One of my reading goals this past year was to read more nonfiction books so that I could recommend them to more students as a way to stretch their reading. I don’t think these were published in 2017, but I recommend you pick them up if you haven’t already.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
This was one of the hardest books to get through as Stevenson tackles the flaws in our justice system. The stories were devastating yet still filled with hope. Have a box of Kleenex at your side if you choose to tackle this beautifully written story about mass incarceration and death row.
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer
The topic of rape has always been difficult for me to read. The thing about this book is I struggled with it every time I picked it up. I struggled reading about young women who were raped by college acquaintances and/or friends they trusted. But, that being said, this is an important story that all high school students should read and understand before they go to college. There should be consequences for poor actions, but what I realized even more is that our justice system is still failing victims (ex. Brock Turner rape case at Stanford). This book took me longer to read than most nonfiction books I pick up, and while heart wrenching, it was an important book to read.
What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan
The ESPN commentator and journalist Kate Fagan shares the story of Madison Holleran, a freshman college athlete who committed suicide and rocked the college campus at the University of Pennsylvania. Mental illness is a growing problem among college athletes who are learning to live on their own, facing pressure to be perfect, and trying to balance college academics and athletics. This story hit close to home for me, as I have a former athlete who has struggled with depression throughout her last few years in college. I just can’t imagine life without her in it. This book is raw, real, and a must read for parents and high school or college students.
The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley
This book came recommended to me by several teachers that I work with who teach it with juniors at our high school. Ripley compares the stories of three American teenagers studying abroad in Finland, South Korea, and Poland to their experiences in the American educational system. It brought to light many stark differences in how we educate our students in the United States and where we place our priorities.
Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose by Joe Biden
Joe Biden chronicles the ups and downs he faced in 2015 as he was finishing up his final year in the White House as Barack Obama’s Vice President. He is a man with a true dedication to his family. Be warned, I had to hold back sobs many times throughout this book. Reading about the struggles his son, Beau, faced with brain cancer, were hard for me as cancer is all too familiar to my family. Biden is a brilliant politician, a family man, and a phenomenal writer.