approachable non-fiction to read if you’re new to the genre

Even though I’m a fiction girl through and through, I’ve recently discovered a love for non-fiction, especially memoirs and true crime.  I love the sense of authenticity and voice I find in non-fiction and love to learn something new as I’m reading.

Here are some of my favorite memoirs, essay collections, and biographies that you’ve GOT to read.

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On Writing: A Memoir by Stephen King

“’Long live the King’ hailed Entertainment Weekly upon the publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 — and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it — fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.” (from Goodreads)

My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams

“Vanity Fair photo editor Rachel DeLoache Williams’s new friend Anna Delvey, a self-proclaimed German heiress, was worldly and ambitious. She was also generous. When Anna proposed an all-expenses-paid trip to Marrakech, Rachel jumped at the chance. But when Anna’s credit cards mysteriously stopped working, the dream vacation quickly took a dark turn. Anna asked Rachel to begin fronting costs—first for flights, then meals and shopping, and, finally, for their $7,500-per-night private villa. Before Rachel knew it, more than $62,000 had been charged to her credit cards. Anna swore she would reimburse Rachel the moment they returned to New York.

Back in Manhattan, the repayment never materialized, and a shocking pattern of deception emerged. Rachel learned that Anna had left a trail of deceit—and unpaid bills—wherever she’d been. Mortified, Rachel contacted the district attorney, and in a stunning turn of events, found herself helping to bring down one of the city’s most notorious con artists.” (from Goodreads)

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro

“The author of Hourglass now gives us a new memoir about identity, paternity, and family secrets—a real-time In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. She woke up one morning and her entire history—the life she had lived—crumbled beneath her.

Inheritance is a book about secrets—secrets within families, kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love. It is the story of a woman’s urgent quest to unlock the story of her own identity, a story that has been scrupulously hidden from her for more than fifty years, years she had spent writing brilliantly, and compulsively, on themes of identity and family history. It is a book about the extraordinary moment we live in—a moment in which science and technology have outpaced not only medical ethics but also the capacities of the human heart to contend with the consequences of what we discover.” (from Goodreads)

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

“’An act of consummate literary bravery, a writer known for her clarity allowing us to watch her mind as it becomes clouded with grief.’

From one of America’s iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage–and a life, in good times and bad–that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child.

Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill with what seemed at first flu, then pneumonia, then complete septic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later–the night before New Year’s Eve–the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John Gregory Dunne suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of forty years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LAX, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Center to relieve a massive hematoma.

This powerful book is Didion’s attempt to make sense of the ‘weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness . . . about marriage and children and memory . . . about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself.’” (from Goodreads)

Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song by Sara Bareilles

“A candid and down-to-earth collection of essays by five-time, Grammy Award nominated singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, exploring her life in song; raw, evocative, and utterly unforgettable.

Sara Bareilles shot to fame in 2007 with her hit single; Love Song, and her more recent chart-topping hit; Brave, but her journal as a songwriter started long before. In this candid book of essays, Sara pulls back the curtain to expose her songwriting process, revealing all the struggle and joy inherent in creating great work while staying true to yourself.

Showcasing her stripped down and confessional writing style, Sara’s entertaining and inspirational book tells the inside stories behind her most popular songs and offers insights into finding balance between making art for herself and commercial music for her listeners.” (from Goodreads)

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

“Here, in one volume: Marjane Satrapi’s best-selling, internationally acclaimed graphic memoir.

Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.

Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom–Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.” (from Goodreads)

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-viewed TEDx talk of the same name—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun.

With humor and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences—in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad—offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike.

Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a bestselling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.” (from Goodreads)

Little Weirds by Jenny Slate

“Hello and welcome to my book. Inside you will find:

× The smell of honeysuckle
× Heartbreak
× A French-kissing rabbit
× A haunted house
× Death
× A vagina singing sad old songs
× Young geraniums in an ancient castle
× Birth
× A dog who appears in dreams as a spiritual guide
× Divorce
× Electromagnetic energy fields
× Emotional horniness
× The ghost of a sea captain
× And more

I hope you enjoy these little weirds.

Love,
Jenny Slate” (from Goodreads)

How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits by Anne Berest, Sophie Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, and Sophie Mas

“From four stunning and accomplished French women–at last–a fresh and spirited take on what it really means to be a Parisienne: how they dress, entertain, have fun and attempt to behave themselves.

In short, frisky sections, these Parisian women give you their very original views on style, beauty, culture, attitude and men. The authors–Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, and Sophie Mas–unmarried but attached, with children–have been friends for years. Talented bohemian iconoclasts with careers in the worlds of music, film, fashion and publishing, they are untypically frank and outspoken as they debunk the myths about what it means to be a French woman today. Letting you in on their secrets and flaws, they also make fun of their complicated, often contradictory feelings and behavior. They admit to being snobs, a bit self-centered, unpredictable but not unreliable. Bossy and opinionated, they are also tender and romantic.

You will be taken on a first date, to a party, to some favorite haunts in Paris, to the countryside, and to one of their dinners at home with recipes even you could do — but to be out with them is to be in for some mischief and surprises. They will tell you how to be mysterious and sensual, look natural, make your boyfriend jealous, and how they feel about children, weddings and going to the gym. And they will share their address book in Paris for where to go: At the End of the Night, for A Birthday, for a Smart Date, for a A Hangover, for Vintage Finds and much more.

How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are will make you laugh as you slip into their shoes to become bold and free and tap into your inner cool.” (from Goodreads)

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

“In April, 1992, a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, a party of moose hunters found his decomposed body. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and, unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw away the maps. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.” (from Goodreads)

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

“Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book’s categorization to be sure that ‘The Devil in the White City’ is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair’s construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor.

Burnham’s challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous “White City” around which the fair was built. His efforts to complete the project, and the fair’s incredible success, are skillfully related along with entertaining appearances by such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison.

The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World’s Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims.” (from Goodreads)

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