Nonfiction Book Recommendations

I'm taking part in Nonfiction November this month and I thought "Why don't I recommend some of my favorite nonfiction books?" So that is what this is. My list consists of lots of memoirs and some self-improvement books. I hope you are able to find some good books that you think you'll enjoy on here. I'd love to have some recommendations myself if you know of any books similar to my favorites below.

Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong.

Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it. Their superhuman talent is matched by uncanny health and serenity, leaving the Tarahumara immune to the diseases and strife that plague modern existence. With the help of Caballo Blanco, a mysterious loner who lives among the tribe, the author was able not only to uncover the secrets of the Tarahumara but also to find his own inner ultra-athlete, as he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a fifty-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of Americans, including a star ultramarathoner, a beautiful young surfer, and a barefoot wonder.

With a sharp wit and wild exuberance, McDougall takes us from the high-tech science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultrarunners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to the climactic race in the Copper Canyons. Born to Run is that rare book that will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that the secret to happiness is right at your feet, and that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.

This was a pivotal book for me. I fell in love with running in High School. And this made me love it all that more. If you are interested in running or love it this one is a must. It discusses modern ultrarunners and this tribe in Mexico where running is their way of life. This kept me so interested and engaged in the author's experience because it was rooted in something I was falling in love with. If running is that for you, then read this one as soon as possible!

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.

Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
This is an obvious recommendation but if you haven't read Wild yet, you should take the plunge because it is so so good. What I love about Wild is that she takes this impulse that leads her into nature that leads her to reflect that leads her into realizing how strong she is. I love books where the person reflects on their life and I love anything to do with nature so if that sounds like you too pick this one up.

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.
I love making lists and goals. I love self-help books and The Happiness Project was my first one. This is a year in which I think almost everyone has had to take a step back and focus on what really matters. I know this one gets criticism that Rubin is wealthy so how can she even want to d a Happiness Project, but that's not what I took away from it. It's slowly building up good habits that will make your life feel fuller and her year-long journey fuels that self-improvement, goal-oriented person in me.

Electronic and dancing violinist Lindsey Stirling shares her unconventional journey in an inspiring memoir filled with the energy, persistence, and humor that have helped her successfully pursue a passion outside the box.

A classically trained musician gone rogue, Lindsey Stirling is the epitome of independent, millennial-defined success: after being voted off the set of America’s Got Talent, she went on to amass more than ten million social media fans, record two full-length albums, release multiple hits with billions of YouTube views, and tour sold-out venues across the world.

Lindsey is not afraid to be herself. In fact, it’s her confidence and individuality that have propelled her into the spotlight. But the road hasn’t been easy. After being rejected by talent scouts, music reps, and eventually national television, Lindsey forged her own path, step by step. Here, for the first time, she shares every triumph and trial she has faced until now. Beginning in a humble yet charmed childhood, this book follows Lindsey through a humorous adolescence, to her life as a struggling musician, through her personal struggles with anorexia, and finally all the way to her success as a world-class entertainer. Lindsey’s magnetizing story is at once remarkable and universal—a testimony that there is no singular recipe for success. And a witness that, despite what people may say, sometimes it’s okay to be The Only Pirate at the Party.
This is where my recommendations divulge in my random person memoir interests. I like picking up random memoirs by non-mainstream personalities like I won't pick a book about an extremely popular singer. But I will pick up one about a niche dancing violinist who I once saw in a cool music video. Lindsey Stirling is her own person and owns that. What I got from her book was that she was an extremely kind, authentic, and hardworking person. Exactly the kind of person I want to be reading about. This one will surprise you but if you enjoy memoirs like I do, I think you'll enjoy this one.

From beloved WWE champion AJ Mendez Brooks comes a raw and inspirational memoir about how her greatest weakness became the very means for her success, in the ring and in life.

Recently retired WWE superstar AJ Brooks is a powerhouse strong, quirky, and totally confident. But that wasn't always the case. Growing up, AJ was a quiet girl trying to act normal when she felt anything but. As her family struggled with drug addiction, poverty, and mental illness, she found escape through comic books and video games, inspired by the tough and unconventional female characters. It wasn't until she discovered the WWE that she learned superheroes could be real.

Determined to become the superhero she'd always needed, AJ trained and sacrificed for years to finally achieve her dream. Yet, she quickly faced industry pressure to play the role of the damsel in distress and dress more provocatively to cater to male fans. But she fought back and created an ass-kicking alter ego that was a genuine representation of herself: nerdy, enthusiastic, and a little bit crazy.

With humor and tremendous heart, AJ opens up for the first time about her harrowing struggle to understand her demons and gain control over her life. What most people view as a hardship, AJ embraced as inspiration for her superhero persona.

Charting her journey from a scrappy girl in an unstable home to empowered WWE champion, Crazy Is My Superpower is an unflinchingly honest and bravely confessional story about the long road to self-acceptance.
I watched wrestling as a teenager and I'll still watch it now. I never knew of AJ before this book. I was just looking for something to read and the cover grabbed me. I was a bit unprepared for this one. I will warn you that there is a disturbing moment in here with what I consider sexual abuse. Otherwise, AJ's story involves her career as a wrestler in a time where women weren't seen as marketable as men. She also shows her struggles with her and her mother's mental health issues. If you are up for an emotional and inspiring ride, I'd recommend AJ's story.

From online entertainment mogul, actress, and “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, a funny, quirky, and inspiring memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to Internet-stardom, and embracing her individuality to find success in Hollywood.

The Internet isn’t all cat videos. There’s also Felicia Day—violinist, filmmaker, Internet entrepreneur, compulsive gamer, hoagie specialist, and former lonely homeschooled girl who overcame her isolated childhood to become the ruler of a new world... or at least semi-influential in the world of Internet Geeks and Goodreads book clubs.

After growing up in the south where she was "home-schooled for hippie reasons", Felicia moved to Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming an actress and was immediately typecast as a crazy cat-lady secretary. But Felicia’s misadventures in Hollywood led her to produce her own web series, own her own production company, and become an Internet star.

Felicia’s short-ish life and her rags-to-riches rise to Internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Now, Felicia’s strange world is filled with thoughts on creativity, video games, and a dash of mild feminist activism—just like her memoir.

Hilarious and inspirational, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is proof that everyone should embrace what makes them different and be brave enough to share it with the world, because anything is possible now—even for a digital misfit.

I loved Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, if you haven't seen it has a villain narrating his life and it's a musical. Brilliant. Felicia Day was first introduced to me on there. And then over the years, I have seen her crop up on some of my favorite shows. I didn't really like her in those. She seemed out of place. But, I get her now and think she's pretty amazing now. She took her personality and her love for all things nerdy to build a life based on creativity and passion. She's a great role model for nerdy girls too. Highly recommend the audiobook as well because she narrates it.

A touchingly honest, candidly hysterical memoir from breakout teen author Maya Van Wagenen.

Stuck at the bottom of the social ladder at pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren’t paid to be here,” Maya Van Wagenen decided to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell. Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline, and a strand of pearls help Maya on her quest to be popular?

The real-life results are painful, funny, and include a wonderful and unexpected surprise—meeting and befriending Betty Cornell herself. Told with humor and grace, Maya’s journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence.
This is one I found out about after I had to read YA books for a class. I'd never read a teen memoir before but I stumbled upon this one which was perfect. I love vintage fashion especially the 50's. This experiment Maya goes on was so much fun. I love what Maya learns about herself and how she develops a self-care routine basically for herself. This also dives into popularity and how people are just people. You can be friends with anyone. You never know if someone shares your interests.

For David Goggins, childhood was a nightmare — poverty, prejudice, and physical abuse colored his days and haunted his nights. But through self-discipline, mental toughness, and hard work, Goggins transformed himself from a depressed, overweight young man with no future into a U.S. Armed Forces icon and one of the world's top endurance athletes. The only man in history to complete elite training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller, he went on to set records in numerous endurance events, inspiring Outside magazine to name him “The Fittest (Real) Man in America.”

In Can't Hurt Me, he shares his astonishing life story and reveals that most of us tap into only 40% of our capabilities. Goggins calls this The 40% Rule, and his story illuminates a path that anyone can follow to push past pain, demolish fear, and reach their full potential.
David Goggins is a former NAVY SEAL whose also an ultrarunner. He didn't have a good childhood and at a point in his life wasn't going anywhere. He completed changed his life around. His passion for running is extremely inspiring as well as his passion for life. What really got me into wanting to read his book was all his speeches on Youtube. A particular thing he says that I love is that when he dies and meets God he wants Him to be surprised by all that he has accomplished. I love that. That's something I never thought about but want to do now. Deeply inspirational and just the kick you need to go for whatever you want to go for in your short life on Earth.

Understanding someone who belongs to another species can be transformative. No one knows this better than author, naturalist, and adventurer Sy Montgomery. To research her books, Sy has traveled the world and encountered some of the planet's rarest and most beautiful animals. From tarantulas to tigers, Sy's life continually intersects with and is informed by the creatures she meets.

This restorative memoir reflects on the personalities and quirks of thirteen animals--Sy's friends--and the truths revealed by their grace. It also explores vast themes: the otherness and sameness of people and animals; the various ways we learn to love and become empathetic; how we find our passion; how we create our families; coping with loss and despair; gratitude; forgiveness; and most of all, how to be a good creature in the world.
If you are looking to cry about animals, here you go. Sy Montgomery was basically born to work with animals. It was interesting to see that apparent from the early stages of her life. It's like with me and books. It's just something enate in you that's always there or is waiting to be brought out. This was such a comfort read but also very emotional. If you like the premise, I think you'll like the stories within these pages.

No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving--every day. James Clear, one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

If you're having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn't you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don't want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you'll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.
Atomic Habits had me going uh, huh, hmm..,  and nodding along throughout my listening experience. This is a hyper me nonfiction book since I love self-improvement. It's definitely one I want to reread and work through. It's basically about how small behaviors can help you form good habits. Very recommended and one I plan to explore again in the future.

Have you read any of these books? 

What type of nonfiction books do you enjoy reading?


  1. I enjoyed Felicia Day's book - I didn't know a lot about her before I read it, so I was glad to get to know her better.

    1. I've never met anyone whose read her book too. Her memoir is so much more fascinating than I expected.


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