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30 Memoirs and Nonfiction Books for Your Reading Bucket List

30 Memoirs and Nonfiction Books for Your Reading Bucket List

WHAT’S A READING BUCKET LIST?

In short, a reading bucket list is a manageable list of books you want to read in your life.

Creating this list helps guide you to meet your reading goals, without overwhelming you or leaving you feeling deprived from newer or more “fun” books you might want to read.

The list includes a variety of types of books, from personal memoirs to historical explorations, so if you don’t read much nonfiction now, these ideas might get you started.

Don’t be afraid to stop reading books that aren’t working for you. Reading time is precious, and you should use it to read books you love–not books you think you *should* finish.

1. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

This tale of Louis Zamperini’s trials during World War II is so harrowing, you’ll have to remind yourself that it’s not fiction—because you won’t believe that one person could survive all that he did: a plane crash, months at sea on a raft, shark encounters…and that’s just the start. This book was hard to read, but also hard to put down. It stuck with me long after I finished it and provided perspective when day-to-day concerns threatened to overwhelm. It’s worth the reread for that reason alone. Read More.
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2. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo immersed herself in a slum of Mumbai to tell the stories of the people who live there. Annawadi sits ironically in the shadow of a billboard reading “The Beautiful Forevers” and is pressed on all sides by the growth of the city that is leaving it behind. Boo herself is not part of the story, and she doesn’t need to be. The lives, hopes, and hurts of the families are richly painted and bring home the individual struggles and systemic obstacles that stand in the way of people rising above the inequality into which they are born. For those of us in the U.S., the stories of struggling families in this faraway country feel closer to home than ever in today’s political climate and stratified economy. Read More.
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3. What Is the What by Dave Eggers

The story of Achak Deng, one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” who as a child was separated from his family during the Second Sudanese Civil War. He encounters danger, violence, disappointment, and surprising moments of humor and humanity as he flees to unknown places in search of safety and a life. This book couldn’t truly be called non-fiction—Dave Eggers himself describes it as “fictionalized autobiography” because of lapses in Deng’s memory and imagined conversations. Eggers writes in Deng’s voice to tell of the horrors faced by these children in Sudan and the difficulties they face as immigrants in the United States. Read More.
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