Truth Be Told

14 Aug 2023

Non-fiction books we love

A good vacation read is in the eye of the beholder and nonfiction readers need page-turners, too! Check out these nonfiction titles that are riveting, thrilling and heartfelt.

“The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny, and Murder” by David Grann

David Grann is renowned for his captivating nonfiction narratives that possess the allure of fiction, and his latest work is no exception. “The Wager” presents a gripping historical account of a shipwreck in the 1740s off the South American coast, delving into the disintegration of the survivors’ order into chaos and violence. Even prior to the calamity, the crew endures afflictions of illness and discord, with many sailors having been unwillingly press-ganged into service. The vessel constantly battles adverse weather conditions and a tempestuous ocean until it ultimately succumbs to destruction. It is then that the true turmoil ensues – starvation, internal strife, mutinous intentions, and even murder. Do not overlook this enthralling true story of survival. –Megan Mathis


“Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus” by David Quammen

In “Breathless,” a finalist for the 2022 National Book Award in nonfiction, acclaimed science writer Quammen forsakes the medical drama of the coronavirus pandemic to focus solely on the frantic efforts of scientists striving to unravel the origins of the outbreak and determine the most effective means of control. “Breathless” could be considered a quasi-sequel to Quammen’s 2012 book, “Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic.” In fact, he returns to interview many of the same scientists he engaged with for his earlier work. Patiently, he delves into the scientific discourse surrounding whether the virus originated directly from bats, passed through another animal intermediary or possibly emerged due to a laboratory accident. The cast of characters is extensive, and Quammen provides a helpful Credits section at the end of the text, offering a brief biography of each scientist he interviewed. –Bland Lawson


“Hijab Butch Blues” by Lamya H.

This candid and heartfelt memoir by a queer Muslim woman chronicles a story of self-discovery through faith, while offering an intimate portrayal of the immigrant experience. Born in a Southeast Asian country and raised in the Middle East, Lamya grew up torn between the teachings and societal expectations of her cherished religion and her undeniable identity. As she immigrates to the United States to pursue a university education, her deep devotion to Islam serves as a guiding light as she endeavors to uncover her true self and determine her path. Each chapter is named after a significant figure from the Quran, and Lamya utilizes their stories to contextualize and comprehend various aspects of her own journey. The resulting narrative is an inspiring odyssey of seeking and finding authenticity in life and establishing genuine community. –Sarah Cameron


“The Underworld: Journeys to the Depths of the Ocean” by Susan Casey

The depths of the ocean have long been enigmatic and miscalculated, mostly remaining a realm of the unknown. Throughout the centuries, humans have conjectured about the mysteries lurking at the ocean’s floor, conjuring up nightmarish images of ravenous sea monsters thirsting for destruction. We have possessed greater knowledge of the farthest reaches of space than the profound depths of our oceans. Susan Casey accompanies you on her expedition alongside scientists endeavoring to delve to the ocean’s abyss (pun intended) and make groundbreaking discoveries that will revolutionize our understanding of our planet. Seamlessly transitioning between the history of deep-sea exploration and her captivating encounters aboard research vessels, Casey interweaves the urgency of climate change action. –Morgan Ryan

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