Winner: Annabel by Kathleen Winter
Runner Up: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green, David Levithan
Winner: Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye
Runner Up: Great House by Nicole Krauss
Winner: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
Runner Up: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Winner: Kraken by China Miéville
Runner Up: Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
Of the five books on the nonfiction shortlist, The Warmth of Other Suns and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks were both well-liked by everyone on our panel. I was most interested in the similarities between the two books. Both are histories, written by authors who spent a considerable amount of time researching their subjects and trying to get the complete story. And each addressed the ways in which the United States and out citizens mistreated African Americans in the past.
Where they are different, I think, is in both scope and approach. The Warmth of Other Suns took an epic event and made it very personal through the way the story was told, while The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks took a relatively small event (not to diminish what happened to Henrietta Lacks, at all, because it was terrible), and made it into a larger story about science and medical ethics. Neither one is really better than the other, I think just a product of how each other chose to tell the story.
Although The Warmth of Other Suns was the winner, I think both books are great nonfiction reads, even for people who are normal intimidated or not interested in nonfiction. They’re great stories, well-told, with compelling characters and a lot of history at the same time.
And a big thanks to all of the other nonfiction panelists: Debbie (Readerbuzz), Shauna (Evergreen Junior High Library), Florinda (The 3R’s Blog), and Betty (Reflections with Coffee). They were great, and I appreciated all their help.