It’s time! Nonfiction November is happening!
As in years past we have five wonderful hosts who will lead a prompt each week to get us all discussing nonfiction. The hosts and schedules is as follows:
- Week 1: (Oct. 28 to Nov. 1) – Your Year in Nonfiction (Julz of Julz Reads)
- Week 2: (Nov. 4 to 8) – Book Pairing (Sarah of Sarah’s Book Shelves)
- Week 3: (Nov. 11 to 15) – Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert (Katie at Doing Dewey)
- Week 4: (Nov. 18 to 22) – Nonfiction Favorites (Leann of Shelf Aware)
- Week 5: (Nov. 25 to 29) – New to My TBR (Rennie of What’s Nonfiction)
To kick things off, this first week we’re talking about nonfiction reading so far in 2019. If you’ve visited my blog before/follow me on instagram, you know that I love reading nonfiction. It’s not something recent that I’ve gotten into, it’s not a new reading niche for me, I didn’t have to learn to like nonfiction, I’ve been reading and loving nonfiction as long as I’ve been reading.
But it’s not always something that gets a lot of attention. Most people are more interested in fiction than nonfiction.
Still, so far this year 29% of my reading has been nonfiction (27 out of 94 books). I wouldn’t have said that I’d read more of any one genre or subject matter but looking back through my stats, it appears that I’ve been gravitating towards memoirs this year. I’ve also read a number of essay collections. In terms of subject matter, it looks like I’ve been reading more about race, LGBTQ experiences and true crime. A few biographies but not as many as usual.
(Some of my nonfiction highlights)
Easily my favourite nonfiction book of the year has been Amanda Jette Knox’s Love Lives Here: A Story of Thriving in a Transgender Family. Not only did I learn a lot from this book but the overwhelming emotion in it is love. Even though I cried my eyes out reading it, I felt hopeful and weirdly proud that this family is Canadian. I’ve recommended it numerous times and am doing it again here.
Other memoirs that I read and loved included Becoming by Michelle Obama (obviously), Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run by Alexandra Heminsley (I was convinced it would inspire me to start running but it did not. Still, it was an enjoyable read that I have definitely recommended to others), and This Will Only Hurt A Little by Busy Philips (for the gossip).
Another book that fundamentally shifted something in me was 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Josephs. I can’t overstate the importance of this little book and really really think that every Canadian needs to read it if we’re going to get serious about Reconciliation.
Even though I didn’t read a ton of bios or history books this year, the ones that I did read were great (except for The Favorite by Ophelia Field, just watch the movie). Hitler and the Habsburgs: The Fuhrer’s Vendetta Against the Austrian Royals by James Longo focused on a story that I had never come across in all my Royals/WWII reading. I had no idea that Hitler had such a personal vendetta against the Austrian Royals! And if J. Randy Taraborrelli has a new book out, I need to read it! Jackie, Janet, & Lee: The Secret Lives of Janet Auchincloss and Her Daughters Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Lee Radziwill was a gossipy portrait of the women behind the legends and I thoroughly enjoyed every page. The most physically beautiful book I read this year was The Mistresses of Cliveden: Three Centuries of Scandal, Power, and Intrigue in an English Stately Home by Natalie Livingstone. Full colour portraits of the women who ruled Clivedon, every page in coloured ink, it was a complete joy to look at and read. Definitely not one you want to take out of the library! And for a beast of a book (657 pages), Simon Sebag Montefiore’s The Romanovs: 1613-1917 was incredibly readable and enjoyable. It had the potential to be stuffy but it wasn’t at all.
I tended to get a little obsessive about my reading this year. I started listening to The Dropout podcast about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos but I wasn’t getting the information fast enough so I went out and bought Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carryrou and man, did it scratch the itch. I also watched the HBO documentary right after that. The whole thing was an incredibly satisfying learning experience!
They aren’t necessarily grouped around any one topic but I’ve really enjoyed essay collections this year as well. I find that they are a great way to get an overview on any one topic or person. I’ve loved Alicia Elliott’s A Mind Spread Out on the Ground (incredibly raw, a lot of rage, it blew me away), and 90s Bitch: Media, Culture, and the Failed Promise of Gender Equality by Alllison Yarrow (was an eye-opening look at how I was socialized in my formative years).
I don’t think that there’s any one subject matter that I am drawn to over others or that I want to read more about. I’m such a mood reader that I tend to go to what strikes my fancy at any given moment. I have a biography of Kick Kennedy ready to go because I read a fictional account of her life this year and felt like I needed to read the whole story. I have an essay collection I want to read because I heard the author on a podcast and it sounded right up my alley. I will always want to read stories about experiences that are different than mine, Royals continue to be my reading kryptonite, and feminist nonfiction is something I never say no to.
I can’t wait to find a whole bunch of new titles to my never-ending TBR and to connect with other nonfiction readers about what is striking their fancy at the moment. I think this is my third year participating in Nonfiction November and I feel like I’ve been waiting to get started for months!