Nonfiction November Week 4: Stranger Than Fiction

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 are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

You can also participate on Instagram with events being hosted by Jaymi @theocbookgirl. Just use #nonfictionbookparty


  1. Oh these are great ones! I seem to read quite boring books that aren’t massively exciting or stranger than fiction (even though I read a LOT of nonfiction) but I’ve managed to read two in the last few days, and I’ll publish my post about them and link it tomorrow or later today (I might get overexcited and post two posts in a day!). Hope your hosting week goes superbly and I’m looking forward to reading what everyone comes up with.


  2. You’ve pulled together a selection of books! This prompt stumped me and I sat for a long time staring at a blank draft! 😂 I just couldn’t come up with anything from my reading…but maybe I was overthinking it? 😂 so…I tweaked it just a bit to Nonfiction That Reads Like Fiction (I.e. narrative nonfiction). Hope that’s ok! At least I’ve got something to post! 😂


  3. Such great selections, this is the type of quirky nonfiction I particularly enjoy. I’ve added A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear to my must read list, and now I have a better idea of what books I’ll choose to share for the prompt. Thanks for hosting this week


  4. Hm, did my comment get eaten (by a bear?) I was just saying I keep meaning to read A Libertarian Walks into a Bear, since I lived in New Hampshire for six years and still am curious to know what drives that craggy sensibility. I linked up my “Throwback” review of Dark Money, which certainly made my jaw drop in dismay when I read it some years ago. Libertarians come into that one too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. About half of those are going to make it to a list. Those are amazing topics and I’m guessing that the authors are good storytellers. I think the typical textbook (of my generation anyway) is what gives nonfiction a bad name. Have you read all of those, Christopher?


  6. Great list! I’ve heard of some of these but that Beanie Baby one really caught my eye 😂 I used to be obsessed with Beanie Babies when I was in… Middle school? I can’t even remember anymore when it was but what a craze! I had no idea what happened with them (nor what happened to my collection) but this book makes it sound very sinister so I defo have to check it out!


  7. A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear was on my list for this prompt too! And it was a recommendation courtesy of you from last Nonfiction November 🙂 It was so fascinating and absurdly entertaining!

    Alma Fielding was a fantastic choice for this topic, and so was The Woman Who Wasn’t There! I STILL can’t believe that one happened.

    I’m so intrigued by all of your dinosaur and science-related topics, too! And The Great Beanie Baby Bubble…that’s one I’m not sure I’d gravitate towards, but hearing your take on it is making me reconsider, especially if it’s what made you think of doing this topic in the first place. Amazing list!


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