We talk a lot about all of the hottest new fiction (and old faves), but there’s a ton of great nonfiction out there, too. And a lot of it focuses on topics and stories that you should know about so we thought it was time to give the genre a little love. Because great stories keep you turning pages, whether they are made up or true-to-life!
Scroll down to check out 13 of our favorite new(ish) reads that have all of the facts and will keep you reading late into the night.
13 Nonfiction Books That Cover Topics You Should Know About
1. The Girl’s Guide to Joining the Resistance: A Feminist Handbook on Fighting for Good
Have recent events given you pause? Does Trump’s America make you fearful for the future of women? Do you want to become more involved in helping to preserve women’s rights but aren’t sure how? This book is our new go-to. It outlines everything young women need to know on pivotal women’s rights issues and offers a blueprint for those who want to take a stand and participate in the cause.
ICYMI, John Lewis is a congressman from Georgia, and he’s kind of a big deal. You may have seen him featured in David Letterman’s recent interview with Barack Obama. He’s one of the key figures of the civil rights movement, and his commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom. March is the first in a graphic novel trilogy, and you should totally pick it up to learn more about this American icon.
3. Brown v. the Board of Education
Speaking of the Civil Rights movement, this book will give you the backstory of one of the most significant Supreme Court decisions of the Twentieth Century — the one that was aimed to end school segregation in the U.S. Although known as Brown v. the Board of Education, the ruling applied not just to the case of Linda Carol Brown, an African American third grader refused entry to an all-white school in Kansas, but also to cases involving children in South Carolina, Delaware, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. This is the story of the many people who stood up to racial inequality, some risking significant danger and hardship, and of the careful strategizing by the NAACP.
4. This Land is Our Land: A History of American Immigration
Immigration is a hot-button issue these days. And American attitudes towards immigrants are paradoxical. On the one hand, we see our country as a haven for the poor and oppressed; anyone, no matter his or her background, can find freedom here and achieve the “American Dream.” On the other hand, we set boundaries and restrictions on who may come to this country and whether they may become citizens.
If you’re looking to know more about the backstory of immigration in the U.S., particularly the ways in which government policy and popular responses to immigrant groups has evolved, check out This Land is Our Land.
On the flip side, this book features the powerful voices of indigenous women across North America. It presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give you insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.
6. Blood, Bullets, and Bones
If you are a fan of mysteries and crime scene drama, you have to check out this fascinating look at the ever-changing science of forensics. Author Bridget Heos uses real-life cases to tell the history of modern forensic science, from the first test for arsenic poisoning to fingerprinting, firearm and blood spatter analysis, DNA evidence, and more. By turns captivating and shocking, Blood, Bullets, and Bones demonstrates the essential role forensic science has played in our criminal justice system.
7. Girl Code
Want a nonfiction story with some kick@$$ girls? Girl Code is the story of Andy and Sophie, two teenage tech phenoms who met at Girls Who Code summer camp. They teamed up to create a viral video game and ended up becoming world famous.
Get ready for an inside look at the tech industry, the true power of coding, and some of the amazing women who are shaping the world.
8. Dear Bully
Have you ever been bullied? Have you ever witnessed bullying? You are not alone, and Dear Bully will prove it. Seventy of today’s top authors come together to share their stories about bullying — as silent observers on the sidelines of high school, as victims, and as perpetrators — in a collection at turns moving and self-effacing, but always deeply personal.
9. Queer, There, and Everywhere
If fun, empowering pop-culture books are your jam, Queer, There, and Everywhere should be your next read. World history has been made by countless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals — and you’ve never heard of many of them. This book delves deep into the lives of 23 people who fought, created, and loved on their own terms. From high-profile figures like Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt to the trailblazing gender-ambiguous Queen of Sweden and a bisexual blues singer who didn’t make it into your history books, these astonishing true stories uncover a rich heritage that encompasses every culture, in every era.
10. The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives
If it weren’t for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight.
11. Vincent and Theo
Did you know that Vincent Van Gogh had a brother? This novel is about the deep and enduring friendship between Vincent and Theo Van Gogh that shaped both brothers’ lives. Confidant, champion, sympathizer, friend, Theo supported Vincent has he struggled to find his path in life. They shared everything, swapping stories of lovers and friends, successes and disappointments, dreams and ambitions. Meticulously researched, drawing on the 658 letters Vincent wrote to Theo during his lifetime, this book weaves a tale of two lives intertwined and the love of the Van Gogh brothers.
12. Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me
If you’re in the mood for an honest and groundbreaking essay collection, we’re loving Unfiltered by actress Lily Collins. It’s hilarious and heartbreaking, and tackles subjects that many young women struggle with: body image, self-confidence, relationships, family, dating, and the list goes on …
For the first time ever, Lily shares her life and her own deepest secrets, underlining that every single one of us experiences pain and heartbreak. She’s learned that all it takes is one person standing up and saying something for everyone else to realize they’re not alone. It will inspire you to be who you are, to say what you feel, and to live your life unfiltered.
13. Almost Adulting
Last up, we couldn’t leave out this fresh and hilarious guide to growing up your way from social media influencer and lifestyle vlogger Arden Rose. It’s perfect for budding adults, failing adults, and eaters of microwave mug brownies — Arden tells you how to survive your future adulthood. By the end of the book, you’ll have learned not only how to dress yourself, how to travel alone, how to talk to strangers online, and how to date strangers (in PERSON!), but also how to pass as a real, functioning, appropriately socialized adult.
What other nonfiction books for teens would you recommend? Tell us in the comments below!