6 Nonfiction books for your reading bucket list

Nov 11, 2022 0 comments



In the past couple of months, I’ve been on a reading binge. I’m finally thinning out the large stack of unread books from my TBR pile and avoiding myself from any book sales for the time being to save my wallet from succumbing to any more book hauls. I’ve mostly indulged into the world of Non-Fictions; reading essays and memoirs that are equally fascinating as they are heartbreaking.


Travels, family,  longing, and search of identity. The human experience is as vast as it is laden with so much story that not only introduces us to the world at large and its different experiences, but also provide comfort, affirmation, and even perspective to the things we might not be fully aware of. As books have always been there to inform, they are also there to accompany you, and to provide a comforting voice saying we are not alone.


Looking for Polaris by Dawn Marfil



Diving into the local literary scene, Looking for Polaris reels us in with Dawn Marfil’s beautiful prose as we swim through her memories of beauty pageants, cosplays, and the aching contemplations of what ifs and almosts, expressed over routines, coffee, and the cosmos. In a lot of ways, the book feels like our companion—a good friend consoling us just as we are consoling its memories. Maybe there are passages there; moments in time where we experienced similar moments: watching two friends playfully quarrel over anything, the ache of longing, or even the surging confidence in embodying a character, as if you were destined to be that character your whole life. Somehow, it lends us its voice for us to feel heard, in one way or another. As my first read of the year, Looking for Polaris is definitely a nice, light read and my first dip into the world of non-fiction.


The Displaced, ed. Viet Thanh Nguyen



This book compiles the memoirs and essays of different immigrant writers—refugees hailing from different nations and cultures, as they unpack both their grief and contemplations of having migrated to a new country (which was commonly the United States or the United Kingdom) to escape the state of disarray and turmoil from their homeland. They share their individual experiences of what it’s like to be other’d and be partially excluded because of their ethnicity and origin. We learn about the microaggressions and double standards they have to adjust to just to be accepted and belonged, especially during the political climate in 2016 with the rise of then US president Donald Trump and the rabid popularity of anti-immigration sentiments. In spite of their differing histories and homeland turmoil, they all share similar struggles in one form or another. We see each story implicitly answer the question what is a refugee? And the answer isn’t definite, but their stories all ring true as they claim these struggles and new identity as their own.


Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner



Japanese Breakfast’s frontwoman, Michelle Zauner invites us to a trip down her childhood as an Asian-American living in Oregon with her mother, her life in South Korea with her relatives, and navigating through the grief of her mother’s death by way in which she and her have bonded: through food. The dishes that they’ve made were not only a connection to her Korean heritage, but also the connection she has with her mother—her main expression of love, and one that leaves an indelible ink-stain of grief while walking across the aisles of H-Mart. Crying in H Mart is a personal account on grieving and reconciling her identity in the pieces left behind.



The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio 



At the height of Donald Trump fresh from his elected Presidency in 2016, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio tells us the accounts of several undocumented Latin-American migrants faced with the burden of prejudice and poverty. We learn of their struggles on job stability, the abuse they get as expendable workers with no healthcare benefits. We learn of their personal histories and why they had to move to the United States—escaping the same kind of poverty and abuse that they’ve experienced from their homes, and how it only mirrors those same struggles in their new home. Karla Villavicencio’s voice is angry as she brings to light the social plights, and rightfully so. Imagine having grown in a life of struggle, and never having to escape it even when you thought you could have.

On Writing by Stephen King



Stephen King remains a staple in the realm of horror-fiction, with many of his books produced into films (i.e. It, The Shining, Carrie, and Gerald's Game), but one of my favorite works from him is his non-fiction, and this is that book.
On Writing serves as both a memoir and a writers guide—giving us glimpses of his life starting out as a writer, his big break in the publishing industry, and the accident that almost killed him, along with the slow crawl back into the workspace. Along the way, he also offers the readers advice on how to write, particularly how to write dialogue, plot detail, and how to assemble your writers' toolbox as Stephen King calls it, On Writing has a charm in its voice and the stories in them that you can't help but be drawn by; a glimpse into a writers life and the process of writing, scrapping, and rewriting that goes along with it.

Real Estate by Deborah Levy



The third book in her trilogy of memoirs, Deborah Levy assembles her writer’s home or real estate as she narrates to us her experiences in the different cities she’s visited, from London, to Paris, Mumbai, and then to Greece. It is a relatively quick read filled with vivid descriptions of the places she has been and the things she has seen, pieces that start to assemble her imaginary writers home. But apart from her experiences, they are intertwined with musings—philosophies about womanhood and how women characters have been written as excluded from a narrative or conforming to a certain patriarchal view, often their persona is limited, also turned into real estate. She muses her past and current relationships, introspects their lives and navigates what she wants for her own, rebuilding after everything and everyone has upped and left.


The book can feel passive at times, and understandably so. The chapters(?) comprise mostly of observations between places and people as she wanders across the different cities, but never does it dull you or leave you confused, only fascinated and wanting to hear more. 


And I've only just dented the surface. There are more I am yet to read and hear about and I am looking forward. Maybe sometime in the future I'll make an update with a new set of reads to look out for!

━━ Written By  Juan Carlos Montenegro



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