Last year I didn’t read enough non-fiction. This was a conclusion I reached after doing my 2012 Year in Review. I typically enjoy reading non-fiction (mainly biographies, histories and certain works of cultural significance) but for whatever reason, last year was mostly about fiction for me.
So I decided that in 2013, I would make more of an effort to read non-fiction.
As of this writing, I have definitely kept my word. With myself, but really if you can’t keep a promise to yourself…this seems to work with books and reading but never quite stretches to when I try and make myself go for a run. I can rationalize all kinds of ways not to do that.
But non-fiction I did read.
As of writing, I have read 64 books this year and just over 20% of those have been non-fiction! I even did math to make that come out in a percentage.
I read some completely irreverent books by some very funny ladies (Jen Lancaster, Mindy Kaling and Jenny Lawson) that totally count as non-fiction. Bill Bryson took me on a tour of the home through the ages, giving me all sorts of trivia that is sure to come in handy for ice breakers or games of Trivial Pursuit. I satisfied some of my Downton Abbey withdrawl with a closer look at one of the women who was mistress of Highclere Castle and enjoyed a very gossipy biography of the Churchills.
I loved Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead and recognized a lot of my own behaviour and hang ups in her words. I read Howard Schultz’s Onwards about the culture at Starbucks which did absolutely nothing to curb my daily Starbucks addiction. I loved Nancy Jo Sales’ The Bling Ring even though it made me want to watch a seriously trashy reality show (Pretty Wild) to see firsthand some of the events she described. (It’s on Netflix if you get the same urge)
Overall I know that my very favourite non-fiction read this year (and maybe ever) was Far From the Tree: Children, Parents and the Search for Identity. That book still pops up in my life every once in a while – like this morning when the cover of my local paper showed a transgendered girl grinning from ear to ear in her new identity while her parents fight for her right to be identified as a girl in school. Far From the Tree was one of the most honest, eye-opening, heartbreaking, hopeful and brilliant books I’ve ever read.
And I just went to the library and picked up 3 more non-fiction titles (Great Expectations: The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens, High Society: The Life of Grace Kelly and Christina, Queen of Sweden: The Restless Life of a European Eccentric) so we’re not done with 2013 yet!
I think a lot of people tend to dismiss non-fiction as boring or hard to read. But there are some insanely well-written non-fiction books out there. Sometimes they even make you forget that you’re learning new things.
And you know that when I’m done with 2013, I will totally be able to kick your butt at Trivial Pursuit.