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4 of the Best Deep Dive Nonfiction Books

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This list of deep dive nonfiction books was originally published in our nonfiction newsletter, True Story. Sign up for it here to get nonfiction news, reviews, deals, and more!


You know how sometimes you’re like, okay, I don’t have time to take a class about this thing, but I would like to feel like I am pretty informed about it/know more about it than I would learn from a Wikipedia skim? And sometimes you go on and are like, okay, but I would like to learn a LOT about this thing. That’s why we have deep-dive reads! Books where the author rolled up their sleeves and said, we are going to get into this today. Let’s learn some stuff:

Punishment Without Crime

Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal by Alexandra Natapoff

We hear about “crimes and misdemeanors” but what are misdemeanors? Natapoff “reveals the inner workings of a massive petty offense system that produces over 13 million cases each year” and punishes people before they’re convicted, many of them poor and people of color.

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

This history of cancer treatment and research won the Pulitzer and is on approximately one million lists for best nonfiction. Mukherjee starts in Egypt 4,600 years ago and continues all the way to the 21st century. He also covers the history of hospice and palliative medicine. This one’s massive, but worth it.

cover image of The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee by David Treuer

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Treuer

Popular culture over the past century has portrayed Native American history as ending in the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. Treuer, a member of the Ojibwe nation, shows how “the story of American Indians since the end of the nineteenth century to the present is one of unprecedented resourcefulness and reinvention.”

cover image of A Terrible Thing to Waste by Harriet A. Washington

A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind by Harriet A. Washington

My friend pointed me to this 2019 release about the impact of environmental racism. Just TWO facts from it: “Nearly two of every five African American homes in Baltimore are plagued by lead-based paint. Almost all of the 37,500 Baltimore children who suffered lead poisoning between 2003 and 2015 were African American.” Get a thorough grounding in the effects of environmental racism and what can be done to remedy it.


For more nonfiction new releases, check out the For Real podcast which I co-host with the excellent Kim here at Book Riot. If you have any questions/comments/book suggestions, you can find me on social media @itsalicetime. Until next time, enjoy those facts, fellow nerds.

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