15 Nonfiction Book Club Picks That Are Sure To Launch Enlightening Discussions

by Kerri Jarema

You're definitely not alone: it can be hard to make friends as an adult, let alone the kind that you can have deep, meaningful conversations with. But once you've gotten through the awkward work happy hours and the struggles of staying in touch with high school or college pals, you've now got to make sure you're fostering the relationships you've made. After all, friendship has health benefits that are just as important as diet and exercise and they are key to our happiness and personal fulfillment. But with everyone's packed schedules, commitments and over-all business, it can be hard to even get everyone in the same room, let alone get stuck into some long and inspiring discussions. And that's where books come in.

If you haven't started a book club with your nearest and dearest yet, now is definitely the time. After all, if your friends are anything like mine, they're all a bunch of book nerds who are always looking for an excuse to get the gang together over drinks. And there are some incredible nonfiction books on shelves right now that will be sure to intrigue all of your friends, no matter how different they are, with fascinating topics that are sure to launch some enlightening conversations. The 15 below delve into everything from women's health to female friendships, body positivity and internet activism — clearly you're going to have a lot to talk about.

'Ask Me About My Uterus' by Abby Norman

Abby Norman describes what it was like to have her endometriosis pain dismissed for years, only to be taken seriously when she was accompanied to the doctor by a boyfriend who confirmed that her sexual performance was compromised. By putting her own trials into a broader historical and political context, Norman shows that women's bodies have long been the battleground of a never-ending war for power, control, medical knowledge, and truth.

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'The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater' by Alanna Okun

Alanna Okun knows that crafting keeps her anxiety at bay. She knows that no one will ever be as good a knitting teacher as her beloved grandmother. And she knows that even when we can’t control anything else, we can at least control the sticks, string, and fabric right in front of us. Here, she lays herself bare, finds humor in the indignities all crafters must face, and takes readers into the parts of themselves they often keep hidden.

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'We Are Never Meeting In Real Life' by Samantha Irby

Sometimes you just have to laugh, even when life is a dumpster fire. Here, Samantha Irby talks about how her difficult childhood has led to a problem in making "adult" budgets, explaining why she should be the new Bachelorette, and sharing awkward sexual encounters. Irby is as deft at poking fun at the ghosts of her past self as she is at capturing powerful emotional truths.

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'Text Me When You Get Home' by Kayleen Schaefer

From Girls to Bridesmaids, the female friendship has taken an undeniable front seat in modern pop culture. Kayleen Schaefer takes a personal and sociological perspective — and ultimately a celebration — of the evolution of the modern female friendship, making the argument that the ties among women are stronger, and more crucial, than ever before.

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'This Body Is Not An Apology' by Sonya Renee Taylor

Humans are a varied and divergent bunch with all manners of beliefs, morals, and physical forms. Systems of oppression thrive off our inability to make peace with difference and injure the relationship we have with our own bodies. Taylor offers radical self-love as the balm to heal the wounds inflicted by these violent systems, inviting all of us to reconnect with the radical origins of our minds and bodies and celebrate our collective, enduring strength.

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'Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World' by Pénélope Bagieu

With her lots of wit and dazzling drawings, celebrated graphic novelist Penelope Bagieu profiles the lives of feisty female role models, some world famous, some little known. From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Bakerto Naziq al-Abid, the stories in this comic biography are sure to inspire the next generation of rebel ladies.

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'Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness' by Melissa Dahl

After a lifetime of cringing, Melissa Dahl became intrigued by awkwardness, a universal but underappreciated emotion. In this witty and compassionate book, Dahl comes to the conclusion that awkward moments are opportunities to test yourself, while remaining true to yourself. In fact, you might find that awkward moments unite us in our mutual human ridiculousness.

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'Getting Off: One Woman's Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction' by Erica Garza

In this wrenching, vivid memoir, Garza explores her sexual fixations and relives the series of disastrous relationships and one-night stands that haunt her as she runs from one side of the world to the other in a futile attempt to break free of her habits. Exploring the cultural taboos surrounding sex and porn from a female perspective, Garza offers a brave voice to our evolving conversations about addiction and the impact that Internet culture has had on young women.

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'Priestdaddy' by Patricia Lockwood

Patricia Lockwood's childhood was unusual in many respects. But above all, there was her father, who underwent a religious conversion on a submarine to become a Catholic priest by the future Pope Benedict XVI — despite already having a wife and children. When the expense of a medical procedure forces Patricia to move back in with her parents, husband in tow, she must learn to live again with her family's simmering madness, and to reckon with the dark side of a childhood spent in the bosom of the Catholic Church.

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'Weird in a World That's Not: A Career Guide for Misfits, F*ckups, and Failures' by Jennifer Romolini

Jennifer Romolini started her career as an awkward 27-year-old misfit, navigated her way through New York media and became a boss, all within little more than a decade. Here, she asserts that being outside-the-norm and achieving real, high-level success are not mutually exclusive. Part career memoir, part real-world guide, Romolini offers relatable advice on how to achieve your dreams, even when the odds seem stacked against you.

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'I Hear She's a Real Bitch' by Jen Agg

Toronto restaurateur Jen Agg, the woman behind the popular The Black Hoof, Cocktail Bar, Rhum Corner, and Agrikol restaurants, is known for her frank, crystal-sharp and often hilarious observations and ideas on the restaurant industry and the world around her. Here, she offers a caustic yet intimate, and wryly observant glimpse into the restaurant business and her own personal life as of one of the most interesting, smart, trailblazing voices of this moment.

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'Inferior' by Angela Saini

From intelligence to emotion, for centuries science has told us that men and women are fundamentally different. But this is not the whole story. Shedding light on controversial research and investigating the ferocious gender wars in biology, psychology and anthropology, Angela Saini takes readers on an eye-opening journey to uncover how women are being rediscovered.

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'Unwifeable' by Mandy Stadtmiller (April 3)

Mandy Stadtmiller came to Manhattan in 2005, newly divorced, 30 years old, with a job at the New York Post, ready to conquer the city. But underneath the glamour of her new life, a darker side threatens to surface. She goes through countless failed high-profile hookups. There are soon too many nights she can't remember, and the blind spots start to add up. She begins to realize that falling in love won't fix her — she needs to fix herself first.

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'Well, That Escalated Quickly' by Franchesca Ramsey (May 22)

Franchesca Ramsey didn't set out to be an activist. Or a commentator on identity, race, and culture. But then her YouTube video "What White Girls Say. . . to Black Girls" went viral. Soon, she had two choices: Jump in and make her voice heard or step back and let others frame the conversation. Here, Ramsey uses her own experiences to explore the many ways we communicate with each other — from the highs of bridging gaps to the many pitfalls that accompany talking about race, power, sexuality, and gender on the internet.

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'So Close To Being The Sh*t, Y'all Don't Even Know' by Retta (June 26)

Parks and Recreation star Retta takes us on her not-so-meteoric rise from rags to riches. Whether reminiscing about her days as a contract chemist, telling “dirty” jokes to Mormons, feeling like the odd man out on Parks, fending off racist trolls on Twitter, flirting with Michael Fassbender, or expertly stalking the cast of Hamilton, Retta’s unique voice and refreshing honesty will make you laugh, cry, and laugh so hard you cry.

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