The NBA Nonfiction Longlist


Including best sellers by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Sally Mann as well as titles that have received less attention, The National Book Awards longlist for Nonfiction was released today. The judging panel includes Paul Holdengräber host of the popular interview series, Live from the New York Public Library.

The shortlist will be announced October 15. The winners will be announced on Nov. 18.

The fourth and final 2015 NBA longlist, for fiction, will be released tomorrow morning.

The 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction Longlist

Cynthia Barnett, Rain: A Natural and Cultural History (RH/Crown; 4/21/15)

Starred by LJ and Booklist, this look at a common natural phenomenon was reviewed in many publications, including the NYT Sunday Book Review

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (RH/Spiegel & Grau; 7/14/15)

The most widely covered by the media of the books on the list, the author appeared on many shows, including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

It is currently #2 on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction Best Sellers list after eight weeks (it was #1 for three weeks)

Martha Hodes, Mourning Lincoln (Yale University Press; 2/24/15)

A look at how everyday Americans mourned Lincoln and how his assassination continues to affect the culture. It was reviewed, not particularly enthusiastically, in the NYT Sunday Book Review and the Wall Street Journal

Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs (Hachette/Little, Brown; 5/12/15)

An Indie Next pick, this memoir by the renowned photographer was starred by PW and Booklist and reviewed widely. In the daily NYT, Dwight Garner called it “weird, intense and uncommonly beautiful.” It appeared on several best seller lists, hitting a high of #9 on the NYT list.

Sy Montgomery, The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness (S&S/Atria; S&S Audio; 5/15/15)

After reading this, you are unlikely to ever order grilled octopus again. It was reviewed appreciatively in the Seattle Times. The Wall Street Journal took a dimmer view of it.

Susanna Moore, Paradise of the Pacific: Approaching Hawaii (Macmillan/ FSG; 9/1/15)

More well known for her novels, Moore has written two previous books on Hawaii. In the NYT Sunday Book Review Jan Morris called it “an astonishingly learned summation of the Hawaiian meaning, elegantly written, often delightfully entertaining and ultimately sad.”

Michael Paterniti, Love and Other Ways of Dying: Essays (RH/Dial Press; Tantor Audio; 3/3/15)

By the author of The Telling Room, which received a great deal of attention in 2013, this follow-up has drawn less attention, only reviewed prepub by PW and Kirkus, which said, “carefully curated selection of features demonstrates the breadth of the author’s peculiar, personal style of storytelling.”

Carla Power, If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran (Macmillan/Holt; 4/2/15)

Reviewed by the Washington Post, which calls it, “an unusual book, simultaneously an exploration of faith and of Islam as it is lived by those who know it most intimately.”

Tracy K. Smith, Ordinary Light: A Memoir (RH/ Knopf, 4/25/15; Recorded Books)

The author won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for poetry for Life on Mars.

The NYT Sunday Book Review clearly appreciated this coming-of-age memoir by the African-American poet, but that review offers no quotable lines. Carol Memmott in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, provides one, “Ordinary Light is as poetic as Life on Mars. Smith’s spare yet beautiful prose transforms her story into a shining example of how one person’s shared memories can brighten everyone’s world.”

Michael White, Travels in Vermeer: A Memoir (Persea Books, dist. by Norton; 3/5/15)

The one paperback on the list, the only consumer review it received was from Shelf Awareness for Readers, which called it an “unusual and riveting memoir” in which White, reeling from a divorce, goes to Amsterdam and becomes entranced with Vermeer.

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