Whenever I read novels, I’m always fascinated by the ties the fictional stories have to the real world. When I read historical fiction, I want to know more about that period in history. When I read dystopian novels, I want to know if anything similar has already happened. If your curiosity is also easily piqued by fiction, then I highly recommend picking up these nine works of nonfiction, especially if you loved these other novels.
If you loved THE HELP and are wondering what life was really like during the civil rights era in the South for black nannies and the white children they cared for, SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT should be next up in your TBR pile. Clark’s powerful memoir is set in rural Mississippi beginning in the 1950s, and it tells the story of a white girl coming of age in a repressive society and the black nanny who helped her forge her own path.
After having read THE MARS ROOM, you might be interested to know how accurately the book portrays life in a women’s prison. REDEMPTION is a memoir by Stacy Lannert, who, after years of abuse by her father, shot and killed him and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. This is the story of Stacy’s life leading up to her sentencing, her time in prison, and her release after her sentence was commuted in 2009.
THE ORPHAN MASTER’S SON was the first novel I read that really exposed me to life under North Korea’s totalitarian regime. It is a riveting book, and I immediately wanted to learn more. That’s how I came across ESCAPE FROM CAMP 14, a true story from the only known person to have been born inside a North Korean prison camp and who managed to escape.
ROOM is one of my favorite novels, and while it is a completely fictional account of a woman being kidnapped, held hostage, and forced to conceive a child, it is also a story that reflects several true accounts. Jaycee Dugard’s memoir is the harrowing account of her kidnapping in 1991 and the eighteen years of captivity that followed.
A STOLEN LIFE is Jaycee Dugard’s raw and powerful memoir about being kidnapped in 1991, when she was 11 years old, and held captive for more than 18 years.
PACHINKO is an epic historical novel that follows four generations of a Korean family through the Japanese occupation of Korea, World War II, and the Korean War. PACHINKO mainly takes place in Japan, but if you want to learn more about the experiences of people in Korea during this period, LOST NAMES is the book you need to read. Originally published in 1970, this memoir depicts a character whose boyhood and early adolescence were spent in Korea during the height of the Japanese occupation.
The first time you heard about orphan trains may have been when you read ORPHAN TRAIN, but there is so much more information available about this time in American history. O’Connor’s ORPHAN TRAINS is part biography of the man who proposed the orphan train solution to an overpopulation of orphans in eastern cities and part firsthand accounts from the orphans themselves.
Maybe after watching or reading A GAME OF THRONES, you were inspired to learn more about chopping off heads and torture. We understand and have the perfect book for you. THE FAITHFUL EXECUTIONER is based on a rare journal kept by a sixteenth-century executioner. It tells the story of Meister Frantz Schmidt, the original owner of the journal, an outcast who sought to prove himself worthy of honor and free his children from the stigma set by his profession.
A fascinating, unique, and intimate view of crime during the Renaissance in Germany from the perspective of the man whose job it was to violently punish lawbreakers. Based on an executioner’s actual journal, you can discover how crime and punishment were carried out and consider how far we’ve come (or how little we’ve changed).
After reading STATION ELEVEN, you may have wondered if it’s really possible for such a pandemic to prevail against modern medicine. To learn more about the possibility of such a dystopian future, we must look to the past, specifically to the deadliest pandemic in history, which occurred much more recently than one would think. In 1918, a lethal influenza virus appeared in an army camp in Kansas; over the next two years, it killed more than 100 million people. THE GREAT INFLUENZA is the gripping account of how mankind barely survived.
A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS is no doubt the novel to read about Afghan history and family. Following the reading of this incredible chronicle, we recommend you pick up Lemmon’s THE DRESSMAKER OF KHAIR KHANA, the true story of a young female entrepreneur who brought hope to dozens of women in war-torn Kabul in the wake of the Taliban’s rise to power.