I know, I know, we’re already into July – but there’s still plenty of summer left for reading! If you’re looking for some summer reading that will inform you and inspire you, but also entertain and captivate you, then this is a list for you! Here are nine of my favorite nonfiction books that you are sure to love!
9 Nonfiction Books for Your Summer Reading
- I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban – Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb
I Am Malala is the remarkable story of 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban because she fought for girls’ rights to education. This book was much more than just a girl’s memoir. I learned about life under Taliban rule, about how they came to power, about how dangerous education can be across the globe, and about the potential of one person to change the world. This is a must-read, and one I wish all American students would read to understand the privileges they have here.
- The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe – Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
This is another book that describes life for women under Taliban rule and the courageous women who refuse to give up. This is the inspiring story of Kamila Sidiqi, a young woman who, incredibly, creates a dressmaking business to provide an income for her family after her father and brothers are forced to flee. Her ingenuity, resourcefulness, and business acumen are impressive enough, but it’s even more amazing that she does it all in a land where women are completely isolated from society and have no basic human rights. Her story is absolutely amazing and one you won’t want to miss.
- The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America – Erik Larson
This is the first Erik Larson book I ever read, and it remains my favorite of his. Its gripping tale reads like a suspense novel, but it’s 100% true story. With his trademark storytelling skill, Larson weaves together the story of the 1893 World’s Fair (that almost wasn’t!) and the serial killer who used the fair to snare his victims. This book has all the history of nonfiction with the thrill of an enthralling novel. You won’t be disappointed.
- The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope – William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer
This is an absolutely incredible story about a boy from Malawi – a land stricken by drought and hunger – who, after reading about windmills in a library book, embarks on a quest to bring water and electricity to his family. Armed only with information from borrowed science textbooks, scrap materials, and his own ingenuity, William achieves what everyone said was impossible and saves his family. I love this story – partly because I’m a sucker for a good “saved by the library” story – but mostly because I love hearing about the power that individuals have to change their lives and the lives around them. This book can get a little dry in spots, but I promise the overall impact will be well worth it!
- Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President – Candice Millard
I read this one a couple years ago and was hooked right away on Candice Millard. Her other book, The River of Doubt, is also very good, and I hear she is coming out with a third one this September, which I am very excited about! This one, about the assassination of James Garfield, is my favorite of the two I’ve read. I couldn’t put it down! Before reading this book, I knew literally nothing about James Garfield – other than he was a U.S. president. After reading the book, I’m grieved at the loss of what could have been one of our nation’s greatest presidents. He was an extraordinary man, and it’s tragic that he could have survived had science and medicine been just a little more advanced. Learn about a forgotten chapter of U.S. history that you’ve probably never heard about with Destiny of the Republic.
- Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell is one of my all-time favorite authors, and if you’re not already familiar with his work, I would be thrilled to introduce you to him through my favorite of his, Outliers. In this book, Gladwell provides his answer to the question of why some people become great successes while others never reach their potential. He asserts that it has very little to do with who they are and much to do with where they’re from – their backgrounds, opportunities, and experiences. They rise to success, he says, due to their advantages, “some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky.” I love Malcolm Gladwell’s books because they are fascinating and insightful and lead you to look past the obvious and the readily-accepted and view cause and effect in a new way.
- Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything – Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner
Freakonomics is one of my absolute favorite books, and I also enjoyed the authors’ subsequent books, SuperFreakonomics and Think Like a Freak. I suppose I was drawn to this book because I was working on an economics degree at the time, but I know several non-economists who loved it, too! So don’t be thrown by the title! Economics is so much more than the finance-related matters that people typically think of when they hear the term, and this book shows that well. At its core, economics is simply the study of incentives and how people make decisions. This book delves into connections, comparisons, and conclusions that will cause you to question every obvious conclusion you’ve ever made and will teach you that there is a hidden side, and unintended consequence, to everything. This book is entertaining, insightful, and funny, and you don’t need a degree in economics to love it!
- The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World – A.J. Jacobs
I was gifted this book as a college graduation present from a friend after I told him that my goal in life was to learn “a little bit about everything.” It was perfect!
A.J. Jacobs is a journalist who has written a number of books chronicling his self-imposed lifestyle experiments. This particular one was his daunting challenge of reading all thirty-two volumes of the Encyclopaedia Brittannica. I assure you that, although it is filled with all kinds of strange, gross, and profound facts, it is far from boring! A.J. Jacobs is hilarious, and The Know-It-All is just as entertaining as it is informative.
- The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels–a Love Story – Ree Drummond
I will wrap up my list with a selection that is pure entertainment. I had been a fan of Ree Drummond, a.k.a The Pioneer Woman, for some time, but after reading her biography, I loved her even more! The way she tells the story of how she went from city girl to rancher’s wife is both humorous and endearing. Plus it has a true love story that’s just as juicy and sweet as any romance novel! If you’re looking for something a little lighter this summer that’s sure to delight, try The Pioneer Woman!
That should be enough to get you through the summer, and what you don’t finish this summer you can carry into fall! If you do try any of the titles on my list, be sure to let me know what you think! Leave a comment or send me an email through my contact form – I would love to hear from you!
Also, if you liked my list, you can easily share with your friends with one of my social share buttons! Sharing is caring!
For more book recommendations, check out the following posts:
- My Top 5 Favorite Books for Women
- Mother & Son: The Respect Effect
- A Real Mom’s Review: Hands Free Mama
- A Real Mom’s Review: The SuperMom Myth
- A Real Mom’s Review: Keep It Shut