We have hit the final full week of November, which somehow doesn’t seem possible. Yet that’s okay, because it means it’s my turn to host Nonfiction November. Here’s the prompt for this week:
Week 4 (November 22-26) Stranger Than Fiction: This week we’re focusing on all the great nonfiction books that almost don’t seem real. A sports biography involving overcoming massive obstacles, a profile on a bizarre scam, a look into the natural wonders in our world—basically, if it makes your jaw drop, you can highlight it for this week’s topic.
When I was asked to join the other amazing hosts this year, I knew exactly what topic I wanted to feature. Though I love all sorts of nonfiction, I routinely find myself gravitating toward books that seem to ride the line between fact and fiction. Oh, it’s not that they’re not true. It’s just that their realities are so wild it seems as though the authors are making things up as they go along.
Here are nine of my favorites that feel almost too strange to be true.
Bring Back the King: The New Science of De-Extinction by Helen Pilcher
Though Jurassic Park has seemingly cornered the market on the public’s perception of de-extinction, Pilcher explores the very real science of de-extinction. Not only does she show how individuals are attempting to bring back some species thought long gone, she considers what species they’re focused on plus the larger question of why.
The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute by Zac Bissonnette
The Beanie Baby fad of the 1990s has become something of a punchline, but the true story of the TY company and all that followed is even wilder than the band of (usually) adults who would raid retailers for the rarest dolls in hopes of securing a massive payout … one day. One of my favorite books period, this is what I was thinking about when I settled on this week’s prompt.
The Haunting of Alma Fielding: A True Ghost Story by Kate Summerscale
In 1938, a London housewife began experience of series of strange phenomena left her with one conclusion: she was being haunted. However, when Nandor Fodor began investigating, he was struck by just how human a concept that might be.
A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears) by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling
In 2004, a group of libertarians got together in New Hampshire with a simple idea: take over a small town and implement a libertarian-focused government. It went about as well as you’d think.
A Plague of Frogs: The Horrifying True Story by William Souder
In the mid-1990s, a group of Minnesota students discovered a pond containing numerous frogs with physical mutations. And it only went downhill from there. While some of the science might be a bit out of date, Souder’s behind-the-scenes look at egos in the scientific community is fascinating all by itself.
Possessing Genius: The True Account of the Bizarre Odyssey of Einstein’s Brain by Carolyn Abraham
After performing a dissection on one of the most famous men of the 20th century, pathologist Thomas Stolz Harvey found himself in possession of Albert Einstein’s brain. Well, as they say: I suppose you can’t take it with you.
Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks
Well. This is one where the title really says it all.
Tyrannosaurus Sue: The Extraordinary Saga of the Largest, Most Fought Over T-Rex Ever Found by Steve Fiffer
In 1990, one of the most complete dinosaur fossils, a Tyrannosaurus rex nicknamed Sue, was unearthed. Though the broad community was ecstatic over this new discovery, things quickly devolved into a massive battle over one simple question: who would actually own this series of remnants?
The Woman Who Wasn’t There: The True Story of an Incredible Deception by Robin Gaby Fisher and Angelo J. Guglielmo Jr.
This is one of those books that really needs to be read to be believed. Tania Head became one of the most visible survivors of the World Trade Center disaster in the aftermath of 9/11, inspiring people with her story of escaping from the 78th floor of the south tower and ultimately working with the World Trade Center Survivors’ Network. The only trouble? She was never there.
For all of you looking to participate this week, feel free to include your posts at the link-up below—and be sure to check out all the other amazing posts too.
You can also participate on Instagram with events being hosted by Jaymi @theocbookgirl. Just use #nonfictionbookparty