15 nonfiction books to read in 2019

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Just when I thought I was in a good place with my reading list for the year (I can no longer guiltlessly ignore the lingering stacks of books from 2017 and 2018, so on the list they went) , I realized how many great nonfiction reads were being released in 2019. 15 books that look fantastic, and these don’t even include this year’s fiction releases. Such is life and how the TBR list goes, so there’s no use fighting it.

I’m a voracious nonfiction reader (and writer), so I naturally gravitate toward books like the ones below. One of my 2019 reading goals is to sprinkle more fiction into the mix. What those picks look like has yet to be determined. Until then, I’ll be reading up on transplant surgeon stories, what is was like to escape Mao’s revolution, and cherry blossoms.

Out now // The Last Whalers: Three Years in the Far Pacific with a Vanishing Way of Life: To truly tell the story of the Lamalerans, a tribe of 1,500 hunter-gatherers who are the world's last subsistence whalers, the author lived with the tribe for three years. I’m so intrigued to learn more about this vanishing way of life across the ocean.


Out now // Bookends: Collected Intros and Outros: I adore books about books. Chabon looks into his literary origins and influences, as well as the books that shaped his ideas about writing and reading. I’m always on the hunt for good craft- and life-changing resources.


Out now // The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America From 1890 to the Present: In this book, David Treuer writes about the history of Native American life from the Wounded Knee Massacre to the present day. Native Americans did not disappear after that 1890 event, and Treuer digs into their struggles of keeping their language, history, families, and traditions alive.

Out now // The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations: The last time I read Toni Morrison’s writing was in high school. It’s time to change that. This book is a composition of Morrison’s essays, speeches, and meditations on society, culture, and art - spanning 40 years!


March 26 // Murder by the Book: The Crime That Shocked Dickens’ London: Here we are again, with another book about books. Set in Dickens’s London, this true story of a thrilling crime that inspired novelists is one of the few thrillers I’ll read this year.

Out now // Act Natural: A Cultural History of Misadventures in Parenting: I’m fascinated with topics related to parenting and raising children, so this book feeds my inner curiosities. This book sheds light on the history and development of parenting, as well as answers burning questions such as “How did helicopter parenting develop if it used to be perfectly socially acceptable to abandon your children?” and “Why do we encourage our babies to crawl if crawling won’t help them learn to walk?”

Out now // Last Boat Out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Fled Mao’s Revolution: I’m particularly interested to read this book because I know surprisingly little about this topic. Helen Zia interviewed hundreds of exiles about their personal accounts in this moment in history, and I’m curious to read about what those experiences were like.

Out now // Figuring: I’m a major Brain Pickings fan, so I’m more than eager to dive into Maria Popova’s brain. She is one of the most beautiful writers and minds, and this book about the complexities of love and the human search for truth and meaning is going to be soul changing. I feel like even if I just read one chapter a day, at the end I will be a better person.

Out now // The Lady From the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick: Milicent Patrick was one of Disney’s first female animators who illustrated the monster in the movie, Creature from the Black Lagoon. Interestingly, Milicent’s story isn’t well-known because her career had been cut short and she disappeared from film history…until now. So excited to learn more about this talented designer and her contributions to the movies.

April 2 // I Miss You When I Blink: Essays: Even when you check off all your boxes, do you still feel anxious or lost? You’re not alone here. I answered yes to that question, so I’m especially looking forward to Mary Laura Philpott’s memoir-in-essays book about modern adulthood.

Out now // When Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon: Because the medical field is so far out of my realm of understanding, I tend to love books about the topic. Especially when it involves operating room stories from doctors who have been doing what they do for years - they’ve just seen a lot.


Out now // Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive: At 28 years old, Stephanie Land had to figure out how to make ends meet when she found herself unexpectedly pregnant. She worked days and took online classes at night, writing down her stories along the way. In this book are those experiences and her learnings from them.

Out now // The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays: I love that this book is geared not only toward people who may live with mental illness, but that it’s also for people who wish to understand more about it. Literature that can break down the barriers and stigma of mental illness are hugely important, and I have a feeling this book might do just that.


March 19 // The Sakura Obsession: The Incredible Story of the Plant Hunter Who Saved Japan’s Cherry Blossoms: If you’re like me, you love cherry blossoms and that moment in spring when the trees flower and fully blossom, claiming their spot on the earth. This story of the English gardener who saved this plant from extinction is bound to be a captivating one.


May 14 // Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom: Is it really true that generic drugs are inexpensive versions of their brand-name counterparts? Eban dives deeper into the truth behind generic drug manufacturing and its related risks of global health.

What nonfiction books are you reading in 2019?