A Nonfiction Wish List

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Jessi Lewis

Staff Writer

Jessi Lewis has her MFA in fiction and an MA in Writing and Rhetoric. She was one of the founding editors of Cheat River Review and now works to bring her own fiction, poetry and essays to eyes each month.     Twitter: @jessiwrit

RosemaryKennedybyLarsonThere is some amazing nonfiction work out there that cover some people and events one wouldn’t expect. Personally, I was so impressed to see the biographic coverage of Rosemary Kennedy’s life, an important member of a famous family who was long forgotten by many (Rosemary Kennedy: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter). Right now, I desperately want to read The Brothers Vonnegut: Science and Fiction in the House of Magic on Kurt Vonnegut’s writing and his brother’s bizarre scientific background.

But there could be more–

More focus on people who have gone unknown.

More focus on the overlooked.

Here are four subjects that need a brand new, accessible and updated nonfiction book out there:

  1. Anne Newman of Newman v. Piggie Park:  This is a lesser-known one, but it could be so interesting and important. Anne Newman, an African-American minister’s wife, was not allowed into a local barbecue chain in 1964 because of her race and a class action lawsuit ensued. There’s such an interesting and important story here, not just about Newman’s approach to Civil Rights, but the complex history of barbecue in the South.
  2. Liliuokalani and Bernice Pauahi, a story of adopted sisters of Hawaii: Of course, Liliuokalani became the last monarch of Hawaii before the U.S. invaded, and there are lots of bios out there on her. I’m interested, however, in how the families of royal Hawaii existed, their common patterns of adopting children from (often unwilling) families and planning marriages. A book could cover both of these women from childhood and go into their very different fates.
  3. A new book on “muckrakers”: Remember that from high school history class? I would love a really approachable history of the term and its influence and relation to modern journalism and corporate politics. This would be a BIG book, but man it could be interesting. Ida Tarbell’s gotta be in there too–we can’t forget Ida. Note, there have been books that have tackled this topic, but I’m looking for something very approachable for the reading audience. If you have an idea of one, and I’ve overlooked it let me know.
  • Finally, Ireland’s soup: I want a history of a specific food because I am in love with these. I loved Salt: A World History. I want to dive into a history of curry dishes. But, I really would like a book focused on Ireland’s sea weed soup and its history, with recipes throughout and explanation as to why the people of Ireland ended up consuming sea weed in the first place. My guess: They were really hungry at the time.

    So those would be so exciting in the upcoming publication year if only they EXISTED. What nonfiction work do you crave?