True Story

Nonfiction By and About Journalists to Start 2020

Hello hello fellow nonfiction readers! Let me be the latest person to welcome you to 2020, a year that feels like it should still be in some distant future where we have robot servants and flying cars and all wear strange metallic clothing everywhere.

One of my favorite reading rituals each January is picking my first books of the year. If time and library holds allow, I like to try and pick books that are 1) already on my bookshelves, and 2) help set a tone for the year ahead. In a year I wanted to stretch creatively, I chose Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. In a year I was thinking about living a full life, I chose 2019, Awakening Your Ikigai by Ken Mogi.

This year, I’m thinking a lot about the connections in my life – to people, places, passions, and my work – and what I can do to deepen those bonds. To help with that, my first book this year is Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, a book that’s been on my shelves for years but I never make time to read. I’m hoping that her lessons on how vulnerability can transform our lives will be an inspirational way to kick off this big year.

Have you ever deliberately picked a first book to help set the tone for your year? I’d love to hear about it!

This week, I’ve got three news stories with connections to nonfiction and journalism that caught my attention late last year. Let’s go!

Bloomberg Opinion writers shared some of their recommendations for turning the page from 2019 to 2020. It’s an interesting list and, as you might expect, rather heavy on nonfiction (especially nonfiction by journalists, which you know I love).

A judge ruled that Edward Snowden won’t be making any money on his memoir, Permanent Record, because “he failed to get pre-publication clearance from U.S. security agencies.” Because he didn’t submit the book to both the CIA and the NSA for review of classified content, Snowden violated his employment contracts. The judge said he also can’t claim the government wouldn’t have reviewed the book in good faith and in a timely manner because he didn’t try to submit it.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is demanding that Warner Bros. release a statement acknowledging it took dramatic license” in the portrayal of journalist Kath Scruggs in the new Clint Eastwood film Richard Jewell. The movie looks at the Centennial Olympic Park bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, specifically profiling the security guard who discovered the bomb and was subsequently a suspect in the bombing. It suggests that Scruggs, a journalist at the paper, traded sex for tips from an FBI agent. This story is rather fascinating to me, definitely check out the details at the link.

And finally, there have been a few great posts over at Book Riot in the last few weeks I want to make sure you don’t miss:

And that’s all for this first week of January! I’ll be back to a regular newsletter schedule next week with new books on Tuesday and nonfiction news on Friday. You can find me on Twitter @kimthedork, on email at, and co-hosting the For Real podcast here at Book Riot. Happy reading! – Kim