Top Ten Tuesday: nonfiction books I’ve recently added to my tbr


Hello and welcome to this week’s Top Ten Tuesday post. This week we were asked to make a list of our recently added books from any genre of our choice, so that’s what I’ve done!

I’m lying… these aren’t all “recently” added, some were added back in January. But I wanted to do a genre I don’t talk about much (not mystery, crime, thriller or horror) but I don’t add non-fic all that often, so I just went with the most recent ones on my Goodreads tbr.

I usually set all the books up in little graphics, but I wanted to put the synopsis for each of these books, so you could see what they were about, and then I’ll add in my thoughts in bold, like I do on my Friday Finds or Declutter posts.

The Theory and Practice of Hell: The German Concentration Camps and the System Behind Them by Eugen Kogon

Synopsis: By the spring of 1945, the Second World War was drawing to a close in Europe. Allied troops were sweeping through Nazi Germany and discovering the atrocities of SS concentration camps. The first to be reached intact was Buchenwald, in central Germany. American soldiers struggled to make sense of the shocking scenes they witnessed inside. They asked a small group of former inmates to draft a report on the camp. It was led by Eugen Kogon, a German political prisoner who had been an inmate since 1939. “The Theory and Practice of Hell” is his classic account of life inside.

Unlike many other books by survivors who published immediately after the war, “The Theory and Practice of Hell” is more than a personal account. It is a horrific examination of life and death inside a Nazi concentration camp, a brutal world of a state within state, and a society without law. But Kogon maintains a dispassionate and critical perspective. He tries to understand how the camp works, to uncover its structure and social organization. He knew that the book would shock some readers and provide others with gruesome fascination. But he firmly believed that he had to show the camp in honest, unflinching detail.

Cliche as it is, WWII and Nazi Germany is my favourite history to learn about, so this book is definitely to my tastes. It’s impossible to even imagine what life would have been like living in a concentration camp, but I’m hoping this book can give me a better insight.


Doctors from Hell: The Horrific Account of Nazi Experiments on Humans by Vivien Spitz

Synopsis: A chilling story of human depravity and ultimate justice, told for the first time by an eyewitness court reporter for the Nuremberg war crimes trial of Nazi doctors. This is the account of 23 men torturing and killing by experiment in the name of scientific research and patriotism. The book includes trial transcripts that have not been easily available to the general public and previously unpublished photographs used as evidence in the trial. The author describes the experience of being in bombed-out, dangerous, post-war Nuremberg, where she lived for two years while working on the trial. Once a Nazi sympathiser tossed bombs into the dining room of the hotel where she lived moments before she arrived for dinner. She takes us into the courtroom to hear the dramatic testimony and see the reactions of the defendants to the proceedings. The doctors tell of experiments involving depriving concentration camp inmates of oxygen; freezing them; injecting them with malaria, typhus, and jaundice; amputating healthy limbs; forcing them to drink seawater for weeks at a time; and other horrors.

Yes, another Nazi book. I just can’t (and will never) be able to get my head around how the hell things got to the way they did and how anyone could have participated in the atrocities in WWII. The Nuremberg Trials are of big interest to me, as well and learning more about the awful experiments Nazi “doctors” performed, so this book is definitely one I’m interested in reading.

I have James Hazel, author of The Mayfly, to thank for finding this book, as he credits it as the best book he read for his research into Nazi doctors.


A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father by Augusten Burroughs

Synopsis: “As a little boy, I had a dream that my father had taken me to the woods where there was a dead body. He buried it and told me I must never tell. It was the only thing we’d ever done together as father and son, and I promised not to tell. But unlike most dreams, the memory of this one never left me. And sometimes I wasn’t altogether sure about one thing: was it just a dream?”

When Augusten Burroughs was small, his father was a shadowy presence in his life: a form on the stairs, a cough from the basement, a silent figure smoking a cigarette in the dark. As Augusten grew older, something sinister within his father began to unfurl. Something dark and secretive that could not be named.

Betrayal after shocking betrayal ensued, and Augusten’s childhood was over. The kind of father he wanted didn’t exist for him. This father was distant, aloof, uninterested.

And then the “games” began.

This book sounds absolutely horrifying. As much as I hate the thought of people going through shitty things with their families, I love reading about it, and reading about how the victim has become a survivor.

The title & cover are what initially drew me to this novel, they’re both so devilish and chilling.


The Polygamist’s Daughter by Anna LeBaron, Leslie Wilson

Synopsis: “My father had more than fifty children.” So begins the haunting memoir of Anna LeBaron, daughter of the notorious polygamist and murderer Ervil LeBaron. With her father wanted by the FBI for killing anyone who tried to leave his cult–a radical branch of Mormonism–Anna and her siblings were constantly on the run with the other sister-wives. Often starving and always desperate, the children lived in terror. Even though there were dozens of them together, Anna always felt alone.She escaped when she was thirteen . . . but the nightmare was far from over. A shocking true story of murder, fear, and betrayal, The Polygamist’s Daughter is also the heart-cry of a fatherless girl and her search for love, faith, and a safe place to call home.

I read another book about Mormons last year, and Anna LeBron was one of the people interviewed and featured in the book. Her story was so shocking and awful, I’m glad she;s got her own book to talk freely about her experiences now. 

This is most definitely going to be a hard book to get through, but I’m really interested in the Mormon faith, more the “fundamentalist” side of the faith, so I’m definitely going to read this one. I actually always look out for it when I go into a bookstore, but I haven’t seen it yet.


Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read

Synopsis: On October 12, 1972, a plane carrying a team of young rugby players crashed into the remote, snow-peaked Andes. Out of the forty-five original passengers and crew, only sixteen made it off the mountain alive. For ten excruciating weeks they suffered deprivations beyond imagining, confronting nature head-on at its most furious and inhospitable. And to survive, they were forced to do what would have once been unthinkable…
This is their story – one of the most astonishing true adventures of the twentieth century.

This was introduced to me by a fellow blogger. I don’t really know anything about the awful things that happened to the people who survived the crash on the Andes, so this books seems like a good place to get those facts.

I can’t imagine the horror these people went through, and it’s going to be a hard read, but it will be really interesting, no doubt.


Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculée Ilibagiza

Synopsis: Immaculee Ilibagiza grew up in a country she loved, surrounded by a family she cherished. But in 1994 her idyllic world was ripped apart as Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide. Immaculee’s family was brutally murdered during a killing spree that lasted three months and claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans.

Incredibly, Immaculee survived the slaughter. For 91 days, she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor while hundreds of machete-wielding killers hunted for them.

It was during those endless hours of unspeakable terror that Immaculee discovered the power of prayer, eventually shedding her fear of death and forging a profound and lasting relationship with God. She emerged from her bathroom hideout having discovered the meaning of truly unconditional love—a love so strong she was able seek out and forgive her family’s killers.

The triumphant story of this remarkable young woman’s journey through the darkness of genocide will inspire anyone whose life has been touched by fear, suffering, and loss.

This was another book recommended to me by a blogger. There isn’t enough out there about the Rwandan Holocaust, but there should be. It’s probably the worst tragedy of the last 50 years.

Even though this book is all about finding faith, I’ve heard it isn’t pushy, so if you’re a non-believer like me, you can still enjoy the book without feeling like you’re being preached to.


32076678The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Synopsis: Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes―the moment she hears him speak of his crimes―she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar.

Crime, even the darkest and most unsayable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky’s childhood. And by examining the details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky’s crime.

But another surprise awaits: She wasn’t the only one who saw her life in Ricky’s.

This is a very recent release and I’ve seen it on basically every blog I follow. I wasn’t that interested by the plot when I first read it on Netgalley but after seeing all the amazing reviews for it, I’m far more intrigued to read it.

It sounds like it’s going to be pretty deep and emotional, and I like that from my non-fiction. 


Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

SynopsisRunning with Scissors is the true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her unorthodox psychiatrist who bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus. So at the age of twelve, Burroughs found himself amidst Victorian squalor living with the doctor’s bizarre family, and befriending a pedophile who resided in the backyard shed. The story of an outlaw childhood where rules were unheard of, and the Christmas tree stayed up all year round, where Valium was consumed like candy, and if things got dull an electroshock- therapy machine could provide entertainment. The funny, harrowing and bestselling account of an ordinary boy’s survival under the most extraordinary circumstances.

This is another book by Augusten Burroughs (see The Wolf at The Table above). This was his first book recounting his childhood experiences and is a pretty popular, well known and critically acclaimed novel.

Burroughs sounds like he went through some really terrible stuff as a kind, I’m so amazed he’s come out the other end of it with a good head on his shoulders.


Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson

Synopsis: On September 9, 1971, nearly 1,300 prisoners took over the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York to protest years of mistreatment. Holding guards and civilian employees hostage, during the four long days and nights that followed, the inmates negotiated with state officials for improved living conditions. On September 13, the state abruptly ended talks and sent hundreds of heavily armed state troopers and corrections officers to retake the prison by force. In the ensuing gunfire, thirty-nine men were killed, hostages as well as prisoners, and close to one hundred were severely injured. After the prison was secured, troopers and officers brutally retaliated against the prisoners during the weeks that followed. For decades afterward, instead of charging any state employee who had committed murder or carried out egregious human rights abuses, New York officials prosecuted only the prisoners and failed to provide necessary support to the hostage survivors or the families of any of the men who’d been killed.

After reading The Spider and The Fly by Claudia Rowe, I was really interested in learning a little more about the prison that was mentioned in the book.

I hate injustice but I love reading about it, it makes me so angry and emotional. This sounds exactly like the kind of injustice I love to hate.


The Silent Twins by Marjorie Wallace

Synopsis: When identical twins June and Jennifer Gibbons were three they began to reject communication with anyone but each other, and so began a childhood bound together in a strange and secret world. As they grew up, love, hate, and genius united to push them to the extreme margins of society and, following a five-week spree of vandalism and arson, the silent twins were sentenced to a grueling twelve-year detention in Broadmoor.

Doesn’t this just sound so creepy? Twins who have their own language and who grow up to become psychopaths… 

I love finding out about siblings who commit crimes together, but I hadn’t ever heard of these twins. I’m looking forward to reading this one!

So there we have it. My most recent non-fic tbr additions. As you can tell, I love reading about crimes and the darker side of life.

Have you read any these? What did you think of them? Also, what non-fiction books would you recommend I check out?

29 Replies to “Top Ten Tuesday: nonfiction books I’ve recently added to my tbr”

  1. I haven’t read the book, but I’ve seen a couple different documentaries that include June and Jennifer Gibbons. OH man, you will be entertained by that story. I have a weird fascination with twin crimes and I’ve watched quite a few documentaries about them. These two were something special. Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Some really interesting-sounding books here! Like you, I find WWII and the Nazis quite interesting. It’s just beyond comprehension how someone could be as sick and as twisted as Hitler…and how so many people could follow him and his warped ideology! I visited Auschwitz a few years ago and the level of human suffering that happened there is beyond belief. Even now, over 70 years later, the air is weighted with this sadness, oppression and fear. I remember walking into one room and seeing what looked like a mountain of human hair and it was the hair they’d cut from prisoners as they’d arrived. How could they dehumanize and degrade people like that, simply for their religion, ethnic background or sexuality? I’ll be interested to hear what you think of those books. I took a literature module on the Holocaust at uni and read a lot of personal accounts and memoirs, but never any books like these.
    The Silent Twins looks like an interesting read too. Pretty sure I’ve heard of these twins before. I think one of them died recently? I think I remember reading about it in a newspaper.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would really like to visit Auschwitz, but I’m afraid it would just depress me too much. It sounds really interesting to visit though and you’re right, the Nazis were some of the worst humans in the world. It’s disgusting what they did to people just because they were different.
      I literally have no idea about these twins at all, which is surprising really, since I’m so into true crime and creepy siblings etc! I’m looking forward to the book though 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You know, I read something really ironic the other day. Apparently, Hitler was a “staunch Christian” and it’s like, didn’t he realize Jesus Christ was a Jew!? So much hypocrisy mixed in with all that cruelty and inhumanity.
        Since seeing ‘The Silent Twins’ on your TBR list, I’ve been looking at the book on Amazon and been trawling through some mini documentaries on them on YouTube 😛 Super creepy!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hitler’s who outlook on right and wrong was so messed up. If he thought he was a Christian, think again – I hope he’s having a horrible time down in hell lol.
        I sort of wanna look them up and do the same but I want to keep it surprise too haha

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved Burroughs so seeing a memoir written by his son is great. I also love WW1 and WW2 history. So much tragedy and so many atrocities. It’s fascinating to me. Like a car wreck I suppose. I think it’s just hard to wrap you head around how evil human beings can be.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t realise they were by the same people at all until I did this post, even though I’d read the author’s name. I just didn’t put 2 and 2 together until I was writing my comments for them both haha 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This post just reminded me to add The Polygamist’s Daughter to my TBR! Also that Silent Twins book sounds so creepy (brb looking them up on wikipedia!).

    Completely agree with you about the Rwandan genocide – it is really not talked about very much I feel and yet it was so disgusting and devastating. I was wary of the title because I do not believe in any religions, but then you addressed that so I will have to add this to my wishlist!

    Running With Scissors sounds really… just… sad? I’m reluctant to read it for that reason alone, but even the saddest books are still important to read!

    All around I loved this list a lot! I’m trying to read more non-fiction books this year so this list is helping me immensely! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your comment!
      Yes, I was wary about the Left to Tel book, but after reading some reviews people have said it’s still an enjoyable read if you aren’t religious.

      Running With Scissors does sound sad & heavy, but I like that in my non-fic sometimes and I’m really interested in reading it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m a sucker for true crime and memoirs so these sound fascinating to me! I already have The Fact Of A Body on my wishlist, but the other titles sound like true ‘winners’ as well. Great list!

    Liked by 1 person

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