The case for nonfiction


Non-fiction often gets a bad rap. They’re the books you have you read, the ones you were assigned for class or work. Non-fiction titles don’t commonly have a reputation for being the sort of reading you can get lost in. According to Mary Wilkes Towner and Carol Inskeep of the Urbana Free Library, the idea that non-fiction is non-readable is a myth. This hour on Focus, they join Scott Cameron. We’re making the case for non-fiction. During this hour, we’ll talk about different kinds of non-fiction and the idea that what we read says something about us as a person. 

Since we know that lots of you are voracious readers, we wonder – do you prefer nonfiction? We’re working to compile a list of Focus fans’ favorite non-fiction titles, so please send us your favorites! We've compiled a list of good reads below. If you see somethihg missing, send it our way, and we'll add it!

Contine reading for our non-fiction reading list.

Good Non-fiction Reads recommended by Focus fans and the Urbana Free Library:


Wild by Cheryl Strayed (recommended by @LisaBralts)

A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Lee Dugard 

My Story by Elizabeth Smart

Life Itself by Roger Ebert (recommended by @urbanalibrary)

A Family Farm: Life on an Illinois Dairy Farm by Robert Switzer

Life After Death by Damien Echols


Non-Fiction Graphic Novels:

Paying for It: A Comic-Strip Memoir about Being a John by Chester Brown

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Allison Bechdel

Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie – A Talk of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss


Food Books:

Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan

Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson – (recommended by @katester117)


Social Matters:

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman – (recommended by @lindseysmoon)

Outlaw Marriages: The Hidden Histories of Fifteen Extraordinary Same-Sex Couples by Rodger Streitmatter

Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

Philomena by Martin Sixsmith

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard – (recommended by @stephdavidson)

Tom’s River by Tom Fagin (emailed suggestion from Vaneeta)

Dirty Wars by Jeremy Scahill

Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen (recommended by a caller)


Historical Reads:

The Limit: Life and Death on the 1961 Grand Prix Circuit by Michael Cannell (recommended by WILL’s General Manager Chet Tomczyk)

The Lincoln Douglas Debates (recommended by @alvalewis)

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (recommended by @taylorjudd)

Lincoln by David Herbert Donald (emailed suggestion from Kay)


Light Non-fiction Reads:

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris