A Non-Fiction Binge

I have been having some time with reading in 2016.

First there was the whole “first book” debacle where I was terrified to choose the wrong first book and then had a hard time getting into said chosen first book before falling hard for the ending. I followed that up with a favourite author standby, Maeve Binchy. And while Scarlet Feather was good and I enjoyed the read, it wasn’t Minding Frankie, Circle of Friends, Tara Road or Evening Class. Then I thought Classics! And thought that a book that did double duty as a classic and a start on the 2016 TBR Pile Challenge would be exactly what I needed.

Ultimately I enjoyed The Custom of the Country (review to hopefully follow) but it wasn’t The House of Mirth, you know?


My reading restlessness means that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking, reading, and talking about books. Like, more than usual. And I’ve also wandered into a bookstore or two.

Apparently I think the answer to my book problems is more books.

Non-fiction books to be more specific.

Because if fiction isn’t doing its thing, it’s obviously time for non-fiction to take a crack at it.

In recent days I’ve collected the following non-fiction titles:

Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay. I’ve been meaning to read this since it was published. Roxane Gay is one of the best people to follow on twitter and I narrowly missed out on seeing her at the Vancouver Writers Fest this past October. I’m finding my feminist voice and I want to read what Roxane has to say.

Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol by Anne Dowsett Johnstone. This is my book club’s pick, timed perfectly for a time of year when we’re probably all thinking about drying out a little. Methinks book club will be a lot cheaper to host this time.

Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel. Anyone noticing a theme? I’ve been called ‘difficult’ more times than I care to remember. This one was sitting on the shelf screaming at me (the word “Bitch” in hot pink on a spine will do that) when I picked up Drink. I’m looking forward to this one.

Tiny, Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed. I’m doing it Chelsey! I’m taking the first step to actually reading this. This is on hold for me at the library RIGHT NOW.

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem. When I woke up to the news that Emma Watson, the patron saint of new wave Feminists, was starting a Feminist Book Club, I was ON BOARD. This is the first selection (obviously) and I’m just 8th in line (on 6 copies) at the library.

Ghettoside: Investigating a Homicide Epidemic by Jill Leovy. This book has also been on my list forever. When I noticed it on a table marked “Books You Have to Read in 2016” and that it was in paperback, I knew it was meant to be. I cracked this one and read a few pages – it’s written in that wonderful novelistic style which should make for a great read even though I may want to burn the world down when I’m done.

And for Christmas I got Matriarch: Queen Mary and the House of Windsor by Anne Edwards and In Triumph’s Wake: Royal Mothers, Tragic Daughters and the Price They Paid for Glory by my biography star, Julia P. Gelardi. So those should satisfy my royals reading requirements.

With all of those non-fiction gems at my disposal, one might wonder why I chose Second Life by SJ Watson after The Custom of the Country. And the answer would be because I am weak.

What non-fiction is on your radar?

29 thoughts on “A Non-Fiction Binge

  1. There are times in my life when I only want fiction, and times when I can only read non-fiction. In a perfect world, I’d read a mix of both all the time, but I tend to swing between the two ends of the spectrum: all of one and none of the other, depending on my mood…and stress level. 🙂 Happy non-fiction reading!

    • I like to sprinkle non-fiction in all over the place. I know what you mean about having to be in the right mindset though. I don’t usually read it in the summer, for example. But in the colder, greyer months, I get a hankering for it.

  2. Your reading restlessness sounds painful. I hope you get through it soon – one of those books should do it. When it happens, let us know! I want to know which one did it.
    Triumph’s Wake sounds good. And, I’d love to hear how Drink worked out in your book club. I’m thinking it’ll be a good one for discussion.
    I’m kind of glad that you chose Second Life – I’m curious to hear about it! How’s it going?

  3. It is your Royals reading that intrigues me most, especially In Triumph’s Wake. There are far too few books about Vicky and I love to read anything I can about her (even when she has to share the limelight). Whatever you decide to read, enjoy!

    • You’re so right about Vicky – she’s always a bit of an afterthought, a background “character”. I’m excited to learn more about her. I will let you all know how that one is but since it’s by Gelardi, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be fantastic.

  4. Oh I’m bummed to see you’re not loving Second Life yet – I would have a hard time not comparing it to Before I go to Sleep too I bet. I’ll hold off a bit longer then on that. I think you have some awesome nonfic selections though! I have Gloria Steinem and Tiny Beautiful things on hold as well and I am so excited! I am really curious to see how much talk Emma Watson’s bookclub brings to My Life on the Road. And Bad Feminist is fantastic! I keep missing my chances to see Roxane Gay too which is sad. She’s amazing.

    • She’s so amazing. Every tweet she sends is gold. Like just this morning calling out Slate for saying that while Hillary Clinton isn’t a lesbian, she dresses like one. REALLY? REALLY?!
      I was tempted to bring Tiny Beautiful Things with me on the bus this morning – I may have read some of it before bed last night and it gave me chills. It was so beautiful. I think I made a mistake not buying it. But I stuck with Second Life and I think we’ve reached a turning point. I still find a lot of it distasteful but there might be a good post in it…

  5. Non-fiction typically works very well for me when I’m having trouble settling, or feeling fulfilled, by fiction. You got some great stuff. I read Bitch when I was younger and enjoyed it, and Roxane Gay’s collection is wonderful. It was especially good for me to dip in and out of as the mood struck.

    • I think it’s partly the time of year. I feel like I want to LEARN something. The cold, the rainy, grey days, they make me want to retreat and spend time with something worthwhile. Not that fiction is not worthwhile, obviously, but sometimes you want something real, if that makes sense. I’ve never really dipped in and out of books like that, but maybe Bad Feminist is one I should try that with. Make it last longer.

  6. I’m not in a nonfiction mood right now but when I am I’ll probably pick up Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Gulp by Mary Roach, or Wild by Cheryl Strayed; though Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty and Spinster by Kate Bolick also interest me.

  7. A great non-fiction list! Especially Drink and Tiny Beautiful Things. Ghettoside also good, but takes a good while to get into.

    In the middle of Matt Haig’s Reasons To Stay Alive for a January pick me up.

    • I casually started reading Tiny Beautiful Things and was surprised by the force with which it grabbed me and didn’t let me go. I was addicted to that book like I haven’t been addicted to a book in a while.
      I really want to read Matt Haig’s book. I LOVE him on twitter and his book, The Humans, remains one of my very favourites.
      Thanks for commenting!

  8. I love these selections! Especially Tiny Beautiful Things but you know..
    Ghettoside is on my list too and Roxanne Gay has flitted in and out of my radar. Think I should pick it up too! I look forward to your thoughts on Drink too. Can’t wait for the posts that will come once you’ve dipped into all of these :).

  9. Pingback: Batch Reviews: Non-fiction Edition | The Paperback Princess

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