10 Summertime Nonfiction Reads

From the publisher: "A true-life detective story and a celebration of a forgotten feminist trailblazer, Mallory O’Meara's The Lady from the Black Lagoon establishes Patrick in her rightful place in film history while calling out a Hollywood culture where little has changed since."
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This is a fascinating deep-dive into the unbelievable history of Wonder Woman, an iconic superhero whose origins are completely bonkers. A complicated family story lies beneath the history of the famous comic book character, and it all starts with the invention of the lie-detector machine. I don't want to give away any more than that—just know that the surprising backstory is full of twists, turns, and shocking connections across history and culture. Lepore's reporting is engaging and detailed.
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This story is fascinating. From the publisher: "In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose start-up 'unicorn' promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fund-raising round that valued the company at more than $9 billion, putting Holmes' worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work. A riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley."
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If you love heartfelt, thoughtful memoirs that also make you laugh, then you must pick up this collection of essays by pop-culture critic R. Eric Thomas. Eric shares stories from childhood to adulthood, detailing his coming-of-age with bracing candor and hilarious honesty. He writes about discovering his identity, feeling like an outsider, and finding his voice, all while injecting hilarious pop culture references, bits of wisdom, and his signature wit. While he relays plenty of difficult experiences, his tone is persistently hopeful. I highly recommend the audiobook version, narrated by the author, for full humorous effect.
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Despite enjoying the occasional celebrity memoir, I’m still slightly skeptical about this one, but several trusted friends and booksellers have told me it’s really good. With just the right mix of juicy celebrity gossip and honest personal stories, Simpson writes about coming-of-age as a pop star in Hollywood. She offers behind the scenes details about relationships, movie sets, and concerts. But where this book shines is her candidness about alcohol addiction, motherhood, and body shaming. If you’re a fan of celebrity memoirs, add this to your library holds list. And tell me what you think—perhaps I'll be convinced to pick it up.
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A powerful read. In 2016, Buzzfeed published the victim impact statement of Emily Doe, shortly after a Stanford swimmer was sentenced to just six months of jail for sexually assaulting her on campus. Emily Doe was Chanel Miller, and in her stunning memoir, Miller reclaims her identity, tells her story, and challenges a system that oppresses victims. I loved this book and think about it often, not only because of Miller’s courage, but also because of her incredible, compelling voice. She is able to weave hope and trauma and healing and humor together in such beautiful ways. Her transformative storytelling made this an unforgettable reading experience.
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I promised myself that I would read something, anything by Goodwin this year, and I did: Wait Till Next Year, which made the summer reading guide in the Nerdy Nonfiction category. I liked it so much I’m diving into the deep end with this straight-up history of the Lincoln era. My dad will be proud.
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The Daily Show star does a masterful job of alternating the deathly serious with the laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes even combining the two, in this collection of coming-of-age essays about his South African childhood. His mischievous childhood and unconventional youth provide wonderful fodder for not-quite-polite (thus the "scandalous" part of this juicy memoir) but always entertaining stories. I highly recommend the audiobook, read by the author.
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Part memoir, part educational glimpse into the profession of psychotherapy, completely absorbing. Making use of an unusual two-pronged approach, psychotherapist Gottlieb shows us how therapy really works. She introduces us to four of her patients, taking us inside the room to show what happens in their sessions. Thanks to a sudden breakup, Gottlieb is in therapy herself, and through her eyes we get the patient's perspective as well. I so enjoyed getting to know her patients, session by session, and rooted hard for them as they worked through the process. A book not just about therapy but about how we grow, change, and connect with each other—and how we can do it all more effectively. For fans of Christie Tate’s Group and Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams.
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