NONFICTION

Here you will find a mix of mostly narrative nonfiction (tells a story about true events), and a few expository nonfiction ("how-to" books). This list is periodically updated, and is organized by school subjects or favorite teen subjects. Descriptions are paraphrased from our online catalog.
Titles listed below are linked to the Library's online catalog.
For more nonfiction suggestions see: The YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award, which honors the best nonfiction written for teens each year.
When available, the Lexile® level is in parentheses after the book's description. Lexile level is a text measurement for how easy/difficult a book is to comprehend. A 6th grade level book has an 850 to 1050 lexile range; a 7th grade level book has a 950 to 1075 lexile range; an 8th grade level book has a 1000 to 1100 lexile range; a 9th grade level book has a 1050 to 1150 lexile range, etc. Click here to look up Lexile level.
To request help with finding nonfiction: post a comment at the bottom of this page, call the Reference desk at the Library at 978-468-5577, or stop by the Library's Reference desk or Young Adult desk.


Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines, by Paul Fleischman, 2014. A summary of today's environmental challenges also counsels teens on how to decode conflicting information, explaining the role of vested interests while identifying the sources behind different opinions, helping teens make informed choices.

An Inconvenient Truth: The Crisis of Global Warming, by Al Gore, 2007. This young readers' version of the recent documentary film's companion adult volume cuts the page count by about a third but preserves the original's cogent message and many of its striking visuals.


Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activism, edited by Betsy Greer, 2014. Essays, interviews, and images, from four continents, reveal how craftivists are changing the world with their art. Examples range from community embroidery projects, stitching in prisons, revolutionary ceramics, to AIDS activism, yarn bombing, and crafts that facilitate personal growth.

Going Blue: A Teen Guide to Saving Our Oceans & Waterways, by Cathryn Berger Kaye ; with Philippe Cousteau and Earth Echo International, 2010. Practical suggestions to help plan and do a meaningful service project that benefits our planet's water system.



A People's Art History of the United States: 250 Years of Activist Art and Artists Working in Social Justice Movements, by Nocolas Lampert, 2013. Art history and the fight for justice from the colonial era through the present day. Combines historical sweep with detailed examinations of individual artists.

The Teen Guide to Global Action: How to Connect with Others (Near & Far) to Create Social Change, by Barbara A. Lewis, 2008. The Teen Guide to Global Action is a go-to source teens can use to put their volunteer spirit into practice and make an impact in their world.


Yes You Can! : Your Guide to Becoming an Activist, by Jane Drake & Ann Love, 2010. Guides readers through nine steps to social change and discusses strategies on running an effective meeting, writing a petition, and lobbying governments.



As the World Burns : 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial, by Derrick Jensen and Stephanie McMillan, 2007. A satirical view of social, cultural, political, and economic aspects of environmentalism in the United States in comic book format.


Be A Changemaker: How To Start Something That Matters, by Laurie Ann Thompson, 2014.  Learn how to wield your passions, digital tools, and the principles of social entrepreneurship to affect real change in your school, community and beyond.



                              ART and CRAFTS                           

An Eye for Art: Focusing on Great Artists and their Work, by National Gallery of Art, 2013. Illustrated with hundreds of full color images, this art resource introduces more than 50 great artists and their work, with corresponding activities and explorations to inspire artistic development, focused looking, and creative writing.
The Annotated Mona Lisa: A Crash Course in Art History From Prehistoric to Post-Modern, by Carol Strickland, 2007. Presents the history of art from prehistoric times to the present day, describes major artists and movements, and details the influence of art on society through the ages.

Aspire: 200 projects to Strengthen Your Art Skills, by Valerie Colston, 2008. Teaches serious beginners the fundamental skills of graphic design as an introduction to fine art, illustration, computer game design, interior design, animation, and virtually all other avenues in the visual arts.


The Brilliant History of Color in Art, by Victoria Finlay, 2014. Presents the primary colors as they appear in great works of art thoughout history, from the caves paintings of the Ice Age to the modern works of today, offering little-known facts, anecdotes, and the science behind the creation of each individual color.
Go, by Chip Kidd, 2013.  Go, by award-winning graphic designer Chip Kidd, is an introduction to the ways in which a designer communicates his or her ideas to the world. (1100L)
I.M. Pei: Architect of Time, Place, and Purpose, by Jill Rubalcaba, 2011.  A biography of the renowned architect that focuses on six of his signature buildings. (1070L)

Street Sketchbook: Journeys, by Tristan Manc, 2010.  Street art and grafitti: themes and motives. 
Wideness and Wonder: The Life and Art of Georgia O'Keeffe, by Susan Goldman Rubin, 2011.  Traces the events that shaped the artist's work and how art influenced her life in return. (940L)
                                   DANCE and SPORTS                                 

American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch, by Matthew Polly, 2007.  Tormented by bullies in the schoolyards of Kansas, Matthew dreamed of journeying to the Shaolin Temple in China. With humor & cultural insight, this is the story of one man’s journey into the ancient art of kungfu.
A Passion For Victory: The Story of the Olympics in Ancient and Early Modern Times, by Benson Bobrick, 2012.  Chronicles Olympics history from the 8th century B.C. to the competitions of the 20th century, with historical profiles of athletes and insights into how the games were shaped by international events.
A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean, by Tori Murden McClure, 2009.  In 1998, Tori McClure began rowing solo across the Atlantic. Tori describes her battles against storms that nearly killed her. She was hired by Muhammad Ali, who told her she did not want to be known as the woman who "almost" rowed across the Atlantic.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place, by Aron Ralston, 2004. A mountaineer who survived a near-fatal accident by amputating his arm when it became trapped behind a boulder in Utah describes how he endured five days of hypothermia, dehydration, and hallucinations before managing his own rescue. (1210L)
Born to Run : A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, by Christopher McDougall, 2009.  McDougall reveals the secrets of the world's greatest distance runners--the Tarahumara Indians of Copper Canyon, Mexico--& how he trained for a 50 mile race.  
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown, 2013. Describes how a group of working class youths from the University of Washington rowing team emerged from obscurity to defeat a field of elite international rivals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Set against stark Depression-era realities.
Crazy For The Storm, by Norman Ollestad, 2009. Set amid the surf culture of Malibu and Mexico in the late 1970s, this riveting memoir recalls Ollestad's childhood and the magnetic man whose determination and love infuriated and inspired him -- and ultimately saved his life.


Fourth Down and Inches : Concussions and Football's Make-or-Break Moment, by Carla Killough McClafferty, 2013. Offers a look at the origins of football and the latest research on concussion and traumatic brain injuries in the sport.
Friday Night Lights: a Town, a Team, and a Dream, by H.G. Bissinger, 2004.  Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bissinger spent a year in Odessa, Texas, a town obsessed with its champion high-school football team, the Permian Panthers. (1260L)


Grayson, by Lynne Cox, 2006. One morning while the 17-year-old author was training for a long-distance swim, she became aware that something was swimming with her--a baby gray whale that had become separated from its mother. This is the tale of how Cox miraculously reunited mother and baby. (920L)


In These Girls, Hope is a Muscle, by Madeleine Blais, 1995.   Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Blais tracks the championship season of a girls' basketball team from Amherst, Mass. It is anecdotal, and details the physical & psychological efforts each girl put into the development of the team.  (1150L)


Isadora Duncan: A Graphic Biography, written and illustrated by Sabrina Jones, 2008.  Myth and controversy still swirl around the dramatic figure of Isadora Duncan--the pioneering modern dancer who emerged from 19th-century America to captivate the cultural capitals of Europe. Here, in graphic format Duncan's art and ideas come vividly to life.

One Shot at Forever: a Small Town, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season, by Chris Ballard, 2012.  In 1971, a high school baseball team from rural Illinois playing with hand-me-down uniforms and peace signs on their hats, led by an English teacher with no coaching experience, emerged from a field of 370 teams to become the smallest school in Illinois history to make the state final, a distinction that still stands.  

Outcasts United: The Story of a Refugee Soccer Team that Changed a Town, by Warren St. John, 2012.  Shares the inspirational story of a youth soccer team comprised of refugees from around the world who, under the guidance of a formidable female coach, helped to transform their Georgia community. (980L)


"21": The Story of Roberto Clemente, by Wilfred Santiago, 2011. In graphic format the life of baseball star Roberto Clemente includes coverage of a wide range of topics from the ways in which prejudice challenged his career and his personal responsibilities to his achievements with the Pittsburgh Pirates and his triumphant 3,000th hit before his tragic fatal plane crash.

Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board, by Bethany Hamilton, 2006. The teenage surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack in 2003 describes how she has coped with this life-altering event with the help of her faith, the changes in her life, and her return to the sport she loves. (960L)


Swimming to Antarctica : Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer, by Lynne Cox, 2004.
Cox was inducted into the Swimming Hall of Fame in 2000, and between her plunges, has written extensively about her adventures. (940L)


Taking Flight : From War Orphan to Star Ballerina, by Michaela DePrince with Elaine DePrince, 2014. Michaela DePrince lived the first few years of her live in war-torn Sierra Leone until she was adopted by an American Family. Now seventeen, she is one of the premiere ballerinas in the United States.



                                            FASHION                                               

Chanel and Her World: Friends, Fashion, and Fame, by Edmonde Charles-Roux, 2005.  A pictorial biography of Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel (1883–1971).

Hot Pink: The Life & Fashions of Elsa Schiaparelli, by Susan Goldman Rubin, 2015. Presents the life and accomplishments of the fashion designer, from her early life of poverty, to her successes in the Paris fashion world, her collaboration with well-known artists of her day, and the influence of her innovative designs on later fashion.

The Fashion Book, by Alexandra Black, 2014. A sassy style guide for teenage girls shares insight into the fashion world and how to personalize one's appearance for best results, chronicling fashion trends throughout history while sharing practical tips from top designers and models.


Read My Pins: Stories From a Diplomat's Jewel Box, by Madeleine Albright, 2009.  The first woman U.S. Secretary of State tells stories surrounding her pin collection, describing the pin not just as a piece of jewelry, but a badge of individuality, a vibrant vehicle for telling a story, and even a diplomatic tool for delivering messages to world leaders, politicians, and the public.

So, You Want to Work in Fashion?: How to Break into the World of Fashion and Design, by Patricia Wooster, 2014. A comprehensive guide to landing one's dream job in fashion and design profiles industry career opportunities, from clothing design and fashion photography to models and colorists, sharing inspiring true stories, activity suggestions and a list of helpful resources.

Seventeen Ultimate Guide to Style: How to Find Your Perfect Look, by Ann Shoket & the editors of Seventeen, 2011.  Provides details on six different looks--girly, edgy, boho, classic, glam, and indie--and how to customize them; offers advice on accessories; and discusses finding jeans, swimsuits, bras, and underwear to fit one's body type.

Why'd They Wear That?: Fashion as the Mirror of History, by Sarah Albee, 2015. A narrative chronicle of fashion through the ages describes the outrageous, politically perilous, and life-threatening creations people have worn in different historical eras, from spats and togas to hoop skirts and hair shirts.

                                                 FILM                                                    

Fabulous Films for Young Adults - Administered by Young Adult Library Services Association.

Reel Culture: 50 Classic Movies You Should Know About (So You Can Impress Your Friends), by Mimi O'Connor, 2009.  Discusses 50 classic films in chronological order from 1938 to 1991 that have had major influences on pop culture.   
Andre the Giant: His Life and Legend, by Box Brown, 2014.  Drawing from historical records about Andre's life as well as anecdotes from his colleagues in the wrestling world, including Hulk Hogan, and his film co-stars (Billy Crystal, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, etc), Brown has created a substantive biography of one of the 20th century's most recognizable figures.  Biography. Graphic format.

The Movie Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained, by DK Publishing, 2016. Including more than 100 of the best movies made, from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to Boyhood, the book contains highlights taken from every genre and every part of the world---from neorealism to the New Wave, and from crime thriller to romantic comedy, fantasy, and sci-fi.



Here Comes Trouble: Stories From My Life, by Michael Moore, 2011, The Academy Award-winning documentarian presents a series of pivotal episodes and humorous reminiscences from his early life which led to his decision to become a newspaper writer and filmmaker.



                             FOOD                               

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle : A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver, 2007.  Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, Kingsolver makes a case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life, & diversified farms at the center of the American diet.
Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong, by  Jen Yates, 2009.  From the creator of the blog CakeWrecks.com, here are the worst cakes ever, including the ugly, the silly, the downright creepy, the unintentionally sad or suggestive, and the just plain funny.
Candyfreak : A Journey Through The Chocolate Underbelly of America, by Steve Almond, 2004. After confessing to being a lifelong chocoholic, the aptly named Almond traces the history and bittersweet business practices of the companies producing those addictive candy bars. (1080L)

Fast Food Nation : The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, by Eric Schlosser, 2001. Charts the fast food industry's impact on our health, landscape, economy, politics and culture. (1240L)


Garlic and Sapphires : The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, by Ruth Reichl, 2005. Reichl recounts her undercover adventures as the restaurant critic for The New York Times. She becomes Molly the schoolmarm, Chloe the seductress, & Brenda the downtown earth mother, & dines out as Miriam, her own mother.



The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat, by Michael Pollan, 2009. From fast food & big organic to small farms & old-fashioned hunting & gathering, this young readers' adaptation of food-chain exploration encourages one to consider the personal & global health implications of food choices. (930L)


Relish : My Life in the Kitchen, by Lucy Knisley, 2013. Presents an illustrated memoir of the author's early life, as she describes key episodes and the foods associated with them, and the life lessons she learned from cooking and eating gourmet meals with her parents and friends. Each chapter is book-ended with an illustrated recipe. (970L)

Sugar Changed the World : A Story of Spice, Magic, Slavery, Freedom, and Science, by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos, 2010. Sugar has left a bloody trail through human history. Traces the history of sugar from its origins in New Guinea around 7000 B.C. to its use in the 21st century to produce ethanol. (1130L)
What the World Eats, photographed by Peter Menzel ; written by Faith D'Aluisio, 2008. A photographic collection exploring what the world eats, featuring portraits of 25 families from 21 countries surrounded by a week's worth of food. (1150L)



Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat, by Gail Jarrow, 2014. Traces the pellagra epidemic that spread throughout the American South a century ago, drawing on real-life cases to describe its physical and cultural impact as well as related medical reports, news articles, and scientific investigations.

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793, by Jim Murphy, 2003.  Recreates the devastation rendered to the city of Philadelphia in 1793 by an incurable disease known as yellow fever, detailing the major social and political events as well as the time's medical beliefs and practices. (1130L)


Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary, by Gail Jarrow, 2015. Chronicles the story of the early 1900s typhoid fever epidemic in New York, providing details as to how its infamous carrier was ultimately tracked down and stopped.


Scared Stiff: Everything You Need to Know About 50 Famous Phobias, by Sara Latta, 2014.  Explains how the primal human emotion of fear can sometimes manifest in the form of extremes, describing common phobias ranging from arachnophobia to zoophobia to reveal their histories, treatments, and famous sufferers. (1130L) More books in the catalog.


Sex : A Book For Teens : An Uncensored Guide To Your Body, Sex, and Safety, by Nikol Hasler, 2010. Discusses all aspects of sexuality and sexual behavior, including sexual orientation, masturbation, birth control, and sexually transmitted diseases, and answers teenagers' questions on sex in a straightforward and in-depth manner.  More books on this subject in the catalog.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, by Ishmael Beah, 2008.  An absorbing account by a young man who, as a boy of 12, was swept up in Sierra Leone's civil war,  revealing the life and mind of a child abducted into the horrors of warfare.  (920L)



Bomb : The Race To Build - And Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon, by Steve Sheinkin, 2012.  Recounts the scientific discoveries that enabled atom splitting, the military intelligence operations that occurred in rival countries, and the work of brilliant scientists hidden at Los Alamos. (920L)
Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition, by Karen Blumenthal, 2011. Offers information about Prohibition, temperance movements at the end of the eighteenth century, the Eighteenth Amendment, bootlegging, and gangsters. (1250L)


The Boy on the Wooden Box : How the Impossible Became Possible...on Schindler's List, by Leon Leyson, with Marilyn J. Harran and Elisabeth B. Leyson, 2013. The biography of Leon Leyson, the only memoir published by a former Schindler's List child, who was the youngest child in his family and possibly the youngest of the hundreds of Jews rescued by Oskar Schindler.  (1000L)
The Boy's War : Confederate and Union Soldiers Talk About the Civil War, by Jim Murphy, 1990. Includes diary entries, personal letters, and archival photographs to describe the experiences of boys, sixteen years old or younger, who fought in the Civil War. (1060L)


Charles and Emma: the Darwins' Leap of Faith, by Deborah Heiligman, 2009.   Charles Darwin and his wife,  Emma, were deeply in love and very supportive of each other, but their opinions often clashed. Emma was extremely religious, and Charles questioned God's very existence. (1020L)

Claudette Colvin : Twice Toward Justice, by Phillip Hoose, 2009. In 1955, 15-year-old Claudette, refused to give her seat to a white woman on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Instead of being celebrated as Rosa Parks would be 9 months later, Claudette was shunned. Later she challenged segregation again as a key plaintiff in Browder v. Gayle, the landmark case that struck down the segregation laws of Montgomery and swept away the legal underpinnings of the Jim Crow South. (1000L)

Code Name Pauline: Memoirs of a World War II Special Agent, by Pearl Witherington Cornioley with Hervé Larroqu, 2013. Pearl Witherington Cornioley, one of the most celebrated female World War II resistance fighters, recounts her life and experience as a special agent for the British Special Operations Executive.  

The Dark Game: True Spy Stories, by Paul B. Janeczko, 2010. From clothesline codes to surveillance satellites and cyber espionage, Janeczko uncovers two centuries' worth of true spy stories in U.S. history. (1200L)
The Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton & Aaron Burr, by Judith St. George, 2009.  Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were intertwined for some twenty-five years, with their resentments and misunderstandings culminating in a tragic duel. (1040L)



Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing, 1959. Describeshow twenty-eight men battled against almost insurmountable odds to return to civilization after their ship sank near the South Pole.



The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia, by Candace Fleming, 2014. Traces the story of the Russian Revolution, the lives of the Romanov family, and the story of their tragic deaths, in an account that draws on primary source materials and includes period photography. (950L)



Ghosts of War: The True Story of a 19-year-old GI, by Ryan Smithson, 2009. A memoir about combat, friendship, fear, & a soldier's commitment to his country. Smithson brings teen readers inside a world that few understand, as he describes his experience as a 19-year-old Army engineer in Iraq. (750L)


Hitler Youth: Growing Up In Hitler's Shadow, by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, 2004. The story of a generation of German young people who devoted all their energy to the Hitler Youth and the propaganda that gave Hitler his power, and the youths that resisted the Nazi movement. (1050L)

Part I - The Camp, December 1863 To November 1864  
Part II - The Court-Martial, May 1865 To November 1865  
Includes: Source Notes, Selected Bibliography, and Index.

The Life and Death of Crazy Horse, by Russell Freedman; with drawings by Amos Bad Heart Bull, 1996.  A biography of the Oglala leader who relentlessly resisted the white man's attempt to take over Indian lands.  (1100L)



The March on Washington, by James Haskins, 2004.  Discusses the people and events connected with the 1963 March on Washington, as well as the consequences of this well-known civil rights demonstration.  (1200L)



The Mayflower and the Pilgrims' New World, by Nathaniel Philbrick, 2008.  Offers the true story of the pioneers who crossed the Atlantic to establish a new world in Massachusetts, the challenges they faced upon their arrival, and their relationship with the local Native Americans. (1170L)

The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World's Most Notorious Nazi, by Neal Bascomb, 2013.  Recounts how, 16 years after the end of World War II, a team of undercover Israeli agents captured the Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann, in a remote area of Argentina and brought him to trial in Israel for crimes committed during the Holocaust.  (1000L)

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, and Treachery, by Steve Sheinkin, 2010.  A biography of America's first traitor--Benedict Arnold--that reads like an adventure tale, full of heroism, treachery, battle scenes, and surprising twists.  (990L)

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, by Marjane Satrapi, 2003.  The great-granddaughter of Iran's last emperor and the daughter of ardent Marxists describes growing up in Tehran in a country plagued by political upheaval and vast contraditions between public and private life. Biography. Graphic format.


The President Has Been Shot!: the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, by James L. Swanson, 2013. Recounts the 35th president's assassination and details key events while sharing informative back matter and archival photographs. (1080L)


Revenge of the Whale: The True Story of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick, 2005.  Recounts the 1820 sinking of the whaleship "Essex" by an enraged sperm whale & how the crew of young men survived against impossible odds. Based on the author's book "In the Heart of the Sea."  (1170L)

Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II, by Robert Kurson, 2004. For Chatterton & Kohler, deep wreck diving was more than a sport, but in the fall of 1991, not even these courageous divers were prepared for what they found 230 feet below the surface.

The Story of Mankind, by Hendrik Willem van Loon ; updated and introduced by Robert Sullivan, 2013. Van Loon animates the story of human history as a grand and perpetually unfolding adventure. Beginning with the origins of human life and sweeping forward to illuminate all of history, this new version has been brought up to date by best selling historian Robert Sullivan.  (1260L)

Titanic: Voices From the Disaster, by Deborah Hopkinson, 2012.  Tells the tale of the sinking of the Titanic using the narratives of the witnesses and survivors to the disaster.
The War to End All Wars: World War I, by Russell Freedman, 2010. The  relationships of many nations, the introduction of modern weaponry, & the military decisions that resulted in thousands of casualties, in the “great war,” which people hoped and believed would be the only conflict of its kind. Includes photographs, source notes, and a bibliography.  (1220L)

Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions, by Ben Mezrich, 2002.  In the midst of the go-go eighties and nineties, a group of overachieving, anarchistic MIT math geniuses who legally took the casinos for over three million dollars -- while still finding time for college keg parties, football games, and final exams.
Logicomix: An Epic Search For Truth, by Apostolos Doxiadis & Christos H. Papadimitriou, 2009.  A full-color exploration of the life & ideas of philosopher & mathematician Bertrand Russell. A comic about the "quest for the foundations of mathematics."

Mysterious Messages: A History of Codes and Ciphers, by Gary Blackwood, 2009.   From the ingenious ciphers of Italian princes to the spy books of the Civil War to the advanced techniques of the CIA, codes and code breaking have played important roles throughout history.

Naked Economics : Undressing the Dismal Science, by Charles Wheelan, updated 2010.  Seeks to provide an engaging and comprehensive primer to economics that explains key concepts without technical jargon and using common-sense examples. Tone: Funny.
Super Crunchers:Why Thinking-By-Numbers is the New Way to be Smart, by Ian Ayres, 2008.  The rise of the super crunchers - Who's doing your thinking for you? - Creating your own data with the flip of a coin - Government by chance - How should physicians treat evidence-based medicine? - Experts versus equations - The future of intuition.
     


AC/DC: High-Voltage Rock'n'Roll: The Ultimate Illustrated History, by Phil Sutcliffe, 2010.  Follows the band from its roots in Australia, to its most recent releases & world tours. No stone is left unturned, from the AC/DC's formation and early club gigs to its worldwide success.
The Anthology of Rap, edited by Adam Bradley, Andrew DuBois ; foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. ; afterword by Chuck D and Common, 2010.  In this book, the editors demonstrate that rap is a wide-reaching and vital poetic tradition born of beats and rhymes, and an influential cultural force.
Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana, by Michael Azerrad, 1993.  The close-up, intimate story of Nirvana -- with exclusive in-depth interviews with band members Kurt Cobain, Krist Noveselic, and Dave Grohl, as well as friends, relatives, former band members, and associates. 

How Music Works, by David Byrne, 2012.  The Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame inductee and co-founder of Talking Heads presents a celebration of music that offers insight into the roles of time, place and recording technology, discussing how evolutionary patterns of adaptations and responses to cultural and physical contexts have influenced music expression throughout history and culminated in the 20th century's practices.


Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing, by Ann Angel, 2010.  Joplin remains among the most compelling and influential figures in rock history. Her story is one of a girl who struggled against rules and limitations, yet worked diligently to improve as a singer.

Joan Jett, by Joan Jett, & Todd Oldham, 2010.  "Jett's story, from her days with The Ramones and the Dead Boys through heavy rotation on MTV and a slew of hits, a 1990s regeneration, and her continued  popularity"-- paraphrased from publisher description.
John Lennon: All I Want Is The Truth: A Photographic Biography, by Elizabeth Partridge, 2005.  The story of one of rock's biggest legends, from his birth during a 1940 World War II air raid on Liverpool, through his turbulent childhood and teen years, to his celebrated life writing, recording, and performing with the Beatles and beyond.


Johnny Cash: I See A Darkness, by Reinhard Kleist, 2009.  Portrays the unpredictable life of a loner, patriot, outlaw, & music rebel. Biography. Graphic format.


Legends, Icons, & Rebels: Music that Changed the World, by Robbie Roberston, 2013. A tribute to more than two dozen legendary music artists who significantly influenced the landscape of music, from Ray Charles and Bob Dylan to Chuck Berry and Johnny Cash. Includes 2 CDs with a single hit from each musician.


Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove, by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Ben Greenman, 2013.  Questlove is the drummer for The Roots, which also served as the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Questlove discusses hip-hop, his life and career, his interactions with other musicians and artists like Jay Z and Common, and more.

Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes From the American Indie Underground 1981-1991, by Michael Azerrad, 2001.  Black Flag - The Minutemen - Mission of Burma - Minor Threat - Husker Du - The Replacements - Sonic Youth - Butthole Surfers - Big Black - Dinosaur Jr. - Fugazi - Mudhoney - Beat Happening.


Raggin', Jazzin', Rockin': A History of American Musical Instrument Makers, by Susan VanHecke, 2011.  Presents a history of the invention of musical instruments, including the inventors who created Zildjian cymbals, the Steinway piano, the Martin guitar, the Hammond organ, and the Moog synthesizer.  (1090L)


Taylor Swift: The Unofficial Story, by Liv Spencer, 2010.



                        PETS AND WILD ANIMALS                     

Alex & Me : How a Scientist and a Parrot Uncovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process, by Irene M. Pepperberg, 2008.  Documents the 30-year relationship between an African Grey parrot & his trainer, & the ways in which his life has changed scientific understanding about language and thought.


Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals, by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson, 2009.  The author employs her own experience with autism and her background as an animal scientist to show how to give animals the best and happiest life.  Also see Grandin's biography: Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World, by Sy Montgomery, 2012.


Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916, by Michael Capuzzo, 2003.  Details the first documented cases in American history of sharks attacking swimmers, which occured along the Atlantic coast of New Jersey in 1916.  (1200L)


A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me, by Jon Katz, 2001. The story of how Katz discovers a lot about himself through one dog (and then another). It is a story of trust and understanding, of life and death, of continuity and change. It is by turns insightful, hilarious, and deeply moving.  


Elephant Talk : The Surprising Science of Elephant Communication, by Ann Downer, 2011.  An introduction to elephants, describing their different types, habitat, herd behavior, how they communicate using sound, touch, and bodily movement, and the dangers they face from illegal poaching.  (1220L)


Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95,  by Phillip Hoose, 2012.  Documents the survival tale of a shorebird who has endured annual migrations between Argentina and the Canadian Arctic.  Scientists call him Moonbird because, in the course of his astoundingly long lifetime of nearly 20 years, he has flown the distance to the moon and halfway back.

The Man Who Listens to Horses, by Monty Roberts, 1997. Monty Roberts is a real-life horse whisperer--whose gentle training methods reveal the depth of communication possible between man and animal.


Navy Seal Dogs : My Tale of Training Canines for Combat, by Mike Ritland, 2013.  A younger reader adaptation of Trident K9 Warriors, profiles the world of elite Navy SEAL working dogs, describing from a trainer's perspective the extreme missions the dogs undertake to save lives and how after retiring they are placed in loving homes.
Out On A Limb : What Black Bears Taught Me About Intelligence and Intuition, by Benjamin Kilham, 2013.  For decades, Kilham has studied wild black bears in Northern New Hampshire woodlands. For years, scientists have considered black bears to be mostly solitary.  Kilham's observations, though, reveal the extraordinary interactions wild bears have with each other.

The Race to Save the Lord God Bird, by Phillip Hoose, 2004.  Tells the story of the ivory-billed woodpecker's extinction in the United States, describing the encounters between this species and humans, and discussing what these encounters have taught us about preserving endangered creatures.

Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants, by Robert Sullivan, 2004. Thoreau went toWalden Pond to live simply & contemplate his place in the world by observing nature. Sullivan went to a garbage-filled alley in lower Manhattan to contemplate the city & its lesser-known inhabitants -- the rat.


Action Philosophers!: The Lives and Thoughts of History's A-list Brain Trust, by Fred Van Lenter & Ryan Dunlavey, 2009.  In graphic format, explains the theories of various philosophers through humorous examples and anecdotes.

An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments, by Ali Almossawi, 2013. Have you read (or stumbled into) one too many irrational online debates? Almossawi certainly had, so he wrote An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments. A software engineer and a graphic designer combine forces to depict the lost art of logic, including the "false dilemma" and the "appeal to ignorance," old-school logic (really old-school, a la Aristotle).

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes, by Thomas Cathcart, & Daniel Klein, 2007.  Philogagging - Metaphysics - Logic - Epistemology - Ethics - Philosophy of religion - Existentialism - Philosophy of language - Social & political philosophy - Relativity - Meta-philosophy - Final exam - Great moments in the history of philosophy.

Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves, by James Nestor, 2014. Surveys the achievements of adventurous scientists, athletes and explorers to reveal how new understandings about deep-sea life, from telepathic coral to shark navigation, are expanding what is known about the natural world and the human mind.
Feynman, written by Jim Ottaviani; art by Leland Myrick, 2011. Presents the larger-than-life exploits of Nobel-winning quantum physicist, adventurer, musician, world-class raconteur, and one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century: Richard Feynman. Biography. Graphic format. (620L)


How to Fake a Moon Landing: Exposing the Myths of Science Denial, by Darryl Cunningham, 2013. Is hydro-fracking really safe? Is climate change real? Did the moon landing really happen? How about evolution: fact or fiction?   Cunningham shows how information is manipulated by all sides. Graphic format.

Packing for Mars: the Curious Science of Life in the Void, by Mary Roach, 2010.  The author of Stiff and Bonk explores the irresistibly strange universe of space travel and life without gravity.  (1070L)





Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science, by John Fleischman, 2002. A railroad construction foreman, Phineas, was blasting rock near Cavendish, Vermont, in 1848 when a 13 pound iron rod was shot through his brain. He survived another 11 years and became a textbook case in brain science. Phineas was forever changed by the accident, and what happened inside his brain will tell you a lot about how your brain works and what makes us who we are. (1030L)


The Radioactive Boy Scout: The True Story of a Boy & his Backyard Nuclear Reactor, by Ken Silverstein, 2004.  In suburban Detroit, David Hahn was fascinated by science. While working on his Atomic Energy badge for the Boy Scouts, David’s attention turned to nuclear energy. Throwing caution to the wind, he plunged into a new project: building a nuclear breeder reactor in his backyard garden shed.  (1300L)

Rocket Boys: A Memoir, by Homer H. Hickam, Jr., 1998. After a distinguished NASA career, Hickam shares the story of his youth in the little mining town of Coalwood, where Homer H. "Sonny" Hickam, Jr.,& a handful of his friends were inspired to start designing and launching the home-made rockets that would change their lives and their town forever.

Science Fair Season: Twelve Kids, A Robot Named Scorch ... and What It Takes To Win, by Judy Dutton, 2011. Dutton presents the engaging true story of kids competing in the high-stakes, high-drama world of international science fairs.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach, 2003. From medicinal mummies to cadaver models for crash-test dummies, a San Francisco writer presents a well-researched, lively dissection of offbeat ways that the dead have served the living, and treats medical and ethical issues.

Their Skeletons Speak: Kennewick Man and the Paleoamerican World, by Sally M. Walker, Douglas W. Owsley, 2012.  Discusses the processes used by scientists to discern the identity of the Kennewick Man and what this nine thousand-year-old skeleton revealed about the arrival of humans in North America. (1140L)

Washed Up: The Curious Journeys of Flotsam & Jetsam, by Skye Moody, 2006. The travels of marine debris. From rubber ducks and beeswax to refrigerators and dead whales.



The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring, by Richard Preston, 2007.  In California are the largest & tallest organisms in the world–Sequoia sempervirens. 96% of the ancient redwood forests have been destroyed by logging. Suspended in their crowns, hundreds of feet above the forest floor, is a primeval kingdom of plants & animals that only a handful of people have ever seen.


                                 SOCIOLOGY                                  

Black Like Me, by John Howard Griffin, 2004. Griffin's controversial novel about his experiences as a white man, who transforms himself with the aid of medication & dye, in order to experience the life of a black man living in the DeepSouth in the late 1950s. (990L)

Can I See Your I.D.? : True Stories of False Identities, by Chris Barton, 2011. Looks at the lives of ten imposters, including Keron Thomas, Princess Caraboo, and Frank W. Abagnale, Jr., describing their motivations and exploits. (980L)



The Courage to be Yourself: True Stories by Teens About Cliques, Conflicts, and Overcoming Peer Pressure, edited by Al Desetta with Educators for Social Responsibility, 2005. In 26 first-person stories, real teens write about their lives with searing honesty.



Geeks : How Two Lost Boys Rode the Internet Out of Idaho, by Jon Katz, 2000.  Geeks is the story of how Jesse and Eric—and others like them—used technology to try and change their lives and alter their destiny.



Looks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids, by Deborah Ellis, 2013. A number of Indian children from Canada and the United States discuss what happens in their daily lives by engaging in interviews with the author. (780L)




The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders, by Emmanuel Guibert, 2009.  In 1986, Afghanistan was torn apart by a war with the Soviet Union. This graphic format/photo-journal is a record of one reporter’s arduous & dangerous journey through Afghanistan, accompanying the Doctors Without Borders.  

Popular, a memoir: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek, by Maya Van Wagenen, 2014. Documents a high school student's year-long attempt to change her social status from that of a misfit to a member of the "in" crowd by following advice in a 1950s popularity guide, an experiment that triggered embarrassment, humor and unexpected surprises. (730L)


Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger, 2016. Uses history, psychology, and anthropology to explore what can be learned from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the human quest for meaning.


True Notebooks, by Mark Salzman, 2003. The author shares his experiences assisting teens  with their writing in Central Juvenile Hall, a jail located near Los Angeles.



We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Helped Us Succeed, by Sampson Davis, 2005. Three boys, who made a pact to stick together through the rough times in their impoverished Newark neighborhood, found the strength to work through their difficulties and complete high school, college, and medical school together.
We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2015. Offers an updated definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. This is the edited version of Adichie's TED Talk first presented in the United Kingdom at TEDxEuston, in 2012.
Why Do We Fight? : Conflict, War, and Peace, by Niki Walker, 2013. Explores how conflict develops and has the potential to evolve into war, using real world examples.




A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, by Bill Bryson, 1998. An adventure, a comedy, and a celebration.  (1210L)

Cool Japan Guide: Fun in the Land of Manga, Lucky Cats and Ramen, by Abby Denson, 2015. A travel guide exploring Japanese culture from a cartoonist's perspective. This guide takes you on a tour from the streets of Tokyo to the Zen gardens and Shinto shrines of Kyoto, and introduces: Japanese food, the otaku (geek) culture of Japan, Japanese shopping, the world's biggest manga, anime and cosplay festivals, the best travel apps for Japan, and more. Graphic format.


Europe From a Backpack: Real Stories From Young Travelers Abroad, edited by Mark Pearson and Martin Westerman, 2004.  For the students who make the trek across the ocean in search of adventures, this collection of short essays will foreshadow much of what is in store and, when they return, echo their experiences. Maps.

Greasy Rider: Two Dudes, One Fry-Oil-Powered Car, and a Cross-Country Search for a Greener Future, by Greg Melville, 2008. The quest: to be the first people to drive cross-country in a french-fry car. Part adventure, part investigation, of what we're doing (or not doing) to preserve the planet. Upbeat, funny, and full of surprising information. 

How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, by Sarah Glidden, 2010. Glidden, a progressive American Jew who is sharply critical of Israeli policies vis-â-vis the Occupied Territories, went on an all-expense-paid 'birthright' trip to Israel in an attempt to discover some grand truths at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This graphic memoir tells the often funny story of her utter failure to do so. Graphic format.
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster, by Jon Krakauer, 1999. The author describes his spring 1996 trek to Mt. Everest, a disastrous expedition that claimed the lives of eight climbers, and explains why he survived. (1320L)
The North Pole Was Here: Puzzles and Perils at the Top of the World, by Andrew C. Revkin, 2006. Discover the North Pole and the arctic ice that covers the ocean water there. Learn about historical expeditions, and the recent one the author joined and where these chapters were written. (1300L)


Rite of Passage: Tales of Backpacking 'Round Europe, edited by Lisa Johnson, 2003. Backpackers on their first visit to Europe tell it like it really is.They describe crossing the language barrier in Corfu, meeting locals in Prague, surviving hostel life in London, finding love in Paris & overindulging in Greece.


To Timbuktu: Nine Countries, Two People, One True Story, by Casey Scieszka, 2011. Covers the nearly two-year odyssey that Casey & Steven embarked on after graduating from college in 2006. Explores each nation's language, politics, traditions, & food.  Illustrated by Steven Weinberg.


             WRITING & YOUNG ADULT AUTHORS            

Bad Boy: A Memoir, by Walter Dean Myers, 2001. From bad boy to role model, the author tells the story of his life as a troublemaker and truant while growing up in Harlem in the 1940s and '50s. In his own words, the author reveals his struggle to find his own way and become a successful writer.

Guts: The True Stories Behind Hatchet and the Brian Books, by Gary Paulsen, 2001. Paulsen tells the stories of the adventures that inspired him to write Brian Robeson's story. He also takes readers on his first hunting trips, showing the wonder and solace of nature along with his hilarious mishaps and mistakes.

Hole In My Life, by Jack Gantos, 2002. The author relates how, as a young adult, he became a drug user and smuggler, was arrested, did time in prison, and eventually got out and went to college, all the while hoping to become a writer.



I am Scout: A Biography of Harper Lee, by Charles J. Shields, 2008.  The author of Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee adapts his best-selling title to bring to young readers the life of the unconventional, high-spirited woman who wrote one of the greatest novels of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird. (1120L) 


Red: The Next Generation of American Writers--Teenage Girls - On What Fires Up Their Lives Today, edited by Amy Goldwasser, 2007.  A vivid portrait of what it means to be a teenage girl in America today, from 58 of the country's finest, most credentialed writers on the subject. 



Say What? : The Weird and Mysterious Journey of the English Language, by Gena K. Gorrell, 2009.  Presents the history of the modern English language and how previous languages and civilizations influenced its development.


Thrice Told Tales, by Catherine Lewis, 2013.   Depicts three not-so-helpless blind mice who demystify useful literary elements, sharing lighthearted language secrets and absurdest rules that include coverage of the differences between bildungsroman, epigram, and epistolary.

10 comments:

  1. Fascinating list. I teach a humanities course focusing on nonfiction for high school students and grabbed several titles off this list, added them to my Kindle Cloud, and will use them in the classroom this coming semester.

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  2. This is a great list and a result of hard work indeed!

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  3. I searched for a list of historical non-fiction for couple of hours. This is the best one I found.

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    1. Thank you! This list needs to be updated. I plan to update it sometime in the next couple of weeks.

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  4. Great list! I would also suggest: A World Without Fish (Mark Kurlansky) and Invisible Enemies (Jeanette Farrell).

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  5. Great list! Very useful for junior high students needing a narrative nonfiction book for a project. Appreciate the time and effort you put into this!

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  6. This is a great list! We recently weeded our teen nonfiction and moved it to a new location. (it used to be interfiled with adult nonfiction) The collection was terribly out of date with a few new titles thrown in. I used this list as a guide to help choose new titles to update the collection. Thanks for putting it together. Hope to see it when you update it as well.

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  7. Thanks for this list-I am always looking for "fun" and interesting non-fiction for our YA section. Got tons of ideas here.

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