The Keystone’s Summer Reading: Nonfiction

By Patrick Abdalla

August 13, 2021

Editor’s note: The end of a Dean Koontz novel can shock and thrill you. Laura Wiesberger’s stories can draw you in. The grand scope of a James Michener tome can leave you in awe.

Our state has a rich literary history, from Louisa May Alcott to August Wilson, and it has also produced some of the biggest best-selling authors of fiction and nonfiction works, from Mark Bowden to Jennifer Weiner.

With that in mind, The Keystone has come up with a Summer Reading List of books by Pennsylvania authors or set in the Keystone State. Until the end of August, we will bring a different genre of books to you. 

Pennsylvania has a deep tradition of storytellers. From journalists to historians, these writers bring events to life. They can tell you about the struggles of a city, life at war or the terror of a serial killer. 

Blackhawk Down

Mark Bowden, a former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, wrote this impressive look at the tragic events of American soldiers trapped in Somalia is gripping and horrifying.

The book was made into an Academy Award-winning movie with an ensemble cast that included Ewan McGregor, Tom Hardy, and Sam Shepherd. 

Devil in the White City

Erik Larson, a former reporter for the Bucks County Courier Times, has written several best sellers, with this one probably being his most popular.

Larson takes you back to 1890s Chicago, when the city prepared for the World’s Fair, and H.H. Holmes made a house of horrors where he killed many victims.

The Johnstown Flood

David McCullough’s first book tells the story of the storm and flood that destroyed a Pennsylvania city. 

The book sparked the Pittsburgh native’s career as a bestselling author.

A Prayer for the City

Buzz Bissinger takes readers along for the ride of Ed Rendell’s first term as mayor of Philadelphia. You see how a politician, and those around him, try to save parts of the city.

Rendell’s actions are at times maddening and at times inspiring as he works to save the downtrodden city’s economy.

Silent Spring

Rachel Carson, of Springdale, Allegheny County, dedicated her life to the preservation of nature. Her best-selling book is a classic read by millions.

This 1962 book takes a look at how the widespread use of pesticides affects nature.

Ten Days in a Mad-House

Nellie Bly, who was born in Cochran’s Mills, Armstrong County, uncovered a lot of corruption in her muckraking career. In this book, Bly went undercover in an insane asylum to learn about the mistreatment of patients.

Her horrifying account helped change public policy when it came to mental health. 

Summer Reading: Light Reads

Summer Reading: Classics

Summer Reading: Biographies

Summer Reading: Thrillers

Summer Reading: Modern Classics


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