My Favorite Narrative Nonfiction

Fiction will always be my first love, but for the last several years I’ve been reading more and more creative nonfiction: stories so gripping you can’t put them down, that are completely true and impeccably researched. I admire the tremendous talent of the storymakers behind these books, who must be at once sensitive interviewers, painstaking researchers, and masterful writers who can bring the past to life and tell it with speed and suspense without losing any subtlety. Here are some of my favorites (and I hope you’ll tell me yours).

enduranceEndurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

This is the book that started my love affair with historical adventure books. The story of how Ernest Shackleton and his entire crew of twenty-seven men survived eighteen months marooned in Antarctica is so unbelievable, it should be fiction. I promise Endurance will blow your mind with its account of the resourcefulness and determination of the human spirit.

wediealoneWe Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance
by David Howarth

When a team of commandos landed in occupied Norway to organize the Norwegian resistance, they were betrayed and ambushed by the Nazis. Only one man survived, badly wounded. This is the story of Jan Baalsrud, who trekked through the arctic to safety, and of the villagers who risked their lives to save him.

thesmallwomanThe Small Woman by Alan Burgess

This is the sweeping epic of the bold, unstoppable Gladys Aylward, who ventured to China as a Christian missionary and who changed the lives of everyone she met, including the hundred homeless children she shepherded on a twelve-day journey over the mountains to safety when the Japanese invaded in 1938.

theboysintheboatThe Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

I’m cajoling everyone I know to read this book. Joe Rantz is the truest kind of hero; a virtual orphan, growing up on the edge of starvation, he became part of the extraordinary crew rowing team who went to Berlin in 1936 to show the world what the American West was made of.

Honorable Mentions: Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

What narrative nonfiction books are on your to-read list, or which ones have you read and loved? Let me know so I can add them to my list!



3 thoughts on “My Favorite Narrative Nonfiction

  1. Hi, Kimberly!

    In response to your request, I have never read fiction. Kind of boring, huh? Nancy really reads lots of fiction.

    One of my favorite non-religious books is by Dennis Prager, “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph.” Two others are written by Thomas Sowell, who is wonderful: “Basic Economics”, and “The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy.”

    Thanks for sending us your list of books! About a week ago, our oldest son was telling us about the “Boys in the Boat” book.

    We leave Friday to visit that son and his family in Denton, TX, to see them with their 6 kids. We will do some family history work with them while there, so that’ll be great too!

    Our best wishes to you and Mark! Sorry we were unable to see you a few weeks ago!

    Love, Doug and Nancy

    On Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 10:03 AM, Kimberly Sears wrote:

    > kimberlysears posted: “Fiction will always be my first love, but for the > last several years I’ve been reading more and more creative nonfiction: > stories so gripping you can’t put them down, that are completely true and > impeccably researched. I admire the tremendous talent of th” >

    • Hey Doug! Thanks for your note. I remember in Argentina every morning finding you reading a nonfiction book (I think religious ones are what you were reading at the time) waiting for the pool to open so you could go for your morning swim. 🙂

      I’ll definitely look into those books. I enjoyed so immensely the Dennis Prager Old Testament commentaries you shared with me a couple years ago; they made me see in a completely new light chapters I’d read dozens of times.

      I think you’d love The Boys in the Boat; of the 25 or so books I read this year, it was my favorite (tied with this biography of Isabel I of Castile that I read).

      Hope you two have a great visit with grandkids in Texas! I hope I get to see you soon so Hezekiah can get to know his adopted Lawson family. 🙂

  2. Good list and so well written, as usual. Great presentation. Hope to see your books on recommended lists in the future. So proud of you!

    Sent from my iPad


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