Texas Topaz Nonfiction List for Adults

Here are recommendations for adults from the 2024 Texas Topaz Nonfiction Reading List! The purpose of the Texas Topaz Reading List is to provide children, teens, and adults with recommended nonfiction titles that stimulate reading for pleasure and personal learning. Visit txla.org/topaz for the full list and lists from previous years.


Updated January 31, 2024
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The light we carry : overcoming in uncertain times
Obama, Michelle
#1 NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER * In an inspiring follow-up to her acclaimed memoir Becoming, former First Lady Michelle Obama shares practical wisdom and powerful strategies for staying hopeful and balanced in today's highly uncertain world.<...
Banana ball : the unbelievably true story of the Savannah Bananas
Cole, Jesse
2.8 million TikTok followers. 610k Instagram followers. Not only are these numbers more than any MAJOR-league team's, it is all organic and all because of one thing: the Bananas make baseball fun. They throw out a first banana rather than a ball. Their first-base coach does Thriller dance moves...
Beaverland : how one weird rodent made America
Philip, Leila
An intimate and revelatory dive into the world of the beaver--the wonderfully weird rodent that has surprisingly shaped American history and may save its ecological future.  From award-winning writer Leila Philip, Beaverland is a masterful work of narrative science writing,...
Atlas of the heart : mapping meaningful connection and the language of human experience
Brown, Brené
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * In Atlas of the Heart, Brené Brown writes, "If we want to find the way back to ourselves and one another, we need language and the grounded confidence to both tell our stories and be stewards of the stories that we hear. This is the framework for...
Atlas of the Heart Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience
Brown, Brené.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * In her latest book, Brené Brown writes, "If we want to find the way back to ourselves and one another, we need language and the grounded confidence to both tell our stories and be stewards of the stories that we hear. This is the framework for meaningful...
Atlas of the Heart Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience
Brown, Brené.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * In her latest book, Brené Brown writes, "If we want to find the way back to ourselves and one another, we need language and the grounded confidence to both tell our stories and be stewards of the stories that we hear. This is the framework for meaningful...
The forever witness : how DNA and genealogy solved a cold case double murder
Humes, Edward
When Tanya Van Cuylenborg and Jay Cook were murdered during a trip to Seattle in the 1980s, detectives had few leads. They assumed Tanya and Jay were victims of a serial killer - but without any leads, the case seemed doomed. In deep-freeze, long-term storage, biological evidence from the crime sat...
Brave hearted : the women of the American west 1836-1880
Hickman, Katie
*WINNER OF THE WOMEN WRITING THE WEST 2023 WILLA LITERARY AWARD* Brave Hearted is not just history, it is an incredibly intense page-turning experience. To read what these women endured is to be transported into another universe of courage, loss, pain, and occasionally victory. This book...
Cobalt red : how the blood of the Congo powers our lives
Kara, Siddharth
The revelatory New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller, shortlisted for the Financial Times Best Business Book of the Year Award. An unflinching investigation reveals the human rights abuses behind the Congo's cobalt mining operation--and the...
The Light We Carry Overcoming in Uncertain Times
Obama, Michelle
#1 NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER * In an inspiring follow-up to her acclaimed memoir Becoming, former First Lady Michelle Obama shares practical wisdom and powerful strategies for staying hopeful and balanced in today's highly uncertain world.<...
Waco rising : David Koresh, the FBI, and the birth of America's modern militias
Cook, Kevin
Named one of The New Yorker's "Best Books of 2023" A news-making account of the war between David Koresh's Branch Davidians and the FBI, and how their standoff launched today's militias In 1993, David Koresh and a band of heavily armed evangelical...
The Light We Carry Overcoming in Uncertain Times
Obama, Michelle
2024 Grammy® Award Winner * #1 NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER * In an inspiring follow-up to her acclaimed memoir Becoming, former First Lady Michelle Obama shares practical wisdom and powerful strategies for staying hopeful and balanced in today...
Waco Rising: David Koresh, the FBI, and the Birth of America's Modern Militias
Cook, Kevin
Named one of The New Yorker's "Best Books of 2023" A news-making account of the war between David Koresh's Branch Davidians and the FBI, and how their standoff launched today's militias In 1993, David Koresh and a band of heavily armed evangelical...
Fatty fatty boom boom : a memoir of food, fat, and family
Chaudry, Rabia
"A delicious and mouthwatering book about food and family, the complicated love for both, and how that shapes us into who we are . . . I absolutely loved it!" --Valerie Bertinelli Rabia Chaudry--known from the podcast Serial and her be...
A fever in the heartland : the Ku Klux Klan's plot to take over America, and the woman who stopped them
Egan, Timothy
The Roaring Twenties - the Jazz Age - has been characterized as a time of Gatsby frivolity. But it was also the height of the uniquely American hate group, the Ku Klux Klan. Their domain was not the old Confederacy, but the Heartland and the West. They hated Blacks, Jews, Catholics and immigrants in...
Friends, lovers, and the big terrible thing : a memoir
Perry, Matthew
INSTANT #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER #1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER The BELOVED STAR OF FRIENDS takes us behind the scenes of the hit sitcom and his struggles with addiction in this "CANDID, DARKLY FUNNY...POIGNANT" memoir (The New York Times) ...
Go back to where you came from : and other helpful recommendations on how to become American
Ali, Wajahat
This is just one of the many warm, lovely, and helpful tips that Wajahat Ali and other children of immigrants receive on a daily basis. Go back where, exactly? Fremont, California, where he grew up, but is now an unaffordable place to live? Or Pakistan, the country his parents left behind a half...
How to speak whale : a voyage into the future of animal communication
Mustill, Tom
What if animals and humans could speak to one another? Tom Mustill--the nature documentarian who went viral when a thirty‑ton humpback whale breached onto his kayak--asks this question in his thrilling investigation into whale science and animal communication....
How to take over the world : practical schemes and scientific solutions for the aspiring supervillain
North, Ryan
NAMED A BEST NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR BY ESQUIRE "Comic book fans will fall hard for this delightfully daffy guidebook. . . . Exuberant, optimistic, and just plain fun, How to Take Over the World will both surprise and delight." --Esquire A book...
Life in five senses : how exploring the senses got me out of my head and into the world
Rubin, Gretchen
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * The author of The Happiness Project discovers a surprising path to a life of more energy, creativity, luck, and love: by tuning in to the five senses. "Life in Five Senses invites us into the seismic shift toward a life grounded...
Now let me fly : a portrait of Eugene Bullard
Wimberly, Ronald
From author Ronald Wimberly, creator of the viral comic Lighten Up, comes a soaring graphic biography that casts new light on the first African-American fighter pilot. On the eve of World War I, Eugene Bullard was a refugee of the Jim Crow South who was determined to...
Over my dead body : unearthing the hidden history of America's cemeteries
Melville, Greg
Journalist Greg Melville's Over My Dead Body is a lively tour through the history of US cemeteries that explores how, where, and why we bury our dead. "Astonishing. . . fascinating . . . powerful. . .This clever, sensitive book gives us a new way to think...
Rough sleepers
Kidder, Tracy
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * The powerful story of an inspiring doctor who made a difference, by helping to create a program to care for Boston's homeless community--by the Pulitzer Prize-winning, New York Times bestselling author of Mountains Beyond Mountains "I...
Scenes from my life : a memoir
Williams, Michael Kenneth
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * WINNER OF THE NAACP IMAGE AWARD * A "gripping, revelatory" (NPR) memoir of hard-won success, struggles with addiction, and a lifelong mission to give back--from the late iconic actor beloved for his roles in The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, and...
Tell me everything : the story of a private investigation
Krouse, Erika
Winner of the 2023 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime * A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice Part memoir and part literary true crime, Tell Me Everything is the mesmerizing story of a landmark sexual assault investigation and the female private...
The art thief : a true story of love, crime, and a dangerous obsession
Finkel, Michael
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER * One of the most remarkable true-crime narratives of the twenty-first century: the story of the world's most prolific art thief, Stéphane Breitwieser. * "The Art Thief, like its title character, has confidence, élan, and a great sense of timing."--...
The Barbizon : the hotel that set women free
Bren, Paulina
A "captivating portrait" (The Wall Street Journal), both "poignant and intriguing" (The New Republic): from award-winning author Paulina Bren comes the remarkable history of New York's most famous residential hotel and the women who stayed there, including Grace Kelly, Sylvia...
The colony : faith and blood in a promised land
Denton, Sally
On the morning of November 4, 2019, an unassuming caravan of women and children was ambushed by masked gunmen on a desolate stretch of road in northern Mexico controlled by the Sinaloa drug cartel. Firing semi-automatic weapons, the attackers killed nine people and gravely injured five more. The...
The great escape : a true story of forced labor and immigrant dreams in America
Soni, Saket
A New York Times Notable Book of 2023 Shortlisted for the 2023 Moore Prize The astonishing story of immigrants lured to the United States from India and trapped in forced labor--an "eye-opening" "must-read" told by the...
The monster's bones : the discovery of T. Rex and how it shook our world
Randall, David K.
In the dust of the Gilded Age Bone Wars, two vastly different men emerge with a mission to fill the empty halls of New York's struggling American Museum of Natural History: Henry Fairfield Osborn, a privileged socialite whose reputation rests on the museum's success, and intrepid Kansas-born...
We should not be friends : the story of a friendship
Schwalbe, Will
A NEW YORKER BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR * A warm, funny, irresistible memoir that follows an improbable and life-changing college friendship over the course of forty years--from the best-selling author of The End of Your Life Book Club * "A rare view of male friendship."--NPR ...
You could make this place beautiful : a memoir
Smith, Maggie
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * NPR Best Book of the Year * Time Best Book of the Year * Oprah Daily Best Memoir of the Year "A bittersweet study in both grief and joy." ­--Time ...

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