Non-Fiction November: November’s Literature Lineup

Graphic+by+Mandi+Karpo

Graphic by Mandi Karpo

Zoe Poulis, Features Editor

At this point in the semester, things are pretty hectic, and going home might add to some of that chaos. If you’re feeling stuck in your own reality, escape into someone else’s for a bit with one of The Pace Press’ non-fiction recommendations. While some are more light-hearted, others may be heavier, as memoirs tend to expose their author’s most inner thoughts–let this be a reminder that we are all carrying something and we do not have to do it alone. Don’t be afraid to embrace the power of another person’s story. 

Zoe Poulis, Features Editor – “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert 

“Eat, Pray, Love” is so much more than just a chick flick starring Julia Roberts. There’s a reason Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir sat at the top of The New York Times paperback best-seller list for 57 weeks. Gilbert seems to have everything she should want at 30–a good marriage, a beautiful house and a prosperous career as a writer. But instead, she finds herself overcome with emptiness and begins to spiral. This creative nonfiction piece follows her post-divorce journey as she travels through Italy, India and Indonesia in search of answers. Each place reveals valuable lessons to the author, focusing on things unique to each country–the art of pleasure, devotion and balance. Read with caution, however: this heartwarming story of self-discovery is sure to spark your wanderlust and have you booking plane tickets to all corners of the globe. If you’re craving some kind of change, this is the book for you. 

Mandi Karpo, Editor-in-Chief – “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls

A coming-of-age tale, and one of my all-time favorite books, Jeannette Walls’ “The Glass Castle” is a dysfunctionally heartbreaking yet motivational memoir that any reader can resonate with. Specifically plucking at the heartstrings of those with challenging father-daughter relationships, Walls recounts her childhood and the promise her father made to her, her three siblings and her mother to build a glass castle they will one day call home–a dream come true after being raised in poverty. As she and her siblings get older, they find that the narrative their parents crafted with adventure and resourcefulness is really a life of betrayal and scheming, leading them to escape and find themselves in NYC. There, as Walls pursues her career as a writer, she stumbles upon her mother homeless on the streets and realizes the plot of her next story. This memoir was a New York Times best seller in 2018 for over 260 weeks and is a page-turner with life lessons that no person is too old to learn. I recommend this for anyone struggling with at-home difficulties as inspiration for overcoming personal strife and coming out swinging on the other side. 

Jaeden Pinder, Executive Editor – “Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001–2011” by Lizzy Goodman

Truthfully, I’ve always found difficulty in enjoying nonfiction works beyond the world of memoirs, afraid that I will find it droning, but even more terrified that this makes me seem lazy or incompetent. I bought Lizzy Goodman’s “Meet Me in the Bathroom” last summer, partially because the title is a song by The Strokes but also because I was in a deep reading slump. Now, it has become one of the driving forces behind my love for and desire to pursue music journalism. While it focuses more heavily on popular and ongoing acts today, like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the aforementioned Strokes, it paints a broader landscape that includes the otherwise forgotten elements that made the ‘00s rock scene what it was, like groupies and DJs (who you can still find today!). If you’re a fan of any of the bands and artists highlighted in “MMITB,” this read is especially thrilling, but even if you’re just an audiophile or love NYC, it’s an accessible and impactful read about a period that ultimately changed the City in every possible sense. 

Be sure to check out our Executive Editor’s review of the 2022 film adaptation here.

Gia Sparacino, Secretary – “Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction” by David Sheff

Although it gained its popularity from its film adaptation starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet, “Beautiful Boy” is an intricately layered and deeply emotional read that unveils the more private sentiments of parenting children suffering from addiction. Readers are guided through the childhood of Nic Sheff, the son of the author, who is suffering from addiction. Through the eyes of his father, the reader is taught all of his boyish quirks, niche interests, attributes of determination, kindness and wit and along with that, the earliest signs that point to the child growing into an adult plagued by addiction. Sheff also dips into the science behind addiction (particularly methamphetamine) offering just enough information to make readers feel informed without all the weight of feeling like you’re “learning.” From Nic’s early years of dabbling in the drug world, to his darkest moments as an addict, to wistfully describing the brightest days during his path to sobriety, this is an essential read for anyone who has ever been touched by addiction in any way, shape or form.

Lyndsey Brown, Treasurer – “My Body” by Emily Ratajkowksi

Emily Ratajkowski rose to fame at the age of 21 for her controversial role in the highly sexualized music video “Blurred Lines.” Her essay collection explores the issues and hypocrisies women face every day surrounding feminism, sexuality and objectification while highlighting her own experiences in the spotlight. As a runway model, Ratajkowski reflects on her experiences of self-sexualization and the shame that comes with it in the media. Through sharing her journey and her own personal thoughts, she creates a body-positive, moving and empowering book that rejects the stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding body politics. 

Emily Shafer, News Editor – “Orange is the New Black” by Piper Kerman

It is likely that most students have seen, or at least heard of, the television show “Orange is the New Black,” but I’m not sure that many have read the memoir it is based on. The book follows roughly the same outline as the show: Piper goes to jail for ten years after smuggling drugs for a girl she briefly dated. However, some key elements are substituted in order to make the show more interesting. For example, in the book, she barely has any gay experiences and marries her boyfriend at the time after she is released from jail. This book reads as easy as “The Glass Castle,” with a similar coming-of-age feel, yet provides an introspective, first-person look into the problematic criminal justice system in the United States. If you’re looking for another reason to be disappointed in our country and also feel like you’re going on a journey with the main character, you’ll love reading “Orange is the New Black” by Piper Kerman.

Sarah Bergin, Arts Editor – “I’m Glad My Mom Died” by Jennette McCurdy

Jennette McCurdy’s “I’m Glad My Mom Died” is able to teach you a thing or two about reclaiming your past, even for those of us who happen to love our moms (me included). This memoir sheds light on childhood stardom and parental abuse, unlike anything that has come before. Because of McCurdy’s bravery and perseverance, readers are sure to laugh and cry throughout this read. Take note of the content before reading though: eating disorders, OCD, PTSD, alcoholism and schizophrenia, as well as emotional, verbal, sexual and physical abuse are all discussed. All in all, this book is worth being picked up, especially if you are interested in the entertainment industry and want to read about the horrific occurrences of what happens behind closed doors.

Priya Persaud, Opinion & Editorial Editor – “Know My Name” by Chanel Miller

When her viral victim impact statement was published on Buzzfeed in 2016, she was known to the world as “Emily Doe.” In her 2019 memoir, Chanel Miller reveals her true identity and delivers a brutally honest testament of her experience as the victim of the Stanford sexual assault case against Brock Turner. Miller drives her readers through every part of her experience, from the initial night to the shocking six-month verdict Turner received, and reflects on her journey of difficult recovery between it all. Though this story depicts the heartbreaking reality of the criminal justice system and how sexual assault victims are treated, it also proves that outrage can spark change, as California changed its laws on mandatory prison sentences for perpetrators in the aftermath following the verdict. “Know My Name” is not by any means an easy book to get through, it is heavy and devastating in nature, yet Miller’s powerful recounting of these events stays with its readers. Students are recommended to proceed with caution as the book’s topics are quite intense and detailed.