Best Books of 2014: Nonfiction

Yesterday I posted my Best of 2014 list for fiction, and so today is my Best Books of 2014: Nonfiction. Each of these books has stayed with me for one reason or another, whether it be because of current events, cultural issues, my town of DC and its difficult past, the passion I’ve had for Greek mythology since childhood, my absolute and unapologetic love of all things NASA, or something else entirely. I loved and adored every book on this list; I found that they read for me as quickly as any tightly written work of nonfiction. They are not perfect; some have issues here and there, but they are unmatched for the way they have resonated with me.

Swapna's Best of 2014: Nonfiction

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End – Atul Gawande

The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan – Jenny Nordberg

The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution – Jonathan Eig

I didn’t do a long form review for Jonathan Eig’s novel because I covered it at a third-party publication that has yet to publish my piece. Eig’s history of the birth control pill is completely fascinating; this book is an intersection of history, science, social issues, and more. Eig balances the history with insightful commentary, and does an excellent job showing how the birth control revolution changed women’s lives at that time, giving women a taste of true freedom, while also highlighting how women are being forced to fight the same battles now that we supposedly won decades ago.

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise – Chris Taylor

Bad Feminist: Essays – Roxane Gay

S Street Rising: Crack, Murder, and Redemption in DC – Ruben Castaneda

Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space – Lynn Scherr

Without You There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite – Suki Kim

An Iranian Metamorphosis – Mana Neyestani

Neyestani’s is the one book that I haven’t yet reviewed, simply because the publication date kept getting pushed back (it finally released on December 2). This graphic memoir about cartoonist Neyestani’s time in an Iranian prison is full of dark humor and it highlights the scarily whimsical nature of Iranian “justice.” My review will be coming soon, and I’ll link it up once it’s posted.

[Edit: link has been posted]

Why Homer Matters – Adam Nicolson


  1. I hadn’t heard of THE BIRTH OF THE PILL. As someone who needs to be on the pill and not for birth control (although that is an added bonus) I still find people who need to “share their opinion” with me about the pill. I’ll have to add this one to my list!

  2. Looks like a great list. Without You There is No Us is already on my list, as are several of the others. Thanks for the head up on An Iranian Metamorphoses.

  3. I loved Bad Feminist and really want to read The Birth of the Pill, The Underground Girls of Kabul, and Without You There is No Us. Great list!

  4. Bad Feminist is one of the books I’m hoping I get for Xmas. 🙂

  5. As someone who used to live in DC, the S Street book sounds really intriguing. I always wanted to know more about the history behind the “two faces” of the city. Thanks for all the recommendations.


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