True Story

Nonfiction at the Opera and on the Small Screen

Happy Friday, fellow nonfiction nerds! On my trip last weekend I ended up listening to all six episodes of The Dropout from ABC Radio, a deep-ish dive into the story of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes. I liked it quite a bit – it’s both a good follow up to Bad Blood by John Carreyrou and a good primer on the scandal if you’re not already familiar. So… basically good for everyone!

This week’s nonfiction news is all pretty interesting — upcoming adaptations for two books I loved, a secretive book announcement, and a celebration of the contributions women made during World War II (with a bookish connection). Let’s go!

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The Minnesota Opera has commissioned a new work based on The Song Poet, an award-winning memoir by Kao Kalia Yang. The book tells the story of “her family and in particular, her song poet father Bee Yang, as war forces them from Laos into a Thai refugee camp and ultimately on to St Paul.” The opera is going to be part of the organization’s youth training program in 2021, and might be the first time a Hmong story will be presented in this format. I read this memoir last year and loved it – highly recommended.

Susan Orlean’s The Library Book, is going to be adapted for television. The book is an excellent account of the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Public Library and exploration of contemporary public libraries, is going to be adapted for television. According to Variety, Orlean will adapt the book and serve as an executive producer on the project. I can’t quite figure out how an adaptation is going to work – the story of the fire is interesting, but seems a little slim for a tv series – but I do love the idea of a show that tells the story of libraries. So, we’ll see on this one.

Anderson Cooper is writing two more books! He’ll be partnering with historical fiction writer Katherine Howe on two works of nonfiction, the first scheduled for release in 2022. More to come here, I can only assume.

And finally, my favorite thing of this entire week (although it happened a few weeks ago). Last month, the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress hosted a reunion of World War II “Code Girls” – women recruited by the Army and Navy as secret code breakers during the war. Their story was shared in a 2017 book, Code Girls by Liza Mundy. So cool!

And that’s the end! You can find me on Twitter @kimthedork, on email at, and co-hosting the For Real podcast here at Book Riot. In this week’s episode, Alice and I talked about con men, lobster races, and literary murders. Happy reading! – Kim