Nonfiction Books to Read This Summer

By Skokie Staff Advisory Services

Our staff suggest some fascinating nonfiction books for your summer reading pleasure. Enjoy!

  • The Emergency: A Year of Healing and Heartbreak in a Chicago ER

    2022 by Fisher, Thomas

    As COVID 19 descended on the city in 2020, the ER at University of Chicago was the scene of countless acts of heroism, and moments when heroism wasn't enough. A native South Sider who came to emergency medicine after working on health policy in the Obama White House, Fisher saw how the pandemic's ravages went hand in hand with inequities generations in the making. Suggested by Andrew.

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  • Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism

    2021 by Montell, Amanda

    This is a book I recommend to anyone who will stand still long enough to listen to me. I love that it focuses on how language affects people's experiences with cults and "cult-like" organizations without judgement--because Montell's take is that we've all fallen for this language at some point in our lives. Really interesting and very readable. Suggested by Becca.

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  • Murder Book: A Graphic Memoir of a True Crime Obsession

    2021 by Campbell, Hilary Fitzgerald

    Part fan-confessional, part memoir, and part investigation of true crime fandom, this graphic novel is a must-read for anyone who has a backlog of true crime podcasts to listen to and has seen every episode of Forensic Files. No judgement--I loved it. Suggested by Becca.

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  • Ten Steps to Nanette: A Memoir Situation

    2022 by Gadsby, Hannah

    Those who encountered Australian comedian Gadsby through her Netflix specials Nanette and Douglas will devour these essays about her life and interests. Newcomers will hopefully get on her offbeat wavelength as she offers her brutally frank takes on family, trauma, queer identity, art history, and being diagnosed with ADHD and autism as an adult. Suggested by Andrew.

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  • Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become American

    2022 by Ali, Wajahat

    I really had a hard time putting down this passionate and insightful memoir that isn't afraid to tackle the tough topics of Islamophobia, racism, and xenophobia while being hopeful and hilarious. If you are a fan of Hasan Minhaj's Homecoming King and Trevor Noah's Born a Crime, this book is for you. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • The Nineties: A Book

    2022 by Klosterman, Chuck

    For the Gen Xers among us, this is a book filled with mixed feelings, nostalgia, and potential misremembering. We are the smallest generation population-wise. A generation that has recordings of most of our history, but lived a fair portion our lives unable to consult the internet every time we had a question, and had to go to Blockbuster if we wanted to watch a movie on demand. The Nineties covers the mystery of Crystal Pepsi and Zima, and more pressing topics like the Gulf War and the Oklahoma City bombing. A teenage part of me still longs for the transparent phone on the cover despite no longer having a landline. Suggested by Becca.

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  • How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery across America

    2021 by Smith, Clint

    "How do you tell a story that has been told the wrong way for so long?" This question is posed at nine places related to American slavery, from Thomas Jefferson's Monticello to the site of the original Juneteenth proclamation in Galveston. Smith's background as a poet is obvious as he captures the voices of historians and activists, tour guides and reenactors, those committed to telling the unvarnished truth, and those in thrall to a toxic nostalgia. Suggested by Andrew.

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  • Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America

    2022 by Sen, Mayukh

    In what is already one of my favorite books of 2022, food historian Mayukh Sen presents seven short, intimate biographies of women who, while not household names, managed to radically alter (for the better!) how and what we eat in the U.S. An important, necessary work of great scholarship and care that will also make your mouth water. Suggested by Chris.

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  • My Broken Language: A Memoir

    2021 by Hudes, Quiara Alegría

    This was my favorite memoir of 2021. Quiara Alegría Hudes recounts her life navigating between two different cultures and learning their languages, along with the language of music and writing. It is joyful, celebratory, and thought-provoking. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm

    2022 by Charnas, Dan

    The late James Dewitt Yancey, who went by J Dilla, was one of the most influential musicians of the last 50 years. And his instrument was the sampler. Using an Akai MPC (now permanently on display in the Smithsonian), Dilla revolutionized the sound of hip hop and R&B. This amazing, beautifully written biography helps to share and preserve his awesome legacy. Suggested by Chris.

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  • Lily's Promise: Holding on to Hope through Auschwitz and Beyond

    2022 by Ebert, Lily

    Lily Ebert made a promise to herself that she would survive Auschwitz and tell her story for all of those who wouldn't have the same opportunity. Now, she is a 98-year-old TikTok sensation (thanks to her 18-year-old grandson) and has fulfilled that promise to herself on multiple levels. This isn't light reading, but it is very good. Suggested by Emily.

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  • The Unseen Body: A Doctor's Journey through the Hidden Wonders of Human Anatomy

    2021 by Reisman, Jonathan

    This is a book that, as the Jewish Standard stated, "is likely to make us think about the body’s centrality to every understanding of history, of crafts, of geography, of food, of metaphor; through his sometimes gorgeous, sometimes brutal, sometimes both gorgeous and brutal prose, Dr. Reisman’s understanding of the body soars in poetry." It's a visceral read but very interesting. Suggested by Emily.

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  • Born to Be Hanged: The Epic Story of the Gentlemen Pirates Who Raided the South Seas, Rescued a Princess, and Stole a Fortune

    2022 by Thomson, Keith

    Ahoy mateys! Sail the "South Seas" (the South Pacific) with some roguish pirates in this action-packed history book. Suggested by Lynnanne.

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  • Open Skies: My Life as Afghanistan's First Female Pilot

    2021 by Rahmani, Niloofar

    Niloofar Rahmani became the first female fixed-wing pilot for the Afghan Air Force in 2013. Two years later, she received the International Women of Courage Award. In her moving and inspiring memoir, she shares not only how she had to break through social barriers to achieve her dream but also the price she and her family had to pay for pursuing her passion to fly. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution

    2019 by Foner, Eric

    The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were all added to the U.S. Constitution in the five years following the Civil War. In a little more than 200 pages, Foner explains how the three "Reconstruction Amendments" changed what it meant to be an American--and how it's been fought over ever since. A brief, lucid piece of historical/civic education that couldn't be more timely. Suggested by Andrew.

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