In case you missed it, this is kind of continuation of last week’s post in which I shared the fiction books coming out this year that I’m adding to my TBR. But now it’s time for the nonfiction books. Which I’m guessing is probably more boring for a lot of you, but I’m honestly more excited about these books than I was about the fiction list. And also slightly scared because I want to somehow read all of them, but nonfiction takes me longer to read and they also tend to be longer. But I’m going to attempt it anyway (along with the five other nonfiction books on my reading list for the year and the rather enormous biography of Grant that I’m still in the middle of). It’s fine, I can totally do this.
But I think the reason I am so excited about these books is that I’ve been kind of in the mood for nonfiction lately. Despite being in a massive slump last year, I still tried to make time to read as much nonfiction as I can. I’m starting to think I’m addicted to learning new things, and I have absolutely zero problem with that. And I kind of have a feeling I’m going to be reading quite a bit more nonfiction this year than I usually do. Just because there are so many I’ve discovered recently about things I very much want to know more about. I think my biggest challenge will be deciding which things to learn about first (eels are a very strong contender this year). But, regardless of all the other nonfiction I hope to read this year, these eight books are pretty high up on my list.
Queens of the Crusades by Alison Weir (February 23)
This is the second book in a series about Europe’s queens. And if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you might recall me referring to book one as “The Real Housewives of Medieval Europe”. Because it is that batshit insane. And I loved it! So I’m really excited for this next installment, which follows queens from the next chapter in European history – he first book was Queens of the Conquest, this one obviously moves on to the crusades. It’s mostly all the Eleanors (the first book was a lot of Mauds). I actually already have a copy of this, so I’ll likely be reading it early next month. Or at the end of this month, if I can get my shit together and finish the other books on my TBR.
How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates (February 16)
I love Bill Gates. And I’ve definitely talked about this quite a few times. Not only do I really admire his philanthropic work, I also absolutely love his book recommendations. I honestly get really excited when his lists come out and tend to read at least a few of his recommendations every time. He’s also recommended some of my favorite books, so I have to just keep coming back. And on top of all that, he’s one of the biggest proponents of addressing climate change. Which I think is extremely important, so I’m really curious to see what he says in this book. If it’s even half as enlightening as some of the books he recommends, I think it’s going to be an incredible read.
The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson (March 9)
Going into 2021, I thought this would be the first year in four years that I wouldn’t be reading a Walter Isaacson biography. Because the only currently published one I haven’t gotten to is Steve Jobs and I just don’t feel like reading that one just yet. But then a wonderful reader informed me that not only does Isaacson have a new biography out this year, but it’s his first about a WOMAN. Do I care that I had literally not heard of Jennifer Doudna until now? Not at all. Because this sounds awesome. And Isaacson writes killer biographies, so I’m definitely planning on reading this. Side note: if you’d told me four years ago that I’d be nerding out about biographies right now, I would have laughed in your face. But here we are. And I like it.
Four Hundred Souls edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain (February 2)
This is a “community” history of African-Americans from before the Mayflower to present day, told by 90 of today’s black authors. And it just sounds AMAZING. Of the many things I want to read more of this year are short works or anthologies and history, particularly black history. Because after reading Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning last year, I realized I still have a lot to learn. And I kind of want to return to my history roots and read a lot more of it this year.
Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting by Lisa Genova (March 23)
For semi-personal reasons, I’ve found myself very curious about memory lately (this is not the only science book about memory I plan on reading this year). So I was pretty excited when I saw this book. Losing my memory is kind of my worst fear, so I’m really not exaggerating when I tell you that Lisa Genova’s other book, Still Alice – about a woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s – terrified me. It made my anxiety so, so bad. You might now think I’m crazy for wanting to read this one, but I think understanding the science behind memory and forgetting might really help me. Also, I’m interested to learn more about if and how I can influence what I remember and what I forget.
A Black Woman’s History of the United States by Dania Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross (February 4)
I don’t know that I have to say too much about this – the title is pretty self-explanatory. This is not just a history of black women in America. It is about how black women have consistently been at the frontlines in the fights against systemic racism AND sexism. And I think this is such an important read. In going back to my history roots (that’s what I got my first college degree in), I’ve tried to explore more of the untold stories, especially those that were just as impactful despite the fact many people might not be familiar with them. I think this definitely falls into that category.
The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos by Judy Batalion (April 6)
One of my last (and favorite) reads of 2020 was We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter. Which follows one Jewish family living (mostly) in Poland during WWII. And one of the reasons I loved it so much was just how badass the women of that family were. They went to extreme lengths to protect their loved ones, both in and out of the Polish Ghettos. And I am just now starting to realize that this list kind of has a theme, and that theme is badass women. I love it. Anyway, this is definitely something I want to explore more, especially in nonfiction. I just love the idea of women resistance fighters during WWII.
When Can We Go Back to America?: Voices of Japanese American Incarceration During World War II by Barry Denenberg (September 7)
If you were not already aware, I live in California. Which is where, during and after WWII, the US government established a lot of internment camps for Japanese Americans (there were camps in other states, but California was the big one). So I’ve always been aware of this part of our history. I’ve even been to the Japanese American National Museum in LA a few times (highly recommend it!) and it definitely made an impact on me. I think this is another book I want to read because it delves into the untold stories of our history, and I think it’s important. America has a long history of racism and xenophobia, and I think it’s necessary for us to learn more about it so we can be better at stopping it from happening (or continuing) going forward).
Like I said, I’m pretty excited for all of these books. I don’t know if I’m going to be reading them all this year, but I will definitely try. Either way, I am very much looking forward to reading some great nonfiction this year and learn a lot of new things! What new nonfiction releases are on your radar for 2021?