by Ashley Dickson-Ellison (@teachingtheapocalypse)
Our episode from last Wednesday (which was episode 200!!!!) was all about memoirs, which got me to thinking about other nonfiction books I've read and loved recently. These include memoirs, essay collections, and one graphic travel diary. Although I read WAY more fiction than nonfiction, I find that a lot of the nonfiction that I read has a deep impact on me, and I enjoyed thinking about some recent nonfiction favorites!
The Toni Morrison Book Club by Juda Bennett, Winnifred Brown-Glaude, Cassandra Jackson, and Piper Kendrix Williams (Amazon | Bookshop.org)
I absolutely loved this insightful exploration of four of Toni Morrison's novels in light of the various perspectives of four people in a book club together. I listened to this one thanks to Libro.fm and found it to be fascinating, thoughtful, and full of insights. I had read three of the four Morrison books they included, but this work could be enjoyed without having read the Morrison books in advance (although you can't go wrong with any of her books, and you will not be disappointed!).
This powerful memoir-manifesto is a deeply personal exploration of Johnson's identity and relationship to the binary construct of gender. In this work, George M. Johnson encourages queer young men of color to explore their identities fully and to see the way that others have also been through that journey and are living joyous, full lives. Johnson shares the challenges and joys of growing up and becoming more fully oneself.
Patrik Svensson's The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World (Amazon | Bookshop.org)
I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed this collection. I learned so much about the eel, which was fascinating, and I loved the way that Svensson alternated between tracing the history of the scientific discoveries about this mystifying creature and his own personal reflections on his childhood growing up fishing for eels with his father. We have a discussion guide for this one.
This collection of essays is both insightful and hilarious. Thomas's exploration of what it means to live his life in America at this time is so powerful. He is such a witty writer, and his work is a joy to read but also explores critical issues that need to be considered and explored. This was was a recommendation from Sara for me, and I had fun reading it and talking about it on episode 171 where we shared our thoughts about the books we'd recommended for each other. Don't miss Sara's review of this one!
I really enjoyed this poignant first-hand travel diary where Thompson shares his experiences traveling extensively through Spain, France, and Morocco. Thompson reveals the challenges as well as joys that he experiences during this extended travel. I really enjoyed the personal nature of this when I read it, but I imagine I would find a rereading even more meaningful now that I've covered a lot of the same ground and have been traveling for a long period of time!
I just read this one very recently, which I listened to on audio, and I found it to be so brilliant and so moving. Zauner, who is Korean on her mother's side and American on her father's side, considers her relationship to her mother, and by extension to Korea, as she faces her mother's cancer and ultimately her death during Zauner's early adult life. She explores the connection to heritage that she feels most strongly through her bond with her mother and the way that connection waivers when she confronts the death of her mother. She explores the way that food can connect us to our loved ones and to our culture. This is a beautiful tribute but also an honest look at illness and death and how that can feel for those supporting the one who is ill.
What's one of your favorite nonfiction picks? Let us know in the comments below or @unabridgedpod!
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