Kickoff to Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

This is Week 1 of Nonfiction November, and this year I’m going to do my best to follow it, because I’m reading so much great nonfiction right now.

Week 1’s topic, hosted by Julie at Julz Reads, is to take a look back at the year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

Here’s what I read this year:

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  • Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
  • Sugar Crush: How to Reduce Inflammation, Stop Pain, and Reverse the Path to Diabetes by Richard P. Jacoby and Raquel Baldolomar
  • The Daily Show: An Oral History by Chris Smith
  • In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero
  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  • Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild
  • Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
  • My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
  • The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore
  • Giant of the Senate by Al Franken (currently reading)

This is much more nonfiction than I’ve read in previous years, and I’ve gotten a lot out of each of these books. Thematically, a lot of my reading this year has dealt with the current state of the country, and people who feel like outsiders (or are treated like they are), whether they are immigrants or not.   I’ve had countless discussions about Hillbilly Elegy, Strangers in Their Own Land, and In the Country We Love.  Even a book like The Daily Show really turned out to be a political history of the last 20 years or so, and Wonder Woman turned out to be about the country’s last 100 years of feminism.

Unexpectedly, this year’s reading caused me to relive my difficult law school years and my career choices that resulted from that experience.  Hillbilly Elegy and My Beloved World are about two very different people who pushed through law school when it felt completely foreign to them, like a game some of us have been shut out of.  They persisted and their books were inspiring to me, and I’m sure others.  But they also left me feeling troubled, because I didn’t try nearly as hard as they did, and in a lot of ways, I let law school convince me I wasn’t meant to be there.  Still, these books have led to some great conversations with friends, colleagues and family.

At the same time I’ve tried hard this year to read beyond my country’s borders.  My favorite nonfiction book of the year is probably Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, which tells his story of growing up multiracial in South Africa, where his mere existence was illegal.  Noah tells his story with so much humor, passion, and humility, that even the tough parts were a joy to read.

I started out the year reading about the dangers of sugar and trying to limit my own intake, if for no other reason than to reduce my migraines.  Since I read Sugar Crush (which was informative though not terribly practical), this year has really been a journey in food for me.  I picked up a number of reduced-sugar and “clean eating” cookbooks and changed a lot of my dietary habits.  I read a lot about the demonization of fat instead of sugar.  At the moment, I’m struggling a bit to stay with my plan, but I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished this year in terms of eating less sugar and far less chemicals in my food.  While you won’t see cookbooks on my reading list, some of my favorites are Hungry Girl: Clean and Hungry, Clean Eating Bowls, and The Anti-Inflammatory Cookbook.

Finally, as we head into December and a new Star Wars movie, I’m saddened all over again by the too-early death of Carrie Fisher.  She was an inspiration to so many people who struggled with addiction and mental illness, and she’ll be remembered, not just as a role model for girls who loved Star Wars, but for her humor and her honesty.

That’s my year in reading nonfiction!  Thanks to our hosts Sarah’s Book Shelves and Julz Reads.  I’ve listed the upcoming topics and hosts if you’d like to participate.

Week 2 (Nov. 6 to Nov. 10) Nonfiction / Fiction Book Pairing (Hosted by Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves)
Pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.

Week 3 (Nov. 13 to Nov. 17) Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert (Hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness)
Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

Week 4 (Nov. 20 to Nov. 24) Nonfiction Favorites (Hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey)
We’ve talked about how you pick nonfiction books in previous years, but this week I’m excited to talk about what makes a book you’ve read one of your favorites. Is the topic pretty much all that matters? Are there particular ways a story can be told or particular writing styles that you love? Do you look for a light, humorous approach or do you prefer a more serious tone? Let us know what qualities make you add a nonfiction book to your list of favorites.

Week 5 (Nov. 27 to Dec. 1) New to my TBR Hosted by (Lory at Emerald City Book Review)
It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book!

  8 comments for “Kickoff to Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

  1. November 4, 2017 at 5:29 am

    I almost never read nonfiction, but the one book that really interests me is the new book by Chris Matthews about Robert Kennedy.

  2. November 4, 2017 at 11:43 am

    Hillbilly Elegy and My Beloved World were a couple of my favorites from last year, and I have the audio version of Born a Crime waiting in my audible library.

    I generally like Hungry Girl’s recipes and, having recently discovered the bowl concept, would like to check out Clean Eating Bowls.

    • November 4, 2017 at 11:59 am

      I hear the audio version of Born a Crime is excellent, since Trevor Noah is the reader. I hope you enjoy it!

  3. November 4, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    great list! I also read, with a read-along event, Born a Crime. His mother was un-be-lie-va-ble! My post is here:

  4. November 4, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    I’m also feeling a little sad as we approach the anniversary of Carrie Fisher’s death. I read The Princess Diarist shortly after her death. I haven’t read Wishful Drinking, but I want to.

  5. December 8, 2017 at 12:56 am

    It sounds like you’ve done a lot of great nonfiction reading this year! I tend to avoid books that touch on politics, but it seems like a valuable way to learn about current events.

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