Journalists have a sharp eye for details, how those details fit into a single story, and how that story explains a time, place, person, or event. Typically, journalists boil down their observations into a single article — which is why we love it when they fully flex their investigative muscles to craft a deeper tale. The following books by journalists belong at the very top of your TBR list, from a riveting new investigation into a little-known true crime case to powerful examinations of family, friendship, and the future of politics in America.
9 Must-Read Books by Journalists
These eye-opening accounts demand to be read.
By Jessica Dukes
By Elon Green
In the 1980s and 90s, a murderer targeted gay men in New York City, claiming multiple lives. Yet because of the city’s already brutal murder rate, the ongoing AIDS epidemic, and the sexual orientation of the victims, the case remained open, the murderer remained at large. It would be years before the perpetrator was finally brought to justice. In his stunning debut, Elon Green, who has written for The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The Columbia Journalism Review, documents this tragic true crime case for the first time. Last Call focuses on the story of the victims, the struggle of NYC’s queer community to be seen and heard, and the decades-long search for the man who came to be known as the Last Call Killer.
When Harry Met Minnie
By Martha Teichner
CBS Sunday Morning news correspondent Martha Teichner didn’t expect her daily dog walks to change her life, but dogs have a way of bringing people together in profound ways. Through word of mouth, Martha learns of a woman who’s looking to rehome a bull terrier named Harry. Since Martha’s beloved Minnie is a bull terrier, she decides to meet the other dog. When Harry meets Minnie, Martha also meets Carol, Harry’s human. Carol is dying, and in looking for a friend for Harry, she finds a friend of her own. In an instant, these four souls find love and acceptance right when they need it most.
Here We Are
By Aarti Shahani
When Aarti Shahani’s father, an immigrant shopkeeper, accidentally sells goods to a cartel and gets in trouble with the authorities, her family must fight to keep everything they worked so hard to achieve. On one hand, the Shahanis had been living the American dream. They emigrated from India to New York City, where young Aarti Shahani attended private school before becoming an NPR correspondent. Like many immigrants, though, Aarti’s experience has been a mix of success and loss, and this is her unforgettable memoir of remaining loyal to her family through it all.
You're Not Listening
By Kate Murphy
Speaking is a highly prized skill that we are taught as early as kindergarten. But have you noticed that we’re never specifically taught to listen? New York Times contributor Kate Murphy is on a mission to get us all to stop talking and start listening. After explaining what listening is, both physically and socially, Murphy tells a series of stories illustrating how listening to others can save our lives and create better communities. Ultimately, listening to others inspires others to listen to you, which is how we repair fragile relationships, build new ones, and heal our increasingly fragmented world.
HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style
By Elizabeth Holmes
Elizabeth Holmes, a seasoned style journalist, is also the creator of the Instagram story series, So Many Thoughts. While her Instagram account focuses mostly on the royal lives of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Holmes’s debut book expands its coverage to include Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana. Each is a style icon in her own right. Together, their sartorial biographies illustrate what life is like as a Royal, and the subtle ways each woman has asserted her individuality on the international stage.
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
By Isabel Wilkerson
There’s a caste system in the United States, and through historical research combined with personal anecdotes, Isabel Wilkerson reveals how this hierarchy has led to America’s current troubles. Wilkerson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, delivers an eye-opening account of the hierarchal systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany. In the end, Wilkerson says that there’s a way to escape the caste systems we’re born into, to undo the divisions that have unfairly defined us, and to transcend race, gender, and class. The simple answer: faith in humanity.
When Time Stopped: A Memoir of My Father’s War and What Remains
By Ariana Neumann
Ariana Neumann, a former foreign correspondent for Venezuela’s The Daily Journal, spent years struggling to understand her father’s tragic past. Neumann’s debut memoir describes how 25 members of the Neumann family were killed by the Nazis in Czechoslovakia, and how her father, Hans, escaped with his life to Berlin. After the war, Hans moved to Venezuela and lived a life he once thought impossible. After Hans passes, Ariana receives a box of his letters and finally learns the shocking truth about her father and so many lost members of her family.
Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains
By Kerri Arsenault
The paper mill in Kerri Arsenault’s hometown of Mexico, Maine provided good jobs for generations of families. Years later, Arsenault returns to the town of her childhood and witnesses the tradeoffs that have happened in the name of success. The surrounding water and lands are polluted, the townspeople are sick, and the well-being of the community is in serious decline. In her searing debut book, Arsenault, whose work has appeared in The Minneapolis Star Tribune, Freeman’s, and The Washington Post, combines memoir with investigative journalism to dive deep into the history of the paper mill, interviewing neighbors and drawing on scientific research to help understand how her beloved hometown came to be known as “Cancer Valley.”
The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For
By Charlotte Alter
Millennials are quickly approaching middle age, and are making their mark on the political landscape of the United States. Charlotte Alter, a national correspondent for TIME, is tracking their influence, and what she finds is fascinating. Issues that were once considered outside of the mainstream — climate change, student debt, the future of personal tech — are set firmly in their sights. From both sides of the aisle, Millennials are leading, and they’re doing it in ways that are unfamiliar to their predecessors. It won’t be long before Millennials will be in charge, and Alter has a pretty good idea of what that will look like.