February 17, 2021

Favorite Nonfiction of 2020


I didn't know how much I enjoyed nonfiction (memoir, CNF, biography, history, etc.) until I became aware of how diverse the genre could be. As an undergraduate student, if you would have asked what I thought of nonfiction, I likely would have flashed back to reading long nonfiction essays in my early American literature course and how much I struggled getting through it all. During my master's program, I was exposed to creative nonfiction in all of its forms and began to fall in love with memoir. Since then, I've really enjoyed bouncing back and forth between fiction and nonfiction in my reading. I've also found that nonfiction audiobooks really suit me and that I can fit in many extra hours of audiobook listening/reading when I'm driving, cooking, cleaning, etc. 

Here's a list of some of my favorite nonfiction reads from 2020, many of which I enjoyed in audiobook format. Once again, note that while I read these last year, that doesn't necessarily always mean they were published last year. I'll try to do more in-depth reviews of my top picks later on.

What were your favorite nonfiction reads from last year? Do you have any on your TBR for 2021?

5 out of 5 stars

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
by Dalai Lama XIV and Desmond Tutu

Other-Wordly: Words Both Strange and Lovely from Around the World
by Yee-Lum Mak, illus. by Kelsey Garrity-Riley

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper
by Hallie Rubenhold

House of Dreams: The Life of L. M. Montgomery
by Liz Rosenberg, illus. by Julie Morstad

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz
by Erik Larson

Last Witnesses: An Oral History of the Children of World War II
by Sventlana Alexievich

4 out of 5 stars

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don't Know
by Malcolm Gladwell

On the Horizon
by Lois Lowry, illus. by Kenard Pak

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
by David Grann

So You Want to Talk About Race
by Ijeoma Oluo

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
by Michelle McNamara

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family
by Robert Kolker

The Liar's Club by Mary Karr

The Standard of Truth: 1815-1846 (Saints #1)
by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World
by Melinda Gates

3 out of 5 stars

The Library Book
by Susan Orlean

I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf
by Grant Snider

A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18
by Joseph Loconte

The Little Book of Lykke: The Danish Search for the World's Happiest People
by Meik Wiking

Brave Enough
by Cheryl Strayed

Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope
by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

A Bookshop in Berlin: The Rediscovered Memoir of One Woman's Harrowing Escape from the Nazis
by Fran├žois Frenkel

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World
by John Mark Comer

Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded--August 27, 1883
by Simon Winchester

The Best of Me
by David Sedaris

Joy in the Covenant
by Julie B. Beck

Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight
by Linda Bacon

Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life
by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Wai-Yin Cheung

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances
by Matthew Inman


  1. Hidden Family Road was such an engrossing read! I have to read my copy of House of Dreams.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. House of Dreams was great. Let me know what you think!