gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the scam and how she got away with it...until she didn't. This one's nonfiction but feels too wild to be true.

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Hey Ladies!
"Hey Ladies!" by Caroline Moss & Michelle Markowitz

For when you go to a veryyy early viewing breakfast…Hey ladies. This book is all about women planning a bachelorette party via emails. Warning: will make you laugh out loud.

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What If This Were Enough?
"What If This Were Enough?" by Heather Havrilesky

Meet the collection of essays to kick off your 2019. Havrilesky writes the “Ask Polly” advice column for NYMag. This collection brings her same wit to problems you may face this year. Think self-help sans cheesy mantras.

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The Uninhabitable Earth
“The Uninhabitable Earth" by David Wallace-Wells

This is the real life version of “The Day After Tomorrow” meets “Silent Spring.” All about Global Warming and Climate Change. It’s based off of Wallace-Wells’ 2017 piece for New York Magazine. If you’re looking for a reason to start caring about the world, this one will do it for you.

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How to Do Nothing
“How To Do Nothing” by Jenny Odell

This is a poignant critique on the way we spend our time and where we devote our attention. Odell questions how we view productivity and what we’re missing out on as we fail to see the world around us. Doing nothing is hard and she makes the case for why doing nothing can be the best form of resistance. It’s smart, challenging and timely AF.

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Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls
“Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls” by T Kira Madden

In this book, Madden (niece of Steve) navigates the privilege of her upbringing while reckoning with her parents’ absence, alcohol addictions, and her own identity as a biracial queer teen.

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The Collected Schizophrenias
“The Collected Schizophrenias” by Esmé Weijun Wang

This read is a personal and nuanced collection of essays all about schizoaffective disorder, PTSD, and Lyme disease. Wang, who was a former lab researcher at Stanford, weaves her personal essays on diagnosis and psychosis, with notes on the medical industry and treatment practices. It’s eye-opening, honest, and a book you’ll want to share.

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An American Summer
“An American Summer” by Alex Kotlowitz

This read will reframe what you think you know about the city of Chicago and the people who live there. It’s a compressed look at one summer in Chicago and the gun violence, heartbreak, loss, and resilience that comes with it. This one’s nonfiction and will make you think… a lot. You might also need tissues. Crying is good for your head right?

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I Miss You When I Blink
"I Miss You When I Blink" by Laura Philpott

This read is what happens when you live life according to a piece of paper. It's a memoir about following the rules and what happens when you veer off track. Spoiler: happiness ahead.

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Rough Magic
“Rough Magic” Lara Prior-Palmer

Think: “Educated,” meets “Wild.” At age 19, Lara discovered the Mongol Derby—one of the toughest, longest horse races in the world. Most competitors spend years preparing and many don’t even finish. She joins in without any experience. Plot twist: she wins.

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Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
“Maybe You Should Talk to Someone" by Lori Gottlieb

This book takes place inside a therapist's office. Gottlieb is a psychotherapist in LA, and after a personal crisis throws her own world into a twist, she becomes a patient herself. Turns out, she has just as much to learn from the people she’s supposed to be helping. Oh and it’s also being turned into a TV show with Eva Longoria.

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PS: These are editorially selected, but if you purchase, theSkimm may get something in return. Thanks.

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