What a journalist reads is always a curious question. After crafting articles about the latest news stories and world updates, often the last thing they want to do when they are off the clock is to consume the same content they create. Nevertheless, as a journalist, one cannot shake the inquisitive curiosity to read and learn more. On our podcast, Coffee with a Journalist, host Beck Bamberger sits down with journalists from leading publications to learn more about how they craft stories, manage pitches, and what they like to do when they are not reporting. One of our highlights of the podcast is getting the inside scoop on what journalists are reading in their free time.
Here are 3 journalists on their favorite books – nonfiction edition:
Whether you are or are not a journalist, it is fascinating to see the process of uncovering a story and investigating the truth. When asked about what is on his reading list, Samson Amore, Tech Reporter at The Wrap, says,“ I picked up a used copy of David Carr’s memoir The Night of the Gun, which is, it’s not very new. I think it came out in 2012 or something. I’m late to reading this book, but it’s really fantastic.” The Night of the Gun by David Carr is an introspective memoir of Carr’s struggle with addiction and his journey to his career as a columnist for The New York Times.
Samson speaks on Carr’s interesting approach to a memoir saying, “the way he structures it is all about him fact-checking himself.” He continues, “he’ll tell a story and be like, ‘This is what I think happened during this period of my life.’ And then he’ll go back and he’ll find the people that were involved in the story 20, 30 years later or whatever it is. And then the next chapter is his conversation with that person kind of very literally fact-checking. Did this thing really happen? Did I say that? No, I was more of an asshole than I thought I was. Okay. It’s a very unique structure for a book.”
Like Samson, NBC News Tech Investigations Editor Olivia Solon enjoys understanding the past and its impact on the present. As a lover of nonfiction work, Olivia said she was reading, Written in History: Letters That Changed the World by historian Simon Sebag Montefiore. She described the book as, “a bunch of letters from history between military leaders, between authors, between sort of emperors. And it just covers some of the letters that started wars or ended relationships, things like that. And it’s just kind of interesting context. And then there’s some kind of written context from the author.”
Aside from its compelling subject matter, Olivia loves books that are digestible in bite-sized chapters perfect for picking up and putting down. She says, “I like it. And you can kind of dip in and dip out without feeling like you’ve forgotten what’s happened before because it’s just so bite-sized.”
Lastly, one of the best aspects of nonfiction writing is the ability to convey one’s unique perspective and give insights into a world others may not ever experience otherwise. For Obvious Magazine Senior Editor Joshua Pinkay, he is fascinated by authors with similar life experiences. He says, “as of late, I’ve gotten into nonfiction, particularly with younger authors whose stories just really resonate with who I am and where I am in my personal intersectionality.” One book he recommends is All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson. This book chronicles George’s childhood, adolescence, and college years, spotlighting his thoughts and perspectives on the multiple aspects of his identity and their meanings within the outer world’s context.
Joshua notes, “It’s a memoir of being a black gay man and what his life has been like through his adolescence. Trying to walk that line of intersectionality being a black man and being bullied. He really highlights that in a way that is informative. And I think for a lot of young people who might be reading this, they could really relate. It’s far and few where we have these types of stories, and so I really appreciated that from George, and him sharing that memoir with us.”
Overall, we loved every recommendation and each book’s impact on literature and conversations! Head to our podcast page to listen to their full episode to learn more about our guests’ work, writing processes, and what content they consume outside of their jobs. (Spoiler: one of Olivia’s guilty pleasures is watching Bravo’s Below Deck!) If these great interviews and memoirs sparked some inspiration, we’ve got you covered. Download our guide, Pitch Template: Interview Opportunity, that breaks down exactly what you need to secure that next great 1:1 interview.
Want more great book recommendations to widen your literary scope? Check out our blog, 5 Voices to Amplify: Authors Edition, to learn about 5 celebrated authors whose work that has largely impacted the discourses on topics like race, class, sexuality, and identity. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast for more 1:1 conversations with today’s top journalists and follow us on Twitter for announcements on our latest blogs!