Top 8 Nonfiction Reads of 2020

I listed my favorite fiction books of 2020 in the previous post, in this post I’m going to share my favorite nonfiction books. My major in graduate school was actually nonfiction and for a long time I thought it was all I could write. It turned out that when someone cared and kicked my ass to try something else, I realized I could write other things (thanks, Tracey)! It was supposed to be a top 10 list but as many good intentions as I had with nonfiction this year, I read less of it than other years.

Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions by Russell Brand
This book was my wakeup call that got me to the place where I realized that I was powerless over addiction and that I needed help and I needed sobriety. I had tried several times before, but Brand is British which really helped because as an Australian by birth, he spoke my lingo. He also overuses the word “fuck” which also helped a great deal. Whatever it takes to get one’s ass into recovery is good. This book was actually handed to me by a friend who I don’t think was even aware that I had addiction issues. She was sharing her copy with me and told me why she loved it. She loaned me hers but I ordered a copy the very next day and gave hers back to me.

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola
I read several addiction recovery books this year, and although alcohol is not my vice, it very well could have been because addiction is addiction. I appreciated this author’s memoir, where she is frank and honest, but also hilarious. She talks about how she blacked out large parts of her life via alcohol, just to try to get drunk. She managed to get and stay sober, so that already makes it a story worth telling.

Naked in Public: A Memoir of Recovery From Sex Addiction and Other Temporary Insanities by Staci Sprout
I was interested in this book because it was the first that I had seen that was written by a woman with a sex addiction. Most people, even most people in recovery for sex addiction, think that it’s a man’s addiction and so there are very little spaces for women. The closest SAA meeting to me was an hour away and only open to men. I chose this book based on the fact that it was a fellow female. Staci Sprout is also a therapist now, but she tells about all the things she tried for sex addiction before she showed up in 12-step meetings. I related to her so much, and I felt a bond formed between us as she had been through the program and was using her story to help reach others like me who felt out of place in what is supposedly only a man’s addiction. Navigating these issues as a woman just isn’t kosher, and so I needed to hear from her.

Glorious Weakness by Alia Joy
I wasn’t sure how this book was going to be, but it sounded good and it was on sale on Kindle for 0.99 so I thought “why not.” I’m so glad I did. I cried my way through this book, it was just the acknowledgement I needed at the time of what I had been through, and that others understood. I would recommend this as a nonfiction read for 2021 especially if you’re disabled. It’s not a recovery book like the first few on the list.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle
I admit that I held out on buying this book because it seemed so popular and usually popular shit and me don’t really get along better. It is also a book that is about “women’s empowerment” and while I’m a feminist I was worried it was a crystals and unicorns farting rainbows kind of “women’s empowerment.” I also feared it might be inspiration porn, which I hate with a passion, but it was none of those things. I was on one of my rare strolls through Target just days before COVID lockdowns started back in March, because I had birthday money. Usually I don’t shop at Target as it’s out of my social class and price range but I saw this book and flipped through it. I was drawn to a chapter about food and it spoke to me so deeply I bought in on the spot and consumed it in 24 hours.

Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians by Austen Hartke
My daughter came out as transgender this year (finally) and as my children and I celebrated her, there were many who were upset, and several that weren’t sure what they thought or believed, and I was looking for a resource to direct the ones whose minds were open but unsure, to. This is that resource. I’m thankful for Hartke’s work and I know it helped at least one person I know come to a point of celebration of my daughter, and so if you need a resource about being transgender and Christian, this is the one.

Your Story Matters: Finding, Writing, and Living the Truth of Your Life by Leslie Leyland Fields
Like I mentioned above, I took the nonfiction major in my graduate degree, and so this book was appealing to me even though I was also delving into some autobiographical fiction pieces as well as poetry. I feel like stories are important, and that it’s personal stories, and not theology, that changes hearts and minds. I felt like this book was one that is actually very beneficial to my writing.

Writing in the Dark: Tim Waggoner
I pre-ordered this because it sounded so good and horror is the genre I want to focus most of my fictional work on, especially if I’m going to write autobiographical fiction because now there is a truly a horror story to be told. Horror stories have been a way that I connect with God and so having such a good guide on writing in the genre made me happy.

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