Nonfiction November 2021 Week 1: My Year in Nonfiction

And here we are! November 1st! I look forward to this date every year because it is the beginning of a whole month of nonfiction reading and talking about nonfiction.

Let’s get into it!

This week Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction is hosting us!

Week 1: (November 1-5) – Your Year in Nonfiction with Rennie at What’s Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?  

Looking back on my year in nonfiction reading, it’s been pretty good! Normally I roll into NFN with around 29% of my reading being nonfiction. This year I’m coming in at 35%. I attribute this completely to my newfound love of audiobooks, since I only listen to nonfiction.

I’m not sure that I can say that I have ONE favourite nonfiction read this year. Andre Leon Talley’s The Chiffon Trenches stands out because it was the very first audiobook I listened to and I still hear his voice telling me his life story. It was gossipy and I learned a lot but it was also incredibly reflective. I didn’t expect to meet the real Andre Leon Talley, you know what I mean? I felt the same way about Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile (bonus, she sings on the audio version!) and Jonathan Van Ness’ Over the Top.

Year Book by Seth Rogen and The Wreckage of My Presence by Casey Wilson both made me actually cry and cry from laughing so hard. Would also put Colin Jost’s A Very Punchable Face on this list.

I loved loved loved Notes From a Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi, Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner (which I got from Nonfiction November last year so thank you if that was you!), and I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell. Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen, about Audrey’s experiences in the Netherlands during WWII, and Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zimmer were both so very good. And it doesn’t feel right to say I loved The Only Plane in the Sky by Garret M. Graff but it’s a book that has stuck with me since I finished the last page.

I’ve definitely been more drawn to reading about experiences that are not my own. That’s what was drawing me to Disability Visibility edited by Alice Wong, What Doesn’t Kill You by Tessa Miller, The Education of Augie Merasty by Joseph Auguste Merasty and David Carpenter, Transgender History by Susan Stryker, and Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter by Heath Davis Fogg, the latter of which gave me a lot to think about in terms of what changes could practically be made in my workplace to make everyone feel respected and included.

But I think that I’ve recommended Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May the most. I listened to it on audio and it was so comforting at a time when we’re in this prolonged grief and anxiety about what the world looks like now and what is coming. I am already ready for a re-read so I think I need to buy a physical copy. I’ve also pushed Brandi Carlile on audio and told anyone who lives in/grew up in Vancouver that they need to read Seth Rogen’s book. I’ve definitely also talked about The Housewives by Brian Moylan a lot. I love the Real Housewives, unapologetically. And reading Moylan’s book was a JOY.

I was having a really great reading year until September. Since then I have been struggling to find my reading joy. So I’m hoping that all of your energy will spur me on to get back to it! I love getting to talk about nonfiction with all of you and I can’t wait to see what new books I add to my list!

Happy reading!

39 thoughts on “Nonfiction November 2021 Week 1: My Year in Nonfiction

  1. May I ask how you listen to so many audiobooks? What are your listening habits?

    Incredible list, I remember your review odd Chiffon Trenches and how I wanted to read it (haven’t, of course) and seeing as I’m approximately the same age as Seth Rogen, and lived in Vancouver until I was 10, is it safe to say I should read Year Book?

    • So powerful. I wasn’t sure about the format before I started but having the story told by the people who experienced it was really the only way.
      I couldn’t believe what all Maggie O’Farrell had been through! I read it for a book club and we had so much to talk about!

  2. I can certainly relate to your “reading slump”. Sometimes I’m firing on all 4 cylinders (….easy to see on my link monthly planning)…and suddenly the engine stops with flashing red lights on the dashboard. Ups and downs…can’t avoid them. I’ll have a look at your selections and see what I can find. Audio books…I just cancelled Audible …it is expensive and I have several books still on audio TBR. I only use them during bike rides. When do you listen to all your audio books?

    • I use Libby and borrow them from the library! I listen to them when I walk the dog. I used to have commute time for audiobooks and podcasts but that’s not the case anymore.
      I know I need to just relax and let things right themselves but I’m so impatient to get back to it!

  3. I’m adding Notes From a Young Black Chef to my list. I Am, I Am, I Am is already there, as is The Only Plane in the Sky. Wintering looks good, too, but I’ll add that one to my audio wish list. Thanks for all the great suggestions.

  4. Memoirs are probably my favorite nonfiction subgenre and you’ve given me lots to think about. I have Broken Horses on my challenge list and am looking forward to listening to it later this month. I’d completely forgotten about Maggie O’Farrell’s memoir, so if I don’t get to it before then, I’ll read it for next year’s challenge! Wintering is another one that I’d like to read (just added it to my audio wishlist). Ack! So many great books out there. I read The Only Plane in the Sky a couple of years ago and thought it was outstanding, in spite of the heartbreaking subject matter. Thanks for all the great recommendations. I’ll have to pop back over here and read your reviews. Good luck with the challenge!

    • Thanks! Missing From the Village was really well done – the author is a part of the community he writes about and he did a really great job of focusing on the victims. I felt like I got to know the men who disappeared and that’s not always the case with true crime.

  5. Well, dangit! Now you’ve messed me up. I was going through everyone’s posts and adding a title or two from most of them to a draft post for later in the month, but then I get to your post and there are SO MANY BOOKS I want to add to my TBR!!!! Now I have to figure out a better post strategy. LOL

    • I’m sorry! The exact same thing happened to me the other day with Book’d Out’s list. It’s not so much the adding to the list that’s my problem, it’s actually reading them at some point! My record is abysmal – I think I’ve actually read a total of like 6 since I started participating in 2016…

      • That’s exactly my problem. I add billions to my list every year but then only read 10 or 13 nonfiction books in a year. Too many books, not enough time!

      • I listened to it on audio in 2019 and re-read is January 2020. It is even better the second time! The Power of Habits is the why we have habits and Atomic Habits is the power of tiny changes to our habits. I think of this book every time I start something new!

  6. I’ve had Wintering on my list since someone recommended it during last year’s Nonfiction November. I’m going to have to bump up its priority for this coming winter!

  7. What a great list. There are a lot on here that I would like to read, but we don’t have all of them on audio at our library. I’d especially like to read Wintering.
    I have been “reading” so many more NF books now that I listen to audiobooks. I wish I had started sooner!

    • Thanks! I’ll read just about anything! It’s the audiobooks this year – they’re new to me this year and I only listen to nonfiction. Reading nonfiction is a thing I’ve always loved so it doesn’t feel like an extra thing I need to do – I was reading movie star bios when I was 11!

  8. Wow! I’m interested in pretty much all of the nonfiction you’ve read this year. Only Plane in the Sky is one of the only ones I’ve read already and it’s a favorite that I heard about through Nonfiction November last year. I hope your reading month is going well so far and that you find some new favorites 🙂

  9. I love Brandi Carlile but I hesitate on celebrity memoirs…good to hear that you loved it so much! I think I need to give it a try. I’ve also been resisting Crying in H Mart despite hearing so much about it because it seems so sad, but I think I’ll have to try that one’s been so buzzy and I love all things Korean food, so seems worth any potential tears!

    I just finished The Only Plane in the Sky after seeing it make the rounds in Nonfiction November last year, what an incredible book!! Highway of Tears was a favorite of mine the year it came out. Actually all of your nonfiction this year looks fab!!

    • It was so good. She’s a beautiful writer! Crying in H Mart is also really good but you will need to have Korean food on hand while you read or you will have horrible cravings.
      These were real highlights, I definitely left some out!

  10. Pingback: Nonfiction November Week 5: New to My TBR – What's Nonfiction?

  11. Pingback: NonFiction Finds – Silver Button Books

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