2017’s Award-Winning Journalism

Review: The Best American Magazine Writing 2017 Amazon / Book Depository Sid Holt compiles this year's Best American Magazine Writing for the American Society of Magazine Editors. For anyone who loves topical, well-written and affecting long-form journalism, this year's collection of award-winners and finalists is excellent. It should come as no surprise that the selections swerve heavily... Continue Reading →

Nonfiction Favorites for #NonfictionNovember

It's #NonfictionNovember this month, with different sites hosting different topics each week to post about, all celebrating and exploring great nonfiction. I considered participating earlier, but it's always nonfiction day/week/month in my life and it was easier to just write reviews as usual instead of thinking about topics or lists. I'm lazy at the moment.... Continue Reading →

Midyear Recap (…A Little Late)

I wasn't planning to do a midyear best-of list, and July is already half gone, so...well past the halfway mark. But realizing how many truly excellent nonfiction titles have come out already this year, I thought a year-end recap would be way too long if I didn't collect some standouts from the year's beginning! And... Continue Reading →

Outsiders Bearing Witness to Revolution

Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd, Russia, 1917 - A World on the Edge by Helen Rappaport (Amazon / Book Depository) Helen Rappaport, author of 2014's popular history The Romanov Sisters, among other titles on history and royals both Russian and otherwise, explains in her acknowledgments for Caught in the Revolution that while working as a historian she... Continue Reading →

We’re All Done Here, 2016

As the year closes, I want to sincerely thank everyone who reads and follows What's Nonfiction. I've loved sharing my thoughts on books and stories, new and old, hearing your opinions, and following your own writings and art. I hope the next year continues to bring connections with bloggers and readers. One of the best parts of reading... Continue Reading →

Children of the Cult

Book review: The Sound of Gravel, by Ruth Wariner (Amazon / Book Depository) After reading and watching Going Clear last year, Lawrence Wright's detailed expose on Scientology, I've been fixated on reading about extremist religions, especially those verging on the cultish. Seeing Bill Maher's documentary Religulous around the same time further fueled this: I loved seeing him use his trademark cynicism coupled... Continue Reading →

On Long Island, Victims Are a Long Time Lost

Book review: Lost Girls, by Robert Kolker (Amazon / Book Depository) In the early morning hours of May 1, 2010, Shannan Gilbert, who was working as an escort, took off running into the dark marshland of Oak Beach, a private residential community in Suffolk County, Long Island where she'd had a professional date. Her disappearance was the catalyst for the... Continue Reading →

Biography of a Hospital

Book review: Bellevue, by David Oshinsky (Amazon / Book Depository) Pulitzer-prize winning journalist David Oshinsky writes a comprehensive, readable history of New York City's legendary public hospital, which along the way becomes a slice of social history of the city itself and an outline of the development of American medical practices as well. The name alone... Continue Reading →

100 Years Ago, We Became Afraid of Sharks

Book review: Close to Shore, by Michael Capuzzo (Amazon / Book Depository) This is a narrative nonfiction account of the infamous Jersey Shore shark attacks of the summer of 1916, which supposedly influenced Peter Benchley in writing Jaws. There are some recognizable similarities, and I actually love Jaws (yeah, I've only seen the movie), but honestly - I think I would've... Continue Reading →

The Darkness of Someone Else’s Past

Book review: I Will Find You, by Joanna Connors (Amazon / Book Depository) Journalist Joanna Connors is unbelievably brave, whether she admits it or not. She denies it in her memoir, I Will Find You, but everything she does proves otherwise. At age 30, Connors was raped by a man hanging out in an empty theater where she showed... Continue Reading →

Appalachia and the American Dream

Book review: Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance (Amazon / Book Depository) Hillbilly Elegy is the memoir of a still-young man looking back at his childhood and his family's migration from impoverished, seemingly hopeless Kentucky to a moderately more hopeful Ohio. But like the old Russian adage that if you try to drink your troubles away,... Continue Reading →

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