Chances are, the book you're in the middle of reading for your book club is a novel. Am I right? Aside from a memoir here or a history book there, nonfiction tends to get overlooked by book clubbers in favor of the likes of Gone Girl and Where'd You Go, Bernadette. Not that there's anything wrong with that—we loved those books, too! But here are 10 nonfiction book club recommendations (in no particular order and all available in paperback) to pitch to your group when you feel like mixing things up.

comingtomysenses#1:  COMING TO MY SENSES
By Alyssa Harad

Harad presents a lush, humorous, drama-free tale of a how a no-nonsense, underemployed English PhD, who usually dressed like “an unmade bed,” discovered the pleasures of femininity and her own senses through an affair with fragrance.

Genre: Memoir
Discussion topics: the meaning of "femininity"; life-changing discoveries/interests; pursuing passions


(Read our review here.)


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storycharlottesweb#2:  THE STORY OF CHARLOTTE'S WEB
By Michael Sims

Before Harry Potter came along, Charlotte's Web was the biggest-selling children's book in America. Sims' biography of author E.B. White illuminates the elements and events of his life that led him to write the beloved classic.

Genre: Biography
Discussion topics: favorite childhood classics; lifelong passions; nature and animals

(Read our review of the book here and an interview with Sims here.)


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1493#3:  1493
By Charles C. Mann

This engaging look at the ascent of Europe and the development of globalization is grand in scope yet satisfyingly detailed. Mann’s powerful narrative touches down in China, Africa and Mexico as it traces the establishment of complex trade systems and economies that made the world what it is today.

Genre: History
Discussion topics: endless fascinating tidbits; the good, the bad and the ugly of globalization

(Read our review here.)


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hiddenamerica#4:  HIDDEN AMERICA
By Jeanne Marie Laskas

Award-winning journalist Laskas gives voice—as well as dignity and poetry—to America’s blue-collar ranks with nine character-driven profiles of the people who make our lives run every day—and yet we barely think of them.

Genre: Society
Discussion topics: the most under-appreciated professions; the most eye-opening profiles in the book; what will you do differently after reading this

(Read our review here.)


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cleopatra#5:  CLEOPATRA
By Stacy Schiff

Almost everything we think we knew Cleopatra comes from a legend created by her most deadly enemy, the Roman emperor Augustus. Schiff's fascinating biography goes beyond that legend, revealing an intelligent, capable ruler whose storied love affairs were, as often as not, also savvy political moves.

Genre: Biography
Discussion topics: the subjectivity of history; most surprising revelations; strengths and weaknesses of Cleopatra as a ruler

(Read our review here.)


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fordlandia#6:  Fordlandia
By Greg Grandin

During the 1920s, Henry Ford bought land in Brazil’s Amazon River basin, hoping to turn it into a rubber plantation that would supply his car business and create an idyllic community. Grandin delivers a compelling account of this fascinating chapter in Ford's life.

Genre: History
Discussion topics: Ford's biggest mistakes; likelihood of this sort attempt to happen now; would you have wanted to live in Fordlandia

(Read our review here.)


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everymaninthisvillage#7:  EVERY MAN IN THIS VILLAGE IS A LIAR
By Megan K. Stack

Stack was 25 and employed by the Los Angeles Times when she wrote the essays collected here. This account of her adventures as a journalist in the Middle East provides invaluable perspectives on what it’s like to be female and American in some of the world’s most dangerous cities.

Genre: Essays/Memoir
Discussion topics: war, gender, religion, prejudice . . . the list of possibilities is endless

(Read our review here.)


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worldwithoutus#8:  THE WORLD WITHOUT US
By Alan Weisman

Journalist Weisman talked with experts in a number of fields—from biologists and environmentalists to Indian spiritual guides and museum curators—to explore what would happen on Earth if mankind became extinct.

Genre: Science/Nature
Discussion topics: our duty to the planet; plans for behavior changes after reading; most surprising revelation in the book

(Read our review here.) 


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littleheathens#9:  LITTLE HEATHENS
By Mildred Armstrong Kalish

This beautifully written memoir takes place on an Iowa farm during the Great Depression. Kalish offers a plainspoken yet poetic account of her upbringing in a large family during this dark chapter in America's past.

Genre: Memoir
Discussion topics: reconciling Kalish's fondess for her childhood and the harshness of its realities; how would you have fit into the family; sharing stories passed down from your own relatives who lived through the Depression

(Read our review here.)


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midnightrising#10:  MIDNIGHT RISING
By Tony Horwitz

Pulitzer Prize winner Horwitz offers an engrossingly detailed account of John Brown’s infamous (and ill-fated) October 16, 1859, abolitionist raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, a pivotal stepping stone to the outbreak of the Civil War.

Genre: History
Discussion topics: was Brown a hero or a terrorist; is there anyone comparable to him in recent history; biggest edge-of-your-seat moment

(Read our review here.)


What do you think? Will you be pitching any of these for your club?

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