Memoirs dominate the long-list of nominees for the 2016 National Book Award (nonfiction category) announced today by the National Book Foundation. The five finalists will be announced Oct. 14.

Below are the nominated books and authors, in alphabetical order, including excerpts and links from Washington Post reviews:

Cynthia Barnett, “Rain: A Natural and Cultural History” (Crown, 355 pp., $25)

The four-billion-year story of rain, from the creation of the oceans to the modern struggle with climate change, by the author of “Mirage” and “Blue Revolution.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Between the World and Me” (Spiegel & Grau, 152 pp., $24)

“‘Between the World and Me’ is written as a letter to the author’s teenage son, conveying the personal and historical struggle to ‘live free in this black body,’ a body that faces the constant, exhausting threat of state-sanctioned violence. But the book also reads like an open letter to white America, to the well-meaning sorts who at some point might have said, ‘Yes, things are bad, but they’re getting better, right?’ ” (Washington Post essay, Carlos Lozada)

Coates “is firing on all cylinders, and it is something to behold: a mature writer entirely consumed by a momentous subject and working at the extreme of his considerable powers at the very moment national events most conform to his vision. It is hard, perhaps impossible, not to be enraptured by his righteous and. . . loveless indignation.” (Washington Post review, Thomas Chatterton Williams)

Martha Hodes, “Mourning Lincoln” (Yale University Press, 396 pp., $30)

“‘Mourning Lincoln’ draws on letters and diaries written by Americans during the spring and summer of 1865. Together, they offer an intimate, bracing account of a people who, still grappling with the conclusion of a brutal war, experienced the murder of the victors’ standard-bearer.” (Washington Post review, Carlos Lozada)

Sally Mann, “Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs” (Little, Brown, 482 pp., $32)

” ‘I will confess,’ Mann writes in the introduction, ‘that in the interest of narrative I secretly hoped I’d find a payload of southern gothic: deceit and scandal, alcoholism, domestic abuse, car crashes, bogeymen, clandestine affairs.’ And you can bet she found it — and then some. Mann’s book has enough sensational material for several novels and a few late-night movies you might not want your kids to watch.”(Washington Post review, Nora Krug)

Inside the emotions and complexity of the octopus, and its relationship with humans, based on the author’s 2011 essay in Orion magazine.

Susanna Moore, “Paradise of the Pacific: Approaching Hawaii” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 320 pp. $26)

The novelist turns to nonfiction to tell the story of Hawaii, spanning the “short 120 years from the arrival of Captain Cook in 1777 to the annexation of the Islands in 1898 by the United States.”

Michael Paterniti, “Love and Other Ways of Dying” (The Dial Press, 464 pp., $28)

A collection of essays on grief, memory and relationships by the bestselling author of “Driving Mr. Albert” and “The Telling Room.”

“A unique account of the Islamic faith that focuses on the perspective of Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi, a scholar and imam whom Power has known for more than 20 years. It is an unusual book, simultaneously an exploration of faith and of Islam as it is lived by those who know it most intimately.” (Washington Post review, Rachel Newcomb)

Tracy K. Smith, “Ordinary Light: A Memoir” (Alfred A. Knopf, 349 pp., $25.95)

“A poet and creative-writing professor at Princeton University, Smith has written a memoir about her early years with her own mother and protector, and the rites of passage a daughter and mother must endure as the child grows and finally breaks free. The milestones are familiar — struggles over love, faith, distance, death and regret — yet Smith’s telling is engrossing in its spare, simple understatement. You don’t have to know Smith’s Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry to appreciate her ability to interpret life in a way that feels both unique and universal.” (Washington Post review, Carlos Lozada)

Michael White, “Travels in Vermeer: A Memoir” (Persea Books, 192 pp., $17.95)

The memoir of a poet who repairs his life through a chance encounter with the works of Johannes Vermeer.

Read more from Book Party, including: