Fall 2018’s Best New Nonfiction

Fall 2018’s Best New Nonfiction

Whether or not you’re headed back to school this fall, it’s the perfect time of year to learn something new. This fall’s crop of must-read nonfiction presents the perfect opportunity to broaden your horizons or delve into a favorite subject. Whether you’re interested in learning more about the real kidnapping that inspired Lolita or you’d like to read a biography of the author of A Raisin In the Sun, there’s a work of nonfiction here for every reader.

Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs

Lisa Brennan-Jobs’ memoir about her life as Steve Jobs’ daughter has gotten a lot of attention, and deservedly so. Small Fry follows Brennan-Jobs’ childhood, from which Steve Jobs was initially very absent (for a while, he would not even admit to being her father). Brennan-Jobs writes about trying to find her place in her own family: As time passed, her father became willing to take a more active role in her life, and her relationship with her mother became more challenging. This memoir will be of interest not just to Apple enthusiasts, but to anyone who loves reading about the complicated web of relationships that makes up a family.

On shelves: September 4

RX by Rachel Lindsay

Graphic memoir fans, you’re in luck this fall. RX by Rachel Lindsay tells a timely and necessary story about mental illness, and does so in prose and illustrations that will keep readers riveted. Lindsay was working in New York City as a twenty-something when she was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In the years that followed, Lindsay would have to juggle her artistic passions with her need for a corporate job that would afford her access to a robust healthcare plan in order to manage her condition. For readers interested in mental illness narratives and commentary on the healthcare system in the United States, this is the perfect book to pick up this fall.

On shelves: September 4

The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman

Much has been written about Vladimir Nabokov and what many consider to be his masterpiece, Lolita. But how much of the world knows the story of Sally Horner and her kidnapping? Sarah Weinman sets out to fix that in her work of nonfiction The Real Lolita. Weinman writes about the history of Lolita the novel, all while making the case that Nabokov was inspired by the 1948 kidnapping of 11-year-old Horner. Nabokov was firm in his stance that Lolita was entirely a work of fiction, but Weinman presents evidence that Nabokov was more interested in Horner’s case than he ever was willing to share with the public. This is an excellent pick for Nabokov fans and readers of true crime.

On shelves: September 11

Heartland by Sarah Smarsh

Sarah Smarsh grew up in Kansas (where her father’s family had farmed wheat for generations) in the 1980s. Her childhood and adolescent were marked by poverty, and Smarsh went on to become a first-generation college graduate and then a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Smarsh examines the ways in which poverty can become cyclical, and introduces readers to multiple members of her family who struggled with having enough to get by despite their hard work. This is an enlightening look at the challenges faced by the working poor.

On shelves: September 18

Leadership by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Doris Kearns Goodwin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, and her work is known for illuminating American history in fascinating and nuanced ways. In this latest work, Goodwin writes about four different U.S. presidents: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson. Each of these presidents was in office during a difficult time for the country, and each handled those challenges in a unique way. Goodwin sets the scene for each president and then analyzes the ways in which they responded to crises. For history buffs, there is no better book to settle in with this autumn.

On shelves: September 18

Looking for Lorraine by Imani Perry

Lorraine Hansberry is most famous for her classic play A Raisin in the Sun, but this book from Imani Perry shines a light on Hansberry’s fascinating, too-short life and many accomplishments. In addition to being the first black woman to have a play open on Broadway, Hansberry was a political activist in New York City in the 1950s, and was close with luminaries such as James Baldwin. She was a passionate advocate for social justice, and was committed to fighting racism, classism, and homophobia. Sadly, Hansberry died at the age of 34 from pancreatic cancer, but this book will leave readers in awe of her impressive accomplishments in relatively little time.

On shelves: September 18

Heart: A History by Sandeep Jauhar

Cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar knows more about matters of the heart than most of us, and here, he’s sharing that wisdom with readers. Jauhar gives a compelling history of our understanding of how the heart works, and intersperses his own experiences of the director of the Long Island Jewish Medical Center’s Heart Failure Program into the story. From pacemakers to surgery, from the impact of stress to the front lines of medical research, Jauhar spins a riveting yarn about one of our most vital organs. We think you’ll—dare we say it?—heart this book.

On shelves: September 18

American Prison by Shane Bauer

Investigative reporter Shane Bauer worked as a prison guard at a privately run facility in Louisiana. In his time there, he saw and experienced things that would turn into an award-winning feature for Mother Jones. American Prison takes an even deeper look at the private prison system in the United States, and will opens readers’ eyes to what goes on inside their walls. In a starred review, Kirkus called American Prison: “A penetrating exposé on the cruelty and mind-bending corruption of privately run prisons across the United States, with a focus on the Winn facility in Louisiana.”

On shelves: September 18

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

In All You Can Ever Know, Nicole Chung writes about her adoption and the search for her birth parents. Chung was raised in Oregon by white adoptive parents, but she always wondered about her Korean birth parents. Her adoptive parents assured her that her birth parents wanted more for her and had made a difficult decision out of love. As an adult and expectant mother, Chung’s curiosity intensified, and she attempted to make contact with them. What she found was not quite what she expected. This book is an emotionally resonant take on family, identity, and transracial adoption.

On shelves: October 2

Heavy by Kiese Laymon

Kiese Laymon grew up in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1980s where he endured bullying from his peers because of his weight and his skin color. His home life was complicated: His mother was a professor who held him to an extremely high standard. When he failed to measure up, she hit him with a belt. Kiese struggled with his weight into his teenage years, and suffered from anorexia. These are just some of the traumas Kiese describes in his memoir, which chronicles the profound challenges of living in a black body. This is an important book that has already wowed early readers, including Roxane Gay.

On shelves: October 16

She Wants It by Jill Soloway

You likely know Jill Soloway as the creator of Transparent, an Amazon series that tells the story of a family living in Los Angeles with one transgender parent. There are echoes of the show in Soloway’s own life: One of Soloway’s parents came out as transgender back in 2011. Soloway’s memoir She Wants It deals extensively with questions related to gender, and readers interested in the subject will find much to discuss in this volume. Soloway also writes about working and succeeding in a heavily male field, and explains what it was like to come out as nonbinary just last year.

On shelves: October 16

The Patch by John McPhee

John McPhee fans are in for a treat. The Patch is a collection of essays from the famed New Yorker staff writer from as far back as the 1950s and spanning subjects as diverse as Hershey’s chocolate to fly fishing in New Hampshire. There are profiles of celebrities, longform pieces (including a standout about picking up lost golf balls), and so much more. For the John McPhee, New Yorker, or longform journalism fan in your life, this is an ideal collection to pick up this fall.

On shelves: November 13

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