Mix Up Your Beach Reading Schedule With These Nonfiction Titles

Nonfiction beach reads

Summer gets a reputation as the season for “beach reads.” Everyone expects a steamy romance or a shocking thriller to be the ideal beach book. While I love both of those kinds of stories, let’s also remember that summer reading comes in all shapes and sizes: even nonfiction books!

Personally, I’ve been really trying to read more nonfiction written by women, so here are a few options that I’ve rounded up for Frolic readers to consider. I’ve read some, while others are hanging out on my TBR list. No matter what, maybe they’ll pique your nonfiction interest, too!

The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine by Lindsey Fitzharris

Even though I’m someone who has much more of a humanities-oriented brain, I love weird medical facts and stories. This book kicks off with a bang, taking readers into a Victorian operating theater, forcing them to imagine the gore and awe and risk of medical procedures in that time.

Fitzharris’ book functions almost as a dual biography. She primarily focuses on Joseph Lister, the man who changed medicine forever thanks to his love of the microscope. However, the other “biography” is of Victorian medicine itself as Fitzharris gives readers a peek into the high-risk medical world that many of our favorite historical romance characters would have inhabited! 

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

If it pleases the court of public opinion, I’d like to make a confession: even though it’s the nonfiction genre du jour for many women, I have a hard time getting into true crime. I could blame this on my own fear of ghastly crimes or the ethical questions that the satirical comedy show American Vandal made me ponder. In any case, one of my goals this summer is to give true crime an honest shot with one of last year’s breakout hits, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

This is a title I finally added to my TBR list because of the author’s tragic death, the legacy that her family and friends helped preserve, and the eventual headline-grabbing story that the Golden State Killer has now been identified and arrested. For true crime fans and newbies alike, this seems like the perfect book to read (or re-read!) to get a humane look at the toll of crime and the author’s unyielding quest for justice. 

I Like To Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum

As someone who covers a lot of pop culture for Frolic, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that I love a good television criticism essay! And if you’re like me and looking for some of the all-time greats in tv critiques, this should be considered essential reading. 

This book is made up of multiple previously published essays written by Nussbaum, mostly for The New Yorker. However, even if you’ve read some of her works before there’s something magical and brain-bending (in a good way!) about reading such nuanced, thoughtful articles back-to-back. This essay collection also includes original work about the difficulties of fan culture, embedded histories of misogyny in “good” art and the emerging themes of the Me Too era.

Burnout: The Secret of Solving The Stress Cycle by Amelia Nagoski and Emily Nagoski

I’ve actually had a physical copy of this book ever since it came out, but I keep putting it off because I feel busy and want to be sure I can give it my full attention. In the words of the great Alanis Morissette, isn’t it ironic?! 

Emily Nagoski’s previous work, Come As You Are, is a game-changer for many women who have turned to it in order to better understand their own sexuality and needs. Now, in Burnout, Emily Nagoski is joined by her sister, Amelia, as the two women use science in a practical way to help readers understand the concept of a stress cycle and its relationship to the cultural phenomenon of “burning out” from the demands of life. 

I have great hope that I’ll finally dive into the Nagoski sisters’ advice and wisdom this summer, especially since vacation is an ideal time to re-evaluate how to cope with the world’s stressors. 

From gross-out medical histories to informative plans to understand the stress cycle, there are some fabulous options on this list of mine. But this is just a start: no matter what you pick, I hope you find a nonfiction book this summer that makes your brain wiggle with delight! 

Got any other recs for us? Reach out to @onfrolic to keep the nonfiction beach read list going!

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