RA Back Pocket: Nonfiction | Wyatt’s World

This year saw nonfiction that shaped the national conversation and revealed historical crimes. Here are a few examples to suggest—all of which can be considered key titles for the collection.

  • You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown).
    Alexie’s memoir, an LJ Top Ten best book of 2017, is a mix of childhood memory, poetry, adult reflection, and family dysfunction. With a sense of candor that opens a painful legacy, he shares the story of his early days, his circle of relatives, in particular his mother, and his coming to terms (or trying to) with it all.
  • Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder (Norton).
    The idealized notion of retirement is a fantasy for many. With debt, lack of savings (or the inability to save at all), and insufficient Social Security, a new labor force is emerging—those who should have been able to retire but can’t afford to do so. Bruder documents this new reality. An LJ Top Ten best book of 2017.
  • Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay (Harper).
    Novelist Gay (An Untamed State), a voice for our contemporary times, here looks back to a horrific and traumatic event from her childhood, exploring how her self-image was shattered by rape. Her intimate account is a revelation, an embodiment, and a reclaiming. An LJ Top Ten best book of 2017.
  • The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen (Riverhead).
    National Book Award winner Gessen hones her sharp eye on a critical concern in 2017, the Russian state. But this is not a book about that country’s plots in America but rather one that illustrates the effect of the state on its citizens.
  • Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (Doubleday).
    A true crime case from the early 1900s reveals a heinous plot that ultimately leads to the murders of members of the Osage Nation and becomes a testing ground for the FBI. Grann delivers a gripping account of the killings and the work it took to undercover the conspiracy. An LJ Top Ten best book of 2017.
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Neal Wyatt About Neal Wyatt

Neal Wyatt is LJ's reader's advisory columnist. She writes The Reader's Shelf, RA Crossroads, Book Pulse, and Wyatt's World columns. She is currently revising The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 3d ed. (ALA Editions, 2018). Contact her at nwyatt@mediasourceinc.com.

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