Last Updated on December 29, 2023 by showitadmin
Another year has come and gone, leaving behind new discoveries, new ideas, and of course, new books. As we’re getting ready to turn the page, it’s time once again to reflect on the nonfiction titles that stood out over the last twelve months. Books have the power to change perspective and challenge preconceived notions, helping us better understand ourselves and our world. In this list, we celebrate 10 best nonfiction books published in 2023 that had particularly thought-provoking insights, moving stories, or novel ways of considering perennial issues. Whether profiling unsung heroes, uncovering little-known history, or presenting audacious ideas, these books expanded minds and sparked conversations. Read on to find brief overviews of each selection, with the hope that you’ll be inspired to add one or more to your own reading list.
A Living Remedy by Nicole Chung
“A Living Remedy” is a poignant memoir that delves into family, class, and grief. Nicole Chung embarks on a journey to understand her adoptive parents’ lives, her own adulthood, and the losses she has endured. From her Oregon hometown to an East Coast university, she navigates a world of privilege while grappling with guilt and the limitations of helping loved ones. Tragedy strikes when her father passes away, followed by her mother’s cancer diagnosis amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Through it all, this memoir explores the resilience of family bonds and exposes the profound inequalities that persist in American society.
The Wager by David Grann
“The Wager” is a gripping tale of shipwreck, survival, and a shocking court martial that challenges the very concept of empire. Stranded on a desolate island, the crew of His Majesty’s Ship the Wager faces starvation and anarchy, with mutiny and murder tearing them apart. As accusations fly, a court martial is called to uncover the truth. In this extraordinary narrative, David Grann masterfully explores the depths of human behavior and delivers an enthralling story of resilience and justice.
Mott Street by Ava Chin
“Mott Street” is a captivating narrative history that explores the Chinese Exclusion Act through the lens of one family’s remarkable journey to establish roots in America. Author Ava Chin embarks on a personal quest to uncover her Chinese American family’s story, delving into decades of research to trace their origins, the challenges they faced, and their eventual settlement in New York City’s Chinatown. Through their experiences as pioneers, railroad workers, and community leaders, Chin sheds light on the impact of the discriminatory Exclusion laws and highlights the resilience and enduring spirit of Chinese immigrants in America. With meticulous research and compelling storytelling, “Mott Street” uncovers a powerful legacy of exclusion and resilience that resonates with the broader American experience.
“Mott Street” is also one of the books selected in The 2023 Spring Reading Guide.
Camera Girl by Carl Sferrazza Anthony
“Camera Girl” is an illuminating biography that delves into the formative years of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy. From her adventures in Paris to her career as a writer and photographer in Washington, DC, the book explores her romance with a charismatic Massachusetts congressman and her pursuit of her dreams. With wit and intelligence, this book brings to life Jackie’s journey as a young woman navigating societal expectations and carving her own path. Drawing on previously unseen archives and interviews, author Carl Sferrazza Anthony offers a fresh perspective on Jacqueline Kennedy, showcasing her as a headstrong and self-assured individual who would later become one of the world’s most iconic figures.
“Camera Girl” is also one of the books selected in The 2023 Summer Reading Guide.
The Con Queen of Hollywood by Scott C. Johnson
Follow the gripping international manhunt for a psychopathic con artist who preyed on creators’ dreams, stealing identities and millions. Scott C. Johnson’s true crime narrative delves into the imposter’s diabolical flair for manipulation and deception, as well as the relentless pursuit by a determined detective. With unprecedented access to victims and exclusive recordings, Johnson uncovers the motives behind one of Hollywood’s most elaborate scams. From Los Angeles to the United Kingdom to Jakarta, this captivating story reveals not only the Con Queen’s disturbing mind but also the author’s personal journey of self-discovery.
“The Con Queen of Hollywood” is also one of the books selected in The 2023 Summer Reading Guide.
A Thread of Violence by Mark O’Connell
In this gripping true crime tale, the award-winning author delves into the shocking story of Malcolm Macarthur, a Dublin socialite turned bank robber whose plan went horribly wrong, resulting in the senseless deaths of two innocent civilians. Through chilling interviews and independent reporting, the author explores the blurred line between truth and fiction, unraveling the dark consequences of a life transformed into a narrative. “A Thread of Violence” is a compelling examination of the harrowing act, its murky origins, and the profound impact it leaves behind.
“A Thread of Violence” is also one of the books selected in The 2023 Summer Reading Guide.
The Art Thief by Michael Finkel
Discover the captivating true-crime tale of Stéphane Breitwieser, the world’s most prolific art thief. In this spellbinding account, bestselling author Michael Finkel takes us into Breitwieser’s fascinating world of obsession and flawed genius. Unlike other thieves, Breitwieser stole not for money but for the sheer pleasure of admiring his stolen treasures. With remarkable skill and audacity, he carried out over 200 heists across Europe, accumulating more than 300 stolen objects. However, his reckless pursuit eventually led to his downfall. “The Art Thief” is a riveting story of art, crime, love, and an insatiable hunger for beauty.
They Called Us Exceptional by Prachi Gupta
Prachi Gupta’s memoir, “They Called Us Exceptional,” delves into the complexities of identity and belonging, especially for immigrants and their children in America. Through a deeply personal narrative intertwined with history and research, Gupta explores the pressure to conform to the myth of Asian American success while navigating hidden traumas. She reflects on her journey of self-discovery and liberation, shedding light on the disconnection caused by traditional notions of success. Ultimately, Gupta advocates for compassion as a guiding force in our lives, emphasizing the importance of understanding ourselves and fostering meaningful connections with others.
Up Home by Ruth J. Simmons
Ruth J. Simmons, the first Black president of an Ivy League university, shares her inspiring story in “Up Home.” From growing up as the twelfth child of sharecroppers in East Texas to becoming a renowned leader in higher education, Simmons takes us on a journey that highlights the importance of family, resilience, and education. Through her vivid storytelling, she explores her upbringing in a segregated South, the challenges she faced, and the lasting impact of inequality. “Up Home” is a powerful memoir that sheds light on the legacy of racial and economic injustice, while celebrating the triumph of the human spirit.
How to Say Babylon by Safiya Sinclair
“How to Say Babylon” is a powerful memoir that delves into the author’s journey of breaking free from a rigid Rastafarian upbringing, where her father’s strict patriarchal views and oppressive control shaped her childhood. Safiya Sinclair’s struggle to find her own voice as a woman and poet is beautifully portrayed in this captivating story. This memoir explores themes of rebellion, patriarchy, colonialism, and the complex cultural dynamics of Jamaica. Through heartfelt prose and poetic language, “How to Say Babylon” offers a unique perspective on a world often misunderstood.
“How to Say Babylon” is also one of the books selected in The 2023 Fall Reading Guide.
The 10 Best Nonfiction Books of 2023
- A Living Remedy by Nicole Chung
- The Wager by David Grann
- Mott Street by Ava Chin
- Camera Girl by Carl Sferrazza Anthony
- The Con Queen of Hollywood by Scott C. Johnson
- A Thread of Violence by Mark O’Connell
- The Art Thief by Michael Finkel
- They Called Us Exceptional by Prachi Gupta
- Up Home by Ruth J. Simmons
- How to Say Babylon by Safiya Sinclair
What do you think about these best nonfiction books on this list?
Have you read any books from this list? What are your favorite nonfiction books of 2023? What books would you add to the list?