A Book Written By A Journalist: Picks for the TPL Reading Challenge 2022

August 8, 2022 | Pauline

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TPL Reading Challenge 2022

I'll admit, "a book written by a journalist" was a rather easy category for me. People like Susan Sontag, Stieg Larsson and Ernest Hemingway immediately came to mind. But a quick internet search reveals that there are so many more great options! I had difficulty narrowing it down to one choice for this post. Let alone deciding between fiction or non-fiction.

An immense world

And then I saw that Ed Yong had a new book coming out! It was settled. He is a Pulitzer-prize winning science journalist at The Atlantic. I loved his previous book, I Contain Multitudes, which is all about the microbes living in our guts. It is years later and I am still quoting random interesting facts from the book. Ed Yong's new book, An Immense World, is about the different ways that animals experience the world around them. It is a hefty book, at just over 400 pages but don't let that intimidate you, it's a wonderfully engaging book. You will learn a lot about how animals sense their surroundings. I had a lot of fun reading it, periodically surfacing from the pages to spout fun facts at anyone within earshot. Did you know that some species of owls have ear holes that are so big, that if you parted their feathers, you could see the back of their eyeball?

Sharp objects

For fiction, I recommend Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I will say up front: this book does present harmful actions and substance abuse. I didn't know she had previously been a journalist until after I had read the book and was trying to pick a Reading Challenge category for it. Turns out she used to be a freelance journalist and a feature writer. I could not put Sharp Objects down, I kept wanting to know what happened next. It was an intriguing read because you were given some clues and the book was very engaging. I kept changing my theory of who the culprit was and what would happen next. Camille Preaker returns to her small hometown to report a recent murder. While there, she also has to face her own past and her troubled relationship with her family. It is a psychological thriller with many twists and turns.

Staff recommendations

Here are some recommendations from TPL staff for this category.

The eating instinct

The Eating Instinct: Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America by Virginia Sole-Smith

This non-fiction book travels across the US to bring the reader snapshots of what eating means for different people in a variety of households. Food can be very complicated, and this book does an excellent job of digging into those complexities by talking to the people they affect. Interviews add a human element to a topic that can be highly scientific.

– Kate, Librarian


When the apricots bloom

When the Apricots Bloom by Gina Wilkinson

Three women's lives intersect in Baghdad under the regime of Saddam Hussein. Based on the author's experience living in Baghdad in 2002, this novel shows the desperate measures people will take to protect their children and themselves. Huda, a secretary at the Australian embassy, has been ordered to befriend Ally Wilson, the deputy ambassador's wife, or else her teenage son will be forced to join the secret police. Instead, a friendship is born, along with Huda's estranged childhood friend, Rania. These three women find themselves in terrifying situations in order to escape the tyranny of the regime. An absolutely eye-opening story.

– Debra, Librarian



Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder

A fascinating read about resiliency in America. Journalist Jessica Bruder meets people from all walks of life who, for one reason or another, have lost their homes and jobs. Surviving for these people means living on the road in vans, trailers, and cars, travelling from place to place to pick up temporary jobs working in Amazon warehouses, campgrounds, and farms. Bruder spent three years writing the book and ended up on the road with her own van and testing her mettle in different temporary jobs. An insightful tale - skip the movie, read the book!

–Brenda, Librarian


What strange paradise

What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad

I enjoyed reading about the innocence, intelligence and natural instinct of children who know right from wrong regardless of what the adults in their lives teach them to do. Impossible to read this without thinking about what a better place this world would be if not for the damage and prejudices caused by adults who have forgotten their childhood innocence and the ability to accept all people regardless of who they are, what they look like or where they came from.

Other categories:

  • a book about the refugee experience

They said this would be fun

They Said This Would Be Fun: Race, Campus Life and Growing Up by Eternity Martis

This is an amazing read for young adults who are becoming acquainted with the messiness of life — but more broadly, essential reading for anyone who still has doubts about the prevalence of racism in Canada. An intersectional exploration of what it means to be a Black, biracial woman in today's world, this collection of essays is equal parts heart-wrenching and hilarious.

Other categories:

  • A book by an author from Toronto
  • A coming-of-age story by a BIPOC author

– Danielle, Librarian


French Recommendations

If you like to read in French, check out the list of recommended books for "un livre écrit par un(e) journaliste" - there's a mix of books, ebooks and digital audiobooks to try!


Recommendations from the Facebook Group

Thank you to all the staff for their recommendations! Sorry I couldn't fit them all into the post. These are just some of the suggested titles from our Facebook TPL Reading Challenge 2022 discussion group:

You can read all of the responses in the original post. You do not need a Facebook account to read the suggestions.

Watch a replay of our Reading Challenge Online Discussion when the hosts discussed "a book written by a journalist" and "a book about a city."

What would you recommend? Add your suggestions in the comments section below.