I make no secret that I enjoy Nonfiction more than Fiction these days; for whatever reason, a memoir, biography, history, self-help, or instructional book sucks me in a million times faster than a novel. I know that’s not the case for many, though; nonfiction can be seen as dry, lifeless, and uninteresting. If that’s your assumption, I encourage you to try different types of nonfiction and perhaps broaden your horizons a bit….not all of them are college textbooks and biographies of boring historical figures. In fact, a good first-person monologue can offer an intriguing glimpse into the mind of the author.
One such way that this first-person monologue is accomplished is in “letter” form, also known as “Epistolary Literature.” In it, the author writes as though he or she is writing a letter to the reader, allowing a greater degree of candor and freedom that can sometimes be hindrances in more traditional writing styles.
Here are six epistolary books that’ll draw you into the wonderful world of nonfiction reading:
1. Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters by John Steinbeck
Each day that Steinbeck worked on East of Eden, he began with a letter to his friend and editor, Pascal Covici. What remains is a glimpse into the mind of a literary great and into his writing process, idiosyncrasies and worries.
2. There Is No F*cking Secret: Letters From a Badass Bitch by Kelly Osbourne
Osbourne tells her life story through a series of letters written to significant people and places in her life; she relates many of the experiences that made her who she is today, both for better and worse, some which have never before been shared!
3. Why I Am Not A Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto by Jessa Crispin
Crispin’s “manifesto” is written to an anonymous reader who’s periodically referred to throughout the book, and her letters turn status-quo contemporary feminism on its head, seeing it as ineffectual and calling for a real movement for change and equality.
4. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Coates’s book, written as a letter to his teenage son, seeks to make sense of the American culture of racial tension. He tells his son about many of his life-changing experiences that shaped his current view of race and his hopes for the future.
5. Letters to a Young Activist by Todd Gitlin
Gitlin, now a successful professor and writer, spent much of his youth as an activist, serving as president of Students for a Democratic Society. In this series of letters, he seeks to inspire a new generation of activists to change the world.
6. Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Adichie’s book is a letter to a childhood friend, a response to her asking how to best raise her daughter to be a feminist. Through her fifteen suggestions, she offers a detailed treatise on bringing up the next generation of world-changing women.
I hope you’ll check out a few of these selections; Epistolary Literature is a wonderful way to broaden your horizons and dip your toes into the waters of Nonfiction!
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