This summer, on break from graduate school’s heavy required reading, I went crazy reading “for fun” like I used to when I was a kid with no car and no job. Below is a condensed version of my top five favorite nonfiction picks.
1. Bad Feminist: Roxanne Gay
Gay is funny yet biting in this collection of brief essays that tear apart our cultural perceptions of feminism, race, and class. Gay doesn’t shy away from condemning anyone: Tosh.0 to Tyler Perry are both victims of her discerning eye. Not reading material for anyone who is easily offended. Professional Scrabble and Tarantino are all fair game.
2. Loitering: Charles D’Ambrosio
D’Ambrosio’s essays meander through his mind, through his family history, dealing with his attempts to eat whale and the ongoing mourning of his brother’s suicide. He writes candidly about his initial discovery of the personal essay as a boy growing up in Seattle. Each essay stands alone. Favorites include “Orphans” and “Salinger and Sobs.”
3. Serve It Forth: M.F.K Fischer
Famed gastronomer M.F.K. Fischer’s series of short essays range in topics from how to cook snails to why the potato should be considered. The essays read as tiny pieces of history, and a life well lived through the appreciation of food and the pursuit of travel. Once you’ve discovered the neatness and liveliness of Fischer’s prose you’ll wonder why you never heard of her before. A must-read for foodies.
4. Bluets: Maggie Nelson
Nelson’s memoir-ish prose-ish poetry book should be savored for her alternative form and lyrical grace. A study about the importance of the color of blue, in art, in life, and in love. A book to cherish, and re-read. If you like this, be sure to read Nelson’s ambitious new memoir: The Argonauts.
5. Don’t Let Go To The Dog’s Tonight: Alexandra Fuller
Fuller’s memoir is vivid and bright, mirroring the chaotic rhythm of her unconventional childhood growing up in 1970s Africa. For every moment of horrifying violence and tragedy, there are also moments of profound insights about what it means to be an ex-pat, and how we all experience home. Fuller’s family is charming, unstable, and completely lovable. Think baboons, shotguns and whisky.
Kelsey A. Liebenson-Morse
Assistant Nonfiction Editor