Book clubs benefit from a dose of reality now and then—a break from fictional girls on trains and orphans on trains, from larger-than-life characters like Bernadette, Ove, and Miss Peregrine. Nonfiction can incite our imaginations, too, sparking important conversations about real people inhabiting our real world.
I’m turning the focus on nonfiction as two acclaimed nonfiction writers will soon pay a visit to my community: Erik Larson (hosted by the Huntsville Library Foundation) and Sarah Vowell (brought to us by WLRH, Huntsville’s Public Radio). These two writers showcase how nonfiction can and should work, albeit in different ways. Larson, author of Devil in the White City, Dead Wake, In the Garden of Beasts, and more, weaves artful, page-turning stories out of real moments in time, while Vowell, author of Assassination Vacation, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, Unfamiliar Fishes, to name a few, uses humor to reexamine history, culture, and the institutions that define America. Neither of these writers seems to run out of book-worthy topics, as they continue to turn out one compelling book after another.
If you’ve looked over The Snail’s inventory of Book Club Guides (printable topics and questions to take to your book club meetings), you’ll find the list is steadily filling with fiction. But you may also notice a dearth of nonfiction. It’s time to make amends.
So I want to hear from you:
What is the best nonfiction title your book club has read—and why? Or, if you’re not a book clubber, what is one of your favorite nonfiction reads?
Scroll down and share your suggestions in the comments section below. I know some of you may have a hard time limiting your answer to just one title, and that’s just fine. Mention as many as you’d like. I look forward to featuring your favorites in future articles and in Book Club Guides.
To sweeten the deal for my hometown followers (meaning those of you in Huntsville, Alabama), there’s a special giveaway you can enter when you participate: we’re teaming with WLRH to give away 2 pairs of tickets to “An Evening with Sarah Vowell” on October 23 at 7 p.m., at the VBC in Huntsville, Alabama. It takes only two steps to enter: (1) leave a comment at the bottom of this page and, (2) in the giveaway box below, click “Leave a blog post comment” so you can say “I commented!” (Comments are welcome from all, whether you live in the Huntsville area or not. But please only enter the giveaway if you can make it to see Sarah Vowell.)