10 Nonfiction Books To Read If You Miss Going Back To School Every Fall
Every year, when August rolls around and fall seems imminent despite the 90 degree temperatures, I can't help but think of two things: that opening scene in You've Got Mail with the "bouquet of sharpened pencils" and the old excitement of going back to school. Even though I haven't stepped foot in a classroom since I graduated from college eight years ago, I don't think that end-of-summer anticipation will ever really leave me. I loved school and I always looked forward to buying new notebooks, hanging out with my friends and, above all, learning new things. Luckily for those of us who aren't going back to school this September, there is a endless supply of nonfiction books to keep our brains engaged even with traditional education far behind us.
Below are 10 nonfiction reads that correspond to some of your favorite subjects you learned in school. Whether you were a total geek for English and want to learn the history of U.S. libraries or were more of an art class gal and you want to know exactly what knitters are talking about when they whisper about "the curse of the boyfriend sweater" or how radium came to be behind one of the biggest workers' rights movements of the 20th century, then you're sure to find something below you'll love. And who knows, maybe you'll even branch out and find that you're into science after all.
If You Loved English Class, Read 'The Library Book' by Susan Orlean (Oct. 16)
I would be lying if I said that my love of books wasn't fully cemented in my years of English class, and if you feel the same way, you're definitely going to want to get Susan Orlean's The Library Book on your radar. Out Oct. 16, the book weaves together the eerie story of the Los Angeles Library fire in 1986 with years worth of history that spans the very beginning of the library system in the city to present day. You'll learn everything there is to know about the development of the modern library system, and deepen your love of books and reading while you're at it.
If You Loved Science Class, Read 'The Radium Girls' by Kate Moore
The story of The Radium Girls is not something you learned in science class. In this book, Kate Moore tells the history of "shining girls" who worked in radium-dial factories that ultimately poisoned them, and details the women's fight against corruption.
If You Loved Music Class, Read 'Girls To The Front' by Sara Marcus
If you loved learning about Bach and Handel and Beethoven and Chopin in music class, you're going to really love reading about the modern classic movement of the punk rock Riot Grrrls. This book takes a deep dive behind the scenes of the radical feminist uprising that exploded in the '90s and included incendiary punk bands Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy, and Huggy Bear... none of whom you probably listened to in Music 101. But this dynamic history is perfect for music fans, pop culture fans, and fierce feminists alike.
If You Loved World History Class, Read 'Girl Squads' by Sam Maggs (Oct. 2)
Sam Maggs has given us the stories of some of history's forgotten women before, but she's back with Girl Squads, and it's exactly the book you need if you're a history buff with a decidedly feminist streak. The book tells the story of female friends throughout history who have done amazing things thanks to their collaborative efforts — think The Edinburgh Seven, who fought to become the first women admitted to medical school in the United Kingdom; and The Zohra Orchestra, the ensemble from Afghanistan who defied laws, danger, and threats to become the nation's first all-female musical group. These are the stories you didn't hear in class.
If You Loved Math Class, Read 'Hidden Figures' by Margot Lee Shetterly
You might already know the story of Hidden Figures thanks to the Oscar-nominated film. But if you haven't read Margot Lee Shetterly's book, you don't know the whole story. The book tells the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden — four gifted African American women who left their posts as math teachers in the South's segregated public schools to participate in some of NASA's greatest successes and helped propel the U.S. to victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War.
If You Loved Sex Education Class, Read 'Gross Anatomy' by Mara Altman (Aug. 21)
I did not have a sex education class in high school. But, of course, I recognize the crucial importance of learning about our anatomy and physiology. Mara Altman's Gross Anatomy takes a look at what living in our bodies is really like — it's like The Care and Keeping of You, but for adults.
If You Loved Social Studies, Read 'Text Me When You Get Home' by Kayleen Schaefer
If you loved social studies, you're going to enjoy this exploration of modern female friendship. This book mixes historical research with the author's own personal experience and conversations about friendships across the country. It's definitely a book to share with your bestie and your book club.
If You Loved Film Class, Read 'I'll Have What She's Having' by
Since you loved film studies, you probably are familiar with Nora Ephron, the mother of the romantic comedy. This book takes readers behind the scenes of her three most iconic films — When Harry Met Sally, You've Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle — and examines what it takes to reinvent a genre, and become a filmmaking legend in the progress.
If You Loved U.S. Government, Read 'Who Thought This Was A Good Idea?' by Alyssa Mastromonaco
U.S. Government was one of my personal favorite classes in high school, so much so that I minored in political science in college. Alyssa Mastromonaco's book about her time as President Obama's deputy chief of staff is an incredible way to educate yourself on what goes on behind-the-scenes at the highest levels of government. If you ever wanted to know more about the blood, sweat, tears, and briefing binders that go into the daily running of the U.S.A., this is the book you need to read.
If You Loved Gym Class, Read 'Women In Sports' by Rachel Ignotofsky
If your favorite class was gym, well, let's just say you and I had very different high school experiences. But I totally recommend reading Rachel Ignotovsky's gorgeously illustrated Women in Sports which tells the stories of women athletes who made history, and it will get you all hyped up for your next race or softball game.